River Taw Fisheries Association – Chairmans Report

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Alex Gibsons report due to have been delivered at the RFTA AGM at the end of March.

A couple of salmon were caught from the middle Taw before the present lockdown. The rivers are now dropping quickly after a couple of weeks without rain. A cold North East Wind would not have been good for fishing.

http://www.rivertawfisheries.co.uk

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT 2020

First some thanks to the whole Committee for their support and the work they have done during the last 12 months.

Particular thanks to Richard Nickell, our Treasurer, and to Ian Blewett, our Secretary, for all their good work; to Judith Kauntze for the excellent Newsletter she produces; to Bryan Martin for looking after the website; to Chris Taylor for his auction work which unfortunately has been delayed this year. Thanks also to John Smith for representing us on the Dartmoor Steering Group and to Andy Gray for keeping the Committee up to date on all farming matters affecting our river and also for printing and mailing our Newsletter.

The weather continues to dominate our fishing lives and I thought the story about the businessman who went to Bergen for a week might lighten the tone. It was raining when he arrived and rained solidly every day. As he was leaving his hotel in dreadful weather on the last day he turned to a small boy standing nearby and asked: “Does it ever stop raining in Bergen?” The boy replied: “I don’t know I’m only seven.” The North Devon version would have a different ending for the businessman who goes to South Molton in November. The reply he receives is: “Not in the winter, but in the summer we get hardly any rain at all.”

Simply put, last season low water conditions seriously reduced the number of good fishing days. The rain didn’t arrive till October. Abnormal weather seems to be the new normal weather these days.

This of course affects the rod catch numbers. I have continued to do the annual beat survey, canvassing all riparian owners. Last season’s results show 82 salmon and 265 sea trout against 2017 figures of 72 salmon and 71 sea trout. The provisional EA numbers for 2019 are 76 salmon (91% returned) and 239 sea trout (86% returned). We can take some comfort from the upturn in sea trout numbers and I believe our salmon numbers will look good relative to the numbers for other south-west rivers when we see them. Brown trout fishing had an excellent year with almost 3,000 fish caught, up from about 2,000 in 2018. The brown trout fishing community is of crucial importance to us since they are the custodians of those parts of the river where the fish spawn and spend their early life.

Turning to the Mole pollution incident, let me summarise where we are with this disastrous event. Back in July last year a large digestate spill apparently wiped out the fish population over a 5km stretch of the Mole from above South Molton to the junction with the Molland Yeo. I say apparently because the EA will not release to us the fish survey they conducted after the incident for fear of prejudicing their prosecution of the person responsible. A figure of 10,000 fish has been mentioned, but we do not know the number of salmonids in this number, nor the breakdown by type and class. We originally understood all invertebrates were wiped out, but recently were told by the EA that the invertebrates were affected only slightly. This is encouraging in terms of recolonization, but we have not seen the invertebrate survey either.

Fish Legal has been briefed to mount a civil claim for us, but this cannot proceed until the EA is much further along with its prosecution and we can obtain the fish survey.

This is all very frustrating.

On the other hand, the EA have confirmed that they will do a fish survey on the polluted stretch this summer. The results will be interesting. The problem however is that we will still have no base line to work from, namely the original fish survey. Until we learn otherwise we will assume that all salmonids were killed and that any juveniles that show up in the survey are the result of last winter’s spawning and recolonisation.

The sad situation that we find ourselves is the direct result of having anaerobic digesters on our catchment. There are three, one on the Mole and two on the Little Dart. We had identified the threat, but were powerless, just waiting for an accident to happen, you might say.

As many of you will know there is a chain, winter maize from farm to anaerobic digester, digestate from anaerobic digester to farm. If any part of the chain fails, and that includes the anaerobic digester itself, the river is threatened. That of course is without considering the siltation damage caused by growing winter maize in the first place. In the last two years in particular the character of the Mole has changed. It now runs dirty for longer and silt is deposited along its length. The optimists think that the New Agriculture Bill will solve all these problems created by bad farming practice; the pessimists adopt a more cynical approach. Things can go spectacularly wrong as evidenced by the Mole incident. While waiting for new rules and regulations to be implemented it may be a good idea for us to keep our fingers crossed.

This brings me neatly to river improvement work which is driven by the siltation problem. The Committee has decided that the “best bang for our buck” is to continue our gravel cleaning programme in conjunction with WRT. This is a short term solution until farming practices change, but we don’t know how long short term is. Last year we spent almost £20,000, having carried £10,000 forward from the previous year. The full 2019 gravel cleaning report can be read on our website. In summary we did 8 days on the Molland Yeo, 3 on the Crooked Oak, 8 on the Mole, 8 on the Little Dart and Sturcombe and 11 on the Upper Taw. To encourage recolonisation an emphasis was placed on the Mole. For this season the Committee has committed £10,000 for gravel cleaning work. Again there will be some emphasis on the Mole.

This continues to be a difficult climate in which find complementary funding. We were unable to gear up on the funds we spent last year. This year look more encouraging.

We continue to be concerned about South West Water’s 35 sewage treatment works on our system. South Molton and Chulmleigh, perhaps the worst, are due for an upgrade in the next 5 years, partly as a result of pressure we have applied. We will continue to press for further improvements.

To broaden our fight against sewage in the river and also the threats from siltation and anaerobic digesters we link up with other organisations who share our concerns. These include South West Rivers Association, Westcountry Rivers Trust, The Rivers Trust, Angling Trust, Devon Wildlife Trust/North Devon

Catchment Partnership and Surfers Against Sewage. These problems are not Taw specific, nor south-west specific, but national. Fortunately there is a growing groundswell of public concern which we welcome.

Paul Carter, our EA Fisheries Enforcement Officer, retires in April. My intention was to make a presentation to him at the AGM and to thank him in a proper public arena for everything he has done for us. The presentation now has to be done behind the scenes unfortunately. It consists of a day’s fishing on seven of the best beats on the river. Paul is a very keen fisherman.

Paul has worked tirelessly for us and has always been available to give us the benefit of his advice. His contributions to our Fisheries Management Meetings and Committee Meetings have always been valuable and valued. He has been a good friend and supporter of the Taw. We shall be sorry to see him go and wish him well. To date it is unclear how he will be replaced.

One final point. I have been Chairman now for about 13 years which means it is probably time for me to step down. The 2021 AGM would seem to be the right moment. Discussions with Committee Members have started and, when these are brought to a conclusion, I would expect a prospective successor to emerge who has the full support of the Committee.

My best wishes to all members for the 2020 season.

Alex Gibson March 2019

Another Month At Wimbleball- Full Tailed Rainbows on the agenda until end of November!

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West Country Fly-Fisher’s have enjoyed an exceptional fishing season at Wimbleball Reservoir where Mark Underhill has transformed the quality of the fishing stocking regularly with hard fighting rainbow trout.

The season at Wimbleball continues until November 30th and will when conditions permit offer anglers the chance of some superb sport. I intend to make at least one more visit to the fishery before it close for the winter.

On Sunday October 27th they hosted Kennick Flyfishers for the final round of their Snowbee Top Rod Competition 2019. The weather was kind, considering recent conditions, providing the 14 anglers taking part with a dry, sunny day & cool northerly breeze. After a good day on the water they managed 52 fish between them, with 8 anglers getting their bag limit, the action was mostly in the Bessoms & Ruggs areas. Best fish of the day went to Alan Riddell of Newton Abbot with a fine Rainbow of 8LBS 6OZ, (pictured). Top 3 anglers were:
1ST ALAN RIDDELL OF NEWTON ABBOT – 5 FISH 19LBS
2ND TOM HENDY OF CHUDLEIGH – 5 FISH 15LBS 11OZ
3RD ANDY WATSON OF BOVEY TRACEY – 5 FISH 15LBS 3OZ

A typical bag of Wimbleball Rainbows !

Pauline Casts a Fly for Blakewell Trout

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Pauline Chard from Ilfracombe’s High Street Tackle visited Blakewell Fishery to learn the art of Fly Fishing. Keen to catch bass on the fly she decided on a trip to Blakewell where she could practice on the hard fighting rainbows that reside with the calm waters. After achieving success I am sure she will return to Blakewell and go onto tempt those silver bass from the estuary.

The warm summer evenings are ideal for spending at Blakewell casting a dry fly. The venue also offers Fun Fishing for Junior anglers and a superb tea room beside the stock ponds to enjoy a slice of tea and cake!

Fun Fishing for young anglers

It is vital that young anglers come into this wonderful pastime of ours and engage with nature. At Exe Valley Fishery they are catering for those first timers with a lake dedicated to young family fishing adventures. Chris Guest sent me this news story following on from young Haydo’s adventure.

“Fun in the Easter Sun, Haydo & grandpa went fishing and Haydo caught his first trout on Lobbs Lake at Exe Valley Fishery, a brilliant place to take kids for their first fishing adventure, this lake is bait or spinner, we float fished with some soft pellets and it wasn’t long before he had his string pulled, a couple of fish later he was enjoying a well deserved Cola Ice Pop from the fishery freezer, check it out!!!”

There is of course the main fishing lake for the dedicated Fly Fisher with trout to double figures!

Exe Valley Report – From Sue Hart

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Since my last report which was written whilst there was snow on the ground, we have had Storm Eric followed by the most glorious February weather. It has been lovely to see so many anglers fishing Anchor Lake in the sun. The lake is beautifully clear with the fish cruising just below the surface. All areas around the lake have been fishing well with a wide range of flies being successful along with a slow retrieve.

Chris Comber from Norton Fitzwarren visited Exe Valley Fishery for the first time during Storm Eric and managed to entice out this hard fighting Rainbow Trout.

Richard Carr from Wiveslicombe was given his permit as a gift and visited Exe Valley over the half term. Richard caught 4 fish with the biggest weighing in at 4 ½ lbs.

Anchor Lake Tactics

Throughout February a large number of flies have been working well with Bloodworm & Blob patterns continuing to be successful along with Sedge, Diawl Bachs, Damsels and Hares Ears. The fish have been close to the surface earlier in the day and moving down a little deeper when the sun is very bright.

Lobbs Lake Re-opening

After the huge weeding effort on New Years Eve I am pleased to say that Lobbs Lake will open for family fishing from Monday 1st April 2019. Lobbs Lake will have a separate permit to Anchor Lake and it will be an any method lake. As well as fishing on Lobbs Lake there will be bags of fish food for sale in the shop for those who would like to come and feed the fish.

Special Offers & New Permit Option

Starting today I will be trialling a 1 fish permit option as requested by several of our anglers, also any transaction of £25.00 or over will receive a voucher to use in the shop.

Fishery Notices

· Quick reminder to anglers that have taken up our Winter Permit Offer – there is less than a month to go to gain your free permit with the offer ending on 31.03.2019. You then have until 30.04.2019 to use your permit.

· Please can I remind anglers fishing Catch & Release that there are few separate rules. A copy can be found here.

· The pre-order menu will continue to be available until 31.03.2019. There is a copy below.

Thank you for taking the time to read this report. Sue x

Winter Trout at Blakewell

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On a cold winters day rainbow trout can provide some exciting sport! With only a month to go until the start of the salmon season why not get a bit of casting practice in, an appetiser for the main course ahead…

Some very nice, hard fighting Rainbows coming out at the moment, all methods are taking fish but surprisingly they are still up in the top couple of feet so floating lines still working, but bigger flies and lures seem favourite, like the black or viva woolly bugger…

Winter Trout Sport at Exe Valley Fishery

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Well done to Ben Cheeld who fished at Exe Valley today. Ben is the first angler on our Winter Permit Special Offer to receive his free permit.
We now have a date for the Exe Valley Fishery Troutmasters Competition which is Sunday 14th April 2019.

It is hard to believe that we are over halfway through January already. Even with the colder wintery weather it has been lovely to welcome so many anglers both regular visitors and some that haven’t fished since early 2018. We have also announced the date for the Troutmasters competition (more information below).

Anchor Lake Tactics

With the weather being a bit cooler this week the fish have been sitting a little deeper at around 5 foot however on Thursday the sun warmed the lake quickly and by mid-morning the fish were happily cruising just below the surface. Most people are continuing to use floating lines although with the cold spell forecast it may be worth using an intermediate line.

Popular flies this week have been Orange Blob & Damsel patterns, but by far the most successful again this week have been Bloodworm patterns. Jonathan Moore from Exeter hasn’t fished at Exe Valley Fishery for over 6 months but took full advantage of the very popular Catch & Release ticket and caught all six of his fish on Bloodworm patterns. Also caught on a Bloodworm was a 9lb Rainbow Trout weighed in by Simon Metters from Exeter.

Wistlandpound Club enjoy a fine mornings Fly -Fishing

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Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club visited Bratton Water for the second leg of their Winter Challenge Series. Members found the lake in fine form with a variety of flies tempting the hard fighting trout in the clear water. Club secretary Dave Richards won the competition with three fish for 8lb 2oz. In runner up spot was Nigel Bird with three for 7lb 6oz with Paul Grisley and david Eldred equal  third with three for 7lb 5oz.

Andre Muxworthy three for 7lb 3oz, Colin Combes three for 7lb 2.5oz, Dave Mock three for 6lb 6oz and Wayne Thomas three for 5lb 7oz.

A typical catch of three hard fighting Bratton Water rainbows.

Whilst large flies and lures can work well at Bratton I personally prefer an approach with a little more finesse when fishing this picturesque water nestled in a peaceful Valley beside the Bratton Stream. Arriving at the fishery I selected a small gold-head PTN for the point and a small black buzzer on the dropper. Casting out across the lake I allowed the fly to sink for a few seconds before beginning a slow retrieve just keeping the line tight as it drifts in the breeze. The tip of the line was studied carefully and after a couple of casts it was pleasing to set the hook with a quick draw on the line with the left hand. I caught my three fish bag within an hour of starting as did virtually all fellow members. It must be very difficult to get the stocking balance right on these small stillwaters. Anglers vary greatly in angling ability and the trout fluctuate greatly in their willingness to feed. Combine the anglers ability, the vast variation in the British weather with the vagaries of the trout and you have a recipe that seldom suits all tastes. Too many fish and angler catches his fish too quickly, too few fish and anglers will grumble that they cannot catch. Generally Bratton Waters stocking policy is spot on as on its day it can offer challenging fishing yet very few days when anglers go home without a fish or five.

On a cool winters day Wistlandpound Club members enjoy the social aspect of a day by the water. Chatting about fish and life is a big part of the club angling scene and small still-water’s like Bratton are perfect for a Winter morning with members returning to families and home life after a bit of fresh air with a bag full of trout each for tomorrow nights tea.

Win a Christmas Hamper at Exe Valley

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We sold out of smoked fish last week, thank you to all those customers who spotted the sign, visiting us for the first time and placed orders in time for Christmas. More stock is now available including Smoked Trout, Duck, Cheese and even Nuts!

The lakes have been battered by the weather this week, but those venturing out such as Mr Crane have been catching fish and at times enjoying some stunning scenes. See more here https://www.exevalleyfishery.co.uk/…/fishery-news-christmas…

This week – come fishing, spend as little as £25 on permits and/or the shop and be entered into our prize draw for a delicious hamper including smoked trout, cheese, nuts & pickles! The draw will run from Monday 10th to Friday 21st December with the lucky winner able to collect their prize over the weekend 22nd/23rd December … just in time for Christmas!

CHRISTMAS OPENING 2018

SAT 22nd DEC – FISHERY OPEN ALL DAY / SHOP OPEN 9.00am – 1.00pm

SUN 23rd DEC – FISHERY OPEN ALL DAY / SHOP OPEN 9.00am – 1.00pm

CHRISTMAS EVE – FISHERY OPEN ALL DAY / SHOP OPEN 8.00am – 12.00 Noon

CHRISTMAS DAYFISHERY CLOSED

BOXING DAY – FISHERY OPEN ALL DAY (SELF SERVE PERMITS ONLY)

THURS 27th DEC – FISHERY OPEN ALL DAY / SHOP OPEN 9.00am – 1.00pm

FRI 28th DEC – FISHERY OPEN ALL DAY / SHOP OPEN 9.00am – 1.00pm

SAT 29th DEC – FISHERY OPEN ALL DAY / SHOP OPEN 9.00am – 1.00pm

SUN 30th DEC – FISHERY OPEN ALL DAY (SELF SERVE PERMITS ONLY)

MON 31st DEC – FISHERY OPEN ALL DAY (SELF SERVE PERMITS ONLY)

TUES 1st JAN – FISHERY OPEN ALL DAY (SELF SERVE PERMITS ONLY)

WED 2nd JAN – FISHERY OPEN ALL DAY / SHOP OPEN 10.00am – 2.00pm (Normal Business Hours Resume)

World Wide Web brings together a vast angling community

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Whilst the internet and social media gets a lot of negative publicity there are many positive sides to its growth. Angling is a worldwide sport and its participants across the world have a huge amount in common. It is of coarse more than just anglers that have a lot in common for fish and the habitats in which they dwell also have many parallels. The internet has bridged many gaps and has opened up a vast amount of knowledge to be shared among anglers from different continents.

I received an email from David Straus who is the main editor at https://www.tackle.org/ David had read my feature on the West Country Fly Fishing Course http://www.northdevonanglingnews.co.uk/2018/04/03/west-country-fly-fishing-course-2018/

David asked me if he could share his latest feature on my website and having had a look I noted how relevant the tactics described are to those discussed at Eggesford. So if you have five minutes have browse at the tactics used to tempted trout across the pond and around the world.

https://www.tackle.org/ultimate-guide-to-fly-fishing/

Pete Tyjas talks trout tactics at the recent Fly Fishing Coarse at the Fox and Hounds Eggesford.

http://www.exevalleyfishery.co.uk