2lb Plus flounder

posted in: Sea Angling, Sidebar | 0

David Jenkins caught a fine 2lb 3oz flounder on his latest session fishing the Taw estuary. Whilst the numbers of flatties being tempted may begin to drop off now the biggest fish of the season will come over the coming month leading up to Christmas.

Fish Legal is considering legal action for River Mole Pollution

Fish Legal are considering legal action against those responsible for the devastating pollution incident that killed thousands of fish on the river Mole in July 2019. See full press release below:-

River Mole polluters not off the hook yet

Fish Legal is considering legal action against those responsible for polluting a 4.7 kilometre stretch of the River Mole with digestate in July 2019.

The company was fined £2,000 and an employee was fined £667 at Exeter Magistrates Court on 28 July 2021 after an estimated 15,600 fish died as result of the incident.

Fish Legal has a number of riparian and angling club members on the River Mole affected by what one Environment Agency officer has described as the worst fish kill seen in 30 years. Whole populations of salmonids, from mature adults to fry, are thought to have been wiped out by what appears to have been a careless and completely avoidable pollution of the river.

Penelope Gane, Head of Practice at Fish Legal said:

“It’s good to see that the Environment Agency prosecuted in this case.  They have faced a barrage of criticism in the media recently for not taking a tough stance on polluters so when they do use their powers to punish offenders and to deter others that should be acknowledged.”

“The fine on the other hand is paltry.  Anaerobic digestate is extremely toxic to aquatic life and it could take years for fish populations to fully recover from this one-off event.  Whilst the Court may have stuck to the letter of the Sentencing Guidelines in deciding on the level of the fine to impose in this case, does a total of £2,667 really send out the right message about the value of our rivers?”

Alex Gibson, who owns fishing rights to about a mile of the River Taw into which the River Mole flows, said:

“It would be hard to imagine a worse pollution incident.  It comes after the River Taw Fisheries & Conservation Association has both spent time and money improving access over Head Weir – the gateway to the Mole for migratory fish – and gravel washing on the Mole to increase spawning capability there. It is not just anglers fishing below the polluted stretch, but all those who enjoy the river and its ecology that have felt the devastating effect of this pollution incident and, unfortunately will continue to do so into the future.”

Fish Legal took legal action on behalf of a member club on the River Leadon in a similar incident in 2016 when an employee instructed to fertilise one of the orchards at a farm near Dymock in Gloucestershire failed to check the valves before turning on the irrigation system designed to take the digestate fertiliser from a lagoon to the orchard. Sadly, anaerobic digesters continue to represent a high-risk operation with catastrophic consequences for rivers when anything goes wrong.

North Devon Rivers Latest

posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

A lack of rain has undoubtedly contributed to another poor season on North Devon’s rivers with salmon and sea trout numbers below expectation. As the last month of the season looms anglers will be hoping for a big spate to bring in the fish that are hopefully waiting in the estuary. Good sport in last few weeks can very often restore many an anglers season.

Ian Blewett tempted this stunning River Taw salmon on  Size 12 Stoat’s tail. The fish was hooked in the fading light of dusk and eventually unhooked and released after darkness had descended. An exciting encounter in what Ian described as a poor season so far.

River Torridge Newsreel

The River Torridge Fishery Association

President: Lord Clinton

Chairman: Paul Ashworth                                                               Secretary:

Charles Inniss                                                                                                                         Beeches

Sheepwash                                                                                                                         Beaworthy

Devon

EX21 5NW

                                                                                                      [email protected]

                                                                                                                        tel: 01409231237

NEWSREEL: SUMMER 2021:               

The Annual Dinner and Raffle: will take place at The Half Moon Inn, Sheepwash on Saturday 25th September. Please book direct with The Half Moon.         Tel: 01409231376. e-mail:  [email protected]

The Half Moon has recently changed hands and the new owners, Haydn Beynon and his wife Kim are keen to meet as many of you as possible. They want to retain The Half Moon as a traditional fishing inn and in particular wish to encourage newcomers to take up river fly fishing. Our new fishery officer, Callum Underhill, will be joining us and is looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible.

Environment Agency – North Devon’s New Fishery Officer

The Hatchery: it’s that time of the year again: in early November we will be trapping the broodstock of five hens and five cocks. This winter we are again planning to rear 30,000 swim-up fry to stock out into the headwaters next spring. After the disappointment of not being able to operate last year, the EA are happy for us to run our hatchery this year with 50% of our eggs being grown on to “swim-up” fry at the Colliford hatchery in Cornwall.

The season so far: it’s been an unusual year. An exceptionally cold and dry April was followed by a month of incessant rain and not until early June did the river come into good fishing condition. Because of the Covid restrictions there have not been so many visiting anglers but several large sea trout over 5lb have been caught by those fishing after dark: mostly from middle river beats. An 8lb bass was recently caught in the weir pool at Beam!!

The AGM: the agm could not be held this year, but all being well will take place next spring.

SUBSCRIPTIONS: most of the £20 subscriptions for this year have now been paid. Thank you all very much. I would be grateful to receive the few that are outstanding. Please make cheques payable to the Torridge Fishery Association and forward to me at the above address. If paying by BACS: a/c no: 0082770: sort code: 51 70 16. Ref: Torridge Owners Association. Raffle ticket money and subs can be paid with one cheque.

We look forward to seeing many of you at the dinner: it is always a most enjoyable evening.

Double figure Taw sea trout

posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

Richard Nickell co-owner of Blakewell Fishery followed up recent successes with salmon and Twaite Shad tempting this stunning sea trout estimated at 10lb 8oz.

As the rivers drop back after the recent summer spate sea trout will provide exciting fishing for the nocturnal fly fisher.

Salmon numbers after the big summer spate have been disappointing with around half a dozen reported from both Taw and Torridge. This could be as a result of reduced fishing effort from the ongoing COVID crisis or possibly as a result of the salmon run being well spread after the prolonged spate.

FINE SILVER SPRINGER

posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

Richard Nickell took a break from Blakewell fishery duties and tempted a superb fresh run springer estimated at 13lb+ from a River Taw beat. Both the Taw and Torridge are fining down nicely and as the fish settle into their familiar lies anglers will hope to tempt a few salmon and sea trout.

Salmon and Trout Conservation are running a campaign for a Parliamentary Petition;  “Give the Environment Agency the funds and freedom to protect English rivers”

Freshwater habitats- rivers, lakes and streams and all their associated wildlife need your help.

We are asking you to sign, and share as widely as you can, Salmon & Trout Conservation’s Parliamentary Petition “Give the Environment Agency the funds and freedom to protect English rivers”.

Please sign the petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/586378

The Environment Agency needs to be shorn of Government directions to put the economy before the environment and it needs the funding to enforce existing legislation without fear or favour. Our report “Doing its Job exposed its lamentable failure to protect our rivers and their wildlife. We want your support to give the EA the mandate and money to stop the decline.

We need 100,000 signatures to get a debate in Parliament and have until 24 November to achieve our target. It is a big ask but with your help we can do it.

Big Rivers Bring Silver Tourists

The Taw and Torridge are both running high following the recent spell of heavy rain but as the rivers drop and clear salmon and sea trout should start to show in good numbers. Jack Hillcox was fishing a River Taw beat with his father Simon who was acting as ghillie.

Simon told me ” The one thing better than catching a salmon  is acting as ghille when your son lands one.We had half an hour left before I had to drop him at Tiverton Parkway and were just philosophising how we had a great day and fish didn’t really matter ….then wham! A memorable day and hoping we all have some action over the next week or so.”

The salmon was returned quickly and swam away like a rocket.

As the rivers drop salmon and sea trout will settle into known lies where for a few days they will be catchable. Im sure a few good brown trout will also seize the salmon flies like this fine brown tempted by a seasoned Torridge fisher.

I fished a middle Torridge Beat as the sun started to rise above the trees and had  a couple of good pulls on a brass tube fly. The colour was perfect but the river is running just a little high and should be perfect within two or three days. Despite the lack of success is there a better place to be than in the river as the English countryside reaches early summer perfection?

After posting this I received news that Jamie Walden tempted a fine salmon of 16lb from Little Warham Fishery.

 2021 AGM RIVER REPORT, RIVER TAW FISHERIES & CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION – ALEX GIBSON

posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

2021 AGM RIVER REPORT, RIVER TAW FISHERIES & CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION – ALEX GIBSON

  1. To say the least 2020 was an abnormal season for us – covid restrictions and two extended low water periods led to fewer fishing days. Nevertheless the beat survey was encouraging – 177 salmon, 192 sea trout and about 2,600 brown trout. To date I only have preliminary EA figures for salmon, 146 (90% returned). Last year’s beat survey numbers were 82 salmon, 265 sea trout and almost 3,000 brown trout.
  2. River Improvement Work: £10,000 was spent on gravel washing last year on the Upper Taw, Mole, Molland Yeo and Crooked Oak. We plan is to spend the same amount this year. We also plan to spend £8,000 on a Westcounty Rivers Trust fry index survey. WRT last surveyed six years ago in 2015. The EA conducts its full juvenile survey every 6 years and its next survey is scheduled for 2024. However this may be delayed a year because for covid reasons no surveys were possible last year. These WRT and EA surveys are crucial to us since they allow us to fine tune our river improvement plans by reference to the three-yearly information base.
  3. Mole Pollution Incident: As far as we are aware the EA is pushing ahead, very slowly admittedly, with its plans to prosecute what is a category 1 incident, the worst. Unfortunately information about the case is not forthcoming and we still don’t have access to the original fish kill survey. By releasing it the EA feels it may prejudice its case. We are determined on our part that prosecution should go ahead and it was for this reason the we turned down an enforcement undertaking offer of £6k from the polluter. These EU’s are a form of out of court settlement. Such an enforcement offer had it been accepted by us and subsequently by the EA would have meant no prosecution, an unacceptable outcome. The good news is that under pressure from us the EA has indicated that on a one-off basis it will survey two sites on the polluted stretch of the Mole this season. This should give us a handle on how that stretch of river is being recolonised.
  4. As you all know we work very closely with the Westcountry Rivers Trust and this is an excellent opportunity for me to thank Adrian Dowding. I have worked closely with Adrian from the time of the Access over Weirs Project onwards and I can safely say that his contribution has been invaluable. He understands our catchment and continues to be committed to help us.
  5. We were without an EA Enforcement Officer for about 6 months last year after Paul Carter’s retirement. This situation was made good in October with the appointment of Callum Underhill, who like Paul will cover the Taw, Torridge and Lyn. Due to covid restrictions it has not been possible to meet Callum and give him a full briefing on the river and RTFA. We hope to make that good shortly. Meantime telephone conversations must suffice.
  6. I have been Chairman since the 2007 AGM and this is the right time for me to stand down. I feel much has been achieved, but as you are all well aware keeping our river healthy and its fish stocks in good shape is a continuing uphill struggle given the threats we face. I am referring particularly to the threats from bad farming practices, the 35 sewage treatment works on our system and the 3 anaerobic digesters, which have led to a huge expansion of winter maize growing with damaging consequences from soil run-off. All this works to the detriment of better water quality and healthier fisheries. We have campaigned actively against these threats and I am sure we will continue to do so.
  7. I believe the Association continues to have a clear river improvement strategy, fully supported by the membership. This strategy is implemented to the extent that funding permits. We always try to be proactive rather than reactive and have punched above our weight regionally. We are well plugged into the national organisations that must lead the national initiatives and campaigns for better water quality and healthier fisheries. I am sure all this will continue under Andy’s Chairmanship.
  8. I am delighted that the Chairmanship is passing to Andy Gray. In my opinion he is the ideal candidate and he inherits a strong Committee which is widely knowledgeable, has plenty of experience and properly reflects all parts of the river and all types of fishing from brown trout to salmon and sea trout. There is a broad membership base. I know Andy will be a first class Chairman, ably supported in particular by Ian Blewett as Secretary and Richard Nickell as Treasurer. I am also delighted that Eddie Rands, Chairman of South Molton & District Angling Club, is joining the Committee. He will be a real asset.
  9. Finally I would like to thank everyone for the support that I have received over the years. And in case you think you have finally got rid of me I should point out that the Committee wishes to co-opt me back in an unofficial capacity. I hope to be able to add some value in this role.

My thanks and best wishes to you all.

Alex Gibson

26 March 2021

River Taw Fisheries & Conservation Association  – Taw News

posted in: Game Fishing, Sidebar | 0

The rivers Taw and Torridge are running low and clear after several weeks of dry weather. Despite this a couple of fresh run spring salmon have been tempted from beats on the Middle Taw. This bodes well for when rain eventually swells the rivers and temperatures rise.

The River Taw Fisheries Association  held its AGM recently  via zoom with a good attendance from the membership. The association has changed its name to the River Taw Fisheries & Conservation Association  reflecting the organisations focus on habitat restoration and protecting fish stocks. Alex Gibson has stepped down as Chairman after over decade of sterling service and hands the reigns to Andy Gray. Alex reported in his closing statement that approximately 177 salmon were caught from the Taw and close to 200 sea trout along with good numbers of wild brown trout.

(Above) Alex Gibson – RTFCA Retiring Chairman

The BBC programme Panorama is highlighting the disturbing discharge of raw sewage into the nation’s rivers is well worth catching up with. This issue has been raised by the River Taw Fisheries and Conservation Association who recently shared data from the Rivers Trust highlighting sewage pollutions across the UK via a sewage map. The health of the nations rivers are vital to us all and should be protected to ensure the long term survival of vital fish populations and other wildlife.

What’s lurking beneath the surface of your local river?The Rivers Trust Sewage Map.

Flounder Fishing

posted in: Sea Angling, Sidebar | 0

Flounder devotee David Jenkins caught this 1lb 14oz flounder on his latest visit to the Taw estuary. David says that the fishing has not been easy and expressed concerns regarding anglers not backfilling after digging for ragworm. This is a perennial issue with a significant minority failing to follow well established codes of conduct relating to bait collection. It is important that anglers do all they can to maintain a good public image and the actions of few tarnish the good name of angling. This also relates to litter and failure to respect private property.