Current News
River Taw Fisheries & Conservation Association Home Page

To read older news items in ARCHIVE NEWS click here

28th August 2021:

Fish Legal action on the Mole pollution incident.

Fish Legal Press Release Click to view.

9th July 2021:

EA Notice - Red Skin Dissease

We are having a few salmon turn up on the Tamar with red skin disease this year (this has happened in previous years as well), could you and your clubs/associations please let me know if we have any observations of this in north Devon?

I’m looking to get to meet as many of you on site this month as I can fit in, so I’ll get in contact separately to look at this. Look forward to seeing you again, or for the first time for those I haven’t managed to meet yet.


Callum Underhill
Fisheries Officer
North Devon (Taw, Torridge and Lyn) BSc Hons, MIFM
Incident Hotline 0800 80 70 60

9th July 2021:

Southern Water dumped raw sewage into sea for years. Click here to read.

28th May 2021:

Salmon and Trout Conservation Campaign

Salmon and Trout Conservation are running a campaign for a Parliamentary Petition; "Give the Environment Agency the funds and freedom to protect English rivers"

Freshwater habitats- rivers, lakes and streams and all their associated wildlife need your help.

We are asking you to sign, and share as widely as you can, Salmon & Trout Conservation’s Parliamentary Petition “Give the Environment Agency the funds and freedom to protect English rivers”.

Please sign the petition here:

The Environment Agency needs to be shorn of Government directions to put the economy before the environment and it needs the funding to enforce existing legislation without fear or favour. Our report “Doing its Job” exposed its lamentable failure to protect our rivers and their wildlife. We want your support to give the EA the mandate and money to stop the decline.

We need 100,000 signatures to get a debate in Parliament and have until 24 November to achieve our target. It is a big ask but with your help we can do it.

Please give it a big nudge on social media and get all your contacts to do the same.

Thank you!

Dr Janina Gray | Head of Science and Policy/ Deputy CEO

19th April 2021:

AGM 2021

The 2021 AGM was successfully conducted on Zoom on Friday 26 March 2021 and was well supported. Members may be interested to read the Outgoing Chairman's remarks as published in his 2021 River Report:

Attached Here

8th April 2021:

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

23rd March 2021:

Filleigh Weir Fishpass

Unlike the Larinier fishpasses fitted at Clapworthy, Colleton and North Molton, the Larinier at Filleigh had a metal grill fixed along the top. This caused the fishpass to block with debris from time to time and prevent fish access – see picture below left. Clearing it was a difficult and time-consuming job. Last Sunday a team led by Eddie Rands removed the grill – see picture below middle. This was done with the permission of the Castle Hill Estate. The fishpass is now running clear – see picture below right – and will continue to do so.

Filleigh Fish Pass Grill Blocked     Filleigh Fish Pass Grill Removing     Filleigh Fish Pass Grill Removed

Alex Gibson

19th March 2021:

Pollution incidents and physical damage to fisheries.

Recent unfortunate incidents on our river have shown sadly that it is not enough for riparian owners to expect the EA to step in automatically and prosecute when a beat or its stock of fish is damaged. A civil claim will probably be the only option.

If a riparian owner is not a member of Angling Trust/Fish Legal there will be the awkward decision about whether or not such an option can be afforded. Even if the EA prosecutes, the riparian owner affected may still wish to pursue a civil case.

Membership of Angling Trust/Fish Legal is therefore highly recommended – Fish Legal is currently working on two civil cases on our river, one on the Mole and one on the Upper Taw.

Alex Gibson

17th March 2021:


In order to submit a bid or bids simply e-mail your bid as follows

Title your bid "RTFA 21 AUCTION"

Send it to:

Your bid or bids must contain your name, contact e-mail and tel no. Lot number (s) and the details of your bid(s).

Where there is more than one person bidding for a particular Lot we will periodically update the bid status (ie where the bid stands) to those interested parties thus enabling further bidding.

Bidding will close at Midnight on Friday 9 Apr and the successful bidders will be informed within 72 hours of the end of the Auction. Payment will be by BACs transfer, details of which will be provided to those successful bidders and points of contact will be issued on receipt of payment.

You do not need to be a member of RTFA to bid although we would appreciate your support.

To download the auction list click Here

28th February 2021:

RTFA AGM March 26 2021

River Taw Fisheries Association AGM online scheduled for 1800hrs Fri 26 Mar 21

Details and Invitations to attend will shortly be e-mailed to members.

Details of RTFA online auction of fishing will also be released soon. All proceeds are spent on habitat restoration and water quality work. If you are yet to become a member please join and add your support to the cause.

12th February 2021:

Farm Pollution

See link below. This is what the Taw system is up against. There is nothing wrong with the rules they are simply not applied. There is no serious attempt at enforcement. This is why we are forced to spend money every year on gravel washing.

Farm Pollution.

Alex Gibson

5th February 2021:

Taw Fishing Club 2021 Newsletter

To read the newsletter click Here

15th January 2021:

EA Rod Catch Returns

Most of you will have sent in your returns by end 2020 as required. This is a brief reminder to those of you who haven’t to do so as soon as possible. The EA rod catch numbers are official and form the basis for calculating the health of our fish stocks. The beat survey which we conduct internally while instructive is not official.

Alex Gibson

25th November 2020:

New North Devon Fisheries Officer – Callum Underhill

Replacing Paul Carter who retired in April we now have Callum Underhill as our new fisheries enforcement officer. Like Paul he will cover the Taw, the Torridge and the Lyn, no small challenge.

Callum comes to us from the neighbouring Wessex Area where he has been undertaking a similar role. He has expertise of fisheries matters and already has some knowledge of Devon catchments. Paul Carter will be sharing his knowledge and experience with him. This is all excellent news for us on the Taw. When circumstances permit the RTFA Committee will be able to meet him and discuss Taw issues.

Alex Gibson

7th November 2020:

A Reminder

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.

Alex Gibson

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.

Many thanks,

Adrian Dowding
Devon River and Fisheries Manager


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.

Back the Bill   End Sewage Pollution.

13th October 2020:

A Crisis in our Rivers - A Breach in Trust

Click to read Here

6th October 2020:

New Funding for the Mole

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.

Alex Gibson

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.

North Wyke Gravel Wash   North Wyke Gravel Wash

Alex Gibson

16th September 2020:

Upper Taw Gravel Cleaning

Not a pretty sight/site.

Gravel Cleaning

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.

Alex Gibson

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.

To read click Here

20th August 2020:

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"

The details can be found here: Sick of Sewage.

12th August 2020:

The River and the Estuary; the EA and IFCA

While the cat's away the mice will play.

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.

EA Hotline 0800 80 70 60
Devon & Severn IFCA (Brixham) 07740 175479

Alex Gibson

6th August 2020:

Gravel Washing

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.

Alex Gibson

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.

Many thanks


18th June 2020:


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.

Alex Gibson

6th April 2020:

2020 Treasurer's Report

To read the 2020 Treasurer's report click Here

25th March 2020:

Chairman's Report

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

Alex Gibson

27th January 2020:

Beat Survey – 2019 Season

The beat survey has now been completed. The numbers are as follows - 2018 numbers in brackets:

Salmon 84 (72); Sea Trout 265 (71); Brown Trout c.3,000 (c.2,000)

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.

Alex Gibson

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:

Mole Pollution

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.

Alex Gibson

16th January 2020:

Mole Pollution

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.

Alex Gibson

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 which is looking for a small number of new members this coming season.

2nd January 2020:

Gravel Cleaning Report 2019

click Gravel Cleaning Report to read

To read older news items in ARCHIVE NEWS click here

River Taw - Devon
River Taw - Devon
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