EA catch returns must be submitted by 31 December. It is a legal requirement under our fishing licences. Their importance is clear. The returns form the basis of our understanding of fish stocks in the Taw system and by extension the overall health of the river.
29th October 2020:
Fight for Cleaner Rivers
We're asking MPs to join the fight for cleaner rivers.
The Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill is currently passing through parliament. Ahead of the parliamentary debate on the 13th of November, we are encouraging people to ask their MPs to support the Bill.
Please see the message below from The Rivers Trust on how to support the Bill.
Please circulate as widely through your networks as you can to establish good support for cleaner rivers.
Devon River and Fisheries Manager
THE RIVERS TRUST
We're asking MPs to join the fight for cleaner rivers.
As you may know, the Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill is currently passing through parliament. Ahead of the parliamentary debate on the 13th of November, we are encouraging people to ask their MPs to support the Bill.
Working in collaboration with Surfers Against Sewage and the End Sewage Pollution Coalition, we have developed an online tool which enables people to easily and quickly contact their MP. With a postcode, first name and email, the tool generates an email to the individual's local MP; all they have to do is click send.
If each of our local Trusts could share this with their audience, we could see a real growth in support of the Bill. Click the link below to view the online tool and please don't hesitate to share this with whoever you think might find it valuable.
Westcountry Rivers Trust has successfully accessed £15,000 of new funding for us for river improvement work on the Mole over the winter. This should help a little towards offsetting the damage from the pollution incident.
27th September 2020:
Upper Taw Gravel Washing Video.
To view the video click the play button.
23rd September 2020:
Gravel Washing Project
The project will be completed on schedule by the end of this month. The pictures below show the line between washed and unwashed areas on the Upper Taw at North Wyke.
16th September 2020:
Upper Taw Gravel Cleaning
Not a pretty sight/site.
This photo shows recent gravel cleaning downstream of Taw Bridge on the Upper Taw. It demonstrates the importance of our continuing programme. This season’s project, which is being handled for us by Westcountry Rivers Trust, is on track to be completed by the end of this month, following which a summary will be put on the website.
Even if pre-cleaning there was not gravel compaction and fish were able to cut redds, it is not clear how viable the eggs would be. It is also unclear how long it will take for the cleaned gravels to return to their pre-cleaned state unless farming practices change dramatically.
21st August 2020:
Red Skin Disease Information Leaflet
This information leaflet outlines the current limited understanding available about this new skin condition in Atlantic salmon.
Given the fact that we have well over 30 sewage treatment works on the catchment. Many of them are old and of insufficient capacity and sewage is routinely dumped into our rivers in times of high flow. We thought you might be interested to support the current campaign by Surfers Against Sewage, it's called "Sick of Sewage"
As you all know our EA Enforcement Officer, Paul Carter, retired earlier this year. As things stand it is not clear when or indeed if he will be replaced. This presents us with a major problem not just for the river, but also for the estuary. Paul was cross-warranted to IFCA.
It is therefore even more important than ever for members to report pollution, poaching, illegal abstraction and other untoward events on the river as well as suspicious fishing activity including fixed long lines on the estuary where no netting is permitted except for sand eels. By putting reports into the EA we will demonstrate the importance of having an EA enforcement officer on our river.
IFCA which is Brixham based with no North Devon presence or cross-warranting currently will send officers to the estuary to look into illegal fishing activities if there is appropriate intelligence information.
You will be pleased to hear that this season’s planned gravel washing programme will start later this month and continue into September. The work is being arranged and carried out for us by Westcountry Rivers Trust as last season.
24th June 2020:
The Summer 2020 Newsletter
To read the 2020 issue of our Newsletter or download a copy please click on the icon below.
18th June 2020:
REPORTING POLLUTION INCIDENTS TO THE EA
Members are reminded that reporting incidents to the EA is an individual responsibility. It is particularly important in times of drought or low flows.
If you come across an incident that includes any of the following:
damage or danger to the natural environment
pollution to water or land
poaching or illegal fishing
dead fish or fish gasping for air
main rivers blocked by a vehicle or fallen tree causing risk of flooding
flooding from any river, stream, canal, natural spring or the sea
illegal removals from watercourses
unusual changes in river flow
collapsed or badly damaged river or canal banks
Do not ring a committee member. You should call the EA Incident Hotline on: 0800 807060 - without delay. Time may be of the essence.
Your report will be made in complete confidence. Save the number into your mobile phone and pass it on to others.
If you make a call to this number it is recorded and the EA are duty bound to act on it. Do not hesitate or prevaricate.
22nd May 2020:
RTFA and the EA
You may have noticed from recent items in Current News and from my Chairman's Report that the Committee has become more and more disappointed and frustrated in its dealings with the EA.
This situation has been brought to a head by the retirement of Paul Carter who worked so hard on our behalf. Paul's departure means that there is no EA enforcement on the Taw nor on our sister North Devon rivers, the Torridge and the Lyn. We are told that the EA were unable to recruit ahead of Paul's departure, but will probably recruit in due course. Note the word "probably". That means that for the foreseeable future there will only be four enforcement officers covering the whole of Devon and Cornwall. An absurd situation and a dangerous one for the Taw which already faces so many threats.
The Mole pollution incident has highlighted the danger we knew we faced from anaerobic digesters and the farming activities that surround them. Because fish were killed the EA were quickly on the case, but for all pollution incidents short of fish kills the EA is slow to act if it acts at all. The EA Hotline therefore isn't hot. It's stone cold.
Our concerns about water quality and siltation are not addressed by the EA. Given the extent of arable and dairy farming in our catchment it is essential if our river is going to survive for mandated environmental standards to be enforced. There are not enough farm visits, let alone follow-ups when problems are identified. We understand that farmers are not prosecuted unless they have received a prior visit from the EA.
We are also concerned about the slow progress of prosecution in the Mole pollution case. Our efforts to urge the EA to speed up the process have had no success. This delays our own civil case which we hope will bring in funds for restoration work. For the time being we are financing this work from our own reserves.
The EA has told us that a juvenile survey will be conducted on the polluted stretch of the Mole this summer and we continue to press for it. It is vitally important. Without this we have no handle on how this stretch is recovering. Unfortunately in the current climate we won't believe the survey until we see it.
Our experience is shared in general terms by other river associations across the south west. (You may have read about a bad slurry pollution incident on a tributary of the Axe recently which caused a significant fish kill.) As a result discussions are taking place at South West Rivers Association level about how best to mount a campaign to highlight these EA shortcomings and make the EA fit for purpose again. An effective EA is crucial for the ecology of rivers in the region.
Sadly, for once there is something more important than fishing and I do wish all members and their families well during these difficult times. Although the AGM has been postponed I thought it would be helpful to send out the report I would have presented there. It is now unclear how much fishing will be possible this year and whether our planned river improvement work will go ahead. Information will be posted on our website when things become clearer.
click Chairman's Report March 2020 to read
With best wishes to all
27th January 2020:
Beat Survey – 2019 Season
The beat survey has now been completed. The numbers are as follows - 2018 numbers in brackets:
Salmon fishing again suffered from prolonged periods of low water. The increase in sea trout numbers is encouraging. Let’s hope we are on an upward trend. Brown trout fishermen had a very good year.
The formal EA rod catch numbers are not yet available.
21st January 2020:
The RTFA AGM will be held in the Palazzo at the Highbullen Hotel and Country Club on Friday 27th March 2020 commencing at 1730 hrs.
The Guest Speaker is Mr Iltydd Griffiths, Welsh Sewin legend and AAPGAI Master Fly Fishing Instructor who will talk on Sea Trout fishing and the future of Sea Trout in our rivers.
The AGM will be followed by the RTFA Fundraiser sale of fishing and the evening will be rounded off with a 3 course Dinner (details of which will be promulgated in due course).
RTFA members are urged to support the event if they possibly can.
20th January 2020:
The EA has now notified us formally that there was little if any invertebrate kill. It is unclear why it has taken them so long to release this information, which is positive for the future ecological health of the polluted stretch in general and for salmonid recolonization in particular.
16th January 2020:
The EA has told us that it will be conducting fish surveys on the polluted stretch this season, probably in mid-June. This will give us an indication of the recovery from an assumed zero fish post-incident. It will be important for us to press the EA for further surveys in 2021 and 2022 to give us a fuller picture of fish recolonization.
A further point to be noted is that we have heard informally that the invertebrate kill which we had understood to have been total may after all have been insignificant.
What is frustrating for us is that the EA will not provide us with its reports on the fish and invertebrate surveys conducted immediately following the incident. To do so the EA says may compromise the prosecution case it is putting together. Furthermore and for the same reason the EA will not give us the name of the person they are investigating, though everyone in North Devon who is interested seems to know who he is.
10th January 2020:
Taw Fishing Club
Anyone interested in some excellent wild brown trout fishing on the Upper Taw should be in touch with TFC (see tawfishingclub.org) which is looking for a small number of new members this coming season.
Given the gravity of the fish kill it is worth re-emphasising the Committee’s recommendation that we all practice catch and release whenever possible.
11th August 2019:
River Improvement Work.
Gravel cleaning has started on the Molland Yeo and will then continue on the Crooked Oak. The gravel washing programme will run till the end of the season with work planned on sites on the Upper taw and Mole.
As you all know I conduct a beat survey every season. The beat survey numbers for 2018 were as follows: 72 salmon, 71 sea trout and about 2,000 brown trout. This compares with 2016 numbers of 185 salmon, 302 sea trout and about 2,500 brown trout and 2017 numbers of 286 salmon, 214 sea trout and about 2,300 brown trout. Preliminary rod catch numbers from the EA are not yet available.
Given the extreme drought conditions for a large part of the 2018 season these numbers should not surprise us and are not out of line with early reports from other south-west rivers. We must hope for a bounce back this coming season provided that we have normal river conditions.
The continuing decline of sea trout numbers is a real concern. This is the second season that sea trout numbers have dropped below salmon numbers. Efforts are being made to discover the cause or causes, not a simple task since we all know that sea trout are mysterious creatures. Are the problems in-river or at sea or a combination of both? We need to find out if we can.
19th February 2019:
Brown Trout Anglers
Taw Fishing Club currently has openings for a small number of new members. The Club has first class brown trout water on the Upper Taw - 3 miles of river near Coldridge and the newly rented 2.5 miles of Tremayne Water near Bridge Reeve - and there is always the chance of a salmon or sea trout. For full details of membership, subscriptions, etc. please refer to TFC's website - www.tawfishingclu.org. Anyone interested should be in direct touch with the Club's Chairman, Gordon Murray (G.Murray@exeter.ac.uk; 01769 520 775).
20th December 2018:
New salmon & Sea Trout Byelaws
A nice Christmas present from Defra. The new salmon and sea trout byelaws have been confirmed. They will come into force on 1 January 2019.
- Salmon and sea trout netting in the estuary will cease; the three licenced netsmen will not have their licences renewed. Since drift netting for bass and mullet has already been banned this means that the only netting permitted in the estuary will be for sand eels. Enforcement will therefore be straightforward.
- As regards our own fishing we will be expected to maintain release levels for salmon above 90%. This is a bit higher than we have been running at in recent years. The threat of 100% catch and release has been avoided.
I would like to thank all members who took part in the original EA Salmon & Sea Trout Consultation. A co-ordinated approach by RTFA, SWRA and other river associations and their members in the south-west has given us the result we were looking for.
In due course I will be sending out an email to members which will set out the Committee's views as to how we should react to the changes in our day to day fishing.
14th October 2018:
The Mole webcam is live again. It is now situated below Head Weir Falls.
31st July 2018:
Sewage Treatment Works (STWs)
As you all know, the RTFA Committee is concerned about the state of the 35 STWs on the Taw catchment operated by South West Water (SWW) and the pollution they cause in our river system. Grey sewage fungus is a very obvious pollution sign. Any RTFA fishermen with access to the river near a STW who sees this fungus is encouraged to take a picture and forward it to me at email@example.com. with details of location. This will help us build our case against SWW.
22nd July 2018:
As most of you will know river conditions are dire and there is no sign of the kind of rain that will bring the river up to a proper level.
Even though you may not be fishing at the moment do find time to visit the river. At the very least your visit will frighten off the predator birds which unfortunately have been having a field day.
Please look out for:
- dead, diseased or distressed fish
- signs of pollution, since pollution is likely to be particularly damaging given the low flows in the river
- any illegal water abstraction
All incidents should be reported to the EA hotline - 0800 807060.
11th June 2018:
The RTFA Newsletter
To read the 2018 issue of our Newsletter or download a copy please click the icon below
14th May 2018:
Proposed New Salmon Byelaws.
Please access the link below to read the latest on the delay to the proposed salmon byelaws from Angling Trust. We have all been involved in the consultation that led up to this point. If, as and when the proposed byelaws are introduced next year the effect on the Taw will be no more salmon netting in the Taw/Torridge estuary and a requirement on us fishermen to reach and maintain at least 90% catch and release if we are to avoid 100% catch and release being imposed on us.
We have been working with Westcountry Rivers Trust on a jointly funded basis to improve the Little Dart. This Upper Taw tributary and its own tributary, the Sturcombe, have in the past provided valuable spawning grounds for salmon and sea trout and attractive brown trout fishing. Neglect, an over-abundance of dairy activities and the prevalence of certain arable practices which lead directly to siltation have greatly damaged these two attractive streams.
There are two biodigestors on this small system whose appetite for winter maize in particular adds to problems. We can only keep our fingers crossed that these two plant are properly maintained under the bizarrely named "owner self-monitoring". It is worth noting that a biodigestor on a tributary of the Tamar developed a fault recently and this led to a bad pollution and fish-kill incident.
Last season WRT cleared 14 debris dams, cleaned 17 spawning sites and carried out selective coppicing and wood debris enhancement work to about 3 km of bank. The pictures that follow show some of this work. This season we hope to be able to do more of this valuable work on the Little Dart and Sturcombe.
9th May 2018:
Proposed National Salmon and Sea Trout Protection Byelaws.
We have just heard that measures to regulate both nets and rods will be delayed until 2019.
11th April 2018:
RTFA AGM at Highbullen on 23 March - Summary.
This was a successful and well-attended AGM enjoyed by members and guests.
The Chairman, Alex Gibson, gave his report which can be accessed via this link. Click here to read.
The Treasurer, Richard Nickell, outlined a comfortable financial position at year end. In summary, income was £5,773 and expenses £11,687. These expenses include £3,788 for the Little Dart walk-over survey and £5,000 for Little Dart improvement work, both commissioned by us from WRT. Available to us we have £3,377 in RTFA's account, £13,948 in our River Taw Trust account and £23,000 held to our account in WRT. The RTT account received a very generous £5,000 legacy from Ron Warwick.
The first speaker, Paul Carter, our EA Fisheries Enforcement Officer, ran through the recent changes to netting byelaws in the estuary and emphasised the importance of reporting anything untoward on the river to the EA hotline, 0800 807060.
The guest speaker, Bill Beaumont, Senior Fisheries Scientist, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, from the Frome, gave a most interesting talk on Salmon & Silt - A Recipe for Disaster. This gave all present much to think about given the recent damaging increase in run-off from fields in our catchment as a result of farming practices which are not conservation minded. Perhaps the most dramatic charts showed the effect of siltation on gravel beds which not only limit the ability of our salmonids to spawn, but also significantly reduce the viability of the eggs where spawning has been possible. The immediate and positive effects of gravel cleaning were clearly demonstrated. Changing farming practices will be a long, slow process; gravel cleaning which we already undertake is a quick win. The question and answer session was very lively.
The auction was very successful and has raised around £4,200, thanks to the efforts of our auctioneer, Chris Taylor, and the generosity of those who put up the lots and those who bid for them. Highbullen produced an excellent dinner for those who stayed on after the auction.
17th February 2018:
Water Quality or Lack of Water Quality
Please open the link below to see what a badly managed dairy operation can do. The pollution here was on the Taw system, but fortunately did not affect the main stem of the river. Nevertheless the damage to fish stocks was extensive. If you come across anything of this kind when at or around the river please report it immediately to the EA Emergency Hotline - 0800 8070
The new IFCA byelaws for Devon have finally been signed by the Minister. This means an end to the salmon and sea trout by-catch in the Taw/Torridge estuary by those netting for bass and mullet. The only netting permitted will be by the licenced salmon netsmen, who are themseves under threat from a possible ban, and those netting for sand eels. This is a major step, the result of a long and difficult process.
12 November 2017:
2018 AGM Change of Date
Please note that the date of our next AGM has been changed from Friday, 16 March to Friday, 23 March 2018. It will be held at the Pavilion at Highbullen Hotel, Chittlehamholt, and will start at 5.30pm.
25 October 2017:
Colleton Mills Project - Fish Rescue
When the Taw above Colleton Bridge was diverted into its new channel at the end of September fish had to be rescued from a 100 metre stretch of the old channel which was cut off. Fishtek carried out the rescue and very kindly provided an inventory which is set out below. It makes interesting reading, but since this was a one-off operation conclusions are hard to draw . The most surprising item was two sizeable flounders (see pictures).
The total number of fish caught was 3,741 and breaks down as follows:
6 October 2017:
Colleton Mills Project.
The new river course has now been opened up and the old river course closed off. Investek have handled the fish rescue and we hope to have a full inventory from them shortly. This should make interesting reading and will be put on the website.
The two pictures below show a map of the project and the opening of the new river course, a gradual process with the coffer dam removed piece by piece.
The editor of the BurringtonParish Community Magazine, Carole Poulton, has very kindly allowed us to use her excellent and detailed article on the project which is accessed by clicking on the link below.
Congratulations to the Taw Fishing Club and Good News for the Upper Taw.
TFC have been awarded £2,500 from the Environment Agency for river improvements to be completed in autumn/winter 2017. This will be matched by £2,000 from TFC's own funds and £500 labour equivalent. This is TFC's second grant from the Fisheries Improvement Scheme in two years and reflects in large part the confidence that the EA and other fishing related organisations - Westcountry Rivers Trust, Wild Trout Trust and ourselves, RTFA - have in the work that TFC has been doing to assist the environmental quality and security of our waters. TFC is a very active fishing organisation. It should be noted that they are the largest provider of RiverFly volunteers monitoring the Taw.
29 August 2017:
The Upper Taw above Colleton Bridge takes a loop close to the Tarka Line and is in danger of undermining the railway line as a result of spates and floods over the years. See picture attached. Network Rail has contracted CML to redress the situation by redirecting the course of the river. See attached plan. RTFA is not directly involved in this project, but has an interest to the extent that the works affect fish and fishermen. The Environment Agency is fully involved and has provided the necessary approvals for the work to go ahead.
This is a major project as you can see from the plan. It was started about three weeks ago and is currently running ahead of schedule. In-river work should be completed by 30 September. Until the new river course has been finished and opened up and the old river course closed off, there should be no downstream effect in terms of water discolouration. At the point of opening/closing there will be discolouration downstream. Fishing may be disrupted for a day as was the case when Head Weir Falls was brought into service. We hope to be in a position to advise members of this in advance.
We are pleased that Fishtek, with whom we worked on a number of the weirs, will be in charge of fish rescue at the time of the switch from old to new river course. They have experience of this type of work. The new river-bed is being engineered to provide pools and riffles, new trees will be planted and everything will be done to make the course of the new river as natural as possible.
There is a good view of the site and the progress being made from Colleton Bridge just off the A377.
25 August 2017:
It is with great sadness that I report the death of Mac McCarthy earlier in the week.
As you will all know Mac loved the Taw. He was an active and successful fisherman and a stalwart of RTFA in his role as Treasurer over so many years. Our finances were kept in impeccable shape by Mac and his help was invaluable to me from the moment I became Chairman.
This is particularly true in respect of the two fund-raisings for the Taw Access over Weirs Project and TRIP.
He will also be missed more widely in the south west where he was well known by all the river associations from his time as Treasurer of the South West Rivers Association.
Mac moved away from North Devon to Hampshire about two years ago.
17 August 2017:
Pink Salmon Threat - Angling Trust Information and Advice.
I draw your attention in particular to pages 6&7 which demonstrates the importance of our Access over Weir Project.
The schematic representation on page 7 neatly summarises the other threats facing the Taw system which we are addressing - netting in the estuary, predation, poor water quality, over-shading and poor spawning habitat.
28 July 2017:
As many of you will already know Orri Vigfússon, who has done so much to protect the Atlantic salmon, died recently.
The link that follows accesses an article which honours his legacy.
To read the 2017 issue of our Newsletter or download a copy please click the icon below
13 May 2017
Number of salmon caught on the Taw so far this season - 24, including a 18 pounder earlier this week.
This is encouraging though the river is now on the low side and as always we need rain.
15 April 2017
The Season so far
15 salmon have been caught mostly in the 10 to 12lb range and 4 sea trout.
14 April 2017
Roger Furniss, Secretary, Southwest Rivers Association, presented the attached paper at the Council Meeting I attended last week. Click here to read.
It is full of interesting information about smolt survival and should prove extremely useful for river management purposes.
14 April 2017
Warning - care when buying your fishing licence online.
We have just received the attached notification from the Environment Agency.
There are some unscrupulous websites offering a 'check and send' service for people purchasing the new rod fishing licence online. This is unnecessary and may lead to people paying more than is necessary.
Please have a read of the attached by clicking here
and circulate it as widely as possible.
12 April 2017
Conservation/Catch & Release
Please think once, twice or even three times before you knock a salmon or sea tout on the head this season. Consider "Do I really need to kill this fish?" Apart from the obvious conservation benefits, it also makes less likely the imposition of mandatory 100% catch and release which we, RTFA, oppose. All of us need to do everything we can to increase the release percentage for salmon and sea trout on our river.
21 March 2017
Presentation about Salmon
This presentation by Dr Ronald Campbell, the highly respected fisheries scientist on the River Tweed.
A Happy New Year to all members. Let's hope for an exceptional fishing season with a good flow of water from March to September. Only two months to go now.
An important date for your diaries, AGM at HIGHBULLEN HOTEL on FRIDAY, 17 MARCH. Our speaker will be Simon Evans, Chief Executive, Wye & Usk Foundation. Full details to follow by mail in due course.
Best wishes for 2017
30 November 2016
Please note that rod licence returns for last season need to be submitted to the EA by 1st January. This is extremely important for river management purposes.
15 November 2016
EA Incident Hotline: 0800 807 060
Please use this number to report anything untoward seen on the river. This would include poaching or signs of poaching, dead or diseased fish and pollution.
10 July 2016
The finished TRIP project report has been completed and can be accessed by clicking this link here.
24 June 2016:
The RTFA Newsletter
To read the 2016 issue of our Newsletter or download a copy please click the icon below
13 June 2016
Taw Report May 2016
River levels have been steadily dropping over the last three months although we did have a small freshet for 24 hours in May.
A few fish have been landed in the 8 - 10lb bracket most having been caught during the last hour of day light on small flies. A lift in water would certainly get things going.
Seatrout fishing has also been quiet, but fish have been reported in the lower river, typically seatrout will run in very low conditions, so worth putting some hours in, it is June after all, prime time for a big pug.
Trout fishing in the evenings has produced some nice sport on some lower beats, one angler on a middle beat had some cracking sport landing and returning several trout, best of which was a plump 1.5lb and all taken on small olives.
There have been very good numbers of smolt dropping back. Please be careful when handling these valuable fish. Always wet your hands if you have to handle any fish and if possible shake off the hook in the water. It is wise to fish barbless if large numbers of smolt are present.
9 June 2016
Trees in the River
Members faced with the problem of a tree in the river should report the fact to the EA Hotline on 0800 80 70 60, giving as much detail as possible about the tree obstruction. The EA will then assess whether they will remove the tree or leave it as the responsibility of the riparian owner. The main consideration will be flood risk. It appears that at present the EA is taking a more flexible approach perhaps because more funds are available.
22 April 2016
River levels have dropped but fish are still entering the system. Big tides have pulled some nice fish into the river.
A number of fish have landed with 2 fish of 18lb recently and another of 13lb the notable catches, all very fresh and in cracking condition. Not many fish have been showing due to the cold spring weather, hopefully this will change with a drop of rain and some warmer water temperatures.
The large seatrout should start to appear now, it is worth an hour or two, there is every chance of a big pug. These fish are typically 6lb plus. Do remember the voluntary code regarding seatrout and to return fish over 4lb and under 1lb.
Trout have been moving in the afternoons during the warmer moments and some good hatches of fly have been coming off. Salmon and seatrout smolts are now present so please handle with care if you catch any, always wet your hands before handling.
April, May and June provide some of the best sport on the river so get out and have a go.
8 April 2016:
Anyone who has lost the top section of a rod recently above Umberleigh Bridge should contact Julian Zealey at the Rising Sun on 01769 560 447.
3 April 2016:
AGM: 18 March 2016
A very successful AGM was held at Highbullen Hotel. A number of new appointments were made to the Committee - see website menu for new composition of the Committee - most importantly Richard Nickell has taken over as Treasurer from Mac McCarthy The auction raised about £3,500 for the river. Over 40 people stayed for supper.
The main points to emerge from the Chairman's report were:
The 2015 season had good water conditions generally. This resulted in a rod catch of 188 salmon (85% released) and 369 sea trout (75% released). Comparable figures for 2014 were 115 salmon (83% released) and 290 sea trout (75% released). The salmon numbers were disappointing inasmuch as we had expected a figure nearer 250. This will be looked into.
Salmon netsmen on the Taw/Torridge estuary took 53 salmon while Taw/Torridge fishermen took only 37. We continue to support the banning of this kind of netting.
Northam Burrows Landfill continues to be a threat to the ecology of the estuary. Together with the Torridge Association we have involved Angling Trust and the Maritime Conservation Authority in putting pressure on the appropriate authorities to resolve this sorry state of affairs.
We are an active member of South West Rivers Authority, Exmoor Rivers & Streams Group and more recently Dartmoor Steering Group.
We continue to work closely with Westcountry Rivers Trust and the EA in planning and carrying out river improvement work.
With the 12 weir project and the £1.8m TRIP behind us the focus will be on water quality and habitat improvement. There are a few minor weirs on tributaries which need attention and these should be sorted out this year. Attention will be given to the major tributaries which are in poor shape, particularly the Little Dart and the Lapford Yeo.
We have made funds available to Westcountry Rivers Trust to finance a Himalayan Balsam survey - the first step to attacking this pernicious problem - and to finance 2 years of juvenile surveys. This latter is an attempt to pick up the slack from the EA's cut-backs in this area. We await the first results.
There will be a new initiative to find a cadre of volunteers to support the Riverfly Partnership which is working well on the Torridge, but has not got off the ground on the Taw.
The Treasurer summarised a healthy position in RTFA itself (cash balance £1,850) and in the River Taw Trust (cash balance £8,763), this before banking the auction proceeds. Subscriptions will remain unchanged, Members (riparian owners) £35 and Associate Members £15. There is a major push to have all subscriptions on a standing order basis to save time and money. Membership has increased from 139 to 143, but there are still many non-members who fish the river. Members were encouraged to help with recruitment.
The guest speaker, Roger Furniss, Secretary of the Westcountry Rivers Trust, gave a thorough exposition of the current situation regarding salmon netting, commercial sea fish netting in the estuary and in-shore (the by-catch problem) and the broader international threats to the Atlantic salmon. This included a summary of what the various initiatives and campaigns have achieved so far.
Paul Carter, EA High Impact Fisheries Enforcement Co-ordinator, explained the effect of the most recent cuts and the retirement of Jerry Boyd. Paul Carter is now responsible on his own for enforcement on the Taw (including the Mole and Bray), the Torridge and the Lyn. He needs all of us more than ever to act as his eyes and ears. We should be vigilant.
Presentations were made and thanks given to Mac McCarthy, the outgoing Treasurer, and to Jerry Boyd. Both have given many years of excellent service to our river.
3 April 2016:
EA Enforcement on the River Taw.
As a result of the recent retirement of EA Enforcement Officer, Jerry Boyd, and cut-backs within the EA, Paul Carter, High Impact Fisheries Enforcement Co-ordinator, now covers the Taw, including the Mole and Bray, the Torridge and the Lyn. More than ever he needs Taw fishermen to act as his eyes and ears on the river. This is a responsibility each of us should take seriously. Members should not take action themselves, but should bring incidents to the attention of Paul Carter on 07768 007 363 as quickly as possible.
7 November 2015:
Large Sea Trout
At the recent 2nd International Sea Trout Forum it was reported that a study of sea trout in the River Shinma in Northern Ireland showed that 85% of eggs in the system are likely to be contributed by larger sea trout. These are fish that have spent at least one winter at sea. There is no reason to suppose that the Taw is much different. It therefore re-emphasises the importance of our voluntary code of returning all sea trout over 4lbs.
According to the EA, the 3 netsmen on the estuary took 53 salmon and 85 sea trout in the season just ended. Rod catch numbers are not yet available.
3 November 2015:
Westcountry Rivers Trust and Catchment Restoration Funds
As members know, RTFA has worked very closely and successfully with WRT on the Access over Weirs Project and the Taw River Improvement Project. The relationship and the work continue. There is always more to be done to improve our river. Click here to view the WRT document which makes interesting reading and shows what WRT has achieved for rivers in the south-west in general and for the Taw in particular by accessing Catchment Restoration Funds. In our case WRT’s access to funds via a competitive bidding process was assisted by two fund-raising exercises from RTFA members.
6 October 2015:
GREAT NEWS FOR THE TAW Weir Project Completed
Work at North Tawton Weir has just finished – see before and after pictures below.
This means that fish passage at all 12 weirs on the main system has been improved. The 12 weirs are - by river and top down: Upper Taw - Irishman’s Wall, Skaigh, Sticklepath, North Wyke, North Tawton, Eggesford, Rashleigh and Colleton; Mole - North Molton and Head Weir; Bray - Filleigh and Clapworthy. By scrolling through Current News and its archive section accessed at the top of that page it is possible to see before and after pictures of each weir.
The project has involved a huge amount of work and we must thank the Westcountry Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency for everything they have done on our behalf and also all those RTFA members who contributed to the two fundraisings which essentially provided the seed capital for accessing the rest of the funding. Each weir has presented its own challenges which led to this phrase being coined – “There is no such thing as an easy weir; just a weir with a different degree of difficulty”.
We must now let nature and the salmon and sea trout life cycles take their course. We are very hopeful that the improvement to fish passage along with all the habitat work being done on the river will have a significant beneficial effect on our river and its fish stocks.
24 September 2015:
Taw Access over Weirs Project - 2007-2015 - a successful partnership between the River Taw Fisheries Association, the Westcountry Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency.
The project had its beginnings in March 2007 when Alan Sullivan, an independent consultant commissioned by RTFA, completed his "Overview of Proposed Supplementary Atlantic Salmon Hatchery and Preliminary Investigation of Fish Passage on the River Taw". This led the RTFA Committee to pursue the access over weirs route. The project gained momentum in November 2007 following completion of the "Overview to Fish Passage on the River Taw System" by Greg Armstrong, the EA National Fish Pass Officer, which provided weir by weir recommendations.
Completion dates for all 12 weirs on the main Taw system:
With the project to improve fish passage at the 12 weirs on the main stem of Taw system almost completed we are turning our attention to the lesser weirs on the tributaries. We believe we have identified all of them, but members are encouraged to let me know by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) about any smaller weirs they are aware of.
13 August 2015:
Northern Devon FLAG
The Fisheries Local Action Group working in partnership with RTFA has funded works on the Taw system over the last 2 years.
The last works were completed in July this year. That work, the removal of a trash dam and grading the gravels in a pool on the R. Bray will enhance both the movement of salmonids and other aquatic species and a potential spawning site on that river.
Before and after photographs show the impact of those works.
Thanks to the Northern Devon FLAG and in particular Chrissie Ingle for her help and guidance with the projects.
Mac McCarthy Hon. Treasurer.
10 August 2015:
If “5 a day” are good for you . . .pull 5 Himalayan Balsam plants every time you go fishing which will be good for our river . . .
By pulling only 5 Himalayan Balsam plants you will stop 4000 Balsam plants growing next year. What a great return on your investment!
However pull 25 and you stop 20,000 growing next year . . .
This will be the start of the programme we plan to run next year in conjunction with the Westcountry Rivers Trust.
HIMALAYAN BALSAM - THE TAW DECLARES WAR ON THIS INVASIVE PLANT
Working with the Westcountry Rivers Trust we have decided it is time to declare war on this damaging plant.
WRT has accessed funds for a walkover survey which will be conducted over the next two months and RTFA will make its own financial contribution. This survey will establish the scale of the problem and the uppermost sources of the plant and will lead to a strategic approach to fighting the spread of Himalayan Balsam in the Upper Taw and tributaries in 2016. WRT will involve landowners.
Himalayan Balsam needs to be tackled from upstream down. It is anticipated the a successful start in one area of the Taw catchment will lead to a wider effort in the future.
Each of us can make an important contribution. Riparian owners are encouraged remove Himalayan Balsam from their beats. Fishermen are encouraged to pull up plants every time they go to fishing. Without a major effort the problem can only get worse year by year.
George Marsh, Secretary
02 August 2015:
Work to improve fish passage at Eggesford Weir has now been completed with changes made to the upstream exit of the existing fishpass as shown in the pictures below.
Of the 12 weirs on the main stem of our river system North Tawton Weir is now the only one still to be tackled. This will be done as soon as all consents have been received and, as always, subject to water conditions.
29 July 2015:
The Mole is now in perfect condition and will be so up to this weekend. There are reports of sea trout up to Alswear on the Mole and on the Bray. Rods fishing these beats yesterday both hooked 5 peal. There have been several salmon caught up to the junction with the Bray but most have been in the river for a few weeks. However today I know of 2 fresh salmon caught, one on the Mole and the other on the Junction Beat of the Taw.
The colour and height are perfect at the time of writing. 29/7/15.
Most fish have been taken fishing deep with Brass or bottle tube flies, shrimp and Willie Gunn type flies.
14 July 2015:
Fishing the Mole so far this season has been hard work for not too much reward. Where the Taw had a lot of salmon though to June, the Mole beats had just a smattering and in June there were several good sea trout caught by those that ventured out late at night. However there were many fruitless sessions as the temperatures were so low and the moon too bright. However now we have something worth reporting. Peal in the Mole and Bray and in good numbers.
The time to start is just before 10.00 pm at present and with small flies, Peter Ross, Butcher, and Alexander have all done well. Over the last weekend two rods accounted for 10 peal , with 4 others lost, up to 4 lbs. Two Salmon also taken over the weekend and up to now. One was only 2.5 lbs and the other 10 lbs.
With heavy rain around, the rivers have moved a bit and the prospects are great , so why not fish !
2 July 2015:
River exhibition at South Molton Museum 1 July to 28 August and special open evening on Friday 24 July, click here for details.
23 June 2015:
Information from the EA on Fungal Infections in Salmonids. Click here.
21 June 2015:
Reports & Webcams, now renamed Webcams & Gauges
In future river reports will appear in Current News. The link to the Lower Taw webcam has been removed since it can only be accessed on a subscription basis from Farson Digital. The links to the other two webcams remain though it is necessary to “sit through” advertisements before viewing the webcams themselves, unless you are a Farson Digital subscriber. For more detail on Farson Digital changes, see Current News entry dated 2 March.
8 June 2015:
The RTFA Newsletter
To read the 2015 issue of our Newsletter or download a copy please click the icon below
5 June 2015:
Exmoor Rivers & Streams Group
We are members of ER&SG alongside the Exe, Barle and Lyn. The Group’s main aim is to demonstrate to the Exmoor National Park Authority the importance of rivers to Exmoor and the need to protect them. In support of this Alex Gibson wrote the following article for Parklife, the National Park magazine. Click here to access.
5 June 2015:
Save Our Salmon Campaign
Trout & Salmon is running a high profile campaign to create a fund to be used for salmon conservation purposes. Angling clubs and associations as well as river trusts have been asked to pitch competitively for the funds being raised. Our umbrella body, South West Rivers Association, with the support of all South West rivers including the Taw, has made a pitch which is now on a short-list of 8. If successful SWRA would use the funds to buy-out the remaining licensed salmon netsmen in the South West. 3 of these netsmen remain on the Taw/Torridge estuary following our own earlier buy-out of 11 of them.
Please support SWRA’s bid - Pitch No. 6 - by using the online voting link www.saveoursalmon.org. The pitches can also be read in the current edition of Trout & Salmon – pages 14-17. Also please encourage your other fishing contacts who may not be members of RTFA to vote for SWRA’s bid.
19 May 2015:
Rod Catch 2014 Season
Final rod catch numbers for the 2014 season have just come available: salmon 115 - 95 returned (83%); sea trout 290 - 218 returned (75%). I hope that this season we can continue our high return rate for salmon and, in the light of continuing concerns about sea trout numbers, bring the return percentage for sea trout to the same high level.
03 May 2015:
As many Taw fishermen will already be aware, our river has been fishing very well this season. The best estimate for the salmon catch to date is 30. Some sea trout have also been caught, but the main sea trout runs are still awaited.
01 May 2015:
A UDN-like disease is being seen on a number of rivers in the south-west. To date only one diseased fish has been reported on the Taw. Any fisherman who sees a diseased salmon or sea trout is asked to report it forthwith to our Taw Fisheries Officer, Paul Carter, on 07768007363.
18 December 2014:
Estuary Netting 2014
During their 2014 season the remaining salmon netsmen in the estuary took 32 salmon and 64 sea trout. Our own rod catch numbers are not yet available from the EA.
13 December 2014:
2014 Season et al.
Without wishing to pre-empt my AGM and newsletter reports a few thoughts about the season just past and current matters of interest may be appropriate at this time.
The 2014 season started well, but petered out through lack of water. Rod catch numbers are not yet available from the EA. Salmon numbers will be up on 2013. We probably outperformed other southwest rivers. Sea trout numbers were disappointing again though some large specimens were taken (and returned). I know of 4 double figure fish. Across the southwest sea trout numbers have varied greatly from river to river and reasons are hard to find. Our own numbers may be similar to last year's.
This winter's spawning has provided a mixed picture so far. There are good signs on the Upper Taw and the Bray, but the Mole has been disappointing. It is unclear whether all fish have spawned yet.
The weir project is almost finished. North Tawton and Eggesford, both easements and not too challenging, have been carried forward to next season.
The £1.8 million Taw River Improvement Project comes to an end after 3 years at the end of March. Much has been achieved in addition to weir work, including coppicing, fencing, debris dam removal, the introduction of coarse woody debris to stop bank erosion and gravel restoration work. (Gravel washing was carried out at 82 sites on the Upper Taw system to improve spawning conditions.)
On the Mole system gravel washing was carried out at 130 sites. This was a £12k project on a 50/50 match funded basis between RTFA and Fisheries Local Action Group, masterminded by our Treasurer, Mac McCarthy. It also included some debris dam removal.
On a broader front two subjects are worth mentioning. We are working closely with our sister river, the Torridge, and also with the South West Rivers Association and Angling Trust in pushing for a ban on netting for sea fish in the Taw/Torridge estuary because of the damage caused to our salmon and sea trout stocks from the resulting by-catch. The netting byelaws are up for review shortly by the Devon & Severn Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority. Also we are linking with other interested parties, including the Torridge again, to see what can be done to avert the potential environmental threat to our estuary posed by the 19 hectare landfill site at Northam Burrows, parts of which have been uncovered by recent winter storms.
26 November 2014:
An eel pass has now been added. This can be seen in the right lower corner of the fishpass in the first picture and running parallel to the fishpass in the second picture.
12 November 2014:
Welcome home Salar, after your long and dangerous journey we have tried to make your home as welcoming as possible.
The NORTHERN Devon FLAG - Fisheries Local Action Group, has part funded the project to "wash" the gravels in your spawning territories. The project was also part financed by the European Fisheries Fund - Investing in Sustainable Fisheries and was in partnership with the River Taw Fisheries Association who provided funds pro rata.
The gravels had been degraded by the impact of sediments which made it very hard for salmon and sea trout to cut their redds. The washing process loosens the gravel by insertion of a pressure hose in the impacted gravel which also clears the sediment leaving the area in pristine condition for the returning fish. The journey both ends and starts at the spawning area, the old generation giving birth to the next cycle of life for these amazing creatures.
The work was undertaken on over 130 sites on the Rivers Bray, Mole and principally the Molland Yeo covering over 2000 square metres of redds. The hard physical work was carried out by Jeremy Weeks and his assistant James Tapp. Well done and thank you.
29 October 2014:
We hope for good spawning this winter. To improve the condition of gravel in which our fish spawn where it has become compacted, there has been a concerted programme of gravel washing this season. 130 sites have been tackled on the Mole system (Mole, Bray and Molland Yeo) and 83 on the Upper Taw system (Upper Taw, Little Dart, Sturcombe, Crooked Oak, Lapford Yeo, Dalch and Little Silver). The work on the Upper Taw system was part of the continuing TRIP/Taw River Improvement Project; the work on the Mole system was a match funded operation with FLAG/Fishermen?s Local Action Group.
25 October 2014:
Rashleigh Weir, Upper Taw
The improved fish pass on the left bank in good water conditions.
28 September 2014:
A Larinier fishpass has been installed at Filleigh Weir on the Bray and looks to be working well. Of the 12 weirs on the main system only the weirs at Rashleigh, North Tawton and Eggesford remain to be completed under the Taw Access over Weirs Project.
4th September 2014:
At Rashleigh stonework has been completed in and around the old fish pass. This is the base to which the metal nappe plate will be fixed to improve fish access.
At Filleigh the site has been prepared for installation work on the Larinier fishpass which will replace the present problematic fishpass.
20th August 2014:
Taw River Improvement Project (TRIP)
The main focus of TRIP is on improving the Upper Taw catchment - water quality, habitat and access. Improving access is not simply about weir work. Trash dams also form barriers to migration. The Little Dart is very susceptible to this problem. Two trash dams have been removed to date and four more should go by the end of the season. Some of these dams contain up to 10 tons of timber. The pictures below were taken upstream of Cheldon Bridge and show trash dam, river post removal and timber removed. Six smaller trash dams have already been removed from the Upper Taw near Brushford.
6 August 2014:
North Molton Weir
The Larinier fishpass at North Molton has now been completed apart from some general tidying up of the site. No barriers to migration now for Mole fish between estuary and upper spawning grounds.
22 July 2014:
North Molton Weir - Fishpass Update
Work has been proceeding well in the good weather. We are probably about 2 week?s away from completion. The concrete fishpass remains to be stone-clad and the river bed properly restored.
10 July 2014:
North Molton Weir
Work started on 30 June to install a Larinier fishpass at this weir. The pictures below show the weir in its original state and the construction progress made by 10 July.
16 June 2014:
RTFA members will be pleased to learn that Judith Kauntze, our Newsletter Editor, has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the recent Queen's Honours list for services to the community in Devon.
9 June 2014:
The RTFA Newsletter
To read the 2014 issue of our Newsletter or download a copy please click the icon below
28 May 2014:
When you go into River Reports now you will see that the river reports themselves are shown separately from the webcams. This should make access easier.
19 May 2014:
To read the 2014, year 2 Taw River Improvement Project (TRIP) report ,put together by our partners, the Westcountry Rivers Trust, click
To read the Environment Agency Fisheries Newsletter January to March 2014, click
21 April 2014:
Final 2013 Rod Catch Return
Last year?s rod catch was poor ? salmon 59 (53 returned); sea trout 208 (146 returned). Given the extended period of drought this should not surprise us and does not present a fair picture of Taw fish stocks. We returned 90% of salmon caught and 70% of sea trout ? room for improvement on sea trout. The estuary net catch however was 53 salmon and 88 sea trout. Compare this with the number of fish taken by Taw and Torridge recreational fishermen together, 8 salmon and 80 sea trout and a good argument can be made for quotas on the estuary nets and for the elimination over time of all such netting.
8 April 2014:
Fishtek Consulting are helping to organise the RISE flyfishing film festival in the UK . The festival is a showing of flyfishing films on the big screen and there are several great films lined up for this year. There are two showings in the UK this year, one of which is in Exeter on the 21st May. The aim is to then increase the number of showings to half a dozen or so from next year.
For more information follow the link http://www.flyfishingfilmfestival.eu/schedule/
5 February 2014:
"Sad to report, James Williams died at home earlier this week. James was a long-time supporter of RTFA. He loved the Taw and was a member of the Lower Braggamarsh syndicate. Many members will remember him speaking enthusiastically about otters at our 2012 AGM. He was Chairman of the Somerset Otter Group for over 20 years and last year received a MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to otter conservation. He will be greatly missed. Alex Gibson"
3 February 2014:
The Access over Weirs Project, now subsumed into the broader Taw River Improvement Project, aimed to deliver passes or easements at all 12 weirs on the main stem of the Taw system. To date this has been achieved at 7 weirs: Head Weir (Mole), Clapworthy (Bray), Colleton, Irishman's Wall, Skaith, Sticklepath and North Wyke (all Upper Taw).
If all goes according to plan work on the other 5 weirs should be completed this season. These weirs are North Tawton, Eggesford and Rashleigh (all Upper Taw), North Molton (Mole) and Filleigh (Bray). Let us hope for good river conditions - a sensible fishing height - to enable the work to move ahead uninterrupted.
7 September 2013:
River Bray Trash Dam
A huge trash dam which had built up on the Bray below Brayley Bridge following last winter's spates was removed recently using TRIP funding and local teamwork. The pictures below tell the story.
7 September 2013:
Members wishing to know more about the Taw River Improvement Project (TRIP) should follow the links below to two documents put together by our partners, the Westcountry Rivers Trust.
To read the 2013 leaflet click here and to read the year 1 summary click here
22 August 2013:
Sticklepath Weir now has three pre-barriers in place to help salmon and sea trout ascend the narrow, steep river gorge and pass over the weir on their way to Dartmoor. The first picture shows the weir with the entrance to the leat on the left under the metal door. The leat feeds the overshot waterwheel which powers Finch?s Foundry, the last example of a working water-powered forge in England. It is a Natural Trust property and well worth a visit. The second picture shows the three pre-barriers below the weir. The first and second pre-barriers are easy to see. The third and lowest pre-barrier is almost camouflaged having been built into an existing rock formation.
9 August 2013:
The old fish pass on the right bank has now been decommissioned. An elver pass has been installed along the side wall with the elver brushes inside metal housing. The second picture shows the bottom section of the elver pass.
All work at Colleton Weir has now been completed
30 July 2013:
Salmon and Sea Trout Disease
The following link, click here, gives access to the Environment Agency briefing to water users in Devon and Cornwall on salmon and sea trout mortalities. Members are requested to email relevant information about dead or diseased fish to the RTFA Secretary, George Marsh (email@example.com). This can then be collated by us and passed to the EA.
As regards the Taw system specifically, no reports of diseased or dead fish have been received by the EA for several weeks and recent efforts to net a diseased Taw fish for analysis purposes were unsuccessful. (Some healthy sea trout were netted and returned unharmed.) Of course few fresh fish will have entered the river in the last few weeks, given the extremely low water conditions. Our hope must be that the worst is over and that when rain finally comes the runs of fresh fish will be disease free. Time will tell.
26 June 2013:
Salmon and Sea Trout Disease
The EA have captured a diseased salmon and taken it to their laboratory in Brampton for analysis. We await the results. As good practice Taw fishermen should make sure all their fishing equipment is properly disinfected whenever they fish on other waters.
15 June 2013:
Members will be pleased to hear that James Williams who fishes at Braggamarsh on the Taw and is Chairman of the Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Otter Group has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to otter conservation. James has written books on the otter and members who attended the 2012 AGM will remember his talk, An Update on Otters.
14 June 2013:
As many Taw fishermen will have noticed there are some diseased salmon in the system and in some cases dead fish have been seen. This fungal disease is not peculiar to the Taw, but has been reported in other Devon rivers. To date no diagnosis has been possible. The Environment Agency, who are fully aware of the problem, have plans to capture a diseased fish -a dead fish will not provide the information required - and transport it to their laboratory in Brampton for analysis. There are apparently a number of possibilities and we should not jump to conclusions. When we receive the full diagnosis we will publish details along with "does" and "don'ts" for fishermen.
The RTFA Newsletter
To read the 2013 issue of our Newsletter or download a copy please click the icon below
North Wyke Weir
5 June 2013:
The finishing touches have been put to the North Wyke weir site. The banks have been shaved and coir matting laid as protection while new growth comes through.
Colleton Weir Fish Pass
31 May 2013:
The new Larinier fish pass at Colleton Weir was opened yesterday and seems to be working well. Landscaping work needs to be completed. An elver pass will then be installed in the old fish
pass on the right bank.
North Wyke Weir
22 May 2013:
As part of the Access over Weirs Project North Wyke Weir on the Upper Taw was removed yesterday. By the end of the week all peripheral work will be finished. The whole site and the banks will be as nature intended them. The following pictures show the situation before, during and after.
Taw River Improvement Project Update
19 May 2013:
March marked the end of the first year of the Taw River Improvement Project (TRIP). Laurence Couldrick who heads TRIP for the Westcountry Rivers Trust has prepared a Year 1 Newsletter which is well worth reading. To open it click here
Colleton Weir Progress
10 April 2013:
The Larinier fish-pass is in its final construction phase. Baffles will be fitted on the right side of the base and the metal plates shown will be fixed to the right wall to provide access for lampreys. Elver brushes will be inserted into the old fish-pass on the opposite bank.
10 April 2013:
A successful AGM was held at Highbullen Hotel on Friday 22 March with 52 members and guests attending.
Following elections and re-elections the new Committee is as follows:
Chairman Alex Gibson
Secretary George Marsh
Treasurer Mac McCarthy
Lower Taw Martin Maxse, Mark Maitland-Jones, Humphrey Wood
Upper Taw Simon Phillips, John Smith, Peter Tyjas
Mole Andy Gray, John Macro, Chris Taylor
Associate Members' Representative Richard Nickell
Newsletter Editor Judith Kauntze
Salmon & Trout Association Stephen Phelps
A presentation on behalf of RTFA was made by the Chairman to Humphrey Wood who will be leaving Devon in appreciation of all he has done for the Taw over many years, including being the driving force behind the original net buy-out and the Access over Weirs Project with Head Weir Falls and the Clapworthy fish pass.
The Chairman in his address thanked all the Committee for their support, in particular those stepping down. He also thanked the Environment Agency and the Westcountry Rivers Trust for all their efforts during the year.
The Access over Weirs Programme is effectively subsumed into the Taw River Improvement Project (TRIP) which covers access, water quality and habitat. Improvements at Colleton and Rashleigh Weirs should be finished this year along with the removal of North Wyke Weir. Design work is going ahead for improvements to North Tawton and Eggesford Weirs. This leaves only North Molton and Filleigh Weirs on the main stem to be tackled. On the Lapford Yeo, Bugford and Lapford Weirs have been breached by the recent floods. Upper and Lower Taw members who contributed to the Upper Taw weir programme were thanked.
Preliminary rod catch figures for 2012 are 223 salmon (70% returned) and 354 sea trout (80% returned); actual 2011 numbers were 353 salmon (70% returned) and 602 sea trout (71% returned).
RTFA working with the Torridge Association is in discussion with the EA and the newly formed Devon & Severn Inland Fisheries & Conservation Authority regarding the salmon and sea trout by-catch which results from bass and mullet drift net fishing in the Taw/Torridge estuary. The aim is to have the byelaws changed to eliminate or limit this problem.
Two riparian owners have put a number of salmon and sea trout fishing days into the WRT's Angling Passport Scheme this season. Proceeds will be held by WRT for Taw improvement work. It is hoped that more riparian owners will follow this lead next season.
The Secretary emphasised the importance of having emails for every member for reasons of efficiency and cost. He also thanked those running the website and putting in fishing reports.
The Treasurer reported that subscriptions were marginally down. This led to a slightly lower transfer to the River Taw Trust after the one off cost of £400 for the Upper Taw webcam. RTT funds which are ring-fenced for river improvement work were increased by £4,216 overall, mostly as a result of last AGM's record auction proceeds of £3,530. Net membership is down by 2. Members were encouraged to ask those who fish their water to join RTFA and at the same time were asked to pay subscriptions by standing order. Subscriptions will remain at £35 for members and £15 for associate members.
The guest speakers were Dr Tom le Quesne, Freshwater Policy Officer, World Wildlife Fund (UK) who talked on global water problems, "At the Water's Edge - a Review of the Global Water Crisis", and Dr Dylan Bright, Director of WRT, who gave a presentation on "The Future of catchment Management", a subject relevant to TRIP. There was a lively discussion period.
Thanks to Chris Taylor the auction was a success raising £2,674. Those providing and those buying lots were thanked. The evening was rounded off by an excellent supper.
Westcountry Rivers Trust
26 March 2013:
The Westcountry Rivers Trust has had a short river restoration piece made which is now on the BBC website – Click here. It features Dr Dylan Bright, Director, WRT, and relates to a number of Catchment Restoration Fund projects including our own Taw River Improvement Project (TRIP). As a result it is highly relevant to the work currently underway on the Taw system. For further background, please refer to the item below dated 4 September 2012.
Colleton Weir Update
27 January 2013:
The Environment Agency started work here in late November and construction is progressing well despite difficulties caused by the major flood at the end of December. The following pictures show the weir with the old, inefficient fish-pass on the far, right bank and the excavation work on the near, left bank which will house the new Larinier fish-pass*. An elver and eel bristle-board pass and a lamprey plate pass will be built into the old fish-pass.
* To see a Larinier fish-pass in operation scroll down to Clapworthy Weir, 17th September 2011.
Colleton Weir Larinier Construction
Weirs Update - Upper Taw
15 December 2012:
* Colleton Weir - work has started on installing a Larinier fish-pass on the left
* Rashleigh Weir - a Larinier fish-pass is planned for the right bank next
* Eggesford Weir - pre-planning has started for improving fish access.
* North Wyke Weir - removal will take place next season.
* North Tawton Weir - at the planning stage for access improvement.
* Sticklepath Weir - installation of three pre-barriers is almost complete.
Good progress is being made despite adverse river conditions. More settled weather through next season is to be hoped for.
£1.8 MILLION FOR THE RESTORATION OF THE TAW RIVER CATCHMENT
4th September 2012:
The Taw river catchment is to benefit from £1.8 million of restoration work over the next three years. The Taw River Improvement Project (TRIP) aims to improve the health of this vital river ecosystem through targeted habitat management work and by reducing the amount of pollution entering the rivers. Funding will also be used to remove obstacles such as weirs. Removing these blockages creates joined up habitats, enabling fish and other aquatic animals to move freely between different stretches of river.
The project partnership is led by the North Devon Biosphere Reserve and the Westcountry Rivers Trust and includes numerous partners ranging from the River Taw Fisheries Association and the Devon Wildlife Trust to the Tarka Country Trust. The project will be managed by the environmental charity, the Westcountry Rivers Trust, which made the successful bid to the Environment Agency for funding from the Catchment Restoration Fund (CRF). The CRF was made available by Defra following commitments made by the government in the recent Natural Environment
Dr Dylan Bright, Westcountry Rivers Trust Director, said, "We have worked with voluntary groups on the Taw river for many years and we have noticed a gradual increase in how much people value the river for a whole variety of reasons. Mostly, however, people seem to innately understand that rivers are where everything comes together; the quality of the river reflects how sustainably we live on the land. Rivers have been harnessed and put to work during our industrial history and although this is no longer necessary, this historic use has limited the rivers ability to protect and provide for us in many other ways. Our work will let them run wild again which will enable them to deliver all the other things we need from them which have, until recently, been overlooked."
Richard Cresswell, Environment Agency Director South West, said, "We have many beautiful and important rivers in the South West. Their quality has been improved tremendously over the past 20 years but there is still a lot to do. I really welcome the work being done by partners such as the Westcountry Rivers Trust. These new projects are particularly exciting and will hopefully engage communities in improving their local river environments."
David Baxter, Head of Catchment Management at the Environment Agency, said "The bid from the Westcountry Rivers Trust exemplified what the Catchment Restoration Fund aims to do; consider the catchment as a whole, solve problems through working with a range of partners and, most of all, to deliver benefits across society. Water is essential for life and livelihoods. These projects will restore a more balanced approach to land and water management that sustains people and wildlife."
* Westcountry Rivers Trust
* North Devon Biosphere Reserve
* River Taw Fisheries Association
* Farming and Wildlife Group South West
* Devon Wildlife Trust
* Silvanus Trust
* Tarka Country Trust
* Natural England
* Mole Valley Farmers
* Environment Agency
* South West Water
* North Devon District Council
* Communities Living Sustainably
* Exeter University
The RTFA Newsletter
To read the 2012 issue of our Newsletter or download a copy please click the icon below
13th May 2012:
· Skaigh - Upper Taw, showing pre-barrier installed to improve weir pool and reduce weir height.
· Sticklepath - Upper Taw, pre-installation of 3 pre-barriers this season to improve access.
· North Wyke - Upper Taw, pre probable removal this season or next.
· Rashleigh - Upper Taw, pre-installation of Larinier fish pass on right bank planned for next season.
· Colleton - Upper Taw, pre-installation of Larinier fish pass on left bank this season,
2011 CATCH RETURNS
8th May 2012: Final catch return figures for the 2011 season on the Taw have just been published by the EA. They show 353 salmon (247 released -70%) and 602 sea trout (428 released - 71%). The nets on the Taw/Torridge estuary took 52 salmon and 107 sea trout.
Annual General Meeting 2012
6th April 2012: The Annual General Meeting was held at Highbullen Hotel on Friday 23 March. It was well attended and was followed by a successful auction and enjoyable dinner.
The Chairman's Address: Alex Gibson, welcomed everyone especially guests from the EA, SWRA and Torridge Association and thanked the Committee for their work and support during the year. He then gave an up-date on the Access over Weirs Project which is proceeding well with Clapworthy completed last year as well as work done on three weirs high on the Upper Taw. Plans this year are to improve two other Upper Taw weirs, Colleton and IGER with Rashleigh following next year - all of course subject to funding which is raised on a partnership basis between riparian owners, EA and WRT. The new arrangements at Head Weir Falls and Clapworthy have been working well with more fish in better condition higher up the system which bodes well for the future.
The Secretary's Report: George Marsh focussed on communication emphasising the value of the website, the annual Newsletter and the Good Practice Guide (now incorporating RTFA's new recommendation that fishermen return all sea trout under 1lb and over 4lbs). The new Upper Taw camera completes our webcam system and is working well. We are trying to move more and more to email rather than paper communication, so members should ensure that the Secretary has their current email addresses; please forward to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Treasurer's Report: Mac McCarthy reported that receipts were down marginally - there was a net loss of two members from 140 to 138 - and there were one off costs relating to the Upper Taw webcam and the new Good Practice Guide. This led to a smaller transfer to the Taw Trust where we accumulate funds, currently £6,658, for river work. All who fish the Taw should be encouraged to join RTFA and member were asked to assist here.
The Treasurer also covered work done in relation to the Walk-Over Survey: 3 trash dams and one small weir removed, essentially by volunteer teams. (Anyone interested in such volunteer work should contact the Secretary - 01598 740 333. There is much to be done). He also mentioned that the 10 year renewal of the Taw-Torridge net limitation order will be for one net, although the existing 3 nets will, under the original buy-out arrangement, continue to operate until retirement.
Guest Speaker: James Williams, Taw fisherman and Chairman, Somerset Otter Group, gave an interesting and enlightening talk, "An Update on Otters", which corrected the bad press that otters have been receiving from members of the fishing fraternity. The talk was very well received and there was a lively question and answer session.
The Auction: Chris Taylor, ably supported by Bryan Martin and Mac McCarthy, ran a most successful auction which raised almost £3,500 for the Taw Trust. This is significantly more than previous years and was the result of hard work by the organisers and generosity by those providing lots and those bidding for them. Thanks were given to all involved.
19th February 2012: Members, particularly those who fish the Upper Taw, will be pleased to hear that there is now a webcam on the Upper Taw. It is situated at Garage Pool, downstream from the Fox & Hounds. This completes our coverage of the Taw system. This webcam, as well as those at Umberleigh Bridge on the Lower Taw and at Watertown on the Mole, can be accessed via the links page of this website. It shows as Taw Chulmleigh.
Atlantic Salmon Trust 'Ocean Silver Conference' - Fishmongers' Hall, London December 2011
Key messages from the Atlantic Salmon Trust Ocean Silver Conference can be seen here. ‘Ocean Silver' attracted nearly 200 delegates, and feedback has been strongly supportive of AST's initiative to use SALSEA data to find ways of improving the efficacy of fisheries management.
Head Weir Project - An article from the autumn 2011 edition of Confluence, the Journal of the Westcountry Rivers Trust.
Rare sightings more than just fishy tales
OUR WORK TO REMOVE OBSTACLES TO FISH MIGRATION AND IMPROVE WATER QUALITY IN WESTCOUNTRY RIVERS HAS HAD THE SUREST INDICATION OF SUCCESS SO FAR.
First, in July 2011 a pair of sea lamprey were sighted and filmed spawning upstream of the new fish friendly boulder ramp, built to replace the now disused 'Head Weir' on the River Taw in Devon. The cavorting Lamprey were spotted and filmed by local fishermen, Maurice Dyer and Jon Jonik.
Sea lamprey and Atlantic salmon are examples of fish species that breed in rivers, migrate to sea to grow into large adults and then return to the same rivers in which they were born, to breed again. These two species have very high conservation status, equivalent to some of the rarest birds and mammals in the UK, so it is fantastic to see such a tangible indication of the success of this conservation work.
The prevalence of weir building during the industrial revolution to harness water-power caused many rivers to become fragmented habitats for migratory species, greatly limiting their range and their abundance. Recent funding received from DEFRA via the Association of Rivers Trusts, targeted to deliver the EU Water Framework Directive, has facilitated a great deal of work to remove redundant obstacles in order to reconnect the river.
The Head Weir Project, completed in October 2010, was the brain-child of the River Taw Fishing Association and the Westcountry Rivers Trust, as part of the Taw Access over Weirs Project. The project was funded and delivered by these organisations in close collaboration with, and with huge support from, the Environment Agency.
"Removing obstacles to the natural migration of wildlife species is one of the most important things we can do to give nature a helping hand. Until its recent removal through this innovative community collaboration, the weir had presented a major blockage to fish and other species wanting to migrate and breed upstream." Arlin Rickard, CEO, The Rivers Trust.
Also in July this year, there was further excitement when increased numbers of the rare Allis Shad were again reported in the lower reaches of the River Tamar. Allis shad are migratory fish from the Herring family which were once present in our estuaries and rivers in huge numbers but which, in recent times, have become extremely rare in the UK. Now, thanks to significant improvements in water quality and reductions in the impact of netting in the estuary they appear to be returning to the rivers of the South West.
Taw Access Over Weirs Project
16th November 2011: As has been mentioned before we jointly funded a Walk over Survey of 70 km of the Taw system with the Westcountry Rivers Trust. The work was carried out by the WRT and covered sections of the Upper Taw, Mole, Bray, Holewater, Hacche, Mully Brook and Lapford Yeo. Many problems areas were identified. Most will require professionals to do the work and we are in discussion with the EA and WRT about setting priorities and funding possibilities.
Other problem areas may be sorted out by our forming volunteer groups. Anyone interested in putting his name forward for such work should be in touch with our Treasurer, Mac McCarthy, on 01598 740 333. To give an idea of what can be achieved by volunteers two recent examples are set out below.
A very small weir was identified in the Survey, outside our Access over Weirs Project and situated at Lower Molland on the Holewater, a tributary of the Bray. Mac McCarthy took the initiative, obtained all the necessary consents and, working with Eddie Rands, demolished the weir, thereby improving fish passage to Exmoor. No costs were incurred.
The Survey also showed a fallen tree creating a debris dam on the Bray at South Huntstone Wood. This has been cleared by the riparian interests, South Molton Anglers. Again no costs were incurred.
1st November 2011: The Access over Weirs Project has continued to move ahead. Following the successful completion of Head Weir Falls on the Mole and Clapworthy on the Bray attention has turned to the Upper Taw where we are grateful to the Westcountry Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency for the excellent work they are doing on our behalf.
Belstone Weir, the topmost weir on Dartmoor, sometimes called Irishman's Wall and part of an old abstraction point once used by South West Water, has been brought down by means of a controlled explosion. ( The before picture shows the weir "wired" and ready to go.) The remote location on the moor and the difficulty of getting plant to the site ruled out other dismantling methods.
Skaigh Weir, an EA gauging weir below Belstone, has had improvements made to increase the depth of the downstream pool. This will enable fish more easily to overcome the weir.
Design work is being carried out for new fish passes at Colleton Weir and Rashleigh Weir, the first two weirs on the Upper Taw above Junction Pool. The next stage will depend on the availability of funds. It is hoped that Colleton will be completed next year.
Further up the Taw plans are underway to reduce the height of Sticklepath Weir, the water intake for Finches Foundry below Skaigh and discussions have started with a view to dismantling North Wyke Weir, the next one down. It is hoped that both these projects will be completed next year, again subject to funding.
17th September 2011: The in-river work at Clapworthy Weir has now been successfully completed. The Larinier fish-pass on the left bank is in operation and the weir itself has been made good. Some tree replanting will take place on the left bank later in the year. The new fish-pass will ensure that more fish in better condition reach their spawning grounds on the upper reaches of the River Bray. Before and after pictures of the weir are shown below as well as a closer picture of the Larinier fish-pass itself.
4th August 2011: Members are encouraged to report sightings of cormorants and other fish-eating birds on the Angling Trust’s cormorant watch website: www.cormorantwatch.org. More than 25,000 birds have been logged on in the first two months. This is part of the Angling Trust’s campaign for reform of the policy relating to cormorants and other fish eating birds.
3rd August 2011: "There was a pollution incident on the Dalch near Black Dog on Saturday 30 July which resulted in a significant fish kill of 91 brown trout and 97 bullhead. The Environment Agency is investigating.
REMINDER Always report any pollution incident as soon as possible to the EA via its incident hotline 0800 807 060." Alex Gibson, Chairman
18th July 2011: “I am pleased to report that Richard Nickell of Blakewell Fisheries is joining the RTFA Committee to provide particular focus on Fishery Issues. We will also benefit more generally from his extensive knowledge of the Taw and his broad contacts with many who fish it. “ Alex Gibson, Chairman
24th June 2011: Members will be pleased to know that we now have access via the webcam links to regular fishing reports from each of the three parts of our river system, as follows:
Lower Taw Report - Richard Nickell of Blakewell Fisheries
Upper Taw Report - Peter Tyjas of the Devon School of Fly Fishing
Mole Report - Chris Taylor of Highbullen Hotel
18th June 2011: Following a poaching incident above Umberleigh fishermen are asked to be especially vigilant during the continuing low water conditions that we are experiencing. Look out for 3 vehicles in particular, 2 transit vans, one blue and one white, and a silver Isuzu pick-up. Please call the EA hot-line, 0800 807 060, if you see anything suspicious along the river.
A successful Annual General Meeting was held at Highbullen Hotel on Friday 2 March. About 50 members and guests attended of whom about 40 stayed on for supper afterwards.
The formal proceedings included reports from the Chairman, the Treasurer and the Secretary which covered the following topics: the Taw Access Over Weirs Project, habitat improvement and the new walk-over survey, communication and the new website, our close links with the Southwest Rivers Trust, the Westcountry Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency as well as our finances which are on a sound footing. Bryan Martin stepped down as Secretary after five years. The Chairman thanked him for all his good work and presented an engraved glass plaque to him. George Marsh was unanimously voted in as our new Secretary.
The Chairman and the first guest speaker, Dylan Bright, Director, Westcountry Rivers Trust, made a presentation to Humphrey Wood, accepted in his absence by the President, in recognition of all his efforts in bringing the Head Weir project to a successful conclusion. The presentation took the form of a framed picture showing the old Head Weir and the new Head Weir Falls.
Click here to see a short video of the opening of Head Weir Falls
The Chairman thanked everyone involved in this project - riparian owners on the Lower Taw and Mole, the weir owner, Lord Lichfield, WRT and EA.
Dylan Bright gave an informative talk on the Head Weir project, emphasising its importance, its scale and some of the hurdles encountered along the way. The second guest speaker, Paul Knight, CEO, Salmon & Trout Association, gave an interesting presentation on the wide-ranging activities of his organisation. Both speeches were very well received.
The annual auction followed with Chris Taylor in his usual and successful role as auctioneer. There was a wider range of lots than in previous years and almost £2,000 was raised for the Taw Trust which will go towards future river improvement work.
The evening concluded with an enjoyable supper.
The RTFA Newsletter
To read the 2011 issue of our Newsletter or download a copy please click the icon below