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This year the rain in June and July was exceptional as it brought the river’s level up to a springtime height for most of the time, unfortunately the rain did not bring with it the really good salmon fishing which we might have expected in these conditions. Angling pressure on Association water during the day appears to have been light with many members not bothering to fish. The catches to date would seem to indicate only a mediocre run of salmon. However some notable catches have been made including a fine fish taken at Totnes Weir by Nigel Gipson (estimated at 20 lbs) while sea trout fishing during the day with a single handed rod. Other successful members catching salmon include Robin Thorn, Dave Pakes, Andy Myall, and Derek Myhill. Andy’s and Derek’s fish estimated at 15 lbs and 11 lbs respectively. Brown Trout member Paul Hetherington caught two salmon in one morning while taking his Reg 5 day for the month in June.
I know that all members are aware or should be that one of our regulations is that their first salmon caught in the season after June 16th is returned. This rule helps enormously to push our C&R rate towards the 90% figure which we try our best to reach as a conservation target agreed with the Agency.
I understand that a couple of salmon have been killed and of course this is one of the primary reasons that we all go fishing. In order to achieve the 90% figure I would urge salmon members that it is very important that they fish as much as they possibly can, and by returning their first or perhaps second or third salmon this helps to put the Dart in the fore front of C& R tables in the South West.
The above is not intended as a lecture from the Secretary (or a rap on the knuckles; for heaven forbid killing a salmon!) but rather a reflection of the unfortunate statistical direction that salmon fishing has moved into in 2007. A number of members say to me that they do not salmon fish as much as they used to because they do not like having to release their catch. To illustrate the point I am trying to make, if ten members each catch two salmon after June 16th and return their first fish and they all keep the second fish this gives a C&R percentage of 50%, when we are asked to achieve 90% by the Agency. I do personally find the premise that we have to fish hard (for the few fish that there are about these days), in order to give this high catch and release rate quite hard to reconcile and I also understand why some members have difficulty with it.
Prior to the start of the rains there were some exceptional sea trout taken in Tomes Weir Pool and several in the river upstream.There were at least six sea trout over 10 lbs caught and all very admirably released. The biggest and probably a record for the river taken by Ed Richards.
This was a magnificent fish (38 inches long and estimated at 17 lbs). I was fortunate to net this fish for Ed after a battle lasting nearly half an hour. While I have been told by several more senior members that the Hon Sec can’t tell the difference between a salmon and a sea trout, all I can say is that apart from the sheer size, it was the most striking looking fish I have ever seen. The markings were most pronounced with very heavy dense spots from the top of the back and dorsal fin right down to the belly, as sea trout which are multi spawners often are. Congratulations to Ed on a fantastic fish which he may never better, even perhaps if he went to the Falklands or Patagonia. It also goes to prove that the Dart can still come up trumps and remind us what an amazing little river we are fortunate to fish.
Once the rain started at the end of May night sea trout fishing came to a virtual halt in the high levels and coloured water that has predominated right into July. This made attempts to judge the numbers of sea trout very difficult and many anglers and friends that I have spoken to have expressed concern that the numbers were light or was it just the conditions that made estimating the size of the run difficult. The committee does have concerns about sea trout stocks and will monitor the returns very closely.
Extension to Salmon Season
This was discussed in some depth at last years AGM and while opinions were quite varied it was clear that there was support from the membership for a season extension in the light of climate change and the timing offish running. This was subsequently raised within the DFA and then discussed with the Agency who have now agreed to the season on the Dart being extended to October 14th. The whole of October was initially sought. This extension however does represent a start and if successful perhaps all of October might be agreeable in future years. All methods permissible will apply as during the rest of the season but the extension will be entirely catch and release with single barbless hooks. Initial proposals from the Agency were for fly only but we did make representations via the DFA for the inclusion of spinning as the committee felt this would provide the best possible information on stocks.
Those wishing to fish in October must contact me to have their names included on a list which will be submitted via the DFA to the Agency. I would also request that members contact by telephone or email to advise me of fish caught during the period so that I can quickly correlate the totals which will be in addition to the normal returns.
I read in the Trout and Salmon that the Cornish rivers Fowey and Camel and Devon Avon are considered as rivers which are achieving their egg deposition targets and their salmon stocks are not considered to be in a parlous state. I wonder how much this is due to the fact that they are all fished heavily by angling associations and have late runs and fishing seasons.Derek Myhill made the point at our meeting with the Agency three years ago (Byelaw Meeting) surely it is very foolish to base a rivers success or failure on the return made by anglers (with all the variables in conditions that a particular season can have),here again we have the agency fish counting statistics based on poor methodology and not by the correct scientific methods which we would all prefer.
I enclose a list of working party dates for redd raking and weed removal on the spawning tributaries as organised by the DFA. This is important habitat improvement works and I urge members to make the effort on at least on or two occasions to assist in this vital project. This is also advertised on the Association website.
Aug 07 Hon Sec.
Dart Angling Association
I would like to start by wishing all members a Happy New Year and a successful fishing season in 2007. At the first committee meeting held on the 2nd of January this year, David Pakes was again elected as Chairman and Rob Dart Vice Chairman. Our newly elected President Denis Mitchell also attended the meeting as did all the officers and committee elected at the Annual General Meeting. The Chairman welcomed newly elected committee member Rob Bromige to the meeting.
The first committee meeting of the Association in the New Year always sets the fishing regulations for the coming season. The committee gave very careful consideration to all the regulations and decided that on salmon fishing these were to remain unchanged for 2007 in that;
i) the first salmon caught after June 16th is to be returned.
ii) a maximum of two salmon per year to be killed.
The national by-laws before June 16th, relating to catch and release still apply until 2008. Last year’s salmon total catch on Association water was 39 with 35 of these released making a catch and release percentage of 90%. This was an extremely good return rate and once again reinforces the message that the Dart Angling Association always sets a good example on conservation of salmon.
On sea trout fishing our limit of two fish per night/day is to remain in place, this would seem to be particularly important alter what appeared to be a poor run of fish last season.
Fly Only Water
The Committee also considered the Fly Only stretches (left bank) tail of Abbotsmead to tail of Wortley Pool and decided to allow spinning for the coming season. This was decided after much debate and consideration of all views and very few members indicating that they had fished the fly only stretch during the last two seasons. The committee would of course still expect members fishing the stretch with fly to have priority and for this etiquette to be observed. The opposite right bank where we rent the fishing from John Wilson has never been restricted to method so the new ruling makes this stretch the same on both banks.
At Totnes Weir the committee has also decided to allow salmon fishing to be permitted by members on odd and even days, dispensing with the existing ruling allowing only the odd or even dates which had been to allocated members.
NB This applies to salmon fishing only and sea trout fishing is still to be by the allocated odd or even date system.
Salmon Members will therefore be able to fish on any day. The times of salmon fishing will be from 7am to 7pm . The finishing time is set at 7pm to try to prevent the Weir Pool from being disturbed in the evenings prior to sea trout fishing.
The new regulation will be subject to review after twelve months.
It was also decided to relax fishing at Totnes Weir below the Railway Bridge only. Fishing will therefore be allowed from below the railway bridge to the mouth of the Hems Brook by all categories of members, and the stretch will be subject to the same regulations as the rest of Association water. Sea trout and brown trout members will be limited to fly only and access is to be from the Totnes right bank only.
These new regulations will be for a trial period and be subject to review after twelve months.
I also enclose a copy of updated fishing regulations (see Fishing Regulations if viewing this on the web-site), which show the new salmon regulations introduced last year but they do not show the relaxation of the Fly Only ruling below Abbotsmead. Also included is an updated map of the fishing available to members.
The Association website is now operational and our thanks are due to Chris Glover who has worked extremely hard on the project. The website address is www.dartaa.org.uk
Chris will be updating the website initially until your Secretary becomes fully conversant with the 21st century technology!
Bank clearing will be taking place regularly on Sunday mornings during January and February, river levels permitting so please check with me or on the website.
Those of you that attended the AGM and Dinner in December will be aware that we were again presented with a very fine painting by the artist Robin Armstrong. The painting was of a brown trout and the intention is to sell it to the highest bidder from within the Association. This is the second painting we have been presented with by Robin, so along with the two stoneware salmon as well, Association funds have been boosted by their sales . These items are due to the kindness and generosity of one particular member who wishes to remain anonymous but has been instrumental in their acquisition for the Association and certainly deserves all our thanks. At the Dinner we received an offer of £ 500 for the trout painting and if this offer is not bettered it will be sold to the member concerned.
I would finally remind all members that subscriptions are due by February 1st. I would also like to remind members of our President’s request at the AGM for as many members as possible to consider associate membership of the Dart Fisheries Association. This is £ 20 per year, entirely voluntary but much needed to help to fund the regeneration projects which are vital for long term fish stocks on the river.
I wish you all good fishing in 2007 and look forward to meeting you on the banks of the river.