George's Blog

Saturday 10th February 2018

George Wallace

Saturday 10th February:

With our lovely river three and a half feet up, set to rise more in a few hours time, and therefore still too high for comfort, we can only hope for an improvement by 3rd March when the new salmon season begins. Our current licences run until 31st March but I, for one, will not be buying a salmon licence this year in protest at the disgraceful behaviour of NRW in first closing the hatchery - illegally, in my view, and most certainly unnecessarily - and then pushing for total catch and release while steadfastly ignoring the 83% of returns to their "consultation" paper which opposed their plans. We are now in the hands of the relevant Minister at the Welsh Assembly, who has the authority either to creep along behind NRW or to stand up for truth and good sense by stopping their attempt to impose another of their damnfool policies. It is a terrible shame because their staff on the ground are absolutely brilliant but, of course, can have no influence on management decisions unless management is willing to listen. Which, clearly, they are not. Your Club has written to the Welsh Assembly setting out the various objections and if you live in Wales you might like to contact your own Assembly Member and put your own objections to him or her.

Our objections, and those of everyone else to whom I have spoken, are as follows:-

1.Catch and release is already compulsory before 16th June, which means for half of the salmon season.

2.Although we see little harm in an angler taking an occasional fish, our club and, I believe, others on the Dee, do ask members to release salmon carefully so that they can go on their way to breed. This results in nearly all fish being returned to the river unharmed, while providing an occasional very special meal for an angler and his family when he or she has put a lot of time, effort and money into the sport.

3.With over 800 seals in the estuary, with the river banks lined with cormorants, goosanders, mergansers and an increasing number of otters, and with a myriad of fish and birds devouring salmon as well as their eggs and fry, the angler is the very least of the problems faced by the fish. With that in mind, we see imposing compulsory catch and release as merely a cosmetic exercise designed to make it look as though “something is being done.”

4.Although nearly all fish are already returned, we have been told by a number of anglers that if a ban is introduced they will no longer buy a salmon licence. This is reinforced by the fact that a lot of our members already do not start fishing until June. That may sound ridiculous when, for the rest of the Season they return virtually every fish caught but, human nature being what it is, they like to have the choice

5.If salmon licence numbers fall, that will presumably have a detrimental effect on available funding for NRW. It may also reduce the number of anglers on the river which will, in turn, impact on local shops, pubs, restaurants, caravan parks etc. where they spend their money. Those same anglers provide virtually all the feedback to their Clubs and to NRW about pollution and poaching. They also provide information when trees etc fall in and obstruct the flow of the rivers, and they then take part in the work parties when we assemble a team to deal with the problem.

You may have more to add, so please be my guest, but do talk to your AM. I understand that the Assembly's consultation on the matter is open until 28th February, so please google that and make your response. Every little helps - or it should do, in a Democracy.

On a happier note, there is a lovely article in the current, March, issue of Fly Fishing and Fly Tying about catching Dee sewin on the fly in daylight. It was written by BODSA Member Neil Darling, with a little help from Karl Humphries, and has some excellent photographs of our beautiful river. The successful fly patterns are also shown, with tying instructions, as well as advice on how to fish them. Something to dream about during this spell of unpleasant weather.

Friday 9th February 2018

George Wallace

Friday 9th February:

It was raining gently at dawn when I took Shadow out do what a dog's gotta do. As I came in, the rain turned to heavy snow; then the sun came out, in a clear blue sky; then more rain and sleet and then another spell of brilliant sunshine.The sun is still out, sort of, but it has started snowing again and the river is rising. Welcome to Wales!

On a more optimistic note, we have organised guided river walks for new members and for any older members who have not yet found their way to all our water. Dates and times can be found by logging in and looking at the relevant Forum posts.

In this depressing weather the photo, taken from upstream of Bangor old bridge, may help remind us what the future has in store.