Summer Spate

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After a long dry spring salmon and sea trout anglers will be feeling optimistic following a substantial rise in all of North Devons rivers.

The Torridge at Dolton is up to 1.14 M

The Taw at Umberleigh – 1.40 M

The Lyn at Brendon = 2.00 M

https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/river-and-sea-levels

The rivers will be too high and coloured initially but should come good over the coming days. The Lyn will be first to be fishable and should produce fish from Friday, May 14th.

The Taw and Torridge will take a few days to settle down but may be fishable by late in the weekend.

River Taw Fisheries member Mike George tempted a fine fresh run salmon from a mid Taw beat after last weeks small spate the latest spate should ensure salmon are spread throughout the Taw & Torridge catchments.

Good Practice Guide

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Catching the fish

Use appropriate tackle. Rod and line should be strong enough to bring the fish to net swiftly and without playing it to exhaustion. Move the fish out of fast water as soon as possible. The use of barbless single or double hooks is recommended. Barbed hooks can be rendered barbless by pinching with pliers.

Catch and Release
RTFA strongly recommends that you practise catch and release whenever possible.

Playing the fish

When playing a fish try not to play it to exhaustion but land it as quickly as is possible.

Landing the fish

Use a fine knotless meshed landing net. No gaffs or tailers may be used. Ensure the fish remains in the water at all times.
Do not beach or tail a fish.

Handling the fish

Ensure that hands are wet and avoid squeezing the fish.

Removing the hook

Remove the hook gently, using forceps or a hook disgorger.
Should the fish be deep-hooked cut the line as near to the hook as possible.

Recording the fish

Do not weigh the fish, but calculate its length and subsequently use a length/weight conversion chart (see below) to find the weight. Suitable length marks on rod or wading-stick can be helpful. Photographs of the fish should only be taken while the fish is in the water.

Reviving and releasing the fish

Support the fish with both hands in a gentle current and facing upstream.
Allow time for the fish to regain its strength and be able to swim away on its own.

Disease

To guard against disease that can damage our fish stocks fishermen are directed to the Environment Agency’s website for “Guidance on Disinfecting Fishing Tackle”.

The Environment Agency Incident Hotline

For reporting any serious environmental incident such as pollution, poaching or fish in distress is

0800 807 060

  • RTFA strongly believes that fishermen are the best guardians of our river and if you fish

    the Taw why not join the Association to support our efforts.

  • Contact us via our website at www.rivertawfisheries.co.uk or phone our Treasurer, Richard Nickell on 10271 344533 / 07884 073932

RAIN BRINGS HOPE OF LATE SPRING SALMON RUN

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After a long dry spell we have at last had a substantial fall of Rain across the area that resulted in the first spate of late spring. Coinciding with building Spring tides this should encourage a run of salmon and sea trout into North Devon’s rivers. I would expect the Taw and Torridge to be fishable by mid week as the water clears. The Lower Taw may rise slowly as tributaries from high on the moors lowly release into the main river. The Lyn has had a substantial rise but will fall quickly and be fishable from today with Tuesday likely to be the prime day.

Latest levels can be found via the EA link –https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/station/3099

The river levels at 07:15 on May 9th

River Torridge at Dolton – 0.85 M

River Taw at Umberleigh – 0.40

East Lyn at Brendon – 0.40

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

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

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

My thanks and best wishes to you all.

Alex Gibson

26 March 2021

River Taw Fisheries & Conservation Association  – Taw News

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

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

(Above) Alex Gibson – RTFCA Retiring Chairman

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

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

Return to the River

It was good to once again wander the river bank and swing a fly in the hope of a spring run salmon. The seasons come and go so quickly and it is hard to believe that twelve months have flashed past. Once again the wild daffodils are decorating the banks as natures calendar turns its pages.

The water is cold and fairly clear  running at a perfect height. Several years ago on March 7th I netted a fresh run Springer of around 9lb so I am optimistic that success could come with any cast. I drift the Fly across familiar water and on one cast there is a brief tightening of the line followed a second later by a heaviness. Too gentle to be trout it could be a snag in the river. Repeated casts over the same spot rule this out so I change my Fly and cover the lie again. There is a brief tug and a flurry of spray as what was a good sized trout shakes the hook free. Im not convinced that it was the trout that intercepted the fly first drift. Salmon takes can be so subtle at times feeling like a drifting leaf has brushed the hook. I contemplate what might have been and fish on content that I have a full season ahead.

A SPRINGER ON THE TORRIDGE

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The River Torridge salmon season is underway and the scoreboard is ticking over as regular Torridge angler Duncan Betts tempted a fine 9lb fresh run springer.  A cast in the right place at the right time and a springer that most prized of catches could be yours.

I hope to bring more news from the rivers as the week progresses. On the Taw a 3lb sea trout was tempted from the Day Ticket Brightly and Weir Marsh beats.

The River Torridge Fishery Association -NEWSREEL: WINTER 2020

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The River Torridge Fishery Association

President: Lord Clinton

Chairman: Paul Ashworth                                                                   Secretary: Charles Inniss

e-mail: [email protected]

NEWSREEL: WINTER 2020

The salmon hatchery:  

The Hatchery team in 2018

            Sadly the hatchery programme for this winter is currently on hold. The hatchery team was ready to trap the broodstock from the fish pass at Monkokehampton Weir when the second lockdown restrictions were announced early in December. We have not given up hope and if the restrictions are lifted on 2ndDecember will endeavour to catch up at least a few broodstock, which by then should almost be ready for stripping.

Steve Phelps, our vice-Chairman, has been working closely with William Entwistle, the vice-chairman of the South West Rivers Association, to develop a South West Hatchery hub at the Colliford hatchery on the River Fowey. This hatchery is currently funded by South West Water in mitigation for the loss of spawning streams on the Fowey catchment when Colliford Reservoir was constructed. Initially the Torridge and the Axe will be the two rivers directly involved. With the support of the Colliford hatchery team, the Axe Association, South West Water, The South West Rivers Association and the EA we have permission to grow upto 50% of our eggs to the swim-up fry stage at the Colliford hatchery. Their progress will be monitored under almost laboratory conditions. Last year we achieved a very high success rate at our own hatchery and it will be very interesting to compare the results.

As salmon stocks in all the rivers in the South West continue to decline there may will be a need to develop and expand the Colliford hatchery so that it can support all the rivers in our region.

A new Fisheries Enforcement Officer:

            Some good news to cheer you all!! Following the retirement of Paul Carter in the spring, the EA has appointed a new Fisheries Enforcement Officer (FEO) for North Devon. Callum Underhill is fully trained and skilled as a FEO and for the last five years has been based in North Wessex. Callum is very enthusiastic about his new appointment. He is a keen fisherman!! Paul Carter has been very supportive and will continue to do so. I am sure next season many of you will meet Callum on the riverbank.

The Annual Dinner and Raffle:

Sadly we were not able to hold the Annual Dinner at The Half Moon, but the raffle did go ahead and as usual it was wonderfully well supported: thank you all very much. The raffle, together with several generous donations, raised over £2,000 which will go a long way towards funding our own hatchery and the costs involved at the Colliford hatchery.

The winners of the raffle prizes were as follows:

1st prize: £100 wine voucher: Richard Henry, an extremely experienced and successful angler who has fished the Torridge and been a regular visitor at The Half Moon Inn for over 50 years.

2nd prize: £50 Snowbee voucher: Robert Clark, a friend of James Mumford. James has been fishing the Torridge for many years and still travels from his home in Somerset to fish for salmon and sea trout several times each season.

3rd prize: a day’s fishing on The Half Moon beats was won by Bill Blake from Somerset.

4th prize: a bottle of wine donated by Reg Lawton was won by Tim Birkbeck, a committee member.

5th prize: a day’s fishing on the famous Madeira beat was won by Nick Gunn, one of our newer members.

The Fishing Season:

For the first three weeks of the season the river was in spate and then all fishing stopped until the end of May, by which time the river, after a spring drought, was down to summer level. For the latter half of the season the weather was changeable and river levels held up reasonably well. Fishing effort has been very light, but those anglers who have fished regularly have been rewarded with some good catches. Barry Mills caught a salmon in excess of 20lb on the Little Warham water while Martin Weeks and his brother Ed enjoyed some excellent night sea trout fishing.  Catch totals seem to have been similar to last year: about 30 salmon, 100 sea trout and plenty of good-sized brown trout.

River Seasons End

With no significant rain in the last weeks of the season salmon fishing has been slow. A few salmon were tempted from the Torridge as anglers visited the river for the last time. One salmon was also tempted from a very low River East Lyn.

Little Warham regulars –  David and Stuart.Were both determined to fish before the end of season on their annual visit to Warham; let’s just say their 5hr plus journey paid dividends

I took my rod to the glorious river East Lyn to enjoy a few end of season casts. I had decide to try out my new Nymphing outfit purchased from Barbless flies. A 10ft 3wt rod matched to a special light and slender fly- line. I started at Watersmeet and worked my way upriver fishing  pools and tumbling pocket water. The river was extremely low and clear making fishing difficult with small trout darting for cover as I attempted to move with degree of health. In truth catching fish is a bonus in such beautiful surroundings and it was a delight to wonder the river as the sunlight illuminated the stream. Whilst autumn had started to deplete and colour the leaves higher on the moors here in the sheltered valley there was still plenty of greenery on show.

Several fiesty wild brownies seized my nymphs before a better fish took hold in a deep pool, a crimson spotted brown of over 10″.

Crimson spotted beauty returned.

Posted by Wayne Thomas on Sunday, 27 September 2020

An Autumn Salmon

It is hard to believe that it is early September as I approach the river as the sun slowly climbs above the trees sending shafts of light across the river. The river is in perfect order running at a good height with pleasing  a tinge of colour that one could almost describe as that of fine ale.

I wade out into the cool water and begin my search, optimistic as an angler must be expectant that at any moment the line will zip tight. I absorb the familiar surroundings and listen to the soundtrack of the ever flowing river as it ambles to the sea. Wagtails bob about and a kingfisher flashes past. Fry are abundant in the margins giving hope for future seasons.

The seasons passing is obvious as leaves drift past and I notice a large number of ash leaves undoubtedly a sign of the ongoing of ash die back.

I have fished the river in perfect conditions several times this year and last with four or five years since my last salmon. After fishing the beat carefully drifting my flies across the favoured lies I work my way to the bottom of the beat covering the lies for a second time.

The salmons view as the fly drifts across the river

It is clear that the salmon are not  as abundant as they were when I started fishing this Middle Torridge beat ten years or so ago when leaping salmon and sea trout were a common sight. The picture of a twenty pound salmon further up river is of course an image that maintains hope in the knowledge that the fish had swum past the waters I am fishing.

The sun is now well up in the sky as I place my fly inches from the far bank. As it swings across the river there comes that electric pull down the line and in a magic moment that contact is made with throbbing life on the line. I hold the rod high and savour the moment as the rod kicks before the reel sings. I keep a tight line leaning into the fish as I step sideways allowing the salmon to push up river. The fish hangs deep in mid river; the rod bends, the line pointing into mid river, the salmon holding station in the strong current. For a while the salmon powers up river but as the pressure tells the fish seeks help from the current heading down river as I attempt to maintain a position opposite the fish . I glimpse a wide powerful tail and the flash of silver.

Its always a tense experience playing a salmon hoping that the hook will stay put and the knots hold strong. After around ten minutes I detach the net from my back and the battle continues with the fish on a short line. This is a tense time for many salmon are lost  during that time when the fish is so close to the net.

Then suddenly the fish rolls and is in the net as I give a call of triumph. “Yes!”

I carry the salmon to the margins and slip the barbless double hook from the top jaw. The Go Pro is clipped to my rod handle strategically placed at the water’s edge. I hold the salmon above the water for a brief self-take shot. The flanks of the 10lb plus hen fish are already showing subtle hues of the autumn season. Its image will remain etched upon my mind for the rest of my days fuelling the return to the river in search of silver.

The salmon is held in the cool water head upriver for a couple of minutes until I feel its strength return. It is a great feeling when the fish powers strongly away into the river to continue its amazing journey to hopefully spawn in the next couple of months.

Twenty Pound Torridge salmon

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This 21lb beauty was caught by Barry Mills this evening in Boat Pool at Little Warm Fishery; using his newly acquired ‘weigh net’, which came in pretty handy with a fish this size!

I also fished the River Torridge downstream of Little Warham with conditions perfect  I fished with optimism drifting my flies across proven lies. I failed to connect with any silver tourists but I did see a sea trout leap from the water and glimpsed the electric blue of a kingfisher. With the river now running at a good height i expect salmon to be caught from both Taw and Torridge for the remainder of the season.