The 2017 fishing season.
The 2017 season was once again a mixed bag but 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. Maybe if more members went fishing, we would see an increase in catch returns, which in turn would provide incentive for more angler to make an effort.
As our president stated, a sad point to note was the passing away of long term and loyal member and ex committee man, Dai Evans, affectionately known as Dai Dats. Dai was a mad keen angler who was a regular fixture on the river over many years. He probably fished more nights than any other member during the season and he caught his fair share of fish, including some real clonkers. He will be sadly missed by all who shared the riverbank with him.
Back to the fishing - There was very little rainfall in the early part of the season which did not induce any of the early running fish. We then had a good flood or two in early June which encouraged a few fish to enter the system. It was the salmon which seemed to make the headlines in the early part of the season, more so than the big sewin which the Loughor has earned its reputation over the years. 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 splash about in the dark were rewarded if they persevered. Members certainly need to work harder for their catches over the last few seasons. Members to mention who did get amongst some fish included Gethin Jones, Matthew Jones, Craig Williams, Phil Anthony and Steffan Rees. Steffan in particular, had a good season with many of his fish caught on the fly at night.
Whilst there seemed to be a decent stock of fish in the river from the summer into autumn, there was a distinct lack of the better sized sewin which we would have expected.
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.
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 a more positive picture than last year with a better count of fish and spawning redds.
Let’s hope we see a significant improvement for the 2018 season. Maybe if more members fished, we would see an increased catch return
Last years’ membership of the association was made up of:
111 full members (+6 from 2016),
27 life members (-5),
8 disabled (+1),
5 students (+1),
1 youth (-)
14 juniors (-3).
The 2016 catch returns read as:
275 Sewin compared to 287 in 2015 (-12)
24 Salmon compared to 15 in 2015 (+9)
263 trout over 9 inch limit compared 156 Trout in 2015 (+107)
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 Trowill. It was very encouraging to see some new members joining in with the work. Whilst it is the committee’s responsibility to organise the work parties, each member has a vital part to play in contributing to the clearance and maintenance work to ensure safe and comfortable access to the river for all to benefit.
Following a few issues with the website at the end of last year, it has now been revamped and will now be far more accessible and usable on smart phones and computers. The website remains a key reference point for all the information, forms and news you may require regarding the Ammanford Angling Association. It is important to keep the site updated and fresh, so any member who has information or pictures of fish they have caught and ideally released to the river to forward them for inclusion in the website.
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 know 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.
By continuing to improve our release rates, 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.
The NRW have undertaken a formal consultation in recent months and have proposed several measures and bylaws to protect salmon and sewin stocks, including compulsory catch and release for salmon along with various limitations on fishing methods for both salmon and sewin. It is uncertain when these will be introduced but if they are not ready to be imposed upon us for the 2018 season, they will most certainly be with us for 2019. As I have previously reported, as the controls for Sewin will 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 membership secretary. 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.
Poaching and Pollution
The main incident of pollution last season was the discolouration of the main river from below the outflow from Garnswllt sewerage works. It occurred as a result of a faulty tank in the works in which the water discharge into the river held a lot of loose sediment which discoloured the river quite badly down as far as Pontardulais waters. There was no chemical pollution, so was there was no danger to the ecosystem but it did stop many members fishing at night for the 2-3 week period it affected the river.
For those of you who fished between the Plas and Flatfish Pond would have noted a substantial change in the river course last year. The landowner had been in the river before last season and had straightened the river and cleared both banks of vegetation. This, we assume was to protect his land from further erosion. We did communicate with the NRW but nothing was done. Whilst the stretch in question did not have much fishable waters, we were concerned that the loose gravel would shift downstream and affect the pools below. This did not appear to happen but we will keep an eye on it.
At the last AGM, I reported that we were waiting for confirmation form NRW that no long term damage was done as a result of the pollution on Nantyci stream. We arranged for them to carry out a fly life monitoring and the results was very reassuring with a good bill of health.
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.
We are now 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, we did receive at least two incidents in which Network Rail staff were fishing our waters. They were quite inconspicuous as they were fishing in their orange high viz uniforms. We did communicate to Network Rail and we do now have an emergency number for which to report incidents at short notice.
Fly Tying Classes
Fly tying classes have proven more popular this year thanks to the promotion efforts of Richard Jones. Our gratitude once again goes to Malcolm Edwards and Richard Jones for their commitment
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 thanks 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.
Barry Hale (Secretary)