Sunday, 7 February 2016

All change on the Avon...Not before time, BUT is it far enough!

With another Grayling season almost finishing and thoughts of leaving the floats at home and heading out with the spiders for the early trout.

My thoughts turn to the proposed plans on my home water......

The Lanarkshire Avon, the main tributary of the River Clyde has always been my home water, a mere 100 metres from my house when I was younger, it was where my brother & all the other folk who chipped in to educate me in the ways of fishing for wild Brown Trout & Grayling went and finally now it is getting the attention it requires...or is it!

The Avon being the River Clyde's main tributary has for most years seen good runs of sea trout and a few salmon, some of which have been able to negotiate the two man made weir's in their path to getting further upstream but for the mainstay these have hindered the path of the migrating fish. There was always talk of fish passes being put onto the weir's but this worried a lot of people in that they could be easily poached by the idiots on the river, and the policing would be very time consuming but seems a new plan is on the burner and finally the river may get the attention it requires.

One of the weir's at Millheugh pictured above has seen fish negotiate the left side in higher water but this is only a fraction of fish to the waters above.

Plans are now finally afoot to change these weirs to suit the migrating fish, although a total removal of the weir has been ruled out, I myself would like to have seen the weirs removed totally but thats due to personal reasons which I wont divulge.

The latest information to come on the weirs....

"Weirs on the Avon Water have been a barrier to spawning grounds for Atlantic salmon for over a century. This summer, a flagship partnership project funded by Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s (SEPA’s) Water Environment Fund and the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP), will open up 200km of salmon spawning grounds in the Avon Water, that will see majestic Atlantic salmon leaping the Avon Water once again.
The Atlantic salmon is one of the truly iconic species of Scotland and a source of considerable national pride. The country is home to some of the finest salmon rivers in the world and these contribute significantly to the Scottish economy as a visitor attraction, a source of jobs and income in remote Scottish communities, and the provider of high quality world renowned salmon food products.
In the Autumn and early winter, salmon ‘steal the show’ as they make their way back from the ocean and leap spectacularly up river to their Scottish breeding grounds. But not so in the Avon Water!
Atlantic salmon became virtually extinct in the Clyde in the 19th century. Over the last 40 years, improved treatment of domestic and industrial wastes and reductions in industrial discharges have resulted in sufficient improvements in water quality in the lower rivers and upper estuaries of the Clyde to allow salmon to return. But in some rivers including the Avon Water, barriers are preventing them from reaching their spawning grounds. On the Avon, salmon are ‘queuing up’ under the Ferniegair Weir desperately trying to leap up river to spawn. This is currently to no avail since Ferniegair Weir and the Millheugh Weir further upstream are impassable.
Imagine the excitement then to hear that Atlantic salmon will leap the Avon Water once more - a sight that has not been seen for over a century.
This is all down to a flagship partnership project between SEPA, Rivers and Fisheries Trusts Scotland (RAFTS), Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland supported CAVLP, South Lanarkshire Council, Clyde River Foundation, anglers and local communities supported by SEPA’s Water Environment Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Natural rock fish passes will be installed at the Ferniegair and Millheugh weirs (built in late 19th century to serve local mills) in the summer of 2016, meaning that Atlantic salmon should be leaping the weirs in autumn 2016.
The fish passes will open up approximately 200km of salmon spawning grounds in the Avon Water and upgrade the Water Framework Directive status of 8 rivers in one fell swoop, six of which will achieve high status. This gives the potential to create a whole new salmon fishery within the Clyde system bringing with it an increase in sports fishing and income from fishing permits and a boost to the local economy from fisherman and visitors using local amenities.
The project will also be a source of great excitement and pride for local communities. The Clyde River Foundation works very closely with schools and communities in the Clyde area promoting fishing and the importance of healthy ecosystems and is planning a Clyde wide celebration of salmon homecoming when fish passage is secured across the Avon Water weirs.
The return of the iconic Atlantic salmon to the rivers of the Clyde symbolises the importance of Scotland’s magnificent environment to the Scottish people and economy.
“The watercourses of the Clyde and Avon valleys are an important and unique habitat for native wildlife. For this reason, we have always viewed our involvement in this project as a vital part of delivering our overall Heritage Lottery Fund supported Programme”, explains CAVLP Programme Manager Donna Marshall.
She continues, “A public meeting has been organised to allow local communities and anglers to find out more about the project and view the proposed designs. Taking place in the Auditorium, Chatelherault Country Park Visitor Centre, Hamilton at 7pm on Tuesday 8 March, we would love to see as many people attend as possible and have the chance to ask questions about this exciting and vitally important project.”

For more information on the project see the link.............avon-barriers-project

I wrote above that the river is finally getting the attention it requires or it is? Reason being is for more years than I care to remind myself of there was plans afoot to make a walkway from the weir at Millheugh all the way to Linthaugh bridge in stonehouse and these next few pictures will explain the reasons why......

Looking down on the river from the top of the Braes.

The river above flows through a heavily wooded gorge known as the Braes and although as kids we used to run up and down these Braes, the paths that we used are all but now gone and overgrown and fighting your way down isnt too bad buts its the getting back up thats the problem......

View from the river looking back towards the vantage point of the picture above.
Solitude for the migrating fish but one hell of a problem to police and I know that the amount of illegal netting on the river will soar through the roof, hence its time to put in a proper walkway so the Avon can be looked after by not only the concerning anglers and bailiffs but the general public who have never seen the sights the river and the Braes have to offer, mallard ducks lifting as you come around the corner and scare them, Roe deer drinking from the river only to name but a few wild animals I've seen on my fishing trips.

None of us are getting any younger and although I will continue to fish the Avon for not only the natural beauty and solitude of the river as very rarely do you ever bump into another angler but the walk down memory lane and the landmarks and sights I see which remind me of anglers past and fish I've seen & caught, but I have to admit its getting harder as the years start to catch me up and I often wonder how long it will continue....a walkway would be nice, but I wont hold my breath!

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