The 2019 season was once again a mixed bag but as stated by the president, very uneventful on the whole. Whilst we haven’t received the official catch returns, general feedback from members seem to indicate a reduction in catches of sewin and salmon but more apparent was the reduction in anglers on the river bank throughout the season.
This shows a common trend over recent seasons. I spoke to many members, who stated they when they went fishing, they very often had the whole beat to themselves. Maybe if more members went fishing, including myself, we would see an increase in catches and updates our Facebook page, which in turn would provide incentive for more angler to make an effort. It is however a catch 22, as members who do manage to find a few fish in the pools, often want to keep it to themselves or amongst a small circle of friends. I for one only fished once on our waters last year but I really hope to get on the river more this coming season.
Whilst there was enough rainfall in the early part of the 2019 season to encourage fish to run, they did not seem to appear. We then had a further good flood or two in early June which encouraged a few fish to enter the system. It seemed however that most of the fish were in the 1-4lb bracket as opposed to the bigger fish which the Loughor has produced over the years. That said, we have probably been spoilt over the years, as a few fish of that size would be exceptional on most rivers across the rest of the UK. As with recent seasons, the river levels were unsettled for much of the summer, suiting the anglers who fish with spinners and worm. There were however plenty of periods where night fishing was possible and those who did thrash the pools into a foam after dark were rewarded for their perseverance.
It was very encouraging to see that a good percentage of the fish caught were released to reach the spawning grounds, which is essential for the sustainability of our river system.
Migratory fish aside, it was the quality of the brown trout that made the headlines last season. A couple of our members, Jan Bobrowski and Lyn Davies to name two have been targeting these fish and managed to catch some stunners, a couple of which were over 2lb….a cracking wild brownie by any standards.
The NRW bailiff, Mark Thomas remained proactive on the river last season. His presence has made a big difference over the last couple of seasons, so we encourage all members to purchase the correct licence to fish our waters for migratory fish. The bailiff reported that he had walked a lot of the Loughor and tributaries during the spawning season and reported quite a negative picture, even worse than the previous year, with a lower count of fish and spawning redds. Let’s hope the fish were hiding form him as opposed to not being there at all.
As will all us anglers we look forward with anticipation for next season, so let’s hope we see a significant improvement on the last few years.
Last years’ membership of the association was made up of:
109 full members (-2 from 2018),
30 life members (+3),
5 disabled (-3),
4 Senior Citizen (+4)
7 students (+2),
1 youth (-)
12 juniors (-2).
169 adult members
The 2017 catch returns read as:
96 sewin compared to 275 in 2016 and 287 in 2015. 88% release rate
6 Salmon compared to 24 in 2016 and 15 in 2015 100% release rate
Bank clearance and Work parties
Some general maintenance work was undertaken on the car parks and access points. There were also a couple of organised work parties which did some bank clearance work between Two Rivers and Flatfish Pool. Some large trees which had fallen across some of the pools, thus affecting the fishing were removed by some hard working committee members.
It is disappointing to note that it was always the same, small group of individuals who turned up to undertake the work, so we are asking for more support from members and committee alike to help with the work parties, so that we can have a bigger impact to improve and maintain the access to the river, thus in turn ensure a safe and comfortable fishing environment for all of our members to enjoy.
For the coming season, we will be communicating dates of the scheduled work parties, so that we can try and get more people turning up.
Club Web Site
The club website remains a key reference point for all the information, forms and news you may require regarding the Ammanford Angling Association. It is now be far more accessible and usable on smart phones and computers.
We will ensure that all the updates from the AGM will be reflected on the site over coming weeks.
Our thanks go to John Jones who continues to manage the website our behalf.
The association Facebook page also keeps members up to date and interactive. This has proven positive on the whole, with some of our members uploading photos of their catches. It is also a useful way of informing members of meetings, competitions, and general updates and reminders. We encourage members to use the page but request that contributions remain respectful to committee and fellow members.
Catch and Release
It is gratifying to see that more and more members are making the effort to “do their bit” for conserving the stocks in our river system by returning their fish, so that they can continue their journeys to the spawning redds. The reported release rates have been increasing year on year, and with 88% of sewin and 100% of salmon released in 2017, this more than meets the expectation and targets of NRW.
Whilst we will still encourage voluntary C&R of all sewin throughout coming seasons, NRW have introduced new bylaws for which we will all have to abide from the 2020 season. I will go through the new bylaws in detail later in this report.
With regards Salmon, we will have no choice on C&R, as following a few years of consultations and toing and froing, the NRW have stated that there will be compulsory C&R of salmon throughout the season on all rivers in Wales. There are also new rules which they have introduced.
The communication of new bylaws form NRW reads as follows.
Dear Local Fishery Group Members
Salmon and sea trout are iconic species in Wales, and yet stocks in all of our rivers have declined substantially in recent decades and are currently deemed unsustainable.
We are therefore not securing the potential benefits for Wales that would result from healthy fish populations and the fisheries they can support.
The status of our stocks of salmon and some sea trout has given serious and growing cause for concern and for the past 5 years, we have been engaged in a process to introduce new fishing regulaltions to protect vulnerable stocks.
From January 2020 new byelaws will be in force to help protect vulnerable salmon and sea trout stocks throughout Wales.
The byelaws can be summarised as follows:
All salmon must be released with minimum injury and delay
No worm fishing for salmon
Fly and spin only
Shrimp and prawn fishing allowed from 1st September to the end of permitted baits period (note; the end date varies from river to river, shrimp and prawn baits are not allowed on the River Wye and tributaries at any time). Please note that the use of shrimp and prawn as bait has not been allowed on our waters for many years, so the committee have decided to keep the ban on this method in place.
All sea trout must be released with minimum injury and delay before 1st May on the rivers: Tywi, Taf, Western Cleddau, Eastern Cleddau, Teifi, River Dyfi, Rhymney, Usk, Tawe, Loughor, Gwendraeth, Aeron, Ystwyth, Dysynni, Taff , Ely, Afan, Neath, Artro, Glaslyn, Dwyryd, Seiont, Nevern.
No bait fishing for sea trout during this period
Please note that to add to this, the committee have decided to keep the existing association rule that all Sewin must be released after 31st August.
All sea trout greater than 60cm (approx. 5lb12oz) must be released with minimum injury and delay on all catchments all year.
Bait fishing for sea trout allowed only outside catch and release period, with small hook gape size 8mm (approximately size 8) and a single worm
All hooks for salmon and sea trout must be barbless or debarbed
No trebles on spinners. spoons or plugs (singles only with a maximum 13mm gape)
Up to 3 barbless singles may be used on a plug
Flies - small trebles allowed up to 7mm gape (approximately size 8)
If larger singles or doubles must be debarbed/barbless
Tandem and ‘secret’ weapon flies are allowed – up to 4 points, trebles must be less than 7mm, all hooks must be barbless
The statutory open fishing season on the Loughor is:
Opens 20th March - Closes 17th October
Fly and Spin only -
Catch & Release throughout the season
Opens 20th March - Closes 17th October
Fly & Spin only - 20th Mar - 1st May
Fly, Spin & worm - 1st May - 7th Oct
Fly & Spin only - 8th October - 17th Oct
All sewin to be returned before 1st May and after 31st August
Brown Trout & Eels Opens 3rd March - Closes 30th September
Fly, Spin & Worm 3rd March - 30th Sept
Hopefully by abiding to the NRW bylaws as mentioned, as well as the additional rules which the committee have decided to keep for our waters, we are not only aiming to stop the downward trends of Sewin stocks but also showing the NRW that we as a club are doing something positive in the campaign to ensure a long term future of the river.
As I have previously reported, as the controls introduced for Sewin are not be as extreme for the foreseeable future, the impact on our association will not as be as serious as for the clubs which rely on members targeting salmon.
We encourage all of our members to report their catches honestly and accurately to both the NRW and to me as secretary. This allows us to paint a clear picture of the position and also allow us to challenge NRW if they propose to introduce further rules for fishing for Sewin in the future.
We also encourage all members to purchase a migratory fishing licence if targeting Salmon and Sewin as this may be one of the reasons that members don’t report their returns to the NRW. Catch returns can be made online nowadays on a fishing diary format, so you can update your diary after every session and then submit your catch at the end of the season.
Joint Loughor and Amman fisheries group
We continued to meet last year to monitor the new consistent club rules which were passed at previous AGM’s as well as looking at other ways of effectively managing our clubs and rivers. The relationship between local clubs is better than it has ever been, and it is important for the future of the river that we share good practice and don’t have a “them and us” attitude.
We as a club and the aforementioned group have regular communication with the Carmarthenshire Fishermen’s Federation, West Wales Rivers Trust and NRW, so that we can coordinate support for funding, advice and support on any habitat improvement work on our waters.
For example, we have had presentations on a few initiatives such as adopt a tributuary in which a nominated tributary is prioritised for funding and habitat improvement work. Once the identified work has been carried out, the next tributary can be explored. This is currently work in progress, as we continue to work with the relevant bodies. The current projects which have been in discussion are the improvement of the weir on the Cathan, clearance of obstructions on the Fferws Brook
We have also been engaging with the NRW on the flood risk management plan for Ammanford, which will see some work undertaken on the Loughor between Shands Road and Penybanc. Once underway, there will be some work undertaken on the river but we will assure that we will try and keep disruption to the fishing to a minimum.
Poaching and Pollution
It is reassuring to report that there were no pollution incidents of note to report last season.
For those of you who fished between the Plas and Flatfish Pond would have noted a substantial change in the river course over the last couple of year. The landowner had been in the river and had straightened the river and cleared both banks of vegetation. This, we assume was to protect his land from further erosion. The NRW had then witnessed additional earth removal works being carried out next to the river on the same stretch during last year and have subsequently issued a formal warning to the landowner.
Fish eating birds such as Cormorants and Gooseanders are being seen in increased numbers on our waters of late, which is no doubt having a detrimental effect on the stocks of juvenile fish. We are still exploring options of applying for a culling licence, but the process is very complex, although the NRW and Welsh Government are currently assessing this process, which we hope will be simplified, so that we can progress in the near future.
We continue to be members of Angling Trust, Fish Legal and Carmarthenshire Fishermen’s Federation, which can effectively represent our causes in relation to increase protection measures in poaching, fish eating birds and pollution.
With regards poaching, I reported last year that the NRW bailiff caught an angler fishing on Hendrewen without a permit. That person, who had travelled from the Bridgend area was a serial offender of fishing illegally, was summonsed to court where he was found guilty and prosecuted by way of fines.
There we also a couple of other anglers seen fishing our waters without a permit, so we encourage all members to remain vigilant and report incidents to an officer of the committee, who in turn will inform NRW.
Network Rail had been in touch during last year, informing us that they had witnessed and filmed anglers walking along the railway line between the gates between Trowill pool and the car park access. We encourage members to only use the designated pedestrian access directly across the railway line rather that walking along it as a short cut. We cannot afford to lose these accesses between car parks and the river, so your cooperation on this matter would be welcomed.
Fly Tying Classes
Fly tying classes remain to take place, although numbers are not as high as we would hope. Our gratitude once again goes to Malcolm Edwards and Richard Jones for their commitment in organising the classes and passing on their skills to others.
Word of Thanks
Our gratitude must go to those that support the Ammanford Angling Association in all we do, including the committee of the Pick (Ammanford Social Club) for allowing us to use their rooms for committee meetings, AGM's and fly tying classes.
My thanks to the members of this association for their continued support and cooperation throughout the year.
My personal thanks go to the committee of this association, and in particular the officers of this club, who continue to volunteer their valuable time throughout the year to ensure this association is managed effectively and sustainably and to make your fishing experience with the Association an enjoyable one.
Tight lines for 2020
Diolch yn Fawr
Barry Hale (Secretary)