Is there a better place to be in mid summer than beside a Devon River with the countryside at its lush green peak?

 Misty Morning

Theres something special about being out on the river bank early in the morning before the mist has been burnt away by the summer sun. I wish I had dragged myself out of bed a bit earlier but Im not good at rising at silly o clock. It was around 6:30 when I cast a fly across the river. Twenty yards down the run and the line tightened slightly as if it had brushed a leaf but I knew it was more than that, this was confirmed a second or two later as the line zipped tight and for a moment the rod was bent to the the pull of life on the line. Before I could gauge the size the line fell slack as the hook hold failed.

The water was still a little murky following recent heavy showers but this early success ensured that I fished the entire session with expectation. There are a few salmon around as Simon Hillcox had tempted a fresh run fish a couple of days previous from a beat higher up river. (Below)

Is there a better place to be in mid summer than beside a Devon River with the countryside at its lush green peak?

 Is there a better place to be than beside a Devon River in summer?

Kingfishers flashed past, bright yellow wagtails flitted two and fro. In the rivers margins tiny pin fry massed in the margins and hundreds of tiny toads climbed from the river the steep banks must be like Everest to these vulnerable youngsters.

As the sun climbed higher in the sky I knew that my best chance of a silver tourist had ebbed away. Before leaving the river I sat on the Fishermans bench to absorb the surroundings. Damsel flies flitted above the lush green grass fluffy white clouds drifted across a blue sky and suns warmth felt good.

Thought for VE Day

In these troubled times we look back at the dark days of the second world war and some have drawn parallels to those dark times. Can we really compare the sacrifice of staying home to stay safe with the terror and destruction of a conflict that raged for more than six years?

I recalled a photo I saw a few years ago sat upon the mantle piece of a fishing hut beside the peacefully flowing River Torridge. It is somehow reassuring to stand beside a river and feel the continuity of nature. I am sure there were anglers who rested here thankful to have survived the horrors of conflict whilst casting a line across tranquil waters.

In the coming months it is to be hoped that anglers can once again return to the waters edge. Sadly the numbers of salmon are much depleted since those days 75 years ago when the nation celebrated Victory in Europe.

RIVER TORRIDGE NEWSREEL – Paul Carter Retiring.

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The River Torridge Fishery Association

President: Lord Clinton

 

Chairman: Paul Ashworth                                                                   Secretary: Charles Inniss

Beeches, Sheepwash, Beaworthy Devon EX21 5NW

Tel: 01409231237/07464190944

e-mail: [email protected]

NEWSREEL:  SPRING 2020.

 

At this extremely unusual and difficult time, here is the Spring Newsreel with the latest news from the Association.

We cannot fish the river at the moment but it is the time of year when subscriptions are due. Please forward your cheque for £20 to the Secretary at the above address. Please make cheques payable to The River Torridge Fishery Association.

If you prefer to pay by BACS: a/c no 00827770    sort code 51:70: 16

 

The salmon hatchery:  the rearing programme last winter and early spring has been our most successful to date and over 38,000 swim-up fry have successfully been stocked out into the headwaters of the main river and the major tributaries. All were stocked out during the weekend of 21st/22nd March: on 23rd the government announced a total lockdown, which would have prevented any travelling to the stocking out sites. We were very lucky!! For the dedicated team of volunteers it is a great relief when the fry are stocked out after five months of hard work.

The fishing season so far: not much to report. After an incredibly wet winter, culminating with over 10 inches of rain in February, the river was in full spate for the first fortnight of March.  On 13th March a salmon was lost at the tail of the weir pool at Beam. I saw a running fish at the tail of the Junction Pool, where the Okement joins the Torridge, the day before the lockdown came into force on 23rd March. So for the time being all fishing has come to a halt. Walking the river at Sheepwash I have seen trout feeding on the surface, which has cheered me up. Since the monsoon season ended in mid-March, there has been no appreciable rain in North Devon for four weeks and already the river is showing its bones. The forecast for the next few weeks is for very little rain. If we are able to fish later in the season, maybe this will coincide with a period of more unsettled weather. Here’s hoping!!

 Luke Bannister maker of fine Split Cane Fly Rods fish a previous spring day on an Upper Torridge Beat for Brown Trout. 

The AGM: the agm which was due to take place at The Half Moon on Friday 3rd April was postponed and will be held later in the year.

Our Fishery Officer is retiring: after 33 years at the helm, Paul is retiring at the end of this month. We have been so fortunate to have a dedicated fishery officer who has always held our beautiful river close to his heart. He has been a wonderful ambassador for the river and a good friend to us all.  Paul will continue to fish his stretch of the Lower Torridge and I am sure will give help and advice when asked.

At present the EA has not appointed a successor, but in the short term three other fishery officers from Devon and Cornwall will be covering Paul’s patch.

Enjoy your retirement Paul and keep fishing.

Paul Carter with a previous seasons salmon fry ready to stock out into a tributary.
Paul Carter stocks out fry into a Torridge Tributary.

Early Season thoughts beside the river

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Today I cast a line for salmon on the middle Torridge with the river running high and at a good colour there should be a few salmon about and I have read reports of a couple of fish hooked and lost. Catching really did not matter today it was just good to be beside the river and feel the waters flow and cool air. In these worrying times its a great comfort to be beside the river as spring flowers bring a splash of colour and a feeling of normality.

After a winter away from the beat its always interesting to note the changes that have occurred after winter spates tear down the valley. The odd tree has succumbed but overall little has changed. The present situation in the wider world has made me focus on the present far more and today I walked slowly along the bank savouring the familiar spring flowers and birdsong. The pheasants, strutting across the fields, the cooing wood pigeons in the woods, a grey squirrel flitting from branch to branch.

I have been a keen collector of the books of BB and I recalled somewhere in his writings a dark tale of the Village of Faxton abandoned as the  spectre of the Black Death reaped its curse in 1665. “The Country Mans Bedside Book” was published in 1941 during the dark days of World War 2. At the end of the introduction I found this fitting prose.

One day this dark dream will be over, the iron of winter will pass, the village bells ring out again over tranquil meadows and we shall have peace again. When that hour comes let us help to build a saner, simpler world on the one true foundation.

Nature is master of all, there will be wild violets blooming along the sheltered bank whatever we may do, the joyous bird will sing, grass will cover the old scars. In this I find quiet comfort and a pointer to man’s folly. 

‘BB’

Northants, April 1941

It is comforting to look back into history and see that previous generations have been through dark days and that they have passed as these will do. We as anglers are very fortunate to have this connection with nature that can give assurance that all will be well in time.

I leave you with a few images from the waters edge.

( Below)The winter floods have washed away several freshwater pearl mussels. These can live upwards of 100 years and have not bred in the Torridge for many years. It is sad to see these casualties beside the river. https://www.northdevonanglingnews.co.uk/2017/04/28/saving-freshwater-mussels-torridge/

The above pearl mussel shell undoubtedly belonged to a mollusc that started its life somewhere around the time of World War 1 just a couple of years before the last flu pandemic to inflict death and misery across the world. It is sobering to think of this grim history but also perhaps comforting to reflect on all the good times that have happened in this century since this old timer was born in the ever-flowing waters of the Torridge.

River Torridge Postpone AGM as a result of Covid-19

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The River Torridge Fisheries Association have reluctantly had to cancel their AGM that was due to be held at the Half Moon Inn at Sheepwash on April 3rd. The Covid-19 outbreak is causing widespread anguish and will leave a long lasting legacy as it spreads to cause ill health and both social and financial hardship. It is to be hoped that anglers can at least access the waters edge and enjoy a reprieve from the concerning news from around the world.

The latest news from the association can be found on their website –http://www.rivertorridge.org.uk

RIVER TAW FISHERIES ASSOCIATION AGM POSTPONED

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The River Taw Fisheries Association have made the decision to postpone this years AGM that was due to take place at Highbullen Hotel on March 27th  due to ongoing concerns regarding the Coronavirus.

Angling on the whole is not severely impacted upon by the Coronavirus.  Waterside activities in the fresh air are undoubtedly amongst the safest place to be when it comes to Coronavirus. After one of the wettest winters for several decades Devon’s rivers are brimful with water and whilst the first two weeks of the season have been a washout the rivers levels bode well for the coming season. With dryer weather forecast for next week I expect a few anglers to get out and wet a line.

Alistair Blundell ventured onto the lower Torridge and spotted a salmon showing at the tail of the pool. He used his double handed rod to drift a fly across the spot and was rewarded with that delightful connection with a double figure spring salmon. After a few exciting moments the fish managed to shake the hook free in the strong current. The hooking of the fish is a great sign that salmon are in the rivers and as the water level drop there is every project of that most prized spring run salmon.

Salmon Fishing Season off to a flooded start

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A new salmon season began on Sunday March 1st  but looking at the Taw below Newbridge on the eve of the season I doubt if any of the North Devon rivers will be fishable for at least a week. Early season is often hampered by high river levels and in the longer term this could be to anglers advantage as it will hopefully mean that there is a plenty of water well into the season. The early part of the season can produce some of the biggest fish of the year with big fresh run spring salmon one of angling greatest prizes. Don’t forget that all salmon have to be returned to the river in the first three months of the season. Catch and release is also encouraged throughout the entire season with barbless single hooks preferable.

Salmon close seasons by river

River Start and end
Avon (Devon) 1 Dec to 14 Apr
Erme 1 Nov to 14 Mar
Axe, Otter, Sid 1 Nov to 14 Mar
Lim 1 Oct to the last day of Feb
Camel, Gannel, Menalhyl, Valency 16 Dec to 30 Apr
Dart 1 Oct to 31 Jan
Exe 1 Oct to 13 Feb
Fowey, Looe, Seaton 16 Dec to 31 Mar
Tamar, Tavy, Lynher 15 Oct to the last day of Feb
Plym, Yealm 16 Dec to 31 Mar
Taw, Torridge 1 Oct to the last day of Feb
Lyn 1 Nov to 31 Jan
Teign 1 Sep to 31 Jan

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.

 

Salmon on the Taw and Torridge

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The recent rain has brought a welcome run of fish into the Taw and Torridge with the above salmon tempted by Emma Tyjas from the Taw.

Bob Lewington tempted a 9lb salmon from the Weir Marsh and brightly Beats of the Taw.

Simon Hillcox tempted 6lb salmon from the a middle Torridge Beat and a brace from a Lower Taw beat estimated at 6lb and 4lb both tempted on a Willie Gunn.

I fished a middle Torridge beat with great expectation but failed to tempt a fish. Great to be back out on the river though now that the river has been topped up.

Rivers rise to bring a run of silver tourists

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The recent rainfall has boosted rivers levels and brought a welcome run off salmon and sea trout to both the Taw and Torridge. Around a dozen salmon have been tempted from the River Torridge and I suspect a similar number from the River Taw. One angler was certainly in the right place at the right time catching three salmon in a short session on a middle Torridge beat. If we get more rain to top up the rivers more sport can be expected.

A fantastic fresh run 18lb salmon was caught, landed and returned safely by Jamie Walden who was fishing alone in a challenging location mid river, on the Little Warham Fishery testament to his skills being able to land it on his own. Jamie also lost two sea trout in the same session.