Tweed Improvement

20 Feb

The 2019 season on the River Tweed proved to be a better year than the previous year 2018 with 6,814 salmon and 2,668 sea-trout caught.

The rods caught 6,382 of those salmon – an improvement on the 5,644 of the 2018 season, when near-drought conditions depressed catches from April through to September.

2,176 sea-trout were caught by the rods (817 in 2018) and the catches during the June to August period increased more than four-fold, with 1,572 being caught by anglers (373 in the hot summer of 2018).

The River Tweed Commissioners Chairman, Hugh Younger, noted that, “Whilst salmon and sea-trout catches in 2019 were a distinct improvement on the depressed catches of 2018, the apparent emergent trend of a larger run of both salmon and sea-trout in the summer months has not counter balanced the absence of an autumn run.

Editors note:-

The increase in migratory fish numbers could reflect the restricted T&J netting season.

Des and Eva!

16 Feb

At a well attended evening meeting on Wednesday 12th February at Willington Cricket Club members and guests of the Wear Angling Association met representatives of the Environment Agency to discuss the recent dramatic fall in the numbers of migratory fish returning to the rivers Tyne and Wear.

With the aid of several overhead graphical illustrations the EA demonstrated in the last few seasons the sharp decline in stocks, not only on local rivers but also throughout the country.

From the information presented the following appeared to be evident:-

  • The floods created by storms Eva and Desmond in 2015/16 had a serious impact on local rivers. Storm Desmond was the worst the Tyne experienced since 1956 and the third worst ever on the Wear.

  • With storm Desmond it was not necessarily the scale of the damaged but the actual timing being almost immediately after the spawning season. The EA expressed the view that although most redds were reasonably stable they were unable to withstand excessive and repeated washouts.

  • Surprisingly the number of smolts recorded in rivers in the following seasons 2018/19 seemed to be normal.

What was more worrying however was the apparent decline in the numbers of grilse and two winter salmon returning to not only local northern rivers but rivers throughout the country. Graphs for rivers such as the Towey, Itchen, Test and the welsh Dee were almost identical in their profile showing that whilst spring fish numbers were constant autumn fish numbers have been falling for a number of years. This is one of the factors behind the “Missing Smolts Programme” and highlights the need for further research both in marine and river environments to try and understand the decline.

In the following informal questions and answers part of the meeting, discussion centred around restocking and hatcheries. It is clear from the EA’s response that restocking is no longer considered a viable option by policy makers. The EA believe that restocked fish do not survive as well as naturally bred fish and have a tendency to weaken the natural strain.

In conclusion it seems that the EA believe that the situation will improve, perhaps in the short term. Restocking is no longer viable in expectation that stocks will naturally recover to pre 2015/16 levels, however storms Ciara and Dennis may influence that view. Only time will tell.

Durham Hydro – big end goes again!

7 Feb

Well not the “big end” actually but the bottom bearing!

Yes, not for the first time the Durham Hydro at Freeman’s Reach is out of action and has been for at least five weeks due to the failure of the  Archimedes Screw bottom bearing.

Apparently a crane is required to lift the screw to allow access to the bearing.

Most anglers and fish conservationists would be happy not to see the screw returned as the screw chamber makes a fantastic fish pass.

We live in hope!

Expansion of the Sea trout netting season.

28 Jan
The Environment Agency are currently seeking views on extending the Sea Trout netting season. The following is a template for anyone who wishes to complete the consultation document. 
All fishing clubs, individual anglers and riparian owners are encouraged to take part in the consultation and can use this response in anyway they see fit. Only by being involved can everyone connected with game angling influence the future of the sport. The consultation document can be found at:-
Consultation response:-
1. Environment Agency figures show that at this point in time sea trout and salmon stocks are in a perilous state not only in local North East rivers but throughout the UK and Northern Europe; the perilous state of these stocks is clearly outlined in the Environmental Agency Consultation document. It is therefore vital that nothing is done to put the protection and recovery of these stocks in jeopardy and that any decision made in extending the sea trout net fishing season follows a precautionary approach. It is for these reasons that at the current time anglers should favour Option 1:  Maintain the current netting season with no extension.
2. The Consultation also asks about the use of the modified T and J nets. As trials of the modified T nets have shown that they are successful in reducing the number of salmon caught then, again following the precautionary principle, it is believed whatever option is finally decided the use of the modified nets should immediately become compulsory.
3. If Option 2, 3 or 4 is finally selected, or when sea trout and salmon stocks recover to the extent there is a surplus available for harvesting, then it is vital that the number of fish harvested is rigorously monitored by the EA. In such circumstances the EA should be proactive in controlling the number of fish harvested through strict annual quotas. 
4. There are very real concerns about netting in the marine Conservation areas. Surely a Conservation area is just that; in this case an area that is a save haven where salmon and sea trout can swim unmolested. We firmly believe netting in the Tyne and Coquet Conservation areas should cease immediately (as proposed in section 5.2.13 of the 2018 EA report “Managing salmon fisheries in England and on the Border Esk”).  This view is reinforced by the position of the netting stations at Alnmouth, Amble and South Shields shown in the photographs on pages 23-25 of the report on the trials of the modified designs of T and J nets. These netting stations are very close to mouths of the Aln, Coquet and Tyne respectively, questioning the acceptability of netting so close to the mouth of these rivers. We note that the South Shields berth caught 1991 sea trout during the 2019 trial. This is 11.5% of the total number of sea trout AND salmon that migrated up the Tyne in 2019.