Last casts of the season

After a long dry late summer and early autumn the rains have arrived swelling the local rivers into a dirty torrent. On the last day of the salmon season following rain earlier in the week the rivers had started to drop. I took my rod to the Middle Torridge and swung the fly more to say goodbye to season as in expectation of catching.

The river was at a good height but visibility was no more than 6″. I put on a big orange tube fly in the hope that it could be seen. The water was dark and turbid and rain beat down. The Bankside trees and vegetation showed little sign of the changing season. I savoured the sights of the river bank, the invasive Himalayan balsam has spread widely in some areas. Its pink flowers added colour, water droplets shone like jewels upon  seed heads that popped as I walked past. Rose hips added a splash of colour as persistent rain beat down on this grey final day of what has been a disappointing season. In a few days the river will have fined down and will hopefully be full of salmon and sea trout forging up river to spawn high up on the redds.

Rose hips add a splash of colour on the dullest of days.

We are living in strange times the ash trees suffering from ash die back some already dead and cut into lengths. Nature will heal of course I read recently of the loss of the nations elm trees during the dutch elm disease outbreak during the  60’s and seventies when an estimated 25.000,000 elm trees perished in the UK.

It is hard to believe that another season has passed by and for me a season without a salmon. As an all-round angler there is much to look forward to as autumn arrives and I will be torn as to where to cast my line. Until the wild daffodils once again decorate the banks I will no longer cast in hope of silver.

A HELP IN HAND FOR SPAWNING SALMON

I joined South Molton Angling Club members Edward Rands and Roger Bray on a stretch of their club water on the River Bray to observe work being undertaken to clean the gravel where it is hoped salmon and sea trout will spawn this coming winter. Jeremy Weeks and David Weeks have been working to cleanse potential salmon and sea trout spawning areas over recent years for the Taw Spawning Habitat Improvement Project (SHIP). This important work is coordinated and funded by the West Country Rivers Trust and River Taw Fisheries and Conservation Association. The work entails pumping water into the gravel at the tail of pools to loosen and dislodge the silt that clogs the potential spawning areas (redds). Plentiful oxygen is essential for the successful survival of salmon ova and fry. The South Molton Angling Club have also carried out moderate bank clearing to expose riffles to light and maintain shady pools.

It was unfortunate that sods law intervened with heavy rain the previous night colouring the water to make conditions poor resulting in the work being rescheduled for another day later in the week. Jeremy and David were however able to give a demonstration and talk at length about their work and its value.

The dwindling stocks of salmon and sea trout are of great concern to anglers who invest time, money and effort into habitat improvement. The reasons for the decline in salmon and sea trout are many and complex. Whilst many of these factors are beyond the influence of anglers every bit of habitat improvement can help to ensure the long time survival of these iconic species.

North Devon Rivers Latest

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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.

Red Skin Disease in wild salmon

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

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

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

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

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

SAMARCH Project aims to track salmon and sea trout migrations.

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

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

The SAMARCH project will :

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

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

RIVERS RISE BRINGS GRILSE

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Recent rain has brought all local rivers up  hopefully encouraging a few salmon and sea trout to forge up river. Simon Hillcox tempted a fresh run grilse of around 4lb 8oz from a Middle Torridge beat. The salmon was tempted using a Thunder & Lightning double. At present the water is coloured but as it fines down there is a good chance of taking fish.

( Above) River Taw at Umberleigh

FINE SILVER SPRINGER

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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.