Current News
River Taw Fisheries Association Home Page

To read older news items in ARCHIVE NEWS click here

25th November 2020:

New North Devon Fisheries Officer – Callum Underhill

Replacing Paul Carter who retired in April we now have Callum Underhill as our new fisheries enforcement officer. Like Paul he will cover the Taw, the Torridge and the Lyn, no small challenge.

Callum comes to us from the neighbouring Wessex Area where he has been undertaking a similar role. He has expertise of fisheries matters and already has some knowledge of Devon catchments. Paul Carter will be sharing his knowledge and experience with him. This is all excellent news for us on the Taw. When circumstances permit the RTFA Committee will be able to meet him and discuss Taw issues.

Alex Gibson

7th November 2020:

A Reminder

EA catch returns must be submitted by 31 December. It is a legal requirement under our fishing licences. Their importance is clear. The returns form the basis of our understanding of fish stocks in the Taw system and by extension the overall health of the river.

Alex Gibson

29th October 2020:

Fight for Cleaner Rivers

We're asking MPs to join the fight for cleaner rivers.

The Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill is currently passing through parliament. Ahead of the parliamentary debate on the 13th of November, we are encouraging people to ask their MPs to support the Bill.

Please see the message below from The Rivers Trust on how to support the Bill.

Please circulate as widely through your networks as you can to establish good support for cleaner rivers.

Many thanks,

Adrian Dowding
Devon River and Fisheries Manager


We're asking MPs to join the fight for cleaner rivers.

As you may know, the Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill is currently passing through parliament. Ahead of the parliamentary debate on the 13th of November, we are encouraging people to ask their MPs to support the Bill.

Working in collaboration with Surfers Against Sewage and the End Sewage Pollution Coalition, we have developed an online tool which enables people to easily and quickly contact their MP. With a postcode, first name and email, the tool generates an email to the individual's local MP; all they have to do is click send.

If each of our local Trusts could share this with their audience, we could see a real growth in support of the Bill. Click the link below to view the online tool and please don't hesitate to share this with whoever you think might find it valuable.

Back the Bill   End Sewage Pollution.

13th October 2020:

A Crisis in our Rivers - A Breach in Trust

Click to read Here

6th October 2020:

New Funding for the Mole

Westcountry Rivers Trust has successfully accessed £15,000 of new funding for us for river improvement work on the Mole over the winter. This should help a little towards offsetting the damage from the pollution incident.

Alex Gibson

27th September 2020:

Upper Taw Gravel Washing Video.

To view the video click the play button.

23rd September 2020:

Gravel Washing Project

The project will be completed on schedule by the end of this month. The pictures below show the line between washed and unwashed areas on the Upper Taw at North Wyke.

North Wyke Gravel Wash   North Wyke Gravel Wash

Alex Gibson

16th September 2020:

Upper Taw Gravel Cleaning

Not a pretty sight/site.

Gravel Cleaning

This photo shows recent gravel cleaning downstream of Taw Bridge on the Upper Taw. It demonstrates the importance of our continuing programme. This season’s project, which is being handled for us by Westcountry Rivers Trust, is on track to be completed by the end of this month, following which a summary will be put on the website.

Even if pre-cleaning there was not gravel compaction and fish were able to cut redds, it is not clear how viable the eggs would be. It is also unclear how long it will take for the cleaned gravels to return to their pre-cleaned state unless farming practices change dramatically.

Alex Gibson

21st August 2020:

Red Skin Disease Information Leaflet

This information leaflet outlines the current limited understanding available about this new skin condition in Atlantic salmon.

To read click Here

20th August 2020:

Given the fact that we have well over 30 sewage treatment works on the catchment. Many of them are old and of insufficient capacity and sewage is routinely dumped into our rivers in times of high flow. We thought you might be interested to support the current campaign by Surfers Against Sewage, it's called "Sick of Sewage"

The details can be found here: Sick of Sewage.

12th August 2020:

The River and the Estuary; the EA and IFCA

While the cat's away the mice will play.

As you all know our EA Enforcement Officer, Paul Carter, retired earlier this year. As things stand it is not clear when or indeed if he will be replaced. This presents us with a major problem not just for the river, but also for the estuary. Paul was cross-warranted to IFCA.

It is therefore even more important than ever for members to report pollution, poaching, illegal abstraction and other untoward events on the river as well as suspicious fishing activity including fixed long lines on the estuary where no netting is permitted except for sand eels. By putting reports into the EA we will demonstrate the importance of having an EA enforcement officer on our river.

IFCA which is Brixham based with no North Devon presence or cross-warranting currently will send officers to the estuary to look into illegal fishing activities if there is appropriate intelligence information.

EA Hotline 0800 80 70 60
Devon & Severn IFCA (Brixham) 07740 175479

Alex Gibson

6th August 2020:

Gravel Washing

You will be pleased to hear that this season’s planned gravel washing programme will start later this month and continue into September. The work is being arranged and carried out for us by Westcountry Rivers Trust as last season.

Alex Gibson

24th June 2020:

The Summer 2020 Newsletter

To read the 2020 issue of our Newsletter or download a copy please click on the icon below.

Many thanks


18th June 2020:


Members are reminded that reporting incidents to the EA is an individual responsibility. It is particularly important in times of drought or low flows.
If you come across an incident that includes any of the following:

  • damage or danger to the natural environment

  • pollution to water or land

  • poaching or illegal fishing

  • dead fish or fish gasping for air

  • main rivers blocked by a vehicle or fallen tree causing risk of flooding

  • flooding from any river, stream, canal, natural spring or the sea

  • illegal removals from watercourses

  • unusual changes in river flow

  • collapsed or badly damaged river or canal banks

Do not ring a committee member. You should call the EA Incident Hotline on: 0800 807060 - without delay. Time may be of the essence.

Your report will be made in complete confidence. Save the number into your mobile phone and pass it on to others.

If you make a call to this number it is recorded and the EA are duty bound to act on it. Do not hesitate or prevaricate.

22nd May 2020:

RTFA and the EA

You may have noticed from recent items in Current News and from my Chairman's Report that the Committee has become more and more disappointed and frustrated in its dealings with the EA.

This situation has been brought to a head by the retirement of Paul Carter who worked so hard on our behalf. Paul's departure means that there is no EA enforcement on the Taw nor on our sister North Devon rivers, the Torridge and the Lyn. We are told that the EA were unable to recruit ahead of Paul's departure, but will probably recruit in due course. Note the word "probably". That means that for the foreseeable future there will only be four enforcement officers covering the whole of Devon and Cornwall. An absurd situation and a dangerous one for the Taw which already faces so many threats. The Mole pollution incident has highlighted the danger we knew we faced from anaerobic digesters and the farming activities that surround them. Because fish were killed the EA were quickly on the case, but for all pollution incidents short of fish kills the EA is slow to act if it acts at all. The EA Hotline therefore isn't hot. It's stone cold.

Our concerns about water quality and siltation are not addressed by the EA. Given the extent of arable and dairy farming in our catchment it is essential if our river is going to survive for mandated environmental standards to be enforced. There are not enough farm visits, let alone follow-ups when problems are identified. We understand that farmers are not prosecuted unless they have received a prior visit from the EA.

We are also concerned about the slow progress of prosecution in the Mole pollution case. Our efforts to urge the EA to speed up the process have had no success. This delays our own civil case which we hope will bring in funds for restoration work. For the time being we are financing this work from our own reserves.

The EA has told us that a juvenile survey will be conducted on the polluted stretch of the Mole this summer and we continue to press for it. It is vitally important. Without this we have no handle on how this stretch is recovering. Unfortunately in the current climate we won't believe the survey until we see it.

Our experience is shared in general terms by other river associations across the south west. (You may have read about a bad slurry pollution incident on a tributary of the Axe recently which caused a significant fish kill.) As a result discussions are taking place at South West Rivers Association level about how best to mount a campaign to highlight these EA shortcomings and make the EA fit for purpose again. An effective EA is crucial for the ecology of rivers in the region.

Alex Gibson

6th April 2020:

2020 Treasurer's Report

To read the 2020 Treasurer's report click Here

25th March 2020:

Chairman's Report

Sadly, for once there is something more important than fishing and I do wish all members and their families well during these difficult times. Although the AGM has been postponed I thought it would be helpful to send out the report I would have presented there. It is now unclear how much fishing will be possible this year and whether our planned river improvement work will go ahead. Information will be posted on our website when things become clearer.

click Chairman's Report March 2020 to read

With best wishes to all

Alex Gibson

27th January 2020:

Beat Survey – 2019 Season

The beat survey has now been completed. The numbers are as follows - 2018 numbers in brackets:

Salmon 84 (72); Sea Trout 265 (71); Brown Trout c.3,000 (c.2,000)

Salmon fishing again suffered from prolonged periods of low water. The increase in sea trout numbers is encouraging. Let’s hope we are on an upward trend. Brown trout fishermen had a very good year.

The formal EA rod catch numbers are not yet available.

Alex Gibson

21st January 2020:

The RTFA AGM will be held in the Palazzo at the Highbullen Hotel and Country Club on Friday 27th March 2020 commencing at 1730 hrs.

The Guest Speaker is Mr Iltydd Griffiths, Welsh Sewin legend and AAPGAI Master Fly Fishing Instructor who will talk on Sea Trout fishing and the future of Sea Trout in our rivers.

The AGM will be followed by the RTFA Fundraiser sale of fishing and the evening will be rounded off with a 3 course Dinner (details of which will be promulgated in due course).

RTFA members are urged to support the event if they possibly can.

20th January 2020:

Mole Pollution

The EA has now notified us formally that there was little if any invertebrate kill. It is unclear why it has taken them so long to release this information, which is positive for the future ecological health of the polluted stretch in general and for salmonid recolonization in particular.

Alex Gibson

16th January 2020:

Mole Pollution

The EA has told us that it will be conducting fish surveys on the polluted stretch this season, probably in mid-June. This will give us an indication of the recovery from an assumed zero fish post-incident. It will be important for us to press the EA for further surveys in 2021 and 2022 to give us a fuller picture of fish recolonization.

A further point to be noted is that we have heard informally that the invertebrate kill which we had understood to have been total may after all have been insignificant.

What is frustrating for us is that the EA will not provide us with its reports on the fish and invertebrate surveys conducted immediately following the incident. To do so the EA says may compromise the prosecution case it is putting together. Furthermore and for the same reason the EA will not give us the name of the person they are investigating, though everyone in North Devon who is interested seems to know who he is.

Alex Gibson

10th January 2020:

Taw Fishing Club

Anyone interested in some excellent wild brown trout fishing on the Upper Taw should be in touch with TFC (see which is looking for a small number of new members this coming season.

2nd January 2020:

Gravel Cleaning Report 2019

click Gravel Cleaning Report to read

23rd November 2019:

Mystery of UK’s missing salmon requires a leap to conclusions

To read article click here.

17th August 2019:

Wayne Thomas Book Launch

For information on Wayne Thomas book launch and Documentary Film Artifishal - click Wayne Thomas Book Launch and Artifishal to read

11th August 2019:

Mole Pollution Incident

Given the gravity of the fish kill it is worth re-emphasising the Committee’s recommendation that we all practice catch and release whenever possible.

Alex Gibson

11th August 2019:

River Improvement Work.

Gravel cleaning has started on the Molland Yeo and will then continue on the Crooked Oak. The gravel washing programme will run till the end of the season with work planned on sites on the Upper taw and Mole.

Alex Gibson

8th August 2019:

Molle Pollution Incident - Update

Mole Fish Kill update report - click Mole Fishkill Update 2 to read

6th August 2019:

Pacific Pink Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) advisory note - 2019 update

The Environment Agency has issued an update advisory note regarding Pink Salmon.

To read the article click Pink Salmon - Advisory Note

2nd August 2019:

The RTFA Newsletter

To read the 2019 issue of our Newsletter or download a copy please click the icon below

4th April 2019:

Chairman's Report 2019 AGM

Chairman's Report

25th March 2019:

Wild Trout Trust

The WTT Get Together weekend on Dartmoor on 18th and 19th May may be of interest to some RTFA members. For details see links below.

WTT Program

WTT Booking Form

Accommodation Options

19th February 2019:

2018 Beat Survey

As you all know I conduct a beat survey every season. The beat survey numbers for 2018 were as follows: 72 salmon, 71 sea trout and about 2,000 brown trout. This compares with 2016 numbers of 185 salmon, 302 sea trout and about 2,500 brown trout and 2017 numbers of 286 salmon, 214 sea trout and about 2,300 brown trout. Preliminary rod catch numbers from the EA are not yet available.

Given the extreme drought conditions for a large part of the 2018 season these numbers should not surprise us and are not out of line with early reports from other south-west rivers. We must hope for a bounce back this coming season provided that we have normal river conditions.

The continuing decline of sea trout numbers is a real concern. This is the second season that sea trout numbers have dropped below salmon numbers. Efforts are being made to discover the cause or causes, not a simple task since we all know that sea trout are mysterious creatures. Are the problems in-river or at sea or a combination of both? We need to find out if we can.

Alex Gibson

19th February 2019:

Brown Trout Anglers

Taw Fishing Club currently has openings for a small number of new members. The Club has first class brown trout water on the Upper Taw - 3 miles of river near Coldridge and the newly rented 2.5 miles of Tremayne Water near Bridge Reeve - and there is always the chance of a salmon or sea trout. For full details of membership, subscriptions, etc. please refer to TFC's website - Anyone interested should be in direct touch with the Club's Chairman, Gordon Murray (; 01769 520 775).

20th December 2018:

New salmon & Sea Trout Byelaws

A nice Christmas present from Defra. The new salmon and sea trout byelaws have been confirmed. They will come into force on 1 January 2019.

- Salmon and sea trout netting in the estuary will cease; the three licenced netsmen will not have their licences renewed. Since drift netting for bass and mullet has already been banned this means that the only netting permitted in the estuary will be for sand eels. Enforcement will therefore be straightforward.

- As regards our own fishing we will be expected to maintain release levels for salmon above 90%. This is a bit higher than we have been running at in recent years. The threat of 100% catch and release has been avoided.

I would like to thank all members who took part in the original EA Salmon & Sea Trout Consultation. A co-ordinated approach by RTFA, SWRA and other river associations and their members in the south-west has given us the result we were looking for.

In due course I will be sending out an email to members which will set out the Committee's views as to how we should react to the changes in our day to day fishing.

Alex Gibson

14th October 2018:

The Mole webcam is live again. It is now situated below Head Weir Falls.

Alex Gibson

To read older news items in ARCHIVE NEWS click here

River Taw - Devon
River Taw - Devon
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