TORRIDGE FISHERY ASSOCIATION – NEWSREEL

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The River Torridge Fishery Association

President: Lord Clinton

 

Chairman: Paul Ashworth                                                                   Secretary: Charles Inniss

e-mail: [email protected]

NEWSREEL: WINTER 2019.

The salmon hatchery:  

            On Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th November we successfully trapped our 10 broodstock (5 hens and 5 cocks).  Four of the hens are about 9lb together with one superb fish in excess of 13lb. All the cock fish are in the 4.5lb range.  All the fish are in excellent condition  and are now being looked after back at the hatchery. We were concerned that with the rivers having been in full spate for the last six weeks all the salmon may have gone through the fish pass, but our worries were unfounded. Indeed there seems to be a steady run in the Okement which is very encouraging.

The lid of the main broodstock tank needed repairing and this was completed by Ken Dunn and David Williams in time to receive the broodstock.

Last year there was a high mortality from the eggs of one of the hens, so the team will be looking closely at out procedures for stripping and fertilising the eggs to minimise the risk of high mortalities.

Juvenile Surveys:

            During the summer the EA carried out juvenile surveys at a limited number of sites on the main river and major tributaries. The results were encouraging. The site at Okehampton Castle on the River Okement always produces good results but this year it was quite outstanding particularly with the numbers of salmon parr.

The Annual Dinner and Raffle:

Another superb evening at The Half Moon. 47 of us enjoyed an excellent meal followed by the raffle and auction. Once again member support for the annual raffle was tremendous and over £1,500 was raised which will go towards continuing our efforts to improve the fishing on this beautiful river. In particular this money is used to finance the running of the hatchery. Particular thanks to Paul Ashworth, our Chairman, and his wife Geraldine who organised the raffle and the auction which as always went off without a hitch with the usual wonderful array of prizes.

The Fishing Season:

Following on from 2018 the salmon anglers were hoping for more water and more fish: but it was not to be. It has been another season with predominantly low flows with few salmon caught. We were all hoping that the autumn rains would arrive in time to provide some good fishing at the back end of the season. The rains did arrive but our weather went from one extreme to another. The river was in full spate for the last 10 days of the season and since then there has hardly been a dry day. In the last fortnight there have been two large floods, with the river over the top of the hedges at Sheepwash on 25th October.

The brown trout fishing in May and June was at times quite outstanding. Often although there was little surface activity anglers who persevered with a dry fly were rewarded with some excellent catches. As in 2018 several trout upwards of 2lb have been caught.

There seemed to be a better run of sea trout this year. A small spate in June encouraged fish to move upstream and they spread throughout the system. I haven’t heard of any very large sea trout being caught and the main run seems to have been in the 2/3lb range with some fish up to 5lb.

 

Latest from the River Torridge

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It was good to once again arrive at the Half Moon Inn at Sheepwash as members of the River Torridge Fishery Association assembled for the AGM. This is always an enjoyable occasion with members coming from far and wide to reaffirm their commitment to the river Torridge by supporting the great work that is undertaken each year to protect and promote the river, its fish and ultimately the unique community that it supports.

Charles Inniss announced the sad news that Mrs Terry Norton Smith had recently passed away at the age of 94. Mrs Terry Norton Smith is fondly remembered by many who have fished the Torridge as she lived for many years at Little Warham Fishery with her husband Group Captain Peter Norton Smith https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1555385/Group-Captain-Peter-Norton-Smith.html

LITTLE WARHAM FISHERY

Last summer was one to be forgotten so far as salmon fishing is concerned with the long dry summer resulting in very low flows and consequently poor fishing. Catch returns show a rod catch of around 30 salmon and 75 to 100 sea trout. The nets took a total of 35 salmon and 23 sea trout from the Taw and Torridge Estuary.

The Torridge Fishery Association Website carry full details and all the latest news :-

Torridge River Association

The Half Moon Inn at Sheepwash gives a discount of £5 on fishing for Association members.

Below is the latest Newsreel from the Torridge Fishery Association giving a full round up of the AGM reports.

NEWSREEL: Spring 2019: Issue 40

Chairman: Paul Ashworth:                                         Secretary: Charles Inniss,

Beeches  Sheepwash Beaworthy Devon EX21 5NW

Tel:  01409231237

e-mail:  [email protected]

SUBSCRIPTIONS: for 2019 are now due please. If you have not already paid, please forward your cheque for £20 to the Secretary at the above address, making cheques payable to The River Torridge Fishery Association.

EA Proposals to reduce exploitation by rods and nets: Just before Xmas DEFRA gave us the good news we had been hoping for. The new salmon and sea trout byelaws have been confirmed.  All netting for salmon in our estuary has now ceased. This together with the ban on drift netting twelve months ago means that there is no netting in our estuary apart from netting for sand eels.

Catch and release remains voluntary but the EA expects a release rate above 90% for salmon. This effectively means that anglers are expected to release all salmon.  If the release level above 90% is not achieved, DEFRA will not hesitate to make releasing all salmon mandatory.

Your committee is concerned about the stock of sea trout and recommends that as well as salmon, all sea trout are released.

Please follow the following guide to good practice when releasing fish:

  • Use barbless hooks.
  • Use a fine knotless net.
  • Use strong tackle so fish can be played out and netted as quickly as possible.
  • Always net the fish: avoid handling fish and certainly do not pick them up by the tail to weigh or photograph.
  • Keep the fish in the water all the time: If you want to know the weight, measure the fish in the water and calculate accordingly. If you want to take a photo, do it while the fish is in the water.

Three year juvenile survey programmeThree years ago your committee agreed to fund a three year programme of juvenile surveys. The results of the initial survey (a semi-quantitative survey by the West Country Rivers Trust) in the summer of 2016 were disappointing. Salmon fry were present in only 10 of the 35 sites. In 2017 a full quantitative survey was completed by the EA. The results were much more encouraging with salmon fry present at most sites. Salmon parr numbers were poor but brown trout were evident throughout the catchment. This year the West Country Rivers Trust completed the third survey. This survey showed a continuing slight improvement particularly on the Okement and Lew tributaries. The three surveys have given us a better picture of the health of the river and where to target habitat improvements.Siltation and compaction of the spawning gravels continues to be a major problem.

The Salmon Hatchery: The rearing programme this winter has again been very successful. The broodstock of 5 hens and 5 cocks were all returned safely to the river. In the last week of March, 26,000 swim-up fry were stocked out into selected sites in the headwaters of the Torridge, Walden, Lew and Okement. For the dedicated team of volunteers, it is a great relief when the last fry are released into the river after five months of hard work.

Prospects for 2019:

After the disappointment of very poor fishing conditions in 2018 caused by the summer drought, we are all hopeful that 2019 will provide some good fishing. At least four salmon have been caught in March and even more encouraging sea trout have been caught as far upstream as the Junction Pool, where the Okement joins the main river. On 1stApril I saw the first trout rise of the season and anglers fishing the Half Moon beats at Sheepwash have enjoyed some good sport on dry fly and nymph.

Clay Discolouration: on the middle and lower river continues to be a problem after heavy rainfall, sometimes making the river unfishable just when it is an excellent height and colour for fishing. Discussions between the EA and Sibelco are continuing to minimise the problem. The obvious time to discharge clay water is when the river is in full spate.

The Fishermen’s eyes and ears:Our fishery officer, Paul Carter, is now responsible for all the rivers in North Devon and more than ever he is dependent on the eyes and ears of fishermen. If you have any concerns (poaching or pollution) please call him direct on 07768007363, or the EA Emergence Hotline 0800807060 or the Association Secretary 01409231237.

The Annual General Meeting: held at The Half Moon Inn on 5thApril was a great success with 46 members attending. The presentation by Adrian Dowding (WCRT) was particularly informative and interesting. We all enjoyed an excellent buffet and social get together after the meeting.

IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY DONE SO, PAY YOUR ASSOCIATION SUBSCRIPTION, BUY YOUR FISHING LICENCE, AND ABOVE ALL ENJOY YOUR FISHING.

Torridge AGM and latest River News.

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The Torridge Fishery Associations AGM at the Half Moon Inn Sheepwash was as always well supported with members travelling from far and wide to meet up with fellow members and hear a summary of the last twelve months. There was a good deal of common ground between Taw and Torridge River Associations with a focus on the River catchments health. Guest Speakers were Paul Carter from the EA, Sam Baycock from the West Country Rivers Trust and England Junior Fly Fishing Team member Seth Tuson. Paul Ashworth and Charles Inniss gave a summary of news including a positive result from the Hatchery project with 24000 swim up fry ready for stocking out.

Sam Baycock of the West Country Rivers Trust gave an enlightening talk on his work to improve habitat for spawning salmon and to increase fry survival,targeted coppicing to reduce shading, soil containment, and removal of obstructions were key areas.

Seth Tuson aged 17 talked at length about his experience fishing with the England Junior Fly Fishing Team. He outlined the vast amount of travelling and hard work involved with training session most weeks at Lyn Brenig in North Wales. This year training is at Draycote Reservoir. One of the huge benefits of the experience has been an depth knowledge of fly fishing tactics. Seth is tying flies to raise funds for his Fly Fishing adventure and can tie most still water flies to order and charges £1.20 per fly. Seth can be contacted via email :- [email protected]

 Taw Salmon

High river levels have curtailed fishing effort on the Taw and Torridge but Len Francis managed to get in a cast or two during a slight lull in the rain catching a fresh run spring salmon of 9lb from the Weir Marsh and Brightly Beats of the Taw. Another two salmon are believed to have been landed from Taw beats so far this year.

NEWSREEL: Spring 2018: Issue 37

Chairman: Paul Ashworth:

Secretary: Charles Inniss, Beeches Sheepwash Beaworthy Devon EX21 5NW

Tel: 01409231237

e-mail: [email protected]

SUBSCRIPTIONS: for 2018 are now due please. If you have not already paid, please forward your cheque for £20 to the Secretary at the above address, making cheques payable to The River Torridge Fishery Association.

EA Proposals to reduce exploitation by rods and nets: A big thank you to all of you who responded to the EA proposals. Because of the pressure exerted by the Angling Trust, the South West Rivers Association, River Fishery Associations and many individual anglers, the EA have only imposed mandatory “catch and release” on rivers were salmon stocks are dangerously low. “Catch and release” on our river will remain voluntary.

In simple terms for our river:

  • The spring salmon byelaw will remain in place: ie prior to 16th June all salmon must be released.
  • “Catch and release” will remain voluntary, but the EA has stated that at least 90% of fish must be released. If this is not achieved the EA will reserve the option to introduce mandatory “catch and release”.
  • In 2019 seine netting for salmon/sea trout by the three remaining licensed netsmen will cease.

Your committee recommends that anglers should practice “catch and release” at all times and whenever possible use barbless hooks.

GREAT NEWS!! The proposed IFCA Bye-law has been confirmed. As from 1st March this year, all drift netting for bass and mullet in our estuary has ceased. This will finally bring to an end salmon and sea trout being caught as a by-catch and having to be released either dead or so seriously injured the chances of survival were minimal.

Three year juvenile survey programme: Two years ago your committee agreed to fund a three year programme of juvenile surveys. The results of the initial survey (a semi-quantitative survey by the West Country Rivers Trust) in the summer of 2016 were disappointing. Salmon fry were present in only 10 of the 35 sites. Last summer a full quantitative survey was completed by the EA. The results were much more encouraging with salmon fry present at most sites throughout the catchment. Salmon parr numbers were poor but brown trout were evident throughout the catchment. This year the West Country Rivers Trust will carry out the third survey. The three surveys should give us a better picture of the health of the river and where to target habitat improvements.

The 2017 Season: it was a dry spring and early summer but from July onwards the weather was much more unsettled with the river holding at a good height resulting in improved salmon catches. Salmon and sea trout catches were both slightly better than in recent years. However there is a discrepancy between the official EA rod catch data and our known catches by anglers. There are still anglers who are failing to send in their catch returns. It is vital all anglers send in their return even if it is a nil return.

Prospects for 2018: March has been an exceptionally wet and cold month with the river rarely fishable. So far one salmon has been caught (10lb), on the Lower Torridge. As I write this Newsreel in the second week of April it’s still raining with the river still in spate. Patience is a virtue!!

The Fishermen’s eyes and ears: Our fishery officer, Paul Carter, is now responsible for all the rivers in North Devon and more than ever he is dependent on the eyes and ears of fishermen. If you have any concerns (poaching or pollution) please call him direct on 07768007363, or the EA Emergence Hotline 0800807060 or the Association Secretary 01409231237.

The Salmon Hatchery: The rearing programme this winter has again been very successful. The broodstock of 5 hens and 5 cocks were all returned safely to the river. Although the eggs of one hen failed to be fertilised there have been very few losses from the remainder and over 24,000 swim-up fry will be stocked out into the headwaters during the next fortnight. For the dedicated team of eight it is a great relief when the last fry are released into the river after five months of hard work and worry.

Sewage Storm Overflows at Torrington: thanks to the perseverance of the Torrington Commons Conservators SWW will be taking action to rectify the recurring problem of two sewage storm overflows repeatedly discharging raw sewage into the river at Torrington. The Conservators enlisted the help of Fish Legal (the legal arm of The Angling Trust).

The Annual General Meeting: held at The Half Moon Inn on 6th April was a great success with over 40 members attending.

We all enjoyed an excellent buffet and social get together after the meeting.

BUY YOUR FISHING LICENCE, PAY YOUR ASSOCIATION SUBSCRIPTION AND ABOVE ALL ENJOY YOUR FISHING. HAVE A GREAT SEASON.

Autumn Salmon news from the Torridge

NEWSREEL:             AUTUMN 2017.

The Fishing Season:

            It has been a most encouraging year for salmon, with the middle river beats doing particularly well. Despite the fact that in the spring and early summer the river was quite low salmon seemed eager to move upstream and by mid-May salmon were being caught as far upstream as Okement Foot. From July onwards the weather was much more unsettled and on occasions the river was out of order for several days. The lack of grilse in the last two months of the season was disappointing. Several fish approaching 20lb have been caught and the final salmon rod catch will probably be 90/100: the best since 2012.

The large sea trout were certainly in short supply, but a double figure fish was caught at Beam towards the end of June. However an encouraging aspect was that many of the school peal were in the 1.5/2lb range. Sea trout catches were similar to recent years. The few anglers who did venture out after dark often enjoyed some exciting sport.

The brown trout fishing seems to have been patchy but as in recent years there have been numerous reports of fish in excess of 2lb being caught. The perennial complaint is the lack of fly life which results in disappointing surface activity.

The EA Consultation on measures to reduce exploitation by both rods and nets.

            The committee would like to thank all the members who went to the trouble of completing the consultation questionnaire. It was certainly far too long-winded. Let’s hope the EA sees sense and any proposed measures to reduce rod exploitation are purely voluntary. I will keep you all informed of developments. Obviously the EA will contact those of you who completed the questionnaire.

The Devon and Severn IFCA (Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority) Byelaw Review:

            With the government lurching from one crisis to another a decision regarding banning drift netting for bass and mullet in our estuary seems to have been placed on the back burner. Apparently it has reached the last stage: all that is needed is for the Minister to rubber stamp.

The salmon hatchery:

Photo Left to Right: Members of the Torridge Fishery Association.
John Graham, Paul Ashworth, David Williams, Paul Carter, Ken Dunn and Paul Coles. Front Row  Charles Inniss

            Over the weekend 11/13th November the Okement came into spate after prolonged heavy rain, so we decided to try and catch up some broodstock. There were plenty of fish showing at the base of the weir at Monkokehampton and unbelievably at the first attempt we caught up the 5 hens and 5 cocks we needed. All were in excellent condition and hopefully some if not all of the hens will be ready for stripping in the very near future. There is a long way to go but so far so good.

The Annual Dinner and Raffle: Another superb evening at The Half Moon. Over 50 of us enjoyed an excellent meal followed by the raffle and auction. Once again member support for the annual raffle was tremendous and over £1,500 was raised which will go towards continuing our efforts to improve the fishing on this beautiful river. Particular thanks to Paul Ashworth, our Chairman, and his wife Geraldine who organised the raffle and the auction. There was the usual huge array of prizes.

Winter well: only three months to go until the start of another season. Have a great Xmas and above all a healthy New Year.

The River Torridge Fishery Association

President: Lord Clinton

Chairman: Paul Ashworth                 Secretary: Charles Inniss    e-mail: [email protected]

The following article was written by Charles Inniss for the Sheepwash Chronicle. Many thanks to Charles for giving permission to replicate it here on the pages of North Devon Angling News.

Helping the Torridge Salmon

One hundred years ago there were over 70 weirs on the Torridge: all of these were an obstacle to salmon migrating upstream to their spawning grounds. These weirs were built to divert water into the leats to work the water mills. A good example of this is the leat above Sheepwash Bridge which provided water for Herrick’s Mill that sadly has now fallen into ruin. This leat rejoins the main river on the bend upstream of the bridge. Most of these weirs were just made of brushwood and were known locally as “browse” weirs. However on the River Okement, the major tributary of the Torridge, a huge weir was constructed at Monkokehampton to divert water to work the mill at Mill Farm. Today the mill is still in working order and is used regularly by the Murrin family. This weir was so high it was a complete stopper for salmon, preventing them reaching valuable spawning grounds upstream of Okehampton on the slopes of Dartmoor.

In the 1970’s the salmon stock collapsed. There were many reasons the main one being an outbreak of a fungal disease that affected all the rivers in the British Isles but the Torridge suffered more than most. Each year fewer and fewer salmon were surviving to spawn. After much pressure and in the hope it would help stocks recover, SWW, who at that time managed the fishery, agreed to install a Denil fish pass at the side of the weir. At the time this was a revolutionary type of fish pass but it has been incredibly successful. An extra fifteen mile of river became available for salmon to spawn. For the first time salmon were seen on tiny streams on Dartmoor. In recent years there have been signs that salmon numbers are increasing and this is largely due to the increased spawning capacity of the upper reaches of the River Okement.

Fifteen years ago our fishery officer, Paul Carter, suggested that The Torridge Fishery Association should set up its own small salmon hatchery. Early efforts met with little success but when the Environment Agency decided to close down its own hatchery at Endsleigh on the River Tamar, we were able to obtain much of their redundant equipment. For the last twelve years we have every winter successfully reared upto 30,000 salmon fry.

The first task every autumn is to obtain the broodstock. Each hen will usually have between 6,000 and 8,000 eggs so the aim is to catch 5 hens and 5 cocks. This is achieved by netting them as they ascend the fish pass: an operation strictly controlled by the EA fishery staff.

On Monday 13th November after a weekend of heavy rain and with the Okement running high we decided to have a go at catching up the broodstock. Wayne Thomas, the angling correspondent for The North Devon Journal Herald, joined us. Salmon and Sea trout were regularly showing below the weir and obviously there was a large number of fish eager to go up the fish pass and continue their journey upstream. Wayne took some amazing photos of fish leaping at the foot of the weir. If you want to see more of these images go to Wayne’s website www.northdevonanglingnews.co.uk. Without too much difficulty we managed to catch up all the broodstock. These were put in an oxygenated tank, loaned to us by the EA, and transported back to the hatchery. There, they were measured, weighed and checked over to ensure they were all in good condition with no sign of disease or injury from seals, otters or herons. Once completed they were carefully placed in the holding tank.

By the time you read this, some if not all of the hens will have been stripped: the eggs, having been fertilised by the cock fish, will be laid out in trays of flowing water. If all goes well by early April about 30,000 small salmon fry will be ready to be stocked out in the headwaters.

Why do we go to all this trouble? There are many small tributaries of the main river that currently are not used by salmon. It is the aim of the hatchery project to introduce salmon fry to some of these areas in the hope that in four or five year’s time they will return from the high seas and spawn where they spent the first two years of their lives. Mussel Brook, the stream that enters the main river between Sheepwash and Black Torrington, is a very good example. By artificially restocking this stream we hope to extend the rearing areas not at present used by the salmon population.

If anybody would like to visit the hatchery contact me on 01409231237 and I would be delighted to show you the set-up.

Charles Inniss. November 2017.

 AUTUMN GLORY

I was privileged to join members of the River Torridge Fishery Association on a cold day in mid November as the Okement was running high following heavy rain. I was on hand to take a few photos and report on the above project as expertly described by Charles Inniss in the above article. I have been fishing the Torridge on a regular basis for over ten years and enjoy being a member of the River Torridge Fishery Association  who work so hard to ensure the future of the salmon that continue to migrate each season. The Torridge appears to be holding up well in comparison with many of the UK’s salmon rivers though this is a fragile Eco-system that is often challenged by human kinds disregard for nature.

I arrived at the weir well before the other members and spent an hour watching in awe as the salmon attempted to ascend the concrete barrier that for many years prevented the fish from reaching valuable spawning grounds high on Dartmoor. The instinct that drives these incredible fish to forge up river is surely one of natures many wonders and I was thrilled to capture a few images of these majestic fish.

As an angler I care deeply for the survival of these fish and this goes far deeper than the desire to catch them during the fishing season. That connection with a fish through rod and line gives a physical connection with the fish and nature that I cannot adequately convey in words.

Standing beside the river as the leaves fall and the river roars I give thanks to angling for bringing me so close to nature and my fellow anglers,

 

The salmon close up are handsome fish their colours perfectly reflecting the rich colours of the autumn season.

Hopefully the hatchery will once again produce fry to stock into the Torridge tributary’s as spring unfolds  and wild daffodils once again bloom along the banks and those first swallows gyrate in the air as sunshine warms the land.

TORRIDGE FISHERS WORK FOR THE FUTURE

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After one of the driest Autumns for many years the rains eventually came courtesy of storm Angus the West Country’s rivers became raging torrents sweeping tons of leaves and debris seaward. The game anglers of the region are well aware that the deluge of freshwater will allow thousands of salmon and sea trout to forge eagerly upstream towards the redds where they will fulfill their destiny in spawning at their birthplace to ensure future generations.

Those who fish for salmon are amongst the most active of conservationists working with the Environment Agency and organizations such as the West Country Rivers Trust to give nature a help in hand wherever possible. Members of the River Torridge Fishery Association have for several years run a small hatchery that was initially set up under guidance from the EA. The hatchery is now run entirely by the association with volunteers working tirelessly each winter to secure broodstock, strip, fertilize eggs and then nurture the precious result of their efforts until stocking out swim up fry in early spring.

img_3742(Above) Paul Ashworth, Ken Dunn, John Graham and Paul Coles

I was delighted to join four members of the association to assist in trapping this years broodstock at a location nestled away in a valley within the Torridge catchment. The salmon are trapped and netted before being carefully transported to the hatchery in an oxygenated tank of river water. The salmon are then kept after careful treatment to reduce risk of infection. When ready to spawn they are stripped of their eggs and milt before being returned to the river.

img_3720

The first trapping of the day had been unsuccessful as thousands of leaves had blocked the traps upstream end. This second trapping was to prove more successful with a 9lb hen salmon secured. A fine sea trout of around 4lb was also caught and released above the trap to continue its upstream journey. It was thrilling to get up close to this beautiful fish as it neared the end of its migration.

The following day produced two more hen salmon and two cock fish. Another trapping session will hopefully secure enough fish for another successful hatchery season.

img_3724img_3733

It is difficult to measure the success of the hatchery that has over the years produced many thousands of swim up-fry. The anglers that work so hard can only hope that they are making a difference and that one day one of the fish they have helped will give that delightful draw on the line as the fly is seized in a magical moment of deception.

Salmon will be spawning on many locations across the West-Country high on the moors and in rivers where few suspect such mighty fish can swim. Each winter I take time to walk the river bank in the hope of glimpsing the salmon as they  carry out their annual ritual. It is always fun to speculate upon the size of fish that make it to the spawning grounds and dream of those spring and summer days when the fishing season is once again in full flow.

img_3728(Above) A fine sea trout

img_3734(Above) The salmon is carefully measured and a record kept of all fish caught as broodstock.

img_3716(Above) These brown trout would delight the trout fisher on long summer evenings.

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