Words from The Chairman
As we approach the beginning of another season, I felt it would be useful to reflect on the season past. After a successful, and most enjoyable, opening day in the company of a certain Mr Paul Young, where lines were cast more in ceremony rather than in earnest, the first few weeks of the season passed without event. Although, two trips to my chosen north eastern river did yield my first two springers of the season, both tide bright and fighting fit, with another lost.
As we moved into the end of April / beginning of May, the Kelvin enjoyed good flows, and the first springer was caught by Mr Alistair Polson, from the Tree Pool, a lovely fresh fish of around 7lbs. Following this, fish were lost , and another caught, as the river experienced its first proper “ run”, and on the Tuesday of the next week, I managed to land my first Kelvin springer, a liced cock fish of around 12lb’s. All fish were, as per RKAA’s rules, returned to the river. Around the end of May, the whole of Scotland experienced a prolonged period of drought. This was what all salmon fishers across the nation had feared following last season’s unusually dry summer. Unfortunately, history repeated itself, and the country experienced high temperatures, and subsequently shrunken flows on the river. One or two fish were caught throughout June, but as the oxygen levels continued to drop, and fish became trapped in the pools on the lower river, the inevitable happened, and fish started to perish. During a period of two weeks, or so, fish were dying all along the lower stretches. Perhaps encouraged by high tides, fish continued to run the river, but were soon halted in their tracks as they reached the freshwater threshold of the Falls Pool. More worryingly, many of the fish were turning up with sores and lesions, and soon the sight of fish going “ belly up” became an almost daily occurrence. One of the carcasses was sent to The Clyde River Foundation for examination, but results were inconclusive, and it seems that the mortalities were a result of a number of cumulative factors. We can only surmise that the fish kills were a result of injuries acquired in the coastal areas that, upon entering the low, de- oxygenated water, failed to heal, and resulted in death. Fortunately, the Kelvin fared better than many of the other rivers in Scotland, including our sister river, The Clyde.
As we moved into late July /early August, at a time when we should have been expected our main grilse run, fishers still prayed for rain. Fish were still trickling into the system encouraged by big tides, and any rain that did fall. However, any fish that did run the river proved very difficult to catch and fishers became increasingly despondent. Personally, I was on my usual weekly secondment to the north east, where I experienced my worst week’s fishing in ten years, with only two fish for my week, the water being incredibly low, and seemingly devoid of fish. All in all, season 2014 was turning out to be worse than 2013, with the grilse run on many systems simply not materialising. Any fish that were caught during this period was a result of perseverance, early rises, and a dash of old fashioned good luck, and rods had to work harder and harder for their sport. Fortunately for the fish, the fierce temperatures of early summer had somewhat subsided, and fish kills became rarer, and rarer, as the water started to cool again.
As we entered the “back end”, the conditions became kinder to the salmon angler, and good levels were enjoyed into October. This was reflected in the catches, with the vast majority of the Kelvin’s returns being seen in the last month of the season. On the whole these fish were coloured grilse, many of which had obviously been lying in the coastal waters, and ran the river when conditions allowed, already sporting their spawning livery. However, this run of fish brought much needed sport to Kelvin rods, and I managed to land three of these late runners in the middle / upper reaches. In fact, the whole river seemed to be full of fish come the middle of October, and with mandatory catch and release for the last month of the season, we are hopeful that a high percentage of these fish reached the redds, and spawned. Perhaps, a good omen for season 2018?
All in all, 2014 was a season that I, and many others, will be happy to forget, with few highlights, and frustrating conditions for most of the season. As I write this, I am looking forward to some winter grayling fishing, but so far conditions have conspired against me, typical!! With moves from the Scottish Government that could seriously compromise our sport, these are challenging times for associations, river managers and fishers alike. Let us hope that the 2015 season will see better conditions, and good runs of that most enigmatic fish – The Atlantic Salmon, and that our own river will fish like only we know it can!
Lastly, I urge all RKAA members to attend our opening day bash in March, enjoy a few casts, good banter, and several warming drams!!
Finally, good luck to all Kelvin fishers from me for the 2015 season.
Hero shot before the return.
Vice Chair’s Report
This year I shall make no predictions of how mild or severe the spring may be considering last years was totally wrong. I am still glad though that we hold off until the start of the trout season to have our opening ceremony, as quite frankly it makes for a better day out and there is an actual chance of seeing a fish even if it is a trout. Paul Young was kind enough to open the season with a few casts and a natter and it turned into a very nice celebration with some folk bringing their wives and kids along. Paul posed for many a photograph and then it was back to the Islay Inn for some fine bacon or sausage rolls and a dram on the association. I have no idea why more people do not come as it really is a good day out.
Speaking of good days out I attended one of the bankside work parties, the photos are on the website. It was amazing to see what was accomplished with only a few guys and some heavy duty brushcutters and chainsaws. Stretches that were very difficult to get to were made accessible by creating paths, and paths which had some rather nasty wader and jacket tearing jaggy bushes next to them were annihilated. If you have not been to one of the work parties then I recommend it.
In my time fishing the Kelvin, and being Vice Chair, I do not think I have seen as many guys fishing for trout with fly rods as I did in 2014. It seems that while the Salmon boys were bemoaning the lack of water, the guys fishing for trout were having a great time because of the long settled dry spells.
The lower Kelvin up to around the science park is ideal for the fly during these long hot conditions because of a few reasons. In high water temperatures the trout tend to head for deeper, colder water. Considering there are no tributaries down on the lower reaches they also head for other oxygen sources like weirs, riffles and boulder water. They start to get a bit lethargic as well preferring to feed later at night. Even though I stick to the dry fly I hear that a number of guys have done very well using nymphs and French leaders. Some of these guys are new to the association and they are reaping the rewards of the decision to not stock or kill trout the last few seasons. The trout they are catching are proper river brutes with some being over 15 inches in length. As usual I am asked about where good spots are on the Kelvin to fish for trout and I can honestly say that I have caught a trout from pretty much every riffle, pool and run from the Sea Pool right up the river to Balmore Road. The only thing lacking in some spots has been my shady casting. I should add that while we get low water the river can be easily explored to find salmon and trout lies.
A first this season was a Grayling being caught down at the Sea Pool which I reckon is the first that has actually been verified – it had obviously wandered up from the Clyde after getting a bit lost so no need to get excited about fishing for Grayling in the Kelvin.
I asked on the Urban Fly Fisher facebook page what folk wanted in my piece of the newsletter and I think I have covered it all. Someone did ask about permit prices and I would just like to say I think the Kelvin ticket is still fantastic value for money compared to other rivers. Mid Clyde is £75 and UCAPA is I think £160 for the cheapest Salmon permit. UCAPA trout permit is £50 whilst the Kelvin is at £15. As usual the way to get hold of the Kelvin fly only permit is to apply directly to the Association, this is so that there is no confusion when sending them out to the shops.
As always have a great season and I look forward to meeting you guys on the riverbank.
Alistair demonstrating what he learned from Ray Mears
156 returns submitted in time
162 migratory fish caught.
81% of migratory fish returned
The website continues to attract a lot of visitors, and seems to be the first point of contact for anyone looking to research the possibility of joining the association. Members can also contact the committee through the site, and any update to the news section automatically posts to the Facebook page. More recently there has been an increase in the number of pictures submitted to the Facebook page by members, which is great to see. These pictures really help to show what a great river we have, and that there is some great sport to be had in the right conditions. Contributions from members help to give a community feel to the page, and it would be great to see a situation where people regularly updated the page with details of water conditions etc. We have agreed with the bailiff team that they will also submit regular updates to let people know what is happening on the water.
Currently we have three warranted bailiffs for the Kelvin catchment, this should increase to 4 by June. Stephen and Eddie are due to sit their exam this season but their warrant and powers are active now. We have a number of bailiffs who do not have a warrant card operating as river watchers who will call the bailiff team or the police when they come across an incident that needs relevant intervention.
As always we are looking for more volunteers to help protect the associations waters.
Good return rate this year. Thanks to everyone that submitted their return in time. Members are reminded that you must submit a return by the 20th of November, even if you don’t catch anything. As agreed at the 2014 AGM, anyone not submitting a return will be required to pay a £10 fine when they come to renew their permit.
Clyde in the Classroom
The RKAA is supporting CITC 2015, which is involving 476 pupils from 18 classes from 17 schools in the Kelvin subcatchment.
This is an excellent educational program which is growing each year, a fantastic achievement given the fact that each of the schools pays to attend.
Clyde in the Classroom is a hands-on project which uses the life history of a native Scottish species, the brown trout, to promote awareness of river ecology among young people across the River Clyde catchment.
Aimed at P5-P7 classes, the project encourages children to engage with nature and develop a sense of pride in their local environment. The children are responsible for the care of brown trout within their classroom and work weekly with Clyde River Foundation scientists. The twin outcomes of developing citizenship and personal confidence are illustrated by their personal and group work. The project has inspired achievement right across the curriculum, from poetry and prose to scientific recording via artwork, songs, plays, film production and presentations to peer and community groups. Local angling groups are also given the opportunity to demonstrate their sport to the pupils.
For more information please visit www.clydeintheclassroom.com
As we mentioned last year, the CRF carried out several additional electrofishing surveys on the Kelvin catchment in 2014. This information along with the habitat survey will be key when it comes to planning any instream work, and applying for grant funding. Grants have been few and far between over the last year, partly due to the referendum and the Wild Salmon Fisheries Review. Many funding bodies were unable to commit to any long term projects without knowing what would be happening over the next couple of years. An application for funding to deal with invasive plants on the Kelvin fell flat because it was a 3 year project, and the funding organisation eventually said they could not commit beyond one year.
I have only just received the results for the electrofishing survey, andf as yet have not had a chance to sit down with Willie Yeomans (CRF) to discuss the detail, Hpowever, here are some highlights that I would like to share in advance of a full summary:
Locations of the survey sites.
“In the absence of directly comparable data from previous years, the 2014 survey forms a baseline. The main stem of the Kelvin appears to support salmon spawning over its entire length (CRF has unpublished data from upstream of Kirkintilloch) although lack of suitable habitat may restrict opportunities in many areas.”
“The apparent increase in both number of fish and the preponderance of 0+ salmon from the outskirts of Glasgow upstream probably indicates the close proximity of spawning opportunities to the sampling sites. These results are very encouraging and, while they may not mean too much in isolation, upstream of site CKE077F, they indicate a healthy salmon population in these areas.”
“ The lower site on the Allander is, by some margin, the most productive known site for salmon fry in the Clyde catchment. The Allander Water is, therefore, worthy of special conservation consideration and should be managed sympathetically to maintain and increase juvenile salmon production. The juvenile salmon density from 2014 was the highest recorded to date from for the lower Allander Water.”
Clyde Riverfly Monitoring Partnership (CRIMP)
The CRIMP monitoring did not take off to the extent that I had hoped last year. My own family commitments meant that personally I did not get to carry out as many samples as I had hoped. It is clear that this project needs a relaunch this year, and more volunteers are required to make this work.
The project gives the association real data on the health of the river. Data that can be used to spot pollution incidents and issues that may otherwise go unnoticed.
If we get 20 volunteers that can spare a couple of hours a month (I’m looking at the guys that appear to be on the water a lot!), then we can cover the entire river.
Training and equipment will be provided, so please keep an eye on the website for the dates, or give your details to a Committee member if you are interested in helping out.
Wet conditions at the beginning and end of the season have made work parties difficult. However we have managed to open up some fishing just above Snow Bridge, and strimmed some of the vegetation above Balmore Bridge.
We have invested in some equipment that should help us deal with the long Canary Grass which was a real issue in some areas, made worse by the long dry summer.
We have plans this year to join up some of the areas in Kelvin Bridge, and to open up more fishing in Kirkintilloch.
Invasive species are a recurring theme. We are trying to get a couple of members qualified to spray Japanese Knotweed, and there is a possible solution for Himalayan Balsam which I will give more details on at a later date.
The official start of the season is the 11th of February. The ceremony will be held on Saturday the 21st of March to coincide with the opening of the trout season, and hopefully things will be a bit warmer. As usual we will meet before and after in the Islay Inn for food and a few drinks. Paul Young has agreed to throw the first line, and if last year was anything to go by it promises to be a great day out.
Have a great season!