Conwy 2012

stuartpengs

New member
I really have been reluctant to comment on your posts Stuartpengs, but you seem to be lacking in the understanding of both logic and basic arithmetic to bepolite.

I await the anticipated onslaught of abuse which I will ignore: but go for it!!

HP
Please point out where I've targeted abuse at anyone. Can I not have an opinion on a subject that differs to others without being labeled abusive? The only derogatory personal remarks in this thread are in your post highplains, perhaps a little 'practice what you preach' may be in order.

My comments echo those of many other anglers who fish the Conwy, and who also do not agree with the extension. Last time I checked, this was the Conwy thread.

I await any positive contribution to the subject, go for it!!
 
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phl

Member
Healthy compared to twenty years ago SB?
Actually, Stuart, the EA statistics tend to suggest that seatrout numbers on the Clwyd are indeed better than 20 years ago.

The catch returns for the Clwyd (including Elwy) 20 years ago were:
1990: 368
1991: 237
1992: 89 (not a realistic count as for 2 years the EA recording methodology was inadequate)
Throughout the 1990s the count only exceeded 800 in one year: 1998, when 1730 seatrout were recorded.

By contrast, the totals for the past three years are:
2009: 880
2010: 1498
2011:968

This is not entirely a consequence of the winter extension: in fact, since 2000, the total has only once been below 700, and we have had 8 years when the total exceeded 800.
Now I know that catch returns are unreliable, but even so, I am puzzled by the universal assumption that runs are declining: on the Clwyd/Elwy, at least, such data as we have suggests otherwise.

As for C&R: I do believe that it is important for us to exercise restraint in our fish-killing, and some restrictions are probably necessary to conserve stocks, but I am deeply opposed to a policy of strict C&R. I also believe that our rivers are capable of sustaining quite a high level of stock exploitation without damage. In the supposed great days of Welsh rivers, very few anglers returned their seatrout, but catch returns remained high for decades. There really is no good evidence that fishing pressure has led to declining stocks, nor that C&R policies have improved them.
Which takes me to my final point: I think it is very easy and convenient for the EA to promote C&R; it costs them nothing, and it conveniently passes all the responsibility for maintaining fish stocks onto us. If stocks improve, then it has succeeded: if they do not, it just shows that we need stricter limitations. Meanwhile, the real problems, whatever they are, are not being addressed. I think we should resist this trend, and insist that the EA provides real evidence to support its policy proposals. Crucially, we need to understand what is causing runs to decline (if they are) before we can hope to reverse the decline.

Paul
 

phl

Member
Healthy compared to twenty years ago SB?
Actually, Stuart, the EA statistics tend to suggest that seatrout numbers on the Clwyd are indeed better than 20 years ago.

The catch returns for the Clwyd (including Elwy) 20 years ago were:
1990: 368
1991: 237
1992: 89 (not a realistic count as for 2 years the EA recording methodology was inadequate)
Throughout the 1990s the count only exceeded 800 in one year: 1998, when 1730 seatrout were recorded.

By contrast, the totals for the past three years are:
2009: 880
2010: 1498
2011:968

This is not entirely a consequence of the winter extension: in fact, since 2000, the total has only once been below 700, and we have had 8 years when the total exceeded 800.
Now I know that catch returns are unreliable, but even so, I am puzzled by the universal assumption that runs are declining: on the Clwyd/Elwy, at least, such data as we have suggests otherwise.

As for C&R: I do believe that it is important for us to exercise restraint in our fish-killing, and some restrictions are probably necessary to conserve stocks, but I am deeply opposed to a policy of strict C&R. I also believe that our rivers are capable of sustaining quite a high level of stock exploitation without damage. In the supposed great days of Welsh rivers, very few anglers returned their seatrout, but catch returns remained high for decades. There really is no good evidence that fishing pressure has led to declining stocks, nor that C&R policies have improved them.
Which takes me to my final point: I think it is very easy and convenient for the EA to promote C&R; it costs them nothing, and it conveniently passes all the responsibility for maintaining fish stocks onto us. If stocks improve, then it has succeeded: if they do not, it just shows that we need stricter limitations. Meanwhile, the real problems, whatever they are, are not being addressed. I think we should resist this trend, and insist that the EA provides real evidence to support its policy proposals. Crucially, we need to understand what is causing runs to decline (if they are) before we can hope to reverse the decline.

Paul
 

stuartpengs

New member
Actually, Stuart, the EA statistics tend to suggest that seatrout numbers on the Clwyd are indeed better than 20 years ago.

The catch returns for the Clwyd (including Elwy) 20 years ago were:
1990: 368
1991: 237
1992: 89 (not a realistic count as for 2 years the EA recording methodology was inadequate)
Throughout the 1990s the count only exceeded 800 in one year: 1998, when 1730 seatrout were recorded.

By contrast, the totals for the past three years are:
2009: 880
2010: 1498
2011:968

This is not entirely a consequence of the winter extension: in fact, since 2000, the total has only once been below 700, and we have had 8 years when the total exceeded 800.
Now I know that catch returns are unreliable, but even so, I am puzzled by the universal assumption that runs are declining: on the Clwyd/Elwy, at least, such data as we have suggests otherwise.

As for C&R: I do believe that it is important for us to exercise restraint in our fish-killing, and some restrictions are probably necessary to conserve stocks, but I am deeply opposed to a policy of strict C&R. I also believe that our rivers are capable of sustaining quite a high level of stock exploitation without damage. In the supposed great days of Welsh rivers, very few anglers returned their seatrout, but catch returns remained high for decades. There really is no good evidence that fishing pressure has led to declining stocks, nor that C&R policies have improved them.
Which takes me to my final point: I think it is very easy and convenient for the EA to promote C&R; it costs them nothing, and it conveniently passes all the responsibility for maintaining fish stocks onto us. If stocks improve, then it has succeeded: if they do not, it just shows that we need stricter limitations. Meanwhile, the real problems, whatever they are, are not being addressed. I think we should resist this trend, and insist that the EA provides real evidence to support its policy proposals. Crucially, we need to understand what is causing runs to decline (if they are) before we can hope to reverse the decline.

Paul
Hi Paul,

some very good points in that post, which I agree with wholeheartedly (a couple I don't though).

In relation to the sea trout catch returns, and to a lesser extent - salmon, do you think it may be down to the fact fewer anglers actually reported their catch 20 years ago? I know I never completed any form of catch return then, nor did any anglers I know of. I wish I did now though. Personally I feel there are far fewer migratory fish in the river today than there were 20 years ago, that's just how it feels to me. I'd be interested to hear of anyone who thinks the opposite is true.

I think 100% C&R would be more palatable if it was introduced as part of a raft of measures to try an increase stocks. I fully agree that it is no form of panacea, though I certainly wouldn't oppose it, if was part of a plan, rather than a knee-jerk reaction. I agree they are capable of sustaining a higher level of exploitation, when the number of fish allows. Statistical evidence (from the EA catch returns you've quoted) would suggest numbers are at that point, and have been for some time. What does your fishing experiences tell you?

One thing I would be very wary of, is any form of catch limit or issuing of tags. I think these tend to give the impression to some anglers that they 'have' to be used, and can lead to more fish being taken. All depends on how well spread out the catches are of course. If it's a few who catch the magority then it can work, if they spread over a higher number of anglers, it can lead to more fish being taken. A discretionary C&R could, in theory lead to more fish being released. Difficult one.

On the subject of the extension again. Yes I agree the season closing date is purely a date, but there has to be a cutoff point surely. As fish stocks stand at the moment, I think the vast majority of us are conservation minded, and do return most, if not all of our fish. Let's not ignore the point though, some of those fish will succumb through the rigours of catch and release, we're not that naive are we. In relation to the Conwy, the 'majority' of the fish caught in the extension are coloured, they're fast approaching spawning, and many times I've seen a hen lose eggs whilst being released. I'm sure many other here have seen the same? How can this not have an affect, even the slightest? If the same cannot be said for the Clwyd, then great, go for the extension, and if the majority of the fish are clean (though the cynic in me would point out, if the ultimate goal is a permanent extension, I would expect some colouring fish as being reported clean), then go for it. Please don't apply the same logic to the Conwy though.
 
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phl

Member
Hi Paul,

In relation to the sea trout catch returns, and to a lesser extent - salmon, do you think it may be down to the fact fewer anglers actually reported their catch 20 years ago? .
Yes, I think you're almost certainly right, Stuart, although even now, for some rivers the EA statistics are clearly only a fraction of the actual catch. However, it remains true that the catch returns, which are for most rivers the only evidence we have, don't present such a clear picture of decline as we all seem to assume is the case.
My own experience is that I don't catch very many seatrout: but I'm afraid that is due to my own incompetence rather than shortage of fish! Like almost everyone, I think there seemed to be a lot more seatrout about in the 1960s than there are now, but for most of the intervening period I had little opportunity to fish for seatrout, so I don't really have any useful evidence to put forward. But I do have a small but possibly revealing anecdote. A couple of years ago I saw that the EA catch returns for the Cumbrian Esk, a river which I occasionally fish, showed that only 3 seatrout had been reported for the month of September. As it happened, I had personally reported my own catch of 4 for that month, so I queried this with the EA. They admitted that my return had been misallocated to the Border Esk, even though I had clearly reported it as Cumbrian Esk.
I wonder if this was an isolated error. Perhaps the person recording the results simply thought that "Cumbrisn Esk" meant "Border Esk"? - the Border Esk is, of course, on the edge of Cumbria. That might explain why the statistics for the Cumbrian Esk, for many years, showed a river with a catastrophic lack of seatrout - which is far from being the case.
All this tells us, of course, is that the EA bases its policies on a very inadequate research base, which we all know. My worry is that we are, on this flimsy basis, being persuaded into policies which (apart from my personal objections) I think will be ineffective and possibly counterproductive.

Paul
 

stuartpengs

New member
All this tells us, of course, is that the EA bases its policies on a very inadequate research base, which we all know. My worry is that we are, on this flimsy basis, being persuaded into policies which (apart from my personal objections) I think will be ineffective and possibly counterproductive.

Paul
Counterproductive in the respect it may dissuade anglers from fishing at all do you mean, Paul? That's the only downside I can see personally, but I'd be interested if you have any other reasons. Of course than in itself can be bad for angling clubs.

On the subject of the EA, and basing its polices on inadequate research. As with any publicly funded organisation, in this financial climate, I'm afraid I can't see any other form of research taking place for the foreseeable future. 100% C&R may not be popular with many, but it's a cheap option for the EA. For that reason, I can see it coming.
 
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phl

Member
Counterproductive in the respect it may dissuade anglers from fishing at all do you mean, Paul?.
Yes, that's right. If there are fewer anglers on the river, there will be fewer people to report pollution, fewer to pressure the EA over cormorants and other problems, a clearer field for poachers, etc..
Alternatively, clubs may turn to stocking large triploid brown trout to retain their members. I have a suspicion that brown trout stocking in some rivers has contributed to a decline in migratory fish.

Also, if I am right that C&R won't solve the problems, its introduction will only delay a search for the real solutions.

Paul
 

stuartpengs

New member
Yes, that's right. If there are fewer anglers on the river, there will be fewer people to report pollution, fewer to pressure the EA over cormorants and other problems, a clearer field for poachers, etc..
Alternatively, clubs may turn to stocking large triploid brown trout to retain their members. I have a suspicion that brown trout stocking in some rivers has contributed to a decline in migratory fish.

Also, if I am right that C&R won't solve the problems, its introduction will only delay a search for the real solutions.

Paul
Hmm, not sure if they're more subjective reasons from those who don't want 100% C&R regardless. Is there any evidence of any of those happening on the Aberdeenshire Dee for example? I think, with the majority of us practicing C&R in one form or another, a far more likely culprit for dwindling anglers will be dwindling fish stocks.
 
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stuartpengs

New member
Anyway, back to some river reports.

Had a night out last night. Conditions were OK, good cloud and a late(ish) moon. Brisk downstream breeze was causing a few problems. Fished the bottom stretch of our beat for a couple of hours. Nothing seen. Moved up to the top of our beat around 11, downstream breeze now coming over the right shoulder. A strong gust caught me mid cast, end result - two points of a Salar treble, in the hand, up to the bend. A pretty uncomfortable drive to A&E, and a two hour wait to have it removed. On the plus side, the doctor did say it was one of the most difficult hooks she's ever had to remove. A strong endorsement for Salars! Hoping the pain subsides by tomorrow so I can get out again.

And yes, both her and the nurse said it....."now you know how the fish feel!". Didn't bring much of a smile to my face.
 

apprentice 2

New member
Ouch!!!

I have a vague idea how that must have hurt.

I was once hooked in the thumb with a single hook and that was bad enough. It was made much worse by my 'mate' rolling on the floor laughing helplessly. We were fishing a lake for rainbows. I hooked one on the top dropper. Very carefully released it still in the water. It slowly swam down and took the point fly pulling the top dropper into my thumb. I then had an angry fish pulling the hook further into my thumb while a growing audience joined in the enjoyment of my predicament Eventually my 'mate' recovered enough to net the fish. I cut off the hook off the leader and released the fish again. I fished on but gave up after a few minutes of trying to cast a fly with a hook embedded in my right thumb.

My wife, an ex-A&E sister, removed the hook.

I now willingly agree to all jibes that ...." now you know how the fish feels ..." . I do the fish was clearly not put off feeding while I was clearly reluctant to carry on fishing!!

Brian M
 

stuartpengs

New member
Yikes!

It's bad enough getting one in the hand, to have a fish then try and run off with it! Agony. I've had a bad run over the last couple of seasons, Brian. One in the finger whilst fishing in a boat. Early on, plenty of fish showing, and it took me two hours to drive to the lake. Was either pull it out, or pack up and go to hospital. I opted for the former, was the most painful experience ever, screaming like a girl! Then last season my boat partner puts a Kate McLaren in the side of my head. Luckily the fishery manager was quite adept at the old 'twist some leader around the bend, and give it a sharp yank' trick. I must say, it worked quite well, though certainly smarted a bit!
 

elwyman

Member
Last couple of seasons I've managed to hook myself in the hand with small flying trebles when sea trouting at night.................................fortunately both came out without much pain, hold with pliers, shut eyes and yank quickly............I suppose the barbs on a size 14 are quite small.

Quick session tonight and managed a 3lb fish at about 9.30, not fresh.
 
S

silverinvicta

Guest
I still have a piece of a size 10 long shank lure hook in the back of my left hand, bout 1/4" long. Hook broke while trying to get it out while in a boat on Brenig in the early days of it opening... Went to Hospital but they said it was more likely to work out than it was worth the hassle of a minor op to remove it..Its still there and can be seen as a small black mark..... It is nearer the surface now. (had a cracking days fishing though) lol

Si.......
 

clwydman

New member
The dreaded hook yourself;), done it twice, once with a number 3 mepps firmly embedded between my knuckles after pulling it out of roots on the other bank. Even at 40, I was stupid enough to allow my Dad to 'get it out!' involving a loop of line round the bend of the hook and a sharp tug. (nearly jumped over the river!). The other time was night fishing on the Eastern Cleddau, flicked the fly accross the river only to feel an almighty bang and a flash and the fly in my left eye! thankfully the hook did not catch but a trip to the optitions the next day with a cracking shiner showed a deep scratch to my eye thankfully missing the importent bits. By god it hurt though!.

I think the hook yourself development is slightly more interesting than some of the posts. For what it is worth, I would hate to see compulsory catch and release for migratory fish. The stats used by the EA are useless but if the only way to demonstrate the numbers of fish is to catch them, then we need to do this to show the truth. I have caught two salmon this year on the clwyd, both returned. In the extension two years ago I caught three salmon one was slightly coloured ( but could have been taken) the other two were tide fresh. In December I was monitoring 4 salmon in a small pool. A big hen and three cocks. Whilst the hen was coloured two of the cocks were bright silver. The 'game' set by the EA has so far been very cleverly played by Brian i.e. meet Stats with other Stats. What is for certain is that there have not been any contributors to this thread that would like to see a further decline in returning fish or rivers with an unsustainable stock of migratory fish. No fishermen on the river will soon mean no fish not the other way round in my opinion
 

stuartpengs

New member
Some good points again Clwydman, thanks for contributing :)

A couple of points I'd like to raise. I don't know about the Clwyd, but on the Conwy (unfortunately) we still have quite a few anglers who are of the opinion that everything they catch they kill. As much as those who practice C&R try to redress the balance, the fishmongers continue to take all they catch. These fish killed are also the one most unlikely to find their way onto any form of catch return, that gives an unrealistic caught/released ratio. Whilst those of us who have a different approach to conservation try to educate as much as possible, whilst there's no bylaw to release these fish, they will continue to be taken, and the real bugbear for me is, to be fair the angler is perfectly entitled to take these fish. It's then very thin ice to vilify them as individuals. As for those who fish the river and are unable to recognise what constitutes a coloured fish (sea trout and salmon), well, I despair at the condition some fish are taken, again, unfortunately only a bylaw for mandatory C&R would remove any ambiguity. I completely agree there are no contributors to this thread who want to see any further decline, unfortunately the members on here represent a tiny minority of those who fish the two rivers.

The stats used by the EA are useless but if the only way to demonstrate the numbers of fish is to catch them, then we need to do this to show the truth.
6 fish caught on the Conwy during the 2011 extension was it? Again I agree comparing the Clwyd and the Conwy in the respect of the extension is like comparing apples and oranges. As close in proximity that they are, they are fundamentally different. By the time the fish reach the popular beats late in autumn, the vast majority are coloured. I completely understand and believe what you say about fresh fish in December on the Clwyd, I too often walk the Conwy during close season, and cannot remember seeing anything even closely resembling a clean fish from late October onwards. I'm not saying they aren't there, but comparative figures compared to the Clwyd are much smaller.

I know it's an adage that gets banded about often, but dead fish don't spawn. For providing figures to the EA, whether mandatory C&R throughout the season is implemented or not, the catch figures shouldn't alter, just that it'll be 'all returned'. Evidence from other 100% C&R rivers doesn't suggest any drop off in anglers. The Aberdeenshire Dee certainly not, and as far as I'm aware on the Wye, since the introduction of C&R, bums on seats (metaphorically) has not changed significantly. OK, I admit there doesn't seem to be anywhere near the numbers that fished it in the heydays, but there are nowhere near the numbers of fish. Which brings me back to my point earlier, dwindling fish stocks bring about dwindling numbers of anglers. I've never wanted 100% C&R either, and I'm not some converted anti. I just think it's unfortunately the next step, but I do think it will be a positive step, regardless of how unpopular it is. I think, as evidence suggests, anglers will continue to fish too.

The longer we fight the introduction of mandatory C&R, the longer it will be before we as anglers can say "Look, EA, we've done as much as we can, now what are YOU going to do about it?"
 
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clwydman

New member
To be fair the catch and release statistics on the Clwyd are high for both salmon and sea trout. There are the odd angler about the I am sure continues to kill everything but to be fair to the Clwyd anglers generally catch and release in encouraged by all clubs on the river and practiced by the vast majority of anglers and has been for many years now. I don't know the Conwy as I have never fished it, the Clwyd has always been a late river I wonder if the Conwy has a significant early run of fish???
 

Andy R

New member
I agree with the most part, but 100% catch and release does put anglers off, we used to rent three beats on the carron (Kyle of Sutherland) they went 100% c&r, and it meant the group of anglers I take didn't want to go (4 yes, 4 no) since then speaking to the agent, there is quite a lot of availability, as unlike the royal Dee, there's little chance of regular sport, it really is hit and miss.

So whilst major rivers will continue to hold there own, spey, tweed, Dee etc, the lesser rivers do suffer. Similar story on the brora, shin but not on the oykel, which is the `senior river` in the Kyle. I know there's availability where there didn't used to be as I get emails from CKD Galbraith, Bell Ingram, George Goldsmith etc, with offers of available weeks. Prior to 100% c&r, it was deadmans shoes, in common with the theme though, you still can't get on the oykel though....

I think my ethos would be restraint, not 100% c&r, if it were 100% c&r I'd probably pack it in and go back to beach fishing and piking....

Andy
 
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stuartpengs

New member
Fished until about 1:30 tonight. A couple of those offers where you think 'how the hell can they hit a fly that hard, but still not get hooked!'. A theme that's been quite noticeable this year - no fish showing. River is ideal height, so will try again tomorrow!
 

stuartpengs

New member
Fished last night from dark until about 2:30. River was still higher than I'd like for sea trout, as has been the case all season. Although fishable it greatly reduces to ability to fish a pool effectively. I think that's one of the main reasons for a poor season, plus the fact the fish are running on high water so have little need to push through at night. Total so far this season for me is 15 fish over 2lb. Did manage to get into one last night. Only offer of the night, a couple of fish heard up in the deep but nothing substantial. This one was around the 3lb mark, and a very strong fish for the size! Apologies for the rubbish photo (bit of plastic near the tail, and the lens cover didn't open properly, but wasn't going to waste time getting it back in by taking another).


 
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