AFA Annual General Meeting Chairman's Report on 2018 season delivered at AGM in January 2019


Introduction and thanks

Welcome to the Old School, South Brent and to this evening’s meeting.

Thanks to all of you who have come out this evening to support the meeting. The AGM is an important event in the association’s year and particularly this year when we will be discussing an important rule change and the impact of new EA by-laws.

Firstly I would like to thank the committee for all of their hard work throughout the year.

My thanks, as always to Chris Peach for his support and advice, both of which are most appreciated.

I am indebted to Mike Cooper for his work in maintaining good relationships with our riparian owners.

Our finances are in very good shape, thanks to our treasurer Patrick Bromley

I am most grateful to Dave Brooks and Dennis Dawes for organising work on the river. And to Dave for his work in building the fence on the lower water.

One of the prerequisites of a well run association is to have a good secretary! I am most grateful to Brian Dent for all of his work on my behalf for the work he does on behalf of the Association.

One of the social highlights of the year is our annual dinner which is greatly enjoyed by members and riparian owners alike. Thanks to Paul Edginton for organising this event.

I am grateful to the advice and encouragement of Paul Kenyon on all matters regarding the AFA. He has been very busy this year organising a system for online recording of catch returns. It has been trialled and found to very successful. He has also been trialling a system using catch per unit effort on which he will talk later.

Link to Report on 2018 Catch Returns

Finally my thanks to Dave Farnworth for his work as Membership secretary over the past twenty years. He is retiring from his post this year and will be greatly missed. Thank you Dave.


The number of fish caught in 2018 were:

Salmon 2(100% returned)

Sea Trout 25 (92% returned)

Brown Trout 757 (99% returned)


Historical Catch & Return figures

Year

Salmon

% Returned

Sea Trout

% Returned

Brown Trout

% Returned

2018

2

100

25

92

757

99

2017

8

100

21

81

470

100

2016

11

72

47

78

727

99.8

2015

7

70

34

88

886

99.9

2014

8

100

90

74

653

99

2013

10

70

229

83

768

100

2012

22

77

73

72

853

99

2011

39

84

56

72

1037

99

2010

52

78

62

56

855

99

2009

16

75

86

60

616

98

2008

19

68

40

75

779

99

2007

15

80

17

35

1007

99

2006

45

66

46

34

359

97

2005

29

 

96

 

436

 

2004

31

 

78

 

446

 

Average

21

67

709


Brown Trout: Numbers caught were above average at 757, 20 percent of these were 8 inches or more. Reports suggest that late June and early July evenings produced spectacularly good fishing.

Sea Trout : 25 fish were caught, the biggest being27 ins. Fishing was difficult to say the least with many anglers fishing without even hearing a fish.

Salmon : The most disappointing year for a long time. Salmon were seen moving at Lydia bridge, salmon were turned over and salmon hooked and lost. In any event only two were caught and landed

Overall a disappointing year with the tend of low numbers of migratory fish being shared with many rivers in the South West. While I am not against taking fish I would urge anglers to return as many migratory fish as possible in these difficult days.

The Presidents Prize (Donated by Sir William Peek) Goes to Adrian Cross with a total of 141 brown trout

The Bob Sadler trophy for the largest brown goes to Adrian Cross with a fish of 16 ins

The Silveridge Conservation award goes to Adrian Cross for releasing 3 Sea Trout and 140 brown trout.


Ticket Sales

Ticket sales Loddiswell Post Office £ 548.00 less £55.00 commission leaving net sales of £494.00

Social Events

The annual AFA dinner at the Avon Mill continued the success of the event in previous years. There were lots of positive comments. I feel it is a shame that more members do not avail themselves of this event; it is a marvellous opportunity to meet the committee, riparian owners and guests. My thanks to Paul Edginton for organising it. The Avon Dam Jolly was not held in 2018. It will be reinstated this year.

River Maintenance 2018

Some work was carried out on the lower water and at Kerry Downs. It has been decided to survey water which will improve the trout holding capacity of water for which we own fishing rights. To this end we will use the offices of Toby Russell to survey likely areas and to use outside labour to complete the work. I have spoken with Toby and plan to survey sites on the weekend of 9-10 February.

WRT and DAG

WRT: We remain in close contact with the WRT. The gravel replacement work continues as does the electrofishing of specific sites. Both of which provide us with valuable data on the health of salmonid species in the river.

DAG: The Devon Avon Group which is composed of several bodies has now stopped its annual meeting. Issues affecting the Avon will now be dealt with by the ACA. Mike Cooper attends these meetings and will speak for the AFA and keep the committee informed.

SWRA:

The main issues dealt with by the SWRA this year have been: Estuarine Netting and the broader issue of the EA bylaws. affecting conservation of salmon. These changes have affected some of our policies and I will cover those later during discussion on change to rule 8.

Riverfly:

The Riverfly project has been running for three years now and continues to provide us with valuable data on the invertebrate population of the river and as a pollution indicator. These surveys show that the river has a healthy level of invertebrates species at the base of riverine food chain.

Lady Lucy Peek

2018 saw the death of Lady Lucy Peek who was a Vice President of the Association. Chris, Paul and I attended her funeral in Loddiswell where she is buried along side her husband Sir William Peek. Bill who many of you will remember was president of the Association. Although not an active member of the Association Lady Peek was very supportive of her husband when president. Her death ends nearly seventy years of support for the AFA by the Peek family.


Overview

Last year I expressed some hope that there might be an improvement in the status of Salmon and Sea Trout on the river. Sadly, that has turned out not to be the case. The number of salmon caught this year has been the lowest for many years. In his statistical analysis Paul shows that 15 members fished for salmon over 66 days.

Link to Report on 2018 Catch Returns

Simply put that means that on average each member fished for salmon on just over 4 days each. I expect that a small coterie of about 5 anglers fished the majority of days. Some, therefore, fished for one or two days and then stopped. Overall salmon fishing accounted for only 15% of fishing effort by Association anglers. It is vital that we keep up our fishing effort for salmon and sea trout even when the situation seems bleak. Brown trout fishing was patchy but catches in 2018 were better than average. 2019 sees the introduction of new bylaws designed to protect stocks of salmon. This will mean changes to our catch and release policy which we will discuss later. These are tough times for the Avon but we share them with many other rivers in the South West. Nevertheless we must keep on fishing in the hope that things get better.

John Roberts

Chairman Avon Fishing Association