The 2016 season was very uneventful on the whole. Whilst we haven’t received the official figures, there seemed to be a reduction in catches of sewin and salmon but also a big drop in fishing pressure, with those members who did go fishing stating that they were not seeing any other anglers on the river.
There was a decent amount of rainfall in May and early June which provided good water for fish to enter the system but reports of catches were very sparse. The river levels were unsettled for much of the summer, suiting spinning and worming more so than fly at night. Those who persevered at night when river level suited reported a lack of activity, with many nights passing without a fish being seen. However the odd member did have decent returns with some nice fish to 7-8lbs. Members getting amongst some good sized fish included Nathan Jones, Matthew Jones, Craig Williams, Steffan Rees, Phil Anthony and Ceri Jones. There was a good run of Salmon July and again in late September and October. Andrew Jeffries reported catching three and losing three nice salmon on the last day of the season.
It was good 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.
In recent seasons a lot of anglers were fishing and catching many fish on Betws weirs, some of whom were showing no regard to rules or conservation. As it is not our waters, we cannot police it. However, the new NRW bailiff visited the weirs on a few occasions in 2015 and early last season and caught anglers fishing for sewin or salmon either with a trout licence or with no licence at all. His presence has made a big difference as many anglers who used to travel some distance to fish there no longer make the effort as it means buying a licence.
Once again it is good to see that the Loughor and Amman is on the NRW radar.....so I encourage all members to purchase the correct licence to fish our waters for migratory fish. If any member is caught breaking NRW rules, they may be banned for the club.
The bailiff reported that he had walked a lot of the Loughor and tributaries during the spawning season but reported a disappointing number of fish and spawning redds, which is a concern for the future.
Let’s hope river conditions and fish numbers improve for the 2017 season
CRT Riverfly Monitoring
I undertook a couple of fly life monitoring sessions on the Loughor, Lash and Marlais during the summer and am happy to report that the samples proved very healthy.
It is so important to the river that we keep up the monitoring of water conditions so that we can indicate the health of our headwaters and also indicate even the slightest hint of pollution.
We intend to target other areas of the main river and other tributaries over coming months, especially in areas we think may be vulnerable to pollution.
Catch and Release
We as a committee would like to once again take the opportunity to thank all those anglers that returned any of their fish to the river last year, so that they can continue their journeys to the spawning redds. It is gratifying to know that a lot of anglers are making the effort to “do their bit” for conserving the stocks in our river system. 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.
I attended another Regional Fisheries Group last year in which the NRW met representatives from all the angling clubs in South West Wales. They once again highlighted the alarming fall in Salmon stocks throughout the Atlantic and reported various interventions which they are considering. It looks as if it will be compulsory Catch and Release for Salmon on all Welsh rivers from 2017 season. The controls for Sewin will not be as extreme for the foreseeable future. However as I stated last year, based on rod licence catch returns, the Loughor has been classified as ‘at risk’ for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons.
It is once again apparent that only a small percentage of members on the Loughor and Amman clubs submit returns to the NRW, which in turn could have a very adverse affect on our fishing due to imposed controls. 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 a fishing diary format, so you can update your diary after every session and then submit your catch at the end of the season.
To note also; the catch and release rates on the Loughor are reported to be under 55% compared to a target of 85% which the NRW aim to achieve. Anglers fishing the river will need to improve this rate in order to refrain the NRW from imposing mandatory rules.
Last years’ membership of the association was made up of:
105 full members (+3),
32 life members (-2),
7 disabled (-1), 4 students (-),
1 youth (-)
17 juniors (+3).
The 2015 catch returns read as:
156 Trout over 9inches
Bank Clearance and Work Days
Some of the main projects undertaken to improve access to our water last season included, strimming of the Garnswllt car park and clearance work near Trowill. We has planned to place two or three new styles between Plas and Hendrewen but weather conditions, time constraints and limited communication with land owner didn’t allow the work to be carried out. We will however aim to undertake these jobs before the season starts.
We still have a number of limited editions of full colour illustrated maps of our association’s waters. These are stunning works of art and are available in three sizes. Small £24.00 Medium £28.00 Large £32.00
Poaching and Pollution
Last season saw us continuing to chase up the NRW for responses instances of pollution which took place on our catchment in 2014.
The perpetrator linked to the discolouration of the Nantyci Brook at Saron, which I reported at the last AGM had been summoned to court in April last year but due to lack of firm evidence of pollution, the NRW were advised to withdraw the case. We have chased up the NRW for further responses and assurances that the stream was not affected as a result of the incident.
It seems that the Authorities are investing more time in policing our shores and estuaries and there were a couple of cases last year in which the NRW caught and prosecuted netsmen on the estuary. This was great news but a lot more needs to be done to protect our migratory fish. The potential introduction of catch and release and other measures on anglers would be a far easier pill to swallow if strict controls were also introduced to the inshore and offshore netsmen.
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 exploring options of applying for a culling licence, so we’ll see how that goes.
We are now members of Fish Legal and Carmarthenshire Fishermen’s Federation, which can both effectively represent our causes in relation to increase protection measures in poaching, fish eating birds and pollution.
Fly Tying Classes
Fly tying classes have again been poorly attended this year despite the efforts of Richard Jones to promote the classes. Whilst the class is still being run, we need to review the viability of holding them. Our gratitude goes to Malcolm Edwards for his commitment but we are all in agreement that his time deserves more than just one or two students each session.
The website continues to prove a success as a reference point for all the information 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 have also set up a Facebook page which 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 an 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. There was an instance last year in which a member disagreed with the club rules and wrote his thoughts and opinions in quite a hostile tone. This is unacceptable and if there are any instances when this occurs in future, the member will be summoned by the committee to explain their actions.
Joint Loughor and Amman fisheries group
As I reported in 2015 and last year, we have set up of a group made up of representatives of all the angling clubs with fishing rights on the Loughor and Amman catchment. We continued to meet last year to monitor the new consistent club rules which were past at the last 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.
Last year saw Matthew Jones once again represent the Welsh small stillwater team. Our congratulations go to him on his achievement.
A 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. I hope that this year will be a successful one for all on and off the waters.
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)