Malcolm Greenhalgh blog report
Malcolm Greenhalgh reports on October's fishing conditions and The Grayling Society Symposium in his blog on the Fly Fishing & Fly Tying Magazine website.
Symposium Fishing Returns
Could members who attended the Symposium & AGM and fished on the Sunday please remember to email their returns to either Rob Hartley or Paul Deaville.
Rob - firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul - email@example.com
Fine artist Rob Olsen (www.thefineartoffishing.com) has launched a range of fishing t-shirts including some of Grayling.
The shirts depict his illustration works and are available either through the Togsbox website or via Amazon UK by typeing rob olsen fishing t shirts into the browser.
Leek & District Fly Fishing Association have places available.
Leek & District Fly Fishing Association have places available for the 2015/16 season.
Their fishing includes the gin clear streams of the Bentley Brook and River Hamps, the stuff of angling folklore in the majestic Dovedale, the spectacular scenery of the Churney valley and the stunning natural beauty of the upper Dove.
Contact LADFFA for more details: http://www.ladffa.com.
River Annan Trust Grayling Days
Every winter the River Annan Trust runs a number a number of Grayling fishing days. This years dates have now been finalized and they are as follows: Sat Dec 13th; Sun Jan 11th; Sun Jan 25th; Sat Feb 7th; Sun Mar 1st; and Sun Mar 22nd.
As ever they will be meeting in the Cafe 91 at 8 am to hand out instructions but for a change of evening venue they have teamed up with The Townhead Hotel at the North of Lockerbie. If anyone is traveling a distance the hotel has offered a fantastic deal of just £70 for a twin room and £45 for a single, both including breakfast. The owner has advised us though that you should book early as he may fill up with other clients.
Please share this with anyone you know who is interested in Grayling and there conservation.
Grayling Research Trust Questionnaire
Do you fish for Grayling? Please complete the Grayling Research Trust online questionnaire.
The Grayling Society will be at iFish, the South England's only fly fishing whow, in West Sussex on Saturday 22nd November 2014.
We look forward to seeing you there.
New Secretary for Area 7 - Wirral & Cheshire
We would like to thank Barrie Davidson for volunteering to once more take on the mantle of Secretary for Area 7 - Wirral & Cheshire.
Grayling Research Trust website
The Grayling Research Trust have updated their website. The website provides access to a wealth of information on the Trust's work with links to the Trust's Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Area 14 Grayling Day
Geoff Bevan, Secretary for Area 14 - Dyfed, Gwent, West, Mid & South Glamorgan, is organising an area Grayling day on the River Ewenny in South Wales for Sunday 9th November.
If you are interested in attending please contact Geoff:
Tel: 01446 774223
Christmas is coming
Looking for a gift for an angler. Look no further than the Grayling Society shop.
The Society sells a small range of high quality accessories including badges, car stickers, clothing and literature binders as well as furled leaders, floats and other angling necessities.
And all the profits go to the Grayling Society.
Ole Bjerke Returns
We would like to welcome back Ole Bjerke as Overseas Secretary for Norway. Ole takes over from Geir Kjensmo. We would also like to thank Geir for his hard work and support and wish him well for the future.
Ole's contact details are as follows:
Ole A. Bjerke
Johan Bojersveg 8
Mobile +47 40 43 61 76
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Area 2 Grayling Days
Due to the popularity of last years Grayling day Greg Payne has organised two Grayling fishing days for this year, both of which will take place on the River Test carriers at the Wherwell Estate Fishery.
The dates are:
Wednesday, 15th October and Sunday, 28th December
The maximum number of rods per day is 15, Grayling Society members only. The cost is £40 per head.
Because of one 'no show' last year, which had to be paid for, Greg will require a 50% deposit before the day. Places will be allocated on a first come first serve basis.
For details contact:
Greg Payne, Area Secretary - Area 2
T: 01985 213023 M:07807 748712 E: email@example.com
Secretary for Area 5
We would like to welcome Paul Deaville as Secretary for Area 5. Paul will take over from Rob Hartley after the Grayling Society Symposium and AGM at the end of October.
Paul's contact details are as follows:
Tel - 07805 823488 firstname.lastname@example.org
We would also like to thank Rob Hartley for his hard work as Area 5 Secretary and his support on the Committee. Rob has done sterling duty organising this years Grayling Society Symposium and AGM. We wish him well for the future.
Working together makes Sence: angler's joy as Grayling return to Leicestershire river
Anglers on the River Sence, near Ibstock in Leicestershire, are really excited after catching a species of fish which disappeared from the area over 40 years ago.
Grayling are now returning to the River Sence thanks to a series of improvement projects carried out by the Environment Agency, Gopsall Fishing Club, the Wild Trout Trust, the Grayling Society and other partner organisations in the local area. These works have significantly improved the quality of the water in the River Sence and improved the fish's natural habitat - encouraging them to migrate and spawn.
The improvement works involved creating fish spawning areas and designing new channels to enable fish to migrate around impassable weirs. Large woody debris was also added to help prevent silt from building up in the river - by varying the river flow and keeping the gravel clean to encourage fish to spawn. 3km of fencing was erected to prevent livestock from entering the river and prevent over grazing on the river banks.
From 2006 to 2010 the Environment Agency worked alongside Gopsall Fishing Club and the Grayling Society to kick start the grayling population by stocking over 8500 grayling - reared at the Environment Agency’s fish farm at Calverton.
Tom Astley, Environment Agency, said:
“We're delighted to see that the fish we stocked with Gopsall Fishing Club, the Wild Trout Trust and the Grayling Society have reached maturity and are now spawning in the river. We hope that over time the grayling population in this area will go from strength to strength. This is a great example of one of the many projects we deliver as a result of rod license fee funding. It is part of our nationwide aim to conserve and improve wild stocks of trout, sea trout, char and grayling - whilst also enhancing the environment for all types of fisheries.”
Peter Owen, Chairman of Gopsall Fishing Club, said:
“This season our members have reported the capture of the first naturally spawned wild grayling in the river. This is fantastic news as it demonstrates that all the hard work put in by the club and its partners has restored the habitat that can once again support a self-sustaining grayling population. It also provides us with some winter fishing beyond the end of the trout season.”
In addition to the work delivered by the Environment Agency, Gopsall Angling Club have also continued to improve the area with other partners organisations such as the Wild Trout Trust, the Grayling Society, Twycross Zoo, Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust, Bardon Aggregates, the Crown Estate and farmers.
Emerald Waters - The River Soča, story of a life-time enchantment
Dr. Vincenzo Penteriani, Grayling Society Overseas Secretary for Spain, has published a photographic portfolio on the upper part of the River Soca, the wonderful Slovenian river well-known for the emerald colour of the water and high quality fly fishing. You can preview and buy the book online at:
New Vice Chairman
For some time now the Society has been without a Vice Chairman. At the April Committee Meeting it was felt that this situation should prevail no longer and I am pleased to advise members that Rob Hartley, who is currently Area Secretary for Area 5, volunteered to take up that role. Since this role is that of a Society Officer and has been, in effect, co-opted it will be ratified at the next AGM in accordance with the rules of the Society. Rob has my personal thanks for taking up this position and I am sure he will carry out any duties associated with it with his usual efficiency, thoughtfulness and wicked sense of humour.
Steve Skuce, Chairman
Grayling Genetics and Conservation
Hopefully many of you will recall that in 2008/09, anglers collected over 1,100 grayling adipose fin clip samples from 27 catchments in England, Scotland and Wales. The samples were used to extract DNA and for the first time, help us understand the genetic make up and diversity of grayling across the UK. This information was later used to influence stocking of UK grayling. I attach a copy of the published paper as a reminder for those of you who participated, and for those who didn't, you can get a flavour of how angling participantion has influenced the management and conservation of this species.
The reason for me contacting you now is that another genetic study is underway and needs samples for analysis. Vanessa Huml has started her PhD and I enclose an introductory letter, giving details of the aims of her research. I should also highlight that this study is being supported by the Grayling Research Trust and The Grayling Society. The angler sampling methodology is slightly different this time around in that we will not be taking fin clips but using swabs (cotton buds) to collect DNA from the mouth and gill cavity. I personally undertook some sampling in March this year and so I know what this involves. Swabbing will slow your fishing day down a little but shouldn't ruin your pleasure too much. Unusually, fish capture is to be undertaken in the summer months (starting June 16th) rather than Autumn / winter. I appreciate that this is more problematic with grayling but I'm sure that you'll rise to the challenge - we need a minimum of 30 samples per catchment.
If you are willing to collect samples from the required catchments (see Vanessa's list in the letter), then please can you contact her directly via e-mail indicating the catchments that you fish. She will then send you the appropriate sampling gear. If you can't help, you will know people in your area who fish for grayling (or trout where grayling will be a likely by-catch). Please make the effort to involve them in the project.
Get involved by contacting Vanessa and if you have any further questions, contact her or myself and we'll do our best to answer them.
Please support Vanessa, kind regards,
Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru / Natural Resources Wales
Grayling Society Conseravtion Projects Officer
New secretary for Area 1
We would like to Welcome Mark Hamnett as Secretary for Area 1 (Devon, Cornwall, Dorset & Somerset). Mark can be contacted at:
+44 7917 543392
Dates for the Diary
Greg Payne, Area 2 Secretary (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, West Sussex & Wiltshire), will be at the following events in 2014. Drop by, say hello and if you're not already a member join.
- West Country Game Fair, Shepton Mallet: 22 - 23rd March 2014
- Meon Springs Country Sports Day: 13th April 2014
- Bath & West Show, Shepton Mallet: 28 - 31st May... 2014
- Frome Show : 13th September 2014
Grayling Sculpture by Paul Dady
Sculptor Paul Dady is very kindly offering Grayling Society the opportunity to buy a Grayling sculpture at a very special price whilst also benefiting the Grayling Society.
Finely cast in Bronze, Paul's sculptures of Trout, Salmon and Grayling portray not merely a highly detailed likeness but moreover a living creature caught in an instance of time.
Grayling Society members get a 10% discount off the normal retail price of a Grayling sculpture with a further 10% going to the Grayling Society.
For further details contact Paul through his website.
New Secretary for Area 9
The Grayling Society would like to welcome back Steve Rhodes as Secretary for Area 9. Steve takes over from Ade Bristow. We would like to thank Ade for his hard work and efforts as Area Secrerary and wish him all the best.
We still have vacancies for Area Secretaries in Area 1 (Devon, Cornwall, Dorset & Somerset) and Area 7 (Wirral & Cheshire) and for Overseas secretaries in Canada and Italy following the death of Dr. Antonio Sabbadini.
If you would be interested in any of these roles please contact the General Secretary Rod Calbrade (email@example.com).
New Grayling Research Trust PhD study
Assessing adaptive genetic variation for effective management and conservation of European Grayling. Go to the GRT Website for further details - http://www.graylingresearch.org/projects/phd-project
The Grayling Society needs you
The Society currently has vacancies for Area Secretaries in UK areas 1 (Devon, Cornwall, Dorset & Somerset) and 7 (Wirral & Cheshire) and for Overseas secretaries in Canada and Italy following the death of Dr. Antonio Sabbadini.
The Grayling Society is a truly international organisation with Overseas Secretaries in Belgium, France, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Holland, Germany and Austria, Poland and the United States of America. But not all the countries where Grayling are found and fished for are represented, Bosnia or Slovenia for instance. Would you be interested in setting up a new Overseas outpost of The Grayling Society?
If you would be interested in any of these roles or in setting up a new outpost please contact the General Secretary Rod Calbrade (firstname.lastname@example.org)
New Area Secretary for Area 14
Geoff Bevan is taking over from Tony Protheroe as Area Secretary for Area 14 (Dyfed, Gwent, West, Mid & South Glamorgan).
Geoff can be contacted at email@example.com.
Grayling Society Facebook page
You can follow the Grayling Society on Facebook at our new page: facebook.com/thegraylingsociety.
Following the Grayling Society Annual General Meeting we have pleasure in announcing that Steve Skuce will succeed Steve Rhodes as Chairman of the Society and that Rod Calbrade has volunteered to take on the role of General Secretary. We thank them for their support and wish them the best of luck in their roles.
Farmers, anglers and landowners unite behind sustainable access campaign in Wales
A broad-based coalition has been launched today with a website at www.accesscymru.org to campaign for locally-managed access to the Welsh countryside and rivers to ensure that it is sustainable and does not impact on legitimate and economically-important activities such as farming and angling.
The coalition is responding to an on-going consultation on access to the countryside by the Welsh Government, led by the Minister for Culture and Sport, John Griffiths AM, who refused to rule out the possibility of opening up access to all land and water without restrictions at a recent meeting with coalition members, which has incensed a wide range of people who make a living in the countryside.
The Grayling Society 37th Symposium and AGM
Steve Rhodes welcomed members to the Forest & Vale hotel in Pickering for the 37th Symposium and AGM. After a moment to remember those members who were no longer with us Steve thanked Ade Bristow and Steve Skuce for arranging the event. Thanks were also extended to the hotel, all those who had donated fishing for the Sunday, the exhibitors (Cookshill Fly Tying, Coch-y-Bonddu Books, Fly Tek and Chris Lythe) and those who donated prizes for the raffle, including the Wold Top Brewery.
As retiring Chairman Steve made an impassioned call to members to step up to the plate and volunteer to take on those committee roles that need to be filled. Steve then introduced the first presenter Stuart Crofts.
Stuart kicked things off with a brief insight into the importance of bio-security for anglers and the need to check all gear before leaving the fishery, thoroughly cleaning all gear with either Virkon or hot water and drying gear before it is used again. (A video made by Stuart on the subject can be found on further down this page. Stuart grabbed the audience's attention by then going to talk about sex. Unfortunately, the sex lives of insects, those particularly important to fly fishers - the midge, stonefly, caddis, dance fly and upwings. As always Stuart was entertaining, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. He left the audience with lots to think about.
Tony Walsh of the Pickering Fishery Association then introduced John Shannon.
John previously worked for the EA and now heads up the East Yorkshire Rivers Trust and has a deep knowledge of the local catchment. John talked about the Costa Beck, its past, present and future. Through maps and articles John shared the history of the Beck and how it came to be in its current, rather poor state. He explained how the introduction of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) had helped to focus attention on the 90% of watercourses in the Humber District that were failing WFD, including the Costa and Oxfold Becks. John then shared how recent projects with the EA were helping to reverse the Becks decline. These involved the use of 'dig and dump', channel narrowing and de-straightening, woody debris and creating self cleaning gravel flows. The underpinning principle being to the use the river itself and the materials at hand to improve the habitat.
Before lunch Ade Bristow gave a brief but extremely useful insight into the rivers to be fished on Sunday, should the weather hold. Fingers crossed.
The author John Roberts introduced the third presenter, Chris McCully and his interestingly titled ‘Grayling and Mammoths’.
Chris's entertaining, amusing and thought provoking presentation set about trying to change out preconceptions of cavemen, the origins of Grayling in the UK and the representation of Grayling in human culture.
The final session of the day saw Dr Ryan Taylor provide an update on the Grayling Research Trust, their projects and activities. This included the new website, Twitter and Facebook pages (http://www.graylingresearch.org/, https://twitter.com/GRT_Updates, https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Grayling-Research-Trust/497626203606758), genetic testing, spawning surveys, the forthcoming special anniversary edition of the Grayling Journal and the aspiration to create a new Grayling Conservation Guide.
Steve Rhodes and Steve Skuce hosted their final Annual General Meeting (AGM) as Chairman and General Secretary. Steve Rhodes announced that Alan Ayre succeeds John Brennan as President. He then gave his final passionate and at times heart felt Chairman's update on the year including; the proposal to end the process of application for charitable status; the increase in conservation funding; the relatively stable membership level; area activities and the need to appoint new area secretaries in some parts of the country. Keith Mason provided a summary of the accounts, which were approved. Steve Rhodes then handed over the mantle of Chairman to Steve Skuce along with the Chairman's book. All other Committee members were re-elected. The motion to end the process of application for charitable status was passed. Steve Skuce advised that the 38th Symposium and AGM will be at The Menzies Hotel at Mickleover in Derbyshire on the 25th and 26th October 2014.
In recognition of Steve Rhodes contribution as Chairman Alan Ayre presented him with a copy of William Nelson's book Fishing in Eden.
Steve was also awarded the Broughton Trophy alongside Keith Mason and Brian Clark for over 20 years service on the Committee. The Righyni Roose Trophy was awarded for the 'written word' to Dylan Morris in his absence.
Finally the raffle was drawn. The raffle raised £337.
The evening Gala Dinner was a huge success.
After a wonderful three course meal Pat Stevens, aided by Steve Skuce and Rod Calbrade, took the role of auctioneer. Bidding was brisk and raised over £1,400 for the Grayling Society and Grayling Research Trust.
As everyone enjoyed the evening the weather threatened to derail Sunday's fishing. Heavy rain, thunder, lightning and hailstones. The 'Kent curse' strikes again. But Sunday dawned bright and breezy with a chill in the air. Some of the further flung fishing was washed out but the becks in and around Pickering held up. David Southall ran a Tenkara 'Teach In' on the Derwent whilst Chris Lythe demonstrated his approach to trotting small streams on the Pickering Beck. Both proved highly informative and were well received.
Once again a wonderful opportunity to meet up and catch up with friends, supporters and members. Well done to Ade Bristow for organising the event and see you all in Derbyshire in 2014.
Driffield Beck Long Trotting
Andrew Dixon the owner of the Mulberry Whin chalkstream fishing on the Driffield West Beck is to allow Grayling Society members only for a trial period to long trot with worm or maggot for the large grayling that reside in his length of the beck. The trial period will run through December and January and is exclusive to Grayling Society members.
The Mulberry Whin beat extends for more than a mile and holds some truly huge grayling with fish running to well in excess of 3 lbs. The fishing is limited to 4 rods per day and will cost £20 per rod, Andrew can also offer on site self catering and Bed and Breakfast accommodation. Details can be found on the Mulberry Whin website: www.mulberry-whin.com.
It's hoped that if the trial is a success it may be extended this season and will be continued in future seasons so members are asked to support this initiative.
To reserve a rod/s or for further information contact Andrew Dixon on 01377 254073/07727 189423 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grayling Society 2014 Symposium and AGM
The 38th Symposium and AGM will be at The Menzies Hotel at Mickleover in Derbsyshire on the 25th and 26th October 2014.
Further to Stuart Croft's presentation at the Symposium on Bio Security the guidelines referred to can be found here.
Have you ever seen grayling spawning? If so the Grayling Research Trust would like to hear from you. See the following link for details:
General Secretary of the Society
Members will know by now that Steve Skuce will stand down from the position of Honorary General Secretary at the AGM in November, after 17 years of dedicated service. The Society would welcome applications from members to take on this important role.
The Secretary's role is one of coordination and organisation. It includes liaison with the Society's officers, the Area Secretaries and the Grayling Trust, and day-to-day communication with organisations and individuals, in pursuit of the Society's aims and goals. It also involves the organising and calling of Committee meetings at approximately quarterly intervals, taking and distributing the minutes of those meetings, and assisting local officers in the organisation of the AGM and Symposium each year. Steve has also assisted at most shows where the Society exhibits over the years.
If you are interested in taking on this role, please contact Steve Skuce, or the Chairman, Steve Rhodes, and discuss it with them. The position is open to any Member, whether or not they already hold positions at local or national level. Enthusiasm, good attitude and a sense of organisation are at least as important as experience.
Retirement of Chairman and General Secretary
After many years of dedicated service to the Grayling Society our Chairman, Steve Rhodes, and General Secretary, Steve Skuce, have advised the Committee of their intention to retire at the next Annual General Meeting in Pickering on the 2nd November.
If you would like to express an interest in the post of Chairman or General Secretary of The Grayling Society could you please contact Steve Skuce - email@example.com / 01985 248134
A reminder regarding your subscriptions. We still have members who are paying their subscriptions at the old rates.
Could I ask that you check your subscription payment with your bank to make sure you are paying the correct amount. If you are still paying the incorrect amount or have any queries about your subscriptions please contact your Area Secretary or the Membership Secretary.
Remember The Grayling Society subscriptions are due on the 1st of January unless agreed otherwise.
Subscriptions are as follows:
£22.00 Senior (over 70 years)
£5.00 Junior (16 or under)
Grayling Underwater Footage
Click on the links below to watch some stunning underwater video footage of Grayling courtesy of Jack Perks, Underwater & Wildlife Photographer.
Grayling in Peak District rivers
The Grayling Society 37th Symposium and AGM - 2nd & 3rd November 2013
This year our Symposium and AGM returns to Area 9. It will be held at The Forest & Vale Hotel in the delightful market town of Pickering in North Yorkshire. The hotel has limited accommodation so it is wise to book early. Ample alternative accommodation is available in and around the town. For the more adventurous, who might fancy a winter paddle or 'proper' fish, chips and mushy peas, Scarborough and Whitby are not too far away. See booking form for further details.
Speakers booked are Stuart Crofts (the representative of the Independent Republic of South Yorkshire) who, in his unique and wonderful style, will talk to us about Bio Security; Alan Mullinger/John Shannon talking about the future of the Costa & Oxfolds Becks and long standing Society member Chris McCully who will, no doubt, entertain us thoroughly with some amusing and interesting anecdotes from his long and varied fishing experiences. We may also have a trotting demonstration from Chris Lythe.
Trade Stands should include several of the usual suspects from Coch-y-Bonddu Books, Flytek, Cookshill, Chris Lythe etc. There may be other stands and, of course, our own Society stand will be present.
The Annual General Meeting will be held in the afternoon followed by the Raffle Draw and presentation of the Righyni/Roose Trophy and Broughton Trophy.
In the evening our traditional Gala Dinner will be held followed by the ever popular Fishing Tackle Auction.
Sunday's fishing will principally be on the Pickering Beck, Derwent, Dove, Driffield Beck and, hopefully, other rivers in the area, all provided as a result of the generosity of local clubs and fishery owners. Fly or trotting methods will be accommodated so please make sure you advise us now which method you intend to use.
Visit The Grayling Society stand at the following Events
British Fly Fair International - 22nd and 23rd June, The Staffordshire County Showground is located 2 miles from junction 14 of the M6 motorway just outside Stafford.
Bakewell Show - Bakewell Showground 7th and 8th August. One of the oldest agricultural shows in the UK with nearly 200 years of history, Bakewell Show has evolved from a purely agricultural display to the diverse event it is today with something for everybody!
Burton on Trent Game Fishing and Fly Tying Festival - 6th October, Burton Town Hall.
Grayling Society Area 2 Events
The Grayling Society will be attending the following events this spring and summer. Why not come along and meet the society.
Any Area 2 members who would be willing to help out on the day please contact the Area 2 Secretary Greg Payne (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Meon Springs Country Day - 14th April (http://www.meonsprings.com/country-day/).
The Royal Bath & West Show - 29th May to 1st June (http://www.bathandwest.com/royal-bath-west/97/).
Frome Show - 14th Sept (http://www.fromecheeseshow.co.uk/).
Bio security for anglers
Don Stazicker and Stuart Crofts have made a short video on Bio security for anglers.
Grayling Research Trust
River Dove Catchment Consultation Event
Tuesday 26th February 2013 at Ashbourne Town Hall 10.00 am until 3.00 pm. This consultation event forms part of a catchment planning process that the Trent Rivers Trust is leading so that it can develop a catchment plan for the River Dove incorporating the ideas and aspirations of all those people and organisations with an interest in the river.
We hope to talk with local residents, landowners and tenant farmers, anglers, ramblers, wildlife conservationists, Government agencies, elected representatives and council officers and other recreational user groups.
Grayling Society 2013 Symposium and AGM
The 37th Annual General Meeting of The Grayling Society will be held on Saturday 2nd November 2012 in Pickering, North Yorkshire.
The Society's AGM and Symposium, 2012.
This year the Society gathered in Wales, at the charming town of Llandrindod Wells. Roger Smith and the Area 4 team organised the Symposium and the fishing day superbly, and things ran smoothly from the start.
The Metropole Hotel was the HQ; a spacious and comfortable place where our exhibitors could spread their wares and the presentations and business meetings could be held in large comfortable rooms.
On the Saturday morning an exceptionally well-organised registration process gave us all the papers and information needed for the day's proceedings and our fishing beats for the Sunday. After a slightly lustful gaze over the books, pictures and tackle on display, we assembled for the first session. Society Chairman Steve Rhodes formally opened the 2012 Symposium and welcomed delegates and guests. After some essential housekeeping information, we moved on to the first presentation, “The work of the Wye and Usk Foundation”.
The Wye and Usk Foundation, or WUF for short, is too well-known to need much introduction, so Foundation Director Simon Evans took us straight into a full and comprehensive overview of its historical context and its work up to the present time. WUF is clear about basing its actions on the best available evidence, and Simon's presentation was a splendid example of how good science and a passionate and committed team of people can come together to make a real difference. Simon's presentation was backed up by a comprehensive display, and informative booklets for all delegates. The Wye and Usk catchment is vast, and issues such as diffuse pollution and land management are still, in Simon's words, another Everest for the WUF team to climb. I would certainly not bet against them. At the conclusion of the presentation, after Simon had taken questions, Steve Rhodes presented him with a cheque for £500, a contribution to the magnificent conservation work of the Foundation.
After coffee, it was my pleasant task to introduce Dr Cyril Bennett. Any angler who has even a passing interest in entomology and the conservation of our river flies will know of Cyril and his extraordinary work. His presentation on the theme of “Riverflies, Monitoring, Conservation and Restoration” was fascinating, and suggested how diffuse pollution, habitat loss and fluctuating water levels may be acting to reduce our river fly populations. Cyril, practical as always, accepted the serious limitations on our knowledge of river invertebrates, but still encouraged us to be proactive and to do what we can to restore good populations of key flies. His account of “farming” blue-winged Olives and Mayflies to restore failing populations will certainly inspire debate, and perhaps action, from those who heard it.
To close the morning session, a panel of local anglers, including organisers Roger Smith and Glyn Williams, very sportingly agreed to take questions about the local fishing, and the tactics that might work well on Sunday. Questions were fielded adroitly, and any matters of “housekeeping” were made clear.
A very pleasant buffet lunch and a chance to look again at the trade stands and exhibitions brought us into the final presentation. We had a serious dose of facts and figures in the morning, with more to come in the AGM proper, so author and journalist Jon Beer was a welcome contrast. His theme was “Long walks for small fish” and in his informal conversational style, he took us all on such a walk through the memories and experiences that have shaped his attitude to fishing and to much more. Jon described himself as a permanent optimist, always seeing something better in the next pool or over the next hill; he succeeded in infecting me, and I hope many others, with this happy condition.
Before tea and the AGM proper, Roger Hughes presented the Annual Report of the Grayling Research Trust. Having chaired GRT for 5 years, Roger felt that it was time to let someone else have a go and introduced his successor, Ryan Taylor. Ryan is a fisheries biologist at the Hull International Fisheries Institute, University of Hull, and is in an excellent position to spot promising areas in grayling research that could be promoted effectively through grants from GRT.
Afternoon tea fortified us and, on our return, Steve Rhodes, Steve Skuce and Keith Mason conducted the formal business of the AGM, with their usual skill and brevity. All the relevant reports and minutes are to be found in the Journal this year, rather than as a separate document. After the compulsory business it fell to Steve Rhodes to present the President's Reel, now called the Broughton Trophy, awarded to someone who has made a significant long-term contribution to the conservation of the grayling. This year the Trophy went to Dr Cyril Bennett, who was, of course, able to receive it in person, to general acclaim. Steve then formally closed the 2012 Symposium.
After a break and another shopping session, we assembled for the Symposium Gala Dinner, organised by Roger and the Metropole with groups at tables named for the local rivers. A very pleasant meal, smartly served, with President John Brennand proposing the toasts. Well-filled and content, we were ready for the annual Auction. Greg Payne was the very capable auctioneer, and there were plenty of lots to bid for, from serious memorabilia and collector's items to more everyday books and tackle. Tackle and books belonging to the late John Barkaway had been kindly donated by his family, with the proceeds from their sale committed to the Society. As always, members bid generously, and the Auction raised £1213 for the Grayling Research Trust, and a further £171 from the separate auction of John Barkaway's equipment.
Sunday, for those who chose to remain, meant fishing, and with the weather looking fine and dry, and the rivers falling steadilty after the earlier spates, we set out with hopes high. There cannot be many places where a good day's fishing can be found for over eighty rods, but Roger Smith and his team managed the feat, and we were placed on some lovely waters in the Wye catchment. Many thanks go to all those Clubs, Associations and riparian owners who gave their permission for us to fish. I found myself on the delightful (but challenging) River Irfon at Llancammarch, and, in spite of all the positive signs, I blanked! I spoke to others who had similar experiences, and can only conclude that even Roger and the team can't influence Grayling! As John Geirach says, the fishing was good, but the catching was a bit shaky.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Symposium weekend, and many members have agreed with me. Such occasions are always a happy mixture of planned formal events and the unplanned meetings, conversations and general “craic” that happens when a number of like-minded people are together. Next year we shall gather in Yorkshire; if you have not yet attended a Symposium, try to join us in 2013 - you will not regret it.
N.B. The Minutes, Chairman's report and Accounts, together with the GRT Report appear in the centre pages of the Journal, instead of as a separate document.
Many apologies to members for the lateness of the Autumn Journal and the revised Grayling Anglers' Guide. There been problems with printing, but we expect the new editions to be going out very soon, and I hope that you will be patient, and enjoy them when they do reach you.