Disastrous year for Wye Salmon.

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I have interspersed this post with pictures of salmon caught in Ross waters in happier times in the recent past so as to lighten the tone of the article or we’ll all be reaching for the razor blades but sincerely hoping that something can and will be done about this unfolding tragedy.

Matt Cooper with a salmon from 2017

Ross on Wye Angling Club is a club which has both Coarse and Salmon anglers in the membership and the two disciplines could not be more different. For the most part the coarse anglers now enjoy an angling experience which for the best is nothing short of fantastic. However with the River experiencing growing background pollution how long will it be before the coarse fishing starts to decline?

On the other side of the Club membership are the salmon anglers who number about 40. For these members the years of slow decline in the calibre of their sport has for the last few years started to accelerate. As said earlier coarse fishers would be disappointed to blank on any one fishing session but for the majority of salmon anglers two fish in a season on the Wye would be a good result and that is true of many of the fisheries club or private on the Wye.

Richard Woodhouse with a salmon from 2016

Many of the salmon members at Ross AC have not caught a salmon on Ross waters for years and they ask themselves why they keep trying year after year.

This year is turning out to be a disastrous year for salmon fishing on the River Wye, not just for our Club at Ross but for the River as a whole. Numbers of salmon are well down on recent years and a shadow of the great years of the past.

So far this year a mere 130 salmon have been caught for the whole River Wye and we at Ross AC have had just two fish.

Forgetting last year for obvious reasons and just to give readers some idea of just how bad things are getting.

2019 – 174 salmon by end of June. Ross AC had 9 salmon that year

2018 – 337 salmon by end of June. Ross AC had 8 that year.

2017 – 489 salmon by end of June. Ross AC had 24 salmon

2016 – 822 salmon by end of June. Ross AC members caught 44 salmon that year.

Lucasz Jastrzab  with a late season salmon.

It looks now very much like the River is now in terminal decline as a salmon fishery by just looking at the numbers of salmon caught. The numbers currently being caught are negligible alongside the numbers caught back in the 1960’s , 1970’s and before.

I must credit famous Wye salmon blogger Geoff Franks, who apart from writing the salmon and trout report for the Wye in Trout and Salmon magazine has years more experience of Wye salmon than many. He cites the figures below. He says.

“I was not fishing the river for salmon myself then in any serious way but remember on to these (rod) catches must be added those of the legal estuary stop nets, the putcher ranks, the considerable poaching that went on plus those not actually reported by anglers of which there were many.”

Environment Agency Annual Report from 1964
January 23.
February 109
March 636
April 891
May 833
June 662.

It has to be remembered that in 1964 the salmon season started in January whereas now the season starts in early March. So adding up the figures for March to June in 1964 there were 3022 salmon on rod and line and this year 2021 we are sitting down at 130. DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU THERE IS NOT A PROBLEM IN THE RIVER WYE.

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