River Taw Fisheries & Conservation Association – Respond to Mole Pollution Incident

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Mole Pollution Incident July 2019 – EA Prosecution

In the recent prosecution brought by the Environment Agency the guilty pleas were appropriate and not unexpected. The fines however, appear derisory – £2,000 and £667 against a fish kill of around 16,400. These fines don’t reflect the severity of the incident, the damage done to our fish stocks and the ecology of the Mole. Where is the deterrent message to the farming community at a time of poor water quality in our rivers which remain under continuing threat from unsafe farming practices?

See link to EA press release below

We are pleased that the EA carried out a successful prosecution, but extremely disappointed with the final outcome.

Andy Gray, Chairman, RTFCA

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/north-devon-company-fined-for-pollution-that-devastated-fish-population

Red Skin Disease in wild salmon

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This year we have received a number of reports of wild Atlantic salmon exhibiting ventral haemorrhaging consistent with Red Skin Disease (RSD). We are monitoring the situation on all our major salmon rivers and working with partners across the UK to better understand its cause and impact.

We have been collating reports of skin lesions in wild salmonids from across England and have issued regular guidance to our staff, anglers and stakeholders on what to look out for, what to do if disease is suspected, and the need to report any cases to us promptly. We are also working closely with colleagues in Natural Resources Wales to monitor and collate reports.

We have had no reported cases of mortality associated with ventral haemorrhaging in wild salmonids in England, but have received reports of a small number of fish caught by anglers showing changes consistent with RSD. Our staff who operate salmon traps as part of our national index monitoring programme have also observed a small number of cases.

We are asking anglers to be vigilant but not to remove or handle any fish in distress. Also for anglers to carefully take photographs of fish exhibiting any unusual marks if safe to do so, to practice good biosecurity, and to adhere to our guidance on disinfection or to ‘Clean, Check, Dry’ equipment after fishing and before moving to other waters.

To report dead or dying fish, please contact our incident hotline immediately: 0800 80 70 60. For further information on RSD please contact our National Fisheries Laboratory: 02084 745244 or 07825 111723 / [email protected]

North Devon company fined for pollution that devastated fish population

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The North Devon company that caused a pollution incident leading to a devastating fish kill on the River Mole near South Molton has been fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £9,836 in costs.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/north-devon-company-fined-for-pollution-that-devastated-fish-population

The charges:

A J Sing and Son Ltd pleaded guilty to the following offence:

Between 29 July 2019 and 1 August 2019 on land at Gortonhill Moors, South Molton you caused a water discharge activity not under or to the extent authorised by an environmental permit, namely by the deposit of organic matter derived from an anaerobic digestion plant on to said land, which subsequently entered the river Mole. Contrary to Regulations 12(1)(b) and 38(1) (a) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.

Ryan Adams pleaded guilty to the following offence:

Between 29 July 2019 and 1 August 2019 on land at Gortonhill Moors, South Molton A J Sing and Son Limited caused a water discharge activity not under or to the extent authorised by an environmental permit, namely by the deposit of organic matter derived from an anaerobic digestion plant onto said land, which subsequently entered the river Mole and said water discharge activity was caused by an act or default on your part. Contrary to regulations 12(1)(b) and 38(6) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.

COMMENT – North Devon Angling News

Many anglers and conservationists are appalled at the paltry fine issued following a court case relating to a devastating fish kill on the River Mole. The EA estimated that 15,600 fish were killed.

The River Mole is one of North Devon’s premier game fishing rivers a major tributary of the River Taw. Over recent seasons the River Taw Fisheries & Conservation Association have invested and assisted in major schemes to improve the river habitat and improve upstream migration. This destruction of a pristine river environment will impact upon the river for years to come.

After a long and protracted court case and extensive work by the EA the outcome is appalling. The rivers are vital arteries that flow through our countryside and this generation owes it to those who follow us to ensure a healthy environment. Salmon and sea trout are iconic species that are a barometer to the health of our world. The destruction of habitat should in my view be severely punished to deter any future negligence in agricultural practice.

For more information on the River Taw Fisheries & Conservation Association click on below link.

East Lyn Brown Trout Report.

Many thanks to Simon Francis for this excellent report on the East Lyn.
Having been away for a few months I was excited to see how the East Lyn would fish.
On Saturday and Sunday there had been good hatches and rises to ephemerids, but jobs to do around the house had kept me from fishing. The river levels were very good for this time of year, and a bit of wild swimming confirmed the water was pretty cool! Monday 26th July was a little cooler and I waited until 2pm to head off, upstream on the Watersmeet & Glenside fisheries water from our Primrose Cottage at Rockford, Brendon. (https://primrosecottageexmoor.co.uk/)
I fished my (now vintage) 7 foot Orvis HLS 1 ounce #4wt with an old Rimfly reel, a 9ft leader and 4ft 2.5lb fluorocarbon tippet. The rod was a gift to myself when I qualified as a STANIC game fishing instructor 21 years ago. It is easier under the trees in the height of summer than the 9 ft #3wt that offers a bit more line control. I fished a size 14 elk hair and CDC caddis all day as it worked all day, and has the advantage I can see it even in the gloom in the shady spots!
Whilst there wasn’t much of a hatch fish were moving, and came freely to the Elk Hair Caddis. Rises varied from a full on “smash and grab”, to the most discerning of sips.
I caught a couple of fish in every pool, and picked up the odd fish in the lovely little runs and pots between pools. It is a shame that so many people overlook these little holes where you get short drifts and instant takes, it’s the best fun!
I also love fishing the back currents that wash food back upstream, often close under the banks, or alongside big boulders. Whilst it challenges casting and mending to get a good presentation, it’s a great reward when an often better sized fish sips down your fly.
As usual I was accompanied by dippers, wrens, wagtails, martins, and swallows but was especially pleased to see the Pied Flycatcher back outside the cottage, as I sat with a cold beer, contemplating another great day on the East Lyn. All for £5.
See also  Dominick Garnetts  excellent write up below

SAMARCH Project aims to track salmon and sea trout migrations.

Several North Devon sea anglers expressed concern when they spotted large numbers of net floats in the area off North Devon’s headlands. Rumours spread rapidly that this could be illegal fishing activity. A call to the local Environment Agency confirmed that the nets were part of an important research programme to help protect salmon and sea trout stocks. The SAMARCH Project Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust . www.gwct.org.uk For further information on this project visit https://www.samarch.org

SAMARCH is a five-year project with a grant of €5.8m from the EU’s France (Channel) England Interreg Channel programme.

The SAMARCH project will :

  • Provide novel information on the survival and migration of young salmon and sea trout in four estuaries of the Channel area
  • Provide novel information on the movements and swimming depths of adult sea trout in the Channel
  • Create a genetic data base for trout on both sides of the Channel
  • Create a map of areas that are important for sea trout in the Channel based on sea scape
  • Provide new information to further improve the models used in England and France to manage their salmonid stocks
  • Train students in the management of coastal and transitional waters
  • Engage with stakeholders throughout the project
  • Inform current and develop new policies for the better management of salmonid stocks in our coastal and transitional waters

There is close working between the IFCAs and the EA in coastal waters with the EA focussing on migratory fish within I believe six miles off the coast. Anglers are urged to contact the EA on 0800807060 if they have any concerns regarding illegal fishing or pollution.

Early or Late on those hot summer days

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I was delighted to receive this wonderful image of Graham Dunn fishing the Middle Torridge during the early dawn. During these hot summer days it’s better to be at the waters edge either at first or last light as the temperature is more comfortable and the fish more likely to take. During this short trip Graham tempted a dace, five brown trout and  a sea trout all carefully released with minimal handling.

‘Ebry day good fer fishing’ – but not ebry day good for catchin fish’.

Hot and getting hotter; mid-July the forecast gives wall to wall sunshine with temperatures into the mid-twenties. It’s not a perfect day to be heading out trout fishing yet there are worse places to be than floating about on Wimbleball. Part of anglings enjoyment is after all working for a result when conditions are difficult.

I had arranged to meet with Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pearce to try our luck in the height of summer. We were optimistic as we launched the boat despite the bright sunny conditions and headed for Rugg’s Bay for a drift or two. During these hot days of Summer, a boat is a distinct advantage enabling the option to search far and wide for the trout.

Plenty of water, sun cream, sun hats and sunglasses were essentials for today and Jeff had equipped himself with Snowbee’s finest.

A pleasing breeze was blowing down through the bay as we started our first drift. Jeff elected to start on a floater whilst I went down deep with a blue flash damsel on the point and a bright yellow and orange blob on a dropper. This proved to be a promising tactic as after half a dozen casts a fish was on! Then off! After I lost a couple more Jeff also went down deep  and had a couple of pulls. Eventually after a run of fish on and off I managed to get a hard fighting rainbow to the net.

As the middle of the day approached we decided to head off to the deep water near the dam where a few fish had been tempted the previous day using sinking lines and boobies. An angler there reported on some success with several follows and a couple of good rainbows.

We tried for an hour without success and decided to move into the wooded Upton Arm where we might tempt a wild brown in addition to the rainbows. After half an hour our spirits dropped as expectation started to ebb in the hot sun. We headed back to the deep water where a good rainbow followed my lure close to the boat before turning away.

It was now late afternoon and we decided to head right back up to Rugg’s and drift in the breeze ensuring we at least covered plenty of water. After ten minutes Jeff’s olive damsel was nailed by one of Wimbleball’s energetic rainbows. A blank was at least saved, reward for dogged persistence.

As we drifted the occasional fish was glimpsed following the flies. On one retrieve I was astounded to see a group of good sized rainbows chasing my team of flies before turning away at the last moment. Thinking we had found a shoal we dropped anchor and fished static for an hour giving a floating line and a team of imitative patterns a try. Whilst it was good to slow down and chill for a while I felt that the fish were not feeding and the best hope was a stripped lure or blob to stimulate an aggressive response.

We upped anchor and drifted until we ran out of water, calling it a day at close to 7.00pm after ten hours with just a fish each it had been a hard day’s fishing.

A Jamaican proverb: ‘Ebry day good fer fishing’ – but not ebry day good for catchin fish’.

A phrase for the day and the reason I will be back again whatever the weather.

After a long hot day afloat perhaps a cool beer at the George Inn at Brompton Regis? https://thegeorgeinnexmoor.co.uk/?fbclid=IwAR3a8bHVB5iHmbvTNTYunb_jCt1nG-rz9Nm-DLtWYL1cpV408SQdS8VD8pQ 

Rain brings life to North Devons Rivers

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Recent rain has brought life into North Devons rivers with salmon and sea trout forging up river. Paul Carter tempted a fine 6lb salmon from a lower Taw beat along with a bright silver peal of around 1lb 8oz. With more rain forecast prospects for Taw, Torridge and Lyn are good.

An indicator of fresh run fish is often the presence of sea lice these can remain on the fish for up to 48hours. The tails of the lice contain the eggs which drop off before the lice. Small numbers of lice have always been an indication of a fish fresh from the sea. Sadly in some areas on the West coast of Scotland sea lice infestations from intense salmon farming have decimated salmon and sea trout populations.

Note the sea lice next to the pectoral fin an indication that the fish has been in the river for less that 48 hours.

Wild brown trout fishing is also good with some good mayfly hatches reported on the Middle Torridge.

Richard Nickell co owner of Blakewell Fishery tells me that some good brown trout are taking flies intended for sea trout with several fish well over the pound mark. Blakewell is in good form as well with buzzers working well.

Guidelines

Good Practice Guide

Catching the fish

Use appropriate tackle. Rod and line should be strong enough to bring the fish to net swiftly and without playing it to exhaustion. Move the fish out of fast water as soon as possible. The use of barbless single or double hooks is recommended. Barbed hooks can be rendered barbless by pinching with pliers.

Catch and Release
RTFCA strongly recommends that you practise catch and release whenever possible.

Playing the fish

When playing a fish try not to play it to exhaustion but land it as quickly as is possible.

Landing the fish

Use a fine knotless meshed landing net. No gaffs or tailers may be used. Ensure the fish remains in the water at all times.
Do not beach or tail a fish.

Handling the fish

Ensure that hands are wet and avoid squeezing the fish.

Removing the hook

Remove the hook gently, using forceps or a hook disgorger.
Should the fish be deep-hooked cut the line as near to the hook as possible.

Recording the fish

Do not weigh the fish, but calculate its length and subsequently use a length/weight conversion chart (see below) to find the weight. Suitable length marks on rod or wading-stick can be helpful. Photographs of the fish should only be taken while the fish is in the water.

Reviving and releasing the fish

Support the fish with both hands in a gentle current and facing upstream.
Allow time for the fish to regain its strength and be able to swim away on its own.

Disease

To guard against disease that can damage our fish stocks fishermen are directed to the Environment Agency’s website for “Guidance on Disinfecting Fishing Tackle”.

The Environment Agency Incident Hotline

For reporting any serious environmental incident such as pollution, poaching or fish in distress is

0800 807 060

  • RTFA strongly believes that fishermen are the best guardians of our river and if you fish the Taw why not join the Association to support our efforts.
  • Contact us via our website at www.rivertawfisheries.co.uk or phone our Treasurer, Richard Nickell on 10271 344533 / 07884 073932