Following the effects of the pandemic on our fishing during 2020 I am sure that we all looked forward to getting back on our rivers during the 2021 season.
Unfortunately, it cannot be denied that the 2021 fish runs appear to have been somewhat disappointing. Whilst river levels were reasonable peal numbers across all our rivers were notably down on previous years this summer.
Over the last 10 years we have seen some winter flooding which almost certainly impacted on their spawning redds. However it is noted that netting continues unchecked across our Cornish estuaries and this must also be having an impact on our sea trout stocks.
We hope that C-IFCA will resolve this situation soon (see Secretary’s Report for more information).
Some fishing encouragement came from the fact that there were some very good-sized sea trout and spring salmon taken early in the season. On both the Fowey and Lynher small summer grilse around 4-6lb also came back in reasonable numbers. Most exciting of all to report is that several returning fin-clipped hatchery fish were amongst those caught on the Fowey; all safely returned and several with accompanying photographic evidence.
Only a few days ago I walked selected areas of the Draynes Spawning Sanctuary and witnessed a good number of large redds being dug, despite the lack of organised work parties in recent years the spawning gravels are not in bad shape. There were however some issues that have built up and need to be tackled so it is planned to arrange some work parties during the summer months. Whilst bank side paths will need some on-going attention they are still in a reasonable state of repair, this is mainly thanks to a few committee members who were dedicated enough to clear fallen trees and repair styles etc thus maintaining access during the past year and I would like thank them for their hard work and commitment.
It is now several years since we introduced changes to both our fishing methods and catch limits following talks with the EA. Whilst nobody welcomes additional restrictions, they were deemed necessary to help maintain fish stocks, to remain in charge of our own regulations and avoid mandatory bye laws.
On the club website there are important documents relating to the club rules as well as detailing the club’s requirements for Health and Safety whilst fishing our waters. It is every member’s responsibility to make themselves aware of these requirements and to abide by them. If you are unsure of anything please just ask.
Hatcheries on both the Lynher and Fowey continue to operate with a few dedicated people and our thanks go to all those involved in the day-to-day running (see later section for Hatchery reports). Volunteers are always needed at the hatcheries; the role can be interesting and rewarding so should you be willing to assist please consider offering your services.
The newly acquired beat below Wainsford Bridge has proved both popular and productive, whilst the committee initially had some concerns about taking on another commitment at a time when fish numbers and membership were both in question it has proved to be a sound decision.
We have some of the best fishing available in this part of the country and I sincerely believe that if we continue with conservation measures, look after our river catchments and support the hatcheries, our sport will still be there for many years to come.
Finally, I would like to thank our Secretary Paul Jordan for all his hard work in putting together this newsletter and all the members of the committee for their continued hard work and support for your Club. On behalf of us all, I would like to wish you all a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year. I look forward to seeing many of you at the AGM when we can keep you up to date in more detail but until then please stay safe.
2021 got of to a slow start again with further Covid lockdowns and restrictions on public meetings.
Our AGM scheduled for last February was therefore cancelled. With further restrictions on public meetings in the first half of 2021 and the closure of our meeting venue for some time thereafter the Committee were unable to get together until September of this year. We have nonetheless managed to maintain all of the Clubs functions and access to all waters during 2021.
You will no doubt recall the membership numbers for 2020 had fallen to an all-time low of 126 adult members (no doubt aggravated by the Covid situation) and the Club therefore decided that they would not renew the leases on either the Inny or West Looe to reduce costs in 2021.
Early in the New Year I was able to talk with the Duchy about this and they very kindly offered to reduce rates further to enable the Club to maintain access to that fishing. I would therefore like to take the opportunity to publicly thank them for that additional support.
In addition a short stretch between the Upper and Lower Boconnoc beats on the Fowey became available (designated unsurprisingly as Middle Boconnoc) to the Club and this has now been incorporated into our Boconnoc lease.
With a very full agenda the business of running your Club is now back up and running in the real world. The Committee are able to plan ahead with some certainty and to meet up as a group to discuss and decide on various matters. The drop in membership seen in 2020 seems to have stabilised now and we have exactly the same number of adult members in the Club this year (126). Whilst it is good to see that there has not been another drop off in membership the club continues to struggle to make ends meet as external costs are always rising and it is just the membership fees that generates the income we have to pay all the bills. The Committee has decided that following the welcome freeze in subscriptions last year it is now necessary to increase fees once more. This decision will result in a £5.00 increase across the board. Whilst small, this increase should enable the Club to just about break even in 2022 – provided our membership numbers do not drop any lower.
The 2020 catch returns have now been received and the data gathered enables us to report on the results of our angling efforts.
The 2020 season saw a significant increase in the total of rod-caught salmon. From 2019 to the 2020 season salmon catches rose by 129% with 96 reported fish caught.
Sea trout numbers also rose from a low of 136 in 2019 to 308 in 2020, up by 226%. These 2020 figures are very encouraging, especially as the early part of that season saw a total ban on all fishing as a result of the first Covid lockdown and our fishing effort was down considerably.
On a river-by-river basis the Fowey fared best with the largest number of rod-caught salmon (62) in 2020 and it also produced the highest number of sea trout (218). Catch/release for salmon on the Fowey was 99% (where just one fish was reportedly taken) and the corresponding figure for sea trout was also excellent, at 99%. The Lynher reported 33 salmon caught in 2020 and a further 85 sea trout were also caught. Catch/release figures for the Lynher show a 100% return for salmon but a lower, more disappointing figure of 79% for sea trout. The 4 other rivers contributed just 1 salmon (from the Camel; returned) and 5 sea trout (all returned) to the 2020 figures.
Whilst it is too early to speculate on the 2021 season the early weeks seemed to show a paucity of fish crossing the counter at Restormel (on the Fowey) and annual and 10-year average numbers were disturbingly low. Few salmon and sea trout were seen and even fewer were apparently being caught. However there was a slight up-turn in catches into the early summer. The early lack of fish was exacerbated by what seems to have been very few summer peal entering any of our rivers and sea trout catches reported over the summer were very disappointing. However, all was not lost as an increase in water levels in late Summer and early Autumn seems to have led to a bounce back and many more MSW salmon were being reported as caught during October. Indeed one lucky member had 4 fish, up to 13lbs, off the Lynher in a single 2-hour session.
It is not clear why the peal run in 2021 appears to have been so poor but it certainly cannot be helped by the many miles of commercial netting that is continuing to take place in and around the estuaries of Cornwall all year. Many members will be aware that responsibility for these matters lie directly with the MMO and Cornwall-IFCA, not the EA.
The two organisations have been working for nearly a decade on a new bylaw to restrict commercial netting offshore to protect salmonids. Meanwhile the Devon and Severn-IFCA have had an effective by-law for this in place for many years. After far too many years of what appears to be nothing C-IFCA finally proposed a by-law in November 2021. Time to finally celebrate I hear you say? No. Much to the disappointment of anglers and others, the new C-IFCA by-law was significantly watered down from that originally proposed and consulted upon publicly. The original draft had 1km offshore exclusion zones and net headlines set no shallower than 5m and was replaced (by Committee decision) to include just a 500m exclusion zone and a 3m headline despite hard evidence as to the need to set nets deeper and have meaningful exclusion zones to protect salmonid species at sea. With almost no advertisement a brief consultation period was then opened and this Club, a key stakeholder, only found out about it through other channels 3 days before the deadline closed. It appears that many other angling stakeholders were also unaware what was happening. Following discussions with SWRA, FRA and other interested parties it was agreed that it would be in the best interest of salmonids (and the Club) to have something rather than nothing for another decade. LDAC have therefore supported the by-law as drafted and comments stating that were forwarded to MMO and C-IFCA ahead of the closing date. However, there is more uncertainty to follow. The C-IFCA by-law has now to be sent up to DEFRA for Ministerial approval and be formally made; but it has with it an Impact Assessment that suggests that local commercial fishermen will lose over £80mm in revenues if the by-law is signed off. This impact assessment (IA) has been heavily criticised as being wildly inaccurate, unbalanced and detrimental to the overall approval process. There is therefore concern that if weight is added to the IA then Ministerial approval could be withheld and we will return to the status quo of having no netting restrictions in Cornwall to protect salmonids. WATCH THIS SPACE as they say……………………….. To keep abreast of any changes to your fishing please do remember to always log onto the Club website at ldac.org.uk.
Remember: If we don’t have your (latest) email address we cannot contact you – so please do send it to us as you read this newsletter. Email your address NOW to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2021 has again been a very challenging year for the Club financially.
Our income is solely reliant on membership numbers and we have seen these remain at the historically low level of 126 adult members. Anticipating the future, and seeing a consistently low membership number for several years now we clearly need to raise income levels to allow the Club to break even in 2022.
For 2022 the Committee has decided to increase all subscription categories by £5.00. Adult subscriptions will therefore rise to £105.00 pa and Disabled subscriptions will rise to £90.00 pa. All other rates will see the same increase of £5.00. See Ticket Prices Section earlier in this newsletter for further details.
Renewal subscriptions must be received by the 1st of April 2022 to ensure we have sufficient cash-flow to operate the Club effectively. Failure to do so will mean that late returning members will again be liable for paying the full (re) joining fee of £20.00.
Subscriptions can be paid by cheque (payable to LDAC) or, if you prefer, by BACS (bank details below) – but those members renewing by BACS (Account Name LDAC Account number 80574988 Sort code 20 – 50 – 40 ) must also still notify the Treasurer by post, and provide a SAE with their submitted catch returns to enable their season ticket to be sent out for 2022.
Beware: No ticket means No fishing!
Could I finally remind all members that they should apply directly to the Treasurer with:
- Complete and accurate catch return form for 2021 season
- Membership renewal form duly completed (including an email address where ever possible)
- Cheque (if not paying by BACS) for appropriate amount, including any donations
- Stamped addressed envelope
The address to send it to is Higher Trevartha Farm, Pengover, Liskeard, Cornwall PL14 3NJ.
As I write this report in late November 2021 we are just about to complete another successful round of broodstock collecting.
LDAC waters in the mid-Fowey have again proved to be the backbone of this work and thanks must go to Jason Drew and Jon Hake for their incredible efforts to get our adult fish to start the 2021/22 programme. Thanks too to the LDAC Chairman for his fish donated in October and also to first-time-donator Pete Tucson.
The 2020/21 programme was very successful in terms of both broodstock numbers into the Hatchery at Colliford and the 40,000 fish we ultimately stocked out.
We achieved our fin-clipping goal of 25% of the fish having their adipose fin clipped to mark them as Hatchery fish.
Fin clipped fish are now quite a regular sighting on the Fowey which is great news. We had to turn down a really nice 8 1/2lb hen fish which was offered as broodstock in November because it was fin-clipped.
We cannot use fin-clipped fish as broodstock so that we keep the DNA and genetic purity alongside the wild-spawned fish.
The weather finally turned in late November – not least to get the leaves down for the last couple of weeks of the fishing season – but to really drive down the water temperature. Fingers crossed for the main river temperature dropping in temperature to protect the wild spawning. We have our chillers ready to go should the water temperature hold up – this is another of the main benefits of the Hatchery where we have the ability to chill down the water in a warm winter as an ‘insurance policy’ against global warming.
Reminder – The Environment Agency are going to judge the success of the Hatchery based on fin-clipped fish caught. While this is somewhat flawed – it remains imperative that anglers should download and complete the FRA/EA Form each time a fin-clipped fish is caught at: https://bit.ly/38RzofO
Final results for the 2020-21 hatchery cycle were somewhat disappointing, as initial difficulties in establishing a new treatment regime following transferring to the use of Formalin40 necessitated the return of two larger hens prior to stripping.
With the remaining brood hens being small grilse the final egg count was in the lower 20,000’s, and whilst egg losses were initially small a pump failure impacted on the final stocking figure, which, after these losses amounted to just over 18,000; split between swim-up and reared on fry.
Once again Covid restrictions applied for much of the time and we are indebted to Graham Hake and Nick Lintott for keeping the hatchery operating through this difficult time.
Encouragingly during the season a number of multi sea winter fish, predominantly hens, were taken, and this pattern continued once brood fish collection started for this year. A number of good size hens were put in the hatchery, but as in some previous years cock fish have been hard to find, and those taken were mainly small. However they do have a tendency to be more productive of milt than that the larger cocks.
Once again we are grateful to our brood stock collectors who have worked hard, particularly in tracking down cock fish.
We now have the task of keeping the brood stock free of infection until they are ready to strip, hopefully this will be during early December, although much depends on water temperature. The water cooler and new egg tray system introduced by Graham have proved successful in the last few years.
With all our volunteers getting older we could really do with some younger new blood so if you feel you could be interested please contact Arthur White. The commitment level is up to you, but any help, preferably on an agreed time pattern will be most welcome.
It is dangerous to predict the likely outcome of this year’s egg production, but initial signs are encouraging, and hopefully an improvement will be achieved over the last two years’ performance. 2020 catch figures for the Lynher indicate that the river has performed better when compared to the smaller South West rivers, and, whilst we cannot directly assess hatchery performance due to lack of fin-clipping, signs are that the fish run has improved.
Perhaps this is the best measure of the likely success of the hatchery.
We are delighted to advise that, with the kind support of the Duchy of Cornwall, the Club has been able to renegotiate the leases for both the Inny (Beat 19) and the West Looe (Beat 20).
There are no changes to the rules, regulations and season dates that were previously in place for these beats. Members are able to fish the beats with immediate effect
The 2020 Trophy Winners have been published – see the Trophies page