Saturday 17th August 2013

Saturday 17th August 2013

George Wallace

Saturday 17th August:

We have had no serious rain here but there must have been some up in the hills because the river shot up last night, peaking at a foot above normal at around 0600hrs this morning. It has now steadied and should fish well as the water clears. - though you might need to be quick because the forecast for the rest of the day is not good, with heavy rain, showers and strong wind forecast for this afternoon and evening. (See Kieron's catch return for this morning)

From Sunday, the weather is supposed to improve and with the Spring tides around next Wednesday's full moon, there should be lots of fish in the river - if the bloody seals have left us any, of course. Don't get me wrong; I am very fond of seals but I'm afraid those in the Dee estuary are decimating salmon stocks and could almost wipe out our river unless their numbers are controlled. I estimate the seals will have taken around 30,000 fish last year; fish which would otherwise have run the Dee and spawned. The EA (now NRW) estimate of salmon spawning in the Dee last year was 3500, so you don't need a degree in either mathematics or natural history to see where all the salmon are going! Or to see how runs would improve if seals could be persuaded to practice catch and release.

Seals are not, of course the whole problem and if our river and its run of salmon and sea-trout is to improve - or even survive - we must take a holistic approach. Water quality is generally pretty good in the Dee, as numbers of fish of all species will confirm. You can catch parr three at a time on a leader with three flies and one of our members had 76 Dace as well as other fish during one session a few days ago, so there's obviously no problem there. But after that, cormorants and goosanders play the very devil with smolts trying to return to sea, seals take returning kelts, and the poor fish have to run the same gauntlet in reverse when they return to spawn.

On a lighter note, I was at Groves Farm yesterday and can report that there is not a single stalk of Balsam visible anywhere on the Beat. So well done and thank-you to all those who pulled a few stalks as they went along. Thanks also to Ferdinand the Bull and his harem, who managed to get between the fence and the river and have stamped everything as flat as a pancake. The whole Beat is now a real pleasure to walk but, talking of pancakes, just be careful where you sit!

For those who are not keen on cattle, I can confirm that the big feller is extremely good natured. He has also been moved to the very top field, so it is now possible to fish 90% of the Beat without having to go near him. I would suggest walking inside the fence because the top small gate was obviously in Ferdinand's way when he wanted to graze the bankside grass. He knocked it flat and although it has been tied up with baler twine and can still be opened, it's a lot easier to go through a gate further downstream.