Barnstaple & District Angling Club – NEW WATER

Barnstaple and District Angling Association have acquired half a mile of prime salmon fishing on the middle Taw that was once owned by the late John Saunders. On March 22nd members met with John’s widow Pam and their son Chris to hand over the fishing,  Pam warmly wished members many happy hours at the water’s edge.

The following day I joined members at the rivers edge for an introduction to the clubs new water. Club member and long time keeper on the water Chay Boggis gave a valuable introduction to the water. Pointing out known salmon lies and safe wading areas. The river was at the top end of its fishable range but as river levels begin to drop and Spring gets underway prospects for salmon and sea trout are excellent. As the warmer days and lighter evenings arrive there will be the chance to target the plentiful wild brown trout that rise freely.

The club established close a century ago welcomes new members and has water on the Lower Taw at Newbridge and a coarse fishing lake near South Molton. Access to the new water for club members is via syndicate membership that is currently full.


Chay Boggis gives valuable advice on where the salmon lie.


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       The River Taw Fisheries and Conservation Association held their annual general meeting at the Mole Resort (formerly High Bullen House Hotel) on Friday March 22nd.

Richard Nickell and Andy Gray

       Members from across the region reflected upon a disappointing season in 2023 with catch returns indicating very poor results for both salmon and sea trout. Sixty salmon and around one hundred sea trout were caught throughout the river season. River flow had been low during the early spring and summer but had been good for the second half of the season. A good number of kelt’s caught at the start of the season gave some cause for optimism for future seasons. Redd counting during the winter had been difficult due to high flows.

       Chairman Andy Gray delivered an outline plan for working closely with the North Devon Catchment Partnership to focus on improving water quality and habitat. This ambitious project aims to unite all who have an interest in the River Taw and its tributaries. Farmer clusters are now receiving payments to invest in environmentally beneficial projects and practices that will benefit the rivers. The Environment Agency are also focussing on agricultural issues with increased officers to both police and enforce regulations.

Measures to reduce flooding and slow the flow are being introduced on tributaries of the Taw investment in leaky dams and buffer zones.

       The recent North Devon District Council meeting was discussed with a recognition that there is greater public awareness regarding sewage discharge incidents by South West Water.

       An increasing run of shad into the river Taw each summer is a positive sign that the weir removal project partially funded by the RTFCA has benefitted the river.

       Pete Tyjas introduced guest speaker Nick Measham CEO  Wildfish. Nick delivered a passionate and enlightening talk and presentation about its work to protect wild fish. Nick highlighted the dramatic decline in salmon stocks estimated at close to 90% between 1970 and 2016. Nick highlighted the three essentials for salmon in our rivers. Clean water, enough water and no barriers. Pollution, over abstraction and barriers to migration are the key issues. Wildfish are working extremely hard to tackle all these issues with data monitoring via their smart rivers project, working to ensure compliance with existing regulations and campaigning to get farmed salmon off the table.

       The talk was followed by the associations annual auction to raise valuable funds for river improvements. Discussion  around the dinner tables after the meeting undoubtedly included debate on the preceding presentation and the prospects for the coming season.

A Visit to The Arundell Arms at Lifton a longstanding Country Hotel with a rich history for shooting and fishing

The Arundell Arms at Lifton is a longstanding Country Hotel with a rich history for shooting and fishing. When I saw that a new Orvis outlet was opening there in mid-March a visit for Pauline and I was undoubtedly in order.

After one of the wettest February’s on record and an exceptionally wet start to March the 2024 start to the salmon season has been very much  a non-starter. And as we drove through Devon crossing the Torridge and Tamar enroute we noted the muddy and swollen bank high rivers. There would be no fishing for a few days at least.

We arrived at the Arundell Arms mid-morning and walked into the new Orvis store to be greeted warmly by David Pilkington. A gentlemen I had not previously met but a name that is synonymous with West Country Fly Fishing.

David Pilkington joined the Cornwall River Board as a trainee bailiff at the age of sixteen and joined the team at the Arundell in 1976 as assistant river keeper and fishing instructor. We chatted with David about his years at the Arundell and inevitably reflected upon the catastrophic collapse in salmon and sea trout numbers. Like many anglers of our generation I feel that we perhaps share both a deep rooted sadness at what we have seen and an acknowledgement that we were lucky to fish through such wonderous days of abundance.

A wide range of salmon, sea trout and trout flies suitable for West Country waters were available  and I inevitably succumbed to temptation purchasing a few salmon and trout  flies. I just hope they appeal to the fish as much as to me! An impressive rack of Orvis fly rods and reels were on display, clothing waders and tackle adorned the opposite wall all exuding quality that was reflected by the price tag.

After chatting with David we engaged in conversation with the Arundell’s new owners. Simon Village and Arabella Munro. They took over the Hotel in 2020 during the height of the Covid pandemic a challenging time to embark upon such a venture for sure.

Simon was undoubtedly well versed in the Hotels rich history and traditions and recounted the glorious days when the Hotel was under the stewardship of Conrad Voss Bark and his wife Anne Voss Bark. The Arundell Arms is one of few remaining Country Sports Hotels left in the West Country. I recall with fondness the Carnarvon Arms and Tarr Steps Hotel  on the Barle in Somerset and several other establishments that were once thriving hubs of country life.

Simon and Arabella’s passion for preserving this rich cultural heritage was evident as we chatted about the river, its fish and its fishers. These Country Hotels with fishing and shooting have over the years hosted many with wealth and influence upon the land along with many of anglings greatest writers. Unlike many large country historic houses that are now preserved by the National Trust or run as theme parks these establishments still maintain a real beating heart of Country life and tradition.

Whilst the demise of salmon and sea trout is undoubtedly very sad. The thriving wild brown trout and grayling give hope for a bright future at the Arundell. Twenty two miles of glorious river meandering through the border lands of Devon and Cornwall.

After booking Sunday lunch we headed to the famous Cockpit to grab a fresh coffee before trying out one of the new Orvis rods on the lawn. The cockpit was once used for the barbaric sport of cockfighting. In recent years it has been the Hotels rod room and location for pre fishing briefings. There is a great deal of research carried out before these rods are released and it was a joy to have a few casts with a rod of undoubted quality.

Pauline and I enjoyed a delicious lunch in the Hotel Bar as warm spring sunshine beamed in through the windows. A smouldering log fire, Spring flowers, Suitably piscatorial pictures on the walls along with cheerful friendly staff made it a perfect way to spend a Sunday lunch.

Suitably refreshed we headed to Arundell’s Tin Hay Lake half a mile down the road. The lake is an old flooded quarry its gin clear waters providing superb fishing for stocked browns and rainbows. Today Orvis and Arundell team members were offering expert tuition to a mixture of experienced anglers and keen novices.

We chatted with members of the Orvis team and local anglers. We also conversed with Luke Bannister maker of fine split cane rods, we delved into the joys of fishing and how those magic wands that deliver flies to the trout are instruments of delight. I pondered upon the worth of rods with price tags upwards of £1000. My own analogy was to liken the difference between a cheap run-around car and a Ferrari. The distance can be covered just the same with both cars as a trout fly can be delivered with equal effect to the wily trout. And so the question we are left with is not in relation to the catching of fish but more the delight in using tools that ooze that essence of quality that cannot always be seen or quantified.  The difference between a true diamond and cubic zirconia ring perhaps.

We also drifted briefly into the toxic world of modern politics and the fight to clean up the nation’s rivers. There is certainly a growing and united movement of protest about the state of our rivers.

After a pleasant and engaging conversation we headed off for a walk along country lanes. The road took us over a bridge that crossed the River Thrushel a tributary of the River Tamar. The hedges and riverside banks were brightened with the carpets of yellow celandines. Daffodils were still in bloom but past their best an indication of increasingly early springs.

The river was alluring despite its turbid brown colour its gurgling sound adding a pleasing symphony to the spring day.

The country scene is one that will linger in my minds eye until the day I depart this earth.

         After a pleasing and engaging day at Arundell I have plans to return later in the Spring rod in hand to explore waters that to me are uncharted. I will of course call into the store for some sound advice and maybe a fly or two recommended by David and the Arundell team. 

01566 784666


The hour long film is a fascinating documentary made by rewilding charity Scotland The Big Picture, about the current challenges Atlantic Salmon are facing in Scotland’s rivers, and the project that is trying to solve these issues.
Riverwoods is equally applicable to solving Atlantic Salmon decline in North Devon’s rivers, and the hope is that a community based solution will emerge from the North Devon screenings.
The film will be followed by a short presentation by Wayne Thomas of North Devon Angling News on his experiences of fishing for West Country salmon, and an audience conversation about how to reverse salmon decline in North Devon.
The Riverwoods film tour of North Devon is being run by Adrian Bryant of Earth Collective community interest company, founder of the Caen Catchment Beaver Project at Braunton, who will introduce the film

Celebrating a new start – Salmon Season 2024

On March 1st 2024 members of the Barnstaple & District Angling Association assembled beside the River Taw celebrating both the start of a new season and the re-opening of the clubs fishing hut.

Some members had even brought their tackle with them despite the raging brown torrent that was racing towards Barnstaple the estuary and its eventual meeting with its sister river the Torridge at Instow.

As I walked to the river I savoured the birdsong as blackbird’s delightful tune filled the early Spring air.  Primroses, wood sorrel, celandines and other fresh green shoots of spring were evident in the roadside hedge.

I have a wealth of memories regarding the old fishing hut and you can read my account of a visit to the old hut fifteen years or so ago at the end of this article the account can also be found in my book I Caught A Glimpse that can still be bought at the Little Egret Press.

There is something reassuring about the return to the river at the start of each season. There is that eternal optimism of the returning angler. For despite the constant decline in salmon numbers and concerns about water quality there is a resilience in nature.

I negotiated the road bridge and headed down the familiar fisherman’s path to the old hut. A bright red gazebo seemed slightly surreal erected at the front of the newly refurbished shelter.

It was good to hear cheery voices as I approached and I smelt the smoke lifting from the BBQ. There was a cheery greeting from fellow members and a welcome hotdog as talk of the new season and past adventures did the rounds.

Water quality was high on the topic list as we chatted about the council meeting held at Petroc college a few days before. All agreed that it was good to place the state of our rivers higher on the political agenda. The integrity of our local MP and local water companies was discussed but I will steer clear of politics on this platform!

The jovial camaraderie of the assembly had a touch of ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ or ‘Dads Army’. Don Hearn the club river keeper brings a refreshing air of optimism and whilst he acknowledged the dwindling salmon numbers compared to the past he also talked of the joy of club life on the river bank.

Club Chairman John Webber declared the hut open with the ceremonial cutting of a green ribbon that threatened to disintegrate in the wet conditions.

Dark clouds and a ferocious hail storm failed to dent the optimism of those  gathered and I left with joy in my heart for a new season. The smell of wild garlic lifted from the ground a pleasing scent heralding the onset of spring and warmer days ahead.

When I wrote of the old club hut a decade or more ago I was saddened at its demise. Today the old hut and spirit of the angling brethren had risen like a phoenix bringing optimism for the future. It is my hope and fellow club members hope that the rivers problems will be solved and that a new generation of club anglers will continue to gather memories as the rivers eternal flow continues.

I have just finished reading a book about the Chalk Streams of Southern England. ‘The Lost World Of The Chalk Streams, by E. A. Barton tells of an enchanting riverside world between the wars. A selection of atmospheric black and white images capture a bygone age. There are extracts of prose that bring poignancy and inspiration  as I write this and look back over fifty years beside the Taw.

The Test In August – “The season has turned and like the first grey hairs of middle life, signs of approaching age cannot be overlooked.”


“The enjoyment derived from a day’s angling should never terminate with the day but should linger in the memory like a pleasant taste, to be reconstructed with but the smallest effort of will at times when there is little else to distract. Over the fire on winter evenings. When one’s book is finished, or with a friend in retrospective mood, one reverts back to those days spent together by open loch or quiet river. The habit of visualising accurately a picture of the surroundings of some specially interesting incident at the moment of its occurrence is one well worth cultivating. After a time it becomes so reflex and automatic that it is easy to recall vividly. Even to the smallest detail, the passage of some memorable event. Such a habit becomes a priceless possession, for by its aid can be conjured up, with photographic accuracy, a collection of moving pictures of everlasting delight. So that when the afternoons of life are beginning to draw in, and the wheel creaks at the cistern, that habit cultivated in youth becomes an ever delightful resource by which one lives again with little less than reality the golden experience of the  past

I stopped on the bridge as always to peer into the river below. The sun shone and the river took on that blue green translucence typical of springtime. A few martins and swallows swooped above the river seeking nourishment following their long flight from far off lands. After a brief survey of the pool I moved on and came to the old gate that leads to the river bank.

            The gate hung partly unhinged, it’s fastening asp broken, a few bits of litter caught my eye discarded by some ignorant motorist. A problem that blights our countries hedgerows tarnishing our land with an urban feel, continuing down the steps I glanced at the old fishing sign, rusting and grimy, the clubs name still present above the words, “Private Fishing Club Members only”. The pathway beside the river had always been well trodden at this time of year (Early April) yet now it was partly grown over. Celandine flowers brightened the waterside meadow with their bright yellow hues. It felt good to be walking the river bank again after a long break but strange melancholy feelings drifted into my being. I glanced at the old corrugated fishing hut its door was open, someone was about I thought, tidying up or fishing somewhere down stream.

            My club membership had long since lapsed and I was heading to fish the free water a hundred yards or more downstream. I had fished this section of river heavily twenty five years ago hoping for a silver spring salmon but had visited rarely over recent seasons. However a river is like a long lost friend familiarity returns quickly and certain things retain a core character. The constant flow of a river towards the sea has always given me an almost spiritual reassuring sense of stability. A feeling I had always treasured each spring as I trod the banks rod in hand hopeful of one of anglings greatest prizes, a fresh run silver salmon. The grass flourishing, buds bursting into life on riverside trees and spring birds filling the air with song, migrants returned from a long cold winter, a sign of the coming warmth of summer.

            I had very little time today just a grabbed moment from life’s busy schedule no time to fish methodically, just a few random casts into favourite lies. I remember long ago seeking a salmon a prize that seemed unattainable. Eventually after many days by the river I had tempted a salmon, what had seemed so difficult I realised was really quite easy. You just had to be in the right place at the right time with a little good fortune. Salmon are a perplexing fish, totally ignoring all offerings one minute then suddenly erupting from the water to seize your bait, lure or fly with an unbelievable determination. After catching that first salmon an angler will forever be able to cast in hope for he believes in the impossible. This faith remains forever fuelling the desire for cast after cast.

            I climbed down the river bank entering the water above a sweeping bend in the river. An old tree stood, its roots exposed from constant attack annual winter floods. Beneath the tree was a favourite lie that had held many salmon and sea trout over the years. I waded out into the river, relishing the feel as the cool water pushed against my legs. I extended my fly line above the water and dropped a bright orange Ally’s Shrimp fly near the far bank. I allowed the fly to swing tantalizingly across the flow, took a step downstream and repeated the process. Many times in the past I had seen salmon and sea trout leap from the water at this spot. I hoped to see one now, I really didn’t need to catch to glimpse the prize would suffice.

            Strange  really, since the introduction of catch and release in the early season I have lost much of my determination to seek salmon. I always used to relish taking that first fresh Springer home to enjoy with new potatoes and lashings of butter. I regularly fish for a wide range of species and return ninety percent of the fish I catch. I have no problem returning a coloured salmon in the autumn but I somehow struggle with returning a bar of silver sea liced salmon. I often think of Hugh Falkus’s comments on catch and release and his views that it was somehow wrong. Somehow I feel he had a point there is something undignified in toying with a fish so magnificent as the Atlantic salmon. Perhaps I just don’t like being told I have to return the fish, I remember catching a well mended Kelt several years ago. It had inhaled the Mepps spinner to the back of its throat and was bleeding profusely. I gently returned it to the river, to my horror it keeled over and drifted away to die. How would I feel if this happened to a prime fresh run fish?  

            This leads me on to another restriction that has been imposed to preserve stocks. In the early season I and most other anglers used the spinner to fish for salmon. A Mepps spinner or Devon Minnow was cast into the cold waters and retrieved slowly its throbbing reverberated through the line to the rod giving a physical transmission between angler and river. At any moment there was the anticipation of the electrifying take as a bar of silver attacked the lure. I fully support the need to preserve salmon stocks and if that impinges on my pleasure then so be it I guess, I just wonder about the long term effect of these restrictions on our freedom?

            I continued to fish on down stream, ice cold water started to seep into my chest waders. I realised that my repairs to the holes had failed and a new pair of waders would be needed before my next trip.

            It was time to leave I had to collect my young son form his cricket coaching. I climbed from the river my boots squelching as I retraced my way along the riverside path. I came again to the old fishermen’s hut, the door was still open, inquisitive I strolled over and peered inside. The door had been broken from its hinges, the old leather seat was torn, old mugs stood in an old wooden cabinet where mice had made their home the old hut was damp and derelict. A feeling of sadness came upon me. I immediately understood the melancholy feeling I earlier sensed. Twenty odd years ago I had spent many hours beside this river and talked with the club anglers of the day. They were generally anglers in their fifties or sixties who had fished the river for many years. They generally had a tale to tell of the good old days, of encounters with huge spring salmon, some won some lost. They had intimate knowledge of the river and a deep respect and love for the salmon. Each year working parties would trim troublesome branches and carry out repairs to gates and stiles. The fisherman’s hut was a meeting place where tales were swapped over cups of hot tea. Fishing magazines sat on the table to provide inspiration during break in fishing or tending to the river bank. There was always a rod leaning against the old rails that segregated the front of the hut from the bank side. A bench dedicated to an angler invited one to, “rest here and find pleasure”.

            It dawned upon me that a generation of anglers had passed away. Few anglers now trod these banks in search of spring salmon. Upriver on prime beats people still pay large sums to fish but here on the club and free water few bother to cast a line. Perhaps restrictions have taken away the motivation for these anglers to fish or perhaps people no longer have the patience to chase dreams. I realise that back then we seemed to have time to talk, time to fish, time to dream.

            The faces of a host of anglers fill my minds eye as I walk away from the river and the derelict old fisherman’s’ hut. I realise that whilst the river flows relentlessly on we anglers are just passing spirits. The comfort of the rivers immortality is temporarily shadowed by the realisation of our own fleeting visit to its banks.

            As I walk across the bridge I again pause as always for one last look at the river. A car races past, a train thunders along the nearby track I re-enter the modern world and walk back to the car. On getting home I think back to the old fishing hut and vow to jot down my thoughts before they get lost and drift away like the old anglers who once fished the river.




There was a late flourish in salmon fisher’s fortunes as the 2023 season ended. Heavy rain during mid- September brought the regions rivers up and as the season faded to its conclusion on the last day of September levels dropped along with the colour to provide near perfect conditions. On the Taw system several salmon were tempted. Paul Carter caught a 12lb salmon from the Middle Taw, Don Hearn and Adi Podesta tempted  salmon estimated at 15lb from the Lower Taw and Simon Hillcox tempted a 7lb salmon on the seasons last day.

         Members of the River Torridge Fishery Association held their annual egg box dinner at the Half Moon Inn at Sheepwash last Saturday. There was talk over dinner about a fine 15lb salmon caught from the middle Torridge by Brian Lovering a 7lb salmon caught by Bernard Crick and of James Crawford tempting a fresh run silver bar of 7lb.

Little Warham Fishery

What a week to close the season at Little Warham writes Amanda :-  “Barry Mills kicked things off with an 8lb salmon caught in boat pool on the 24th Sept, followed by an 6lb salmon caught in Willow Run on 26th Sept. Jonathan Hellyer then netted a cracking 10lb hen fish in First and Last on the 28th. Well done everyone.
Meanwhile on the infamous Spey Anthony was thrashing the high waters in frustration whilst the fish just passed him by!”

 Sometimes the grass really is greener at home!



The Half Moon Inn – A Delightful Old Fishing Inn that has been refurbished to a high standard yet still retains its tradition.

On a hot April day in 1964 fourteen year old Michael Bull went to stay at the Half Moon Inn at Sheepwash. Conditions were not ideal but a young Charles Inniss took young Michael to the river and used his fishing experience and intuition to give Michael the best chance of a fish.

       Michael cast his  spinner into a deep pool and as the metal lure touched down upon the water a beautiful silver salmon seized it. Later that evening the splendid fish lay upon the cool slate slab to be admired by the fisher folk staying at the hotel.

       Close to sixty years on Michael and Charles share  vivid memories of that glorious spring day at the Torridge Fisheries Annual Egg Box dinner. The Annual Dinner brings members from far and wide to celebrate the seasons, share stories and raise valuable funds towards the hatchery that members hope will stem the dramatic decline in salmon numbers.

       It is to be hoped that the hatchery will be up and running later this Autumn after lengthy consultation with the Environment Agency.

       Michael told me it took a further three years to catch his next salmon but he was of course hooked for life and has been revisiting the Torridge and the Half Moon ever since lending support to the Association and staying at this delightful old fishing Inn.

       Attending the annual dinner with Pauline each year gives a deep appreciation of the bond formed beside the water and how the quest for those iconic migrants is about so much more than rod and line.

       That deep connection with the river its environment and the fish within illustrate all that is good about angling. The well-respected carp angler Jim Gibbinson entitled his book on fishing; “ A Glorious Waste Of Time”.  I’m sure those dining at the Half Moon would drink a toast to that!

       As we left I commented to Adam behind the bar that it had not been the best of Seasons. He replied cheerily that “next season will hopefully be better”.

The eternal optimism of the angler will ensure that next March as the wild daffodils bloom flies will be cast in hope of silver.

       I will leave it there safe in the knowledge that whilst there are those who care deeply for the river and its fish there is hope.


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            After a day of relentless heavy rain, we drove over the River Taw at Newbridge to witness a torrent of dirty brown flood water racing under the bridge and starting to spill over the flood plain. This was certainly an unusual sight for the last day in March and I thought about its impact on the fish. Any kelt’s’ would certainly be swept out of the system. The downstream smolt migration should now be underway and this significant flush of water will help these juvenile salmon to evade the flocks of cormorants that prey so heavily on them each spring. The raging torrent should also flush away debris and give the river a spring clean. There is of course the worry of pollutants with storm overflows undoubtedly discharging, farm slurry leaking and tons of soil washed from fields.

            We arrived at Highbullen for the RTFCA and it was good to see familiar faces at this annual gathering. Chairman Andy Gray gave a warm welcome to the membership many of whom had travelled a good distance to attend. After a couple of crisis hit seasons of COVID and drought it was hoped that 2023 would bring better fortunes. The flooded river presently prevailing would hopefully bring a spring run as water levels drop. The large numbers of kelt caught at the start of the season was very encouraging indicating that good numbers of fish had spawned.

            The main focus on river habitat work had been to concentrate on gravel washing but the 2022 drought had severely impacted upon this work.

            The 2022 season had seen 53 salmon caught and 83 sea trout.

            There was extensive debate surrounding the successful legal proceedings by Fish legal regarding the pollution on the River Mole in 2019.

The monies received from this court case will be invested  in the future of the River Taw catchment with funds supporting the valuable work of the Westcountry Rivers Trust. The importance of joining Fish legal was highlighted as without their support and expertise the polluters would have escaped justice.

A significant number of  migratory shad were witnessed in the Taw during the late Spring of 2022. It is thought that this could be a direct result of the removal of weirs project during the past decade. The presence of these rare fish  spawning in the Taw can bring welcome funding to the river for further habitat improvement.

Adrian Dowding of the Westcountry Rivers Trust gave a short talk on the importance of gravel washing works on potential spawning areas. This is part of the SHIP ( Spawning Habitat Improvement Project). Gravel washing removes silt and breaks up compacted gravels enabling successful spawning.

There was passionate debate regarding the frequent pollution of rivers from agriculture and discharge from an antiquated and inadequate sewage treatment infrastructure. An ever expanding population has resulted in an overload with many sewage works working way beyond their design capacity.

Intensive farming is undoubtedly having a negative impact and considerable efforts are being made to work with farmers to control run off and ensure secure storage of effluent and slurry.

There has been a very high take up of Citizen Science Investigation monitoring across the Westcountry. This can provide the EA with valuable data.  The North Devon Catchment Partnership brings a collective alliance with various interested parties working together for the good of the river.

The RTFCA  believe that working together in common causes is the best way to achieve results regarding water quality, and habitat with the opportunity to pool resources where appropriate.

Harry Chance gave a talk on his work with the Environment Agency as an Agricultural Regulatory Inspection Officer on the Torridge catchment. His work funded by DEFRA ( Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) involves regular farm inspections. The focus is on offering advice and support to farmers to prevent pollution and habitat damage. Regulation is extremely complex and the legal system frustratingly slow. Harry explained the rigorous expectations for farming with mandatory soil testing and adequate controls to prevent pollution incidents. The importance of reporting any suspected pollution or breaches of regulations was emphasised with reports and data essential in bringing potential prosecutions and increased funding.

EA Hotline 0800 80 70 60

When reporting obtain an incident number, take photos, give a grid reference or what 3 word location.

Reports can be made anonymously.

            Mr Phil Metcalf and Sophia Craddock gave an informative talk on the Devon Rivers Improvement Project ( DRIP) . This project started on the River Umber that flows through the valley at Combe Martin. The project focusses on flood risk awareness and flood risk. The installation of sensors that measure water depth, Moisture, rain, water quality, including turbidity, nitrates, conductivity, pH, temperature and ammoniums. These provide valuable data that is linked to satellites to give real time data collection.

            This project is now being extended to the Little Dart a tributary of the Taw.

            The initiative plans to use natural based solutions to reduce flooding and run off. These potential solutions involve woodland planting, cross slope planting, floodplain planting, hedgerow banks, log dams, gulley stuffing, buffer ditches, containment ponds and many other innovative trials.

            Floodplain connection is considered a key factor in righting the mismanagement of land over recent decades.

            As I attend multiple talks I realise how we need to rethink how we manage the land and our watercourses to enable nature to heal the damage that has been inflicted.

            On conclusion of the formal meeting and talks many members remained at the venue to enjoy a delicious meal. If our table was anything to go by many topics were discussed with fishing past and present undoubtedly providing a vast wealth of subject matter. It is always good to make new friends and savour reminiscences of lifetimes spent beside many waters.

Anyone interested in North Devon’s rich angling history might enjoy my book published in 2016. See link below.

“I Caught A Glimpse Book” Launch 2019

NEWSREEL: SPRING 2023 Torridge Fishery

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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: 014109231237

                                                                                    e-mail: [email protected]


Subscriptions for 2023 are now due. 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.

                                                If you prefer to pay by BACS:

          account name: Torridge Owners Association: a/c no 00827770: sort code 51 70 16

Our AGM: 24th March: It was an excellent meeting with over 30 attending and The Half Moon laid on the usual superb buffet at the conclusion of the business. Izzy Moser gave an interesting and informative presentation on the work of the Devon Wildlife Trust. This led to a discussion on the pros and cons of Beavers which before long, whether we like it or not, will become established in the headwaters of our catchment.

Election of Officers: the agm re-elected the officers and committee “en bloc”.

Chairman: Paul Ashworth, Vice-Chairman Steve Phelps, Sec/Treas Charles Inniss, T. Harper,

 S. McClaren, D. Betts, D. Williams, P. Coles, K. Dunn, J. Graham. T. Birkbeck

Our President, Lord Clinton, is an honorary member of the committee.

Hatchery Update: there was a long discussion at the agm regarding the future of our hatchery. All those present were determined that if at all possible the hatchery project should be continue. The Chairman pointed out that it was very time consuming and more volunteers were needed. The EA would only give the go-ahead if a detailed risk-assessment was drawn up and approved by them. It was agreed a small sub-committee prepare a detailed draft risk-assessment and to co-ordinate with the River Axe, which is now operating its hatchery again. Members offered their support to be part of the sub-committee and to undertake any structural work needed at the fish pass.

A proposal for 100% salmon catch and release: the EA has deferred this proposal for twelve months. If implemented for the 2024 season mandatory release will only apply to salmon not sea trout. With stocks in decline your committee strongly recommends that all fish are released without where possible removing them from the river.

Our North Devon Fishery Protection Officer: for personal reasons Callum Underhill has been transferred to work nearer his family home in the south-east.  Callum has been very supportive particularly with regard to the hatchery. The EA are currently interviewing for a replacement.

The season so far: after a very dry February the river was quite low for the first week. A few kelts were caught from the middle river and two fresh fish were lost below Beam Weir. For the last three weeks the river has been in spate and unfishable. Patience is a virtue: when the river settles let’s hope there will be some fresh spring salmon to be enticed to our flies.

The Egg Box Dinner: Saturday 30th September at The Half Moon Inn. Book early with the Half Moon to avoid disappointment. Tel: 01409231376. e-mail: [email protected]

River Taw – April Update

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A quick update on the River Taw and any events coming up

Dear Members,

I hope that you are all well and enjoying the beautiful weather on the river even if the water is getting a bit low. There are now numerous reports of fish on the Taw. Mark Maitland Jones has connected and lost another already beating my last two seasons put together! It would be great if you would be able to email in any catch reports so that we can forward them to the members.

Also, if you accidentally come across any Shad (Allis or Twaites) it would be great to be kept in the loop. As a protected fish if we can show evidence that they run the Taw it could work wonders for conservation funding!

A few things to report below

Tight Lines


The Catch – Mark Wormald

Our newest committee member Will Martin was recently invited to Pembroke College Cambridge by Mark Wormald on account of Mark’s new book The Catch. Following Ted Hughes through his fishing diary the catch features the Mole (‘the wonderful river Mole’ as described by Ted Hughes), the Taw, and the Dart. Mark even managed to land a fish out of Watertown at his first time of asking – a feat I am very envious of! Ted Hughes clearly loved Devon and the book is a fascinating read about a fascinating poet and a great deal of mentions of lots of Devonians!


EA Update from Callum Underhill

First off, and most important is a reminder to please report any suspicious or concerning activity to us at the EA or local police, whichever is relevant for the offence that may be taking place. We have a saying that if it isn’t reported, it didn’t happen – because if we don’t know about it then we are obviously unaware it has occurred and thus cannot do anything about it. If you believe you have seen something you may be concerned about in terms of illegal fishing, please call us on 0800 80 70 60. This number is also helpfully printed on your rod licences.

We have a good working relationship with our local Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority. As many of you will know, much of the work of protecting salmonids occurs around estuaries and tidal waters, this often overlaps with the work of IFCAs in their protection of marine species. For this reason, we are both cross warranted in Devon. We have powers under marine fisheries legislation and IFCA officers have powers to enforce salmonid legislation. After sharing intelligence between us and IFCA, I was able to locate two individuals netting the estuary illegally towards the end of last year. I reported them for the offences, and I seized the net as evidence. IFCA have now issued both with sizeable fines for the offences – a good deterrent and a strong message to those who may wish to do the same.

As many of you know, illegal fishing is not the only threat to fish in Devon. My colleagues in other departments are working hard to address other contributory factors to salmon declines, including habitat degradation, water quality and barriers to migration. Some factors are beyond our control, such as survival at sea, but we will do the best we can with our (very) limited resources.

Unfortunately, we had a disappointing outcome on the previous River Mole pollution case, which as you know caused much damage to already sensitive fish populations. We are at the mercy of the courts when it comes to sentencing and some days are better than others. On a positive note, we are now lucky to have some specialised colleagues in the area who will be looking at improving water quality by looking at local businesses and ensuring they are meeting legal requirements. These officers will compliment our other Environment Officers Albert and Andrew.

Many anglers are unaware that we at the EA hold much of the rights to the River Lyn around Watersmeet – a challenging yet rewarding water! We operate mandatory catch and release on our fishery and are able to bring in relevant restrictions when necessary to protect the fish in the river. I am in the process of modernising our fishery, with the potential for digital tickets and well as paper for example. Please feel free to try the Lyn if you haven’t before, or even visit for just a walk and support the local rural businesses up there.

Finally, thank you to RTFCA for being so engaging. All of the members I have met have been friendly and welcoming and the Taw is one of the areas in the patch I am always happy to visit.

I hope to see many more of you over the coming seasons.

Tight lines!