River Wear 2020

Sperlash

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But what if the fish counts are flawed? Looking at the historical published data from the EA and taking it all at face value then as you say it does look catastrophic. Yet you only have to go back a few pages on this forum and there are plenty of smiling faces displaying some cracking fish. Personally, I've had better seasons in the past but also a lot worse when the published figures through Framwellgate were a lot higher.
My worry is that the EA will take these figures at face value and may impose restrictions as they have already done so elsewhere.
I don't believe that over 60 000 fish went through Durham 20 years ago but I also don't believe that only 437 fish went through in October.
The counts are probably more accurate now with two counters than they were with one.I fished pretty much a couple of hours most days in sep/oct and longer when conditions were perfect, there were days when the river seemed empty and others when the odd fish were apparent.There was only a couple of days when the water was quite high when I would say there was a decent head of fish in the pools,and to back that up I had my best days hooking and landing 7 fish.However as soon as they moved I had a week where the pools were pretty barren.
The point im making when there are/was 6000 fish a month at peak times it equates to 200 fish moving daily as an average throughout the month.Going back decades this was always the case from august onwards and on the back of a dry fortnight, you could have literally a couple of thousand fish push up and drop in during and after a flood..My observations in the last few years are pretty much in line with the counts fishing many hours in peak conditions at peak run times to see nothing or at best very little.
Looking at the major upset that was caused by morons killing and parading utterly spent fish on here in october .the sooner we can stop this the better and if it means restrictions so be it.
When i fished in the 90s at chester le st catches were in the region of 600 fish per year now they are probably a third of this if lucky once again backing up run count as a ratio of the catch return
 
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cgaines10

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But what if the fish counts are flawed? Looking at the historical published data from the EA and taking it all at face value then as you say it does look catastrophic. Yet you only have to go back a few pages on this forum and there are plenty of smiling faces displaying some cracking fish. Personally, I've had better seasons in the past but also a lot worse when the published figures through Framwellgate were a lot higher.
My worry is that the EA will take these figures at face value and may impose restrictions as they have already done so elsewhere.
I don't believe that over 60 000 fish went through Durham 20 years ago but I also don't believe that only 437 fish went through in October.


Why would they be flawed? What has physically changed from the the first counts to the counts we see today apart from the screw.

Restrictions are based on multitude of things rather than just low numbers.

Why would you take some numbers as true and others as false on a piece of data, that doesn't make sense.
 

Walleye

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The counter numbers are consistent enough year on year to catch big trends like we see now.
I think it was 2015 when there was a big flood last 2 days of the season and 7000 fish were counted through Durham in the last two days of the season.
No we don't get 7000 fish all season.
2012 was extremely wet all summer long and even then the counts were higher.

The counts are what they are and they indicate a downwards trend. I'd still like to wait another year or two as it is just as likely to bounce back.

Someone mentioned Linburn- a couple of years ago there were loads of fish in the burn just where it meets the river. That burn is so silty I'm surprised anything spawns successfully in there. Same with many other mid river burns.

Just because fish run the burns to spawn doesn't mean they spawn successfully. Sea trout will pop into any nook, cranny, burn or beck for spawning but it doesn't mean the spawning is successful.
 

Sperlash

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The counter numbers are consistent enough year on year to catch big trends like we see now.
I think it was 2015 when there was a big flood last 2 days of the season and 7000 fish were counted through Durham in the last two days of the season.
No we don't get 7000 fish all season.
2012 was extremely wet all summer long and even then the counts were higher.

The counts are what they are and they indicate a downwards trend. I'd still like to wait another year or two as it is just as likely to bounce back.

Someone mentioned Linburn- a couple of years ago there were loads of fish in the burn just where it meets the river. That burn is so silty I'm surprised anything spawns successfully in there. Same with many other mid river burns.

Just because fish run the burns to spawn doesn't mean they spawn successfully. Sea trout will pop into any nook, cranny, burn or beck for spawning but it doesn't mean the spawning is successful.
The mention and reference to linburn was to say that from observations the run is Missing .They have gone up the burn in droves for a generation and safe to say these are returning to their origin.They go up or have for the last 35 years that I know of.Funnily enough the pool below hasnt had a resident head of fish at all holding which im pretty sure were the linburn fish waiting for the correct time to go and do their business,
Could be the culmination of the massive floods wiping any successful breeding out?
 
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cgaines10

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River Wear Average.PNG


River wear fish counts.PNG


Couple of graphs I've made from the data available so far. I can't find level data pre 2012 yet, but I'll keep trying to source it.

Level wise there is a lot of data which I may condense, but you get the idea. When you look at it on an average each year is pretty close. You can see from the the graph that peaks and troughs happen near enough every year.

Fish counts do rebound every couple of years, but significantly less each time & now we have gone an extended period without it returning above the average. Hopefully it's just a delay and it does this in the next couple of years. However, it's not something I'd like to bet on though.

It does look like 2020 is starting to increase, although 2019 figures had estimates in it so hard to say definitively. If November and Decembers numbers are high then it could point to the start of an increase.
 

Stratocaster

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Why would they be flawed? What has physically changed from the the first counts to the counts we see today apart from the screw.

Restrictions are based on multitude of things rather than just low numbers.

Why would you take some numbers as true and others as false on a piece of data, that doesn't make sense.
To me the data just doesn’t make sense yet we are expected to accept it without question. According to the EA there has been a 79% decline in the number of fish counts between 2011 and 2019 yet I haven’t seen anything like this in my annual fish returns. A forum member has told us that he had seven fish over a couple of days when conditions were good which is a healthy return by any standard.

Last year the EA after much consultation and based upon their data, imposed compulsory catch and release of salmon on Solway rivers. Iconic rivers like the Eden and Esk now have massive angling restrictions which will apparently be reviewed after 10 years. The fall-out of this is that many lifelong anglers and club members aren’t renewing their licences and are leaving the sport.

Now I am not advocating the slaughter of more fish, far from it, I haven’t killed a salmon for years but this is what I fear could happen if there is no challenge to the EA’s fish count data on the Wear.

Many contributors to this forum have said before that more fish, probably the majority in my opinion, pass through Durham without being counted. I don’t know why the counters aren’t picking the fish up the way they used to do, perhaps they don’t function properly, but to suggest that the migratory fish run on the Wear has declined by 79% in the last 8 years is ludicrous.
 
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cgaines10

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To me the data just doesn’t make sense yet we are expected to accept it without question. According to the EA there has been a 79% decline in the number of fish counts between 2011 and 2019 yet I haven’t seen anything like this in my annual fish returns. A forum member has told us that he had seven fish over a couple of days when conditions were good which is a healthy return by any standard.

Last year the EA after much consultation and based upon their data, imposed compulsory catch and release of salmon on Solway rivers. Iconic rivers like the Eden and Esk now have massive angling restrictions which will apparently be reviewed after 10 years. The fall-out of this is that many lifelong anglers and club members aren’t renewing their licences and are leaving the sport.

Now I am not advocating the slaughter of more fish, far from it, I haven’t killed a salmon for years but this is what I fear could happen if there is no challenge to the EA’s fish count data on the Wear.

Many contributors to this forum have said before that more fish, probably the majority in my opinion, pass through Durham without being counted. I don’t know why the counters aren’t picking the fish up the way they used to do, perhaps they don’t function properly, but to suggest that the migratory fish run on the Wear has declined by 79% in the last 8 years is ludicrous.

Please see my post above.

I would say there's been a steady decline since the early 2000s.

Having a good couple of days when the conditions are right hardly proves anything.

It's hard to comment on their situation without seeing their reasoning or data. I doubt it will have been a knee jerk response & I would expect all the necessary due diligence from them on this.

I also don't buy the notion that all anglers would pack in due to such restrictions, some will for sure, but I doubt it would be a majority. Anglers would still continue to fish and clubs would continue to operate. Like anything in life it's about adapting & continuous improvement for the better of the sport as a whole.
 

Beefly Dave

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Why would they be flawed? What has physically changed from the the first counts to the counts we see today apart from the screw.

Far fewer sea trout for one thing. 15 years ago most of these used to go up the framwellgate counter (we've all seen them skip merrily past in a spate but by & large the water would have been too low for them to do this for much of their best months June-July). For me, it's the ST run that's dwindled far more than the salmon. The salmos tend to run only in heavier flows meaning they're maybe less likely to be counted than a ST running in low water (the fish need to swim pretty close to the resistance strips in the counter to trigger it, i.e. as depth increases, reliability of the counter falls).
 

Walleye

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Far fewer sea trout for one thing. 15 years ago most of these used to go up the framwellgate counter (we've all seen them skip merrily past in a spate but by & large the water would have been too low for them to do this for much of their best months June-July). For me, it's the ST run that's dwindled far more than the salmon. The salmos tend to run only in heavier flows meaning they're maybe less likely to be counted than a ST running in low water (the fish need to swim pretty close to the resistance strips in the counter to trigger it, i.e. as depth increases, reliability of the counter falls).
Couldn't agree more. I've seen more sea trout while fishing this year than the last two but still nowhere as good as 2017. Most of the fish up to end August through Durham are sea trout running in low water through the counters. If there are big lifts in September and October, a lot of the salmon just run around the counters as they are no longer the only path through Durham.
The sea trout have tanked imo but then again I know people who have had excellent seasons on the Wear for night sea trout fishing.
I try to fish quite a bit of the river. My experience the last three years is the sea trout numbers get really thin the further upriver you go no matter what time of year it is. Once upon a time on the upper river the sea trout fishing started in June/July and members could expect to catch tens or over a hundred every season. Now very few fish for the sea trout and most just wait for the salmon which appear in October with water.
The anglers I know in the middle river have had bad years but the fish are still about and worth fishing for. The anglers I know on the lower river have seen ko real difference in catches.
I don't know what it means or if I am just putting two and two together and getting 6 but these are my observations.

Its almost like the lack of numbers is also changing how the sea trout run up river, with the holding pools on the lower river taking much longer to fill up so sea trout don't pile on through to the middle and upper river earlier in the year.
 
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cgaines10

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Far fewer sea trout for one thing. 15 years ago most of these used to go up the framwellgate counter (we've all seen them skip merrily past in a spate but by & large the water would have been too low for them to do this for much of their best months June-July). For me, it's the ST run that's dwindled far more than the salmon. The salmos tend to run only in heavier flows meaning they're maybe less likely to be counted than a ST running in low water (the fish need to swim pretty close to the resistance strips in the counter to trigger it, i.e. as depth increases, reliability of the counter falls).

So nothing physically has changed with the setup. The data is correct and shows a downward trend for a long time now as per above trend.
 

Stratocaster

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So nothing physically has changed with the setup. The data is correct and shows a downward trend for a long time now as per above trend.
The data shows a 79% decline in fish counts in the last 8 years.
My concern is that this could be interpreted as the same decline in the number of fish running the river which I believe is incorrect.
 
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cgaines10

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The data shows a 79% decline in fish counts in the last 8 years.
My concern is that this could be interpreted as the same decline in the number of fish running the river which I believe is incorrect.

There's no credible data to show otherwise?
 

Beefly Dave

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So nothing physically has changed with the setup. The data is correct and shows a downward trend for a long time now as per above trend.
The point was that the setup doesn't need to change for its effectiveness to be compromised if the ratio of sea trout to salmon shifts. Are you saying that hasn't happened?
 

greenlaner2009

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The downward trend is in the sea trout only, salmon are on the up. This downward trend in seatrout coincides with the added protection of the salmon at sea and the extra licences given to take more sea trout to pacify the nets men for their loss for not been able to net the salmon. Also the fact we can no longer stock with trout that can breed may also be paying some part in their decline, which i think was to be expected. On the counting of fish at durham i have some concerns about the new fish pass, it seems to register good numbers in low flow conditions and next to nothing in a flood as beefy Dave mentioned i dont think in high water the fish are close enough to the strips to be counted.
 

greenlaner2009

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The point was that the setup doesn't need to change for its effectiveness to be compromised if the ratio of sea trout to salmon shifts. Are you saying that hasn't happened?
With you on that Dave it used to be you would catch 10 times more sea trout to salmon in a season, people spinning at Durham used to be buzzing if they got a salmon, now its salmon you expect to catch.
 

Stratocaster

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There's no credible data to show otherwise?
No I don't think there is - maybe someone on this forum has some other credible data.
I have read and heard lots of well meaning anecdotes and hearsay but nothing empirical and I'm sure that the same type of information was discussed during the EA consultation on the Solway rivers but to little effect.
 
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cgaines10

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The point was that the setup doesn't need to change for its effectiveness to be compromised if the ratio of sea trout to salmon shifts. Are you saying that hasn't happened?

No, I was asking you has the setup changed. As if so, that could lead to a change in figures. As such you said it hasn’t so that’s out of the equation.

There’s no reports of degradation, so it’s effectiveness can’t really be challenged.

There’s no figures that differentiate between Sea trout & Salmon. It could be done as the they give out a dissimilar resistance. However that isn’t done on the Wear.

Has that happened? I don’t know, there’s no data to say there’s a shift to more Salmon. There’s only data to show that there’s a decline in the total run.


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cgaines10

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No I don't think there is - maybe someone on this forum has some other credible data.
I have read and heard lots of well meaning anecdotes and hearsay but nothing empirical and I'm sure that the same type of information was discussed during the EA consultation on the Solway rivers but to little effect.

Of course anecdotes & hearsay can’t be relied upon. So people giving their own version of events isn’t worth anything. Unless someone wants to put money down to challenge the EAs data. Then that’s all we’ve got to go on.

Either all of their data is correct or it isn’t. We can’t see we agree with high run numbers but then question low numbers. It doesn’t work like


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lax0341

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There‘s a decline in the seatrout stocks all over Europe. Even in the once prolific danish and swedish rivers this downward trend is very significant in the last ten or fifteen years.
 

Sperlash

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There‘s a decline in the seatrout stocks all over Europe. Even in the once prolific danish and swedish rivers this downward trend is very significant in the last ten or fifteen years.
Watched an interesting programme on the global reported catch/tonnage in regards to the fact the world bio mass of fish is in massive decline..The pig penny drop moment for me was an interview with the local inshore cod fishermen of Newfoundland,the local netsmen who had records of his effort versus catches over a lifetime showing an obvious downward declining catch for years.Upon Collapse it was found these benchmark fishermen werent even consulted in regards to fish stock investigation
The people consulted were the large high tech boat owners who could track and catch everything spending more and more time to land a large catch to show and prove stocks were still high and more so sustainable....This was great until literally, overnight they caught the last shoal and it utterly collapsed...
The point im trying to make is that I personally have had the fortune to both fish and observe the river from the early eighties on a sustained first hand basis and trust me whatever the true count is in real terms the visible head of fish present currently does reflect the 75% count reduction over the period. In terms of my catch and first hand observation of pools like newfield dam going from boiling to barren over the same period.
We need to conserve whats left before they do what they have in Ireland Shut many rivers to angling full stop and most others which still remaining open compulsory C&R
 

Andrew B

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Couldn't agree more. I've seen more sea trout while fishing this year than the last two but still nowhere as good as 2017. Most of the fish up to end August through Durham are sea trout running in low water through the counters. If there are big lifts in September and October, a lot of the salmon just run around the counters as they are no longer the only path through Durham.
The sea trout have tanked imo but then again I know people who have had excellent seasons on the Wear for night sea trout fishing.
I try to fish quite a bit of the river. My experience the last three years is the sea trout numbers get really thin the further upriver you go no matter what time of year it is. Once upon a time on the upper river the sea trout fishing started in June/July and members could expect to catch tens or over a hundred every season. Now very few fish for the sea trout and most just wait for the salmon which appear in October with water.
The anglers I know in the middle river have had bad years but the fish are still about and worth fishing for. The anglers I know on the lower river have seen ko real difference in catches.
I don't know what it means or if I am just putting two and two together and getting 6 but these are my observations.

Its almost like the lack of numbers is also changing how the sea trout run up river, with the holding pools on the lower river taking much longer to fill up so sea trout don't pile on through to the middle and upper river earlier in the year.
That’s a very interesting post about sea trout and I’ve found something very similar on the River Dwyfor in Wales.
With the decreasing runs the fish just don’t gather in the sections as they once did and this September despite high tides and more than enough water their were shoals of fish that were reluctant to leave the tidal bit. I would prefer a traditional sea trout summer with just the occasional flush to be sure? But there’s no doubt they’ve changed their habits.
 

Andrew B

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There‘s a decline in the seatrout stocks all over Europe. Even in the once prolific danish and swedish rivers this downward trend is very significant in the last ten or fifteen years.
Imo its due to unprecedented flooding which is fastly becoming precedented. It’s the one big constant that sea trout all over Europe and the U.K. face. The river I fish doesn’t suffer from muck spreading and along the coast doesn’t have any fishing boats and yet over just five years I’ve seen it go off a cliff. On my own local beck the last dry winter we had was followed by a good density of brown trout parr. Given the size and number of floods that throw gravel up onto the banks I just cannot see how any trout redds could survive such conditions unless they were in the smallest of streams.
 

Walleye

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The downward trend is in the sea trout only, salmon are on the up. This downward trend in seatrout coincides with the added protection of the salmon at sea and the extra licences given to take more sea trout to pacify the nets men for their loss for not been able to net the salmon. Also the fact we can no longer stock with trout that can breed may also be paying some part in their decline, which i think was to be expected. On the counting of fish at durham i have some concerns about the new fish pass, it seems to register good numbers in low flow conditions and next to nothing in a flood as beefy Dave mentioned i dont think in high water the fish are close enough to the strips to be counted.
I think in high water they just may not use it as much. It's probably around 1% of the main river width and when there is good flow over fram dam they probably only find the fish pass by accident. Which is fine, because it's meant to be a pass for low water.
 

Stratocaster

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Here are some graphs made from EA raw data showing declared rod catches and Durham counts on the Wear from 1979 to 2019.

1605808670745.png







The rod catches start from a fairly low base in 1979 and then steadily rise with the sea-trout catches peaking around 2001 – 2003 before steadily falling to 2011 and then more dramatically to 2019. The salmon catches rise more slowly peaking around 2010 – 2013 and then also falling dramatically to 2019. Sea trout catches are about double those of salmon up until 2011 when the catches of both species become more equal and in the second graph you can see that the combined catch peaks between 2010 and 2013.


1605808564056.png



The fish counts start low in 1994 and quickly rise to a peak in 1999 of 27658, staying very high until 2003 when they dip for a few years by about 50% until 2010/2011 when they increase to over 20000. There is then, apart from a spike in 2015, a gradual decline to 2019 when only 4704 fish were counted. The drop in counts from 2011 to 2019 is approximately 79%. This appears to be catastrophic as some have said.

What is interesting is how the rod catches compare with the fish counts which are of course combined. I have read many times in books and magazine articles that typically around 10% of the fish that run up a river are caught on rod and line. I don’t know how this percentage was arrived at but like many things in angling it just seems to be one of those nuggets that has been accepted as fact. You would therefore expect the graph for the combined rod catch to roughly shadow the graph of the combined fish count but at a 90% lower level, but this is clearly not the case.

The first year of counts was 1994 but there was obviously a problem because the catches were higher than the counts. In the next year, 1995, the catch was 1219 and the count was 13543 which makes the catch 9% of the total, so far so good. Then it all goes haywire as in 1999, the highest counts on record, the catch was only 5.5%, and by 2013, another good count year, the catch increased to just over 26%. Last year, the lowest count on record, the catches are a healthy 1437 fish which is 30.5% of the total fish count through Durham.

Now this is all very simplistic and there are a lot of variables at play here but what is going on? Seasonal variations in water level will have had an affect so that in some years the fish were easier to catch but this wouldn’t account for the huge variation in catch rate. Back in the seventies and eightees I think that there was probably a lot of under –reporting of catches as some anglers were fearful of their rents and subscription fees going up so the catch rate would have been artificially kept down. The amount of rod pressure would also make a big difference, basically more rods fishing would catch more fish, but here we seem to see the opposite with these figures. I don’t have data for rod days fished but I do know that on all of the club waters that I fish there has been a significant drop in the number of members. In one of the clubs the membership has dropped by nearly 50% in the last five years so if anything the proportion of fish caught to fish counted should be going down but it has done the reverse. Whilst the counters are recording fewer fish each year through Durham the angling catch rate is getting higher and higher.

Other possibilities are that the fish themselves have become a lot more aggressive in recent years and are easier to catch or that the skill of local anglers has suddenly improved but I think these are highly unlikely.

I think the simple answer is that the fish counts are inaccurate and cannot be used as an indication of the number of fish running up the river. I think that there is some truth in Beefly Dave’s comments regarding the sea-trout only using the counter in low water and also that the salmon aren’t recorded later in the year in higher flows. I also agree with God’s comments about the high proportion of fish jumping the wall instead of using the counter as I have been witnessing this myself for decades.
 
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