Salmon on the Derwent: Dispelling a few myths

As I’m sure you are all aware, the river has recently seen the completion of a new fish pass at Derwenthaugh on the Axwell Park club’s water. This pass is on the very lowest beat of the Derwent and was put in place to comply with European and British legislation to allow free movement of all species up and down the length of the river. Unfortunately, at present it appears to be having a few teething problems, but it will soon come online, allowing all species to bypass the obstruction.

A number of articles have been written in the local papers applauding the return of salmon to the river and claiming that eventually all obstructions (weirs) will receive a similar pass. We can’t help feeling a little alarmed at the fanciful claims made that it will soon be a thriving salmon fishery though as we have been informed by the Environment Agency that no seeding with parr is to take place and that it will take many years for the fish to gradually inhabit the lower stretches of the Derwent to spawn, with little or no effect on our own association’s water.

The other major factor is, of course, the Derwent reservoir, which controls the flow of water entering the river. A study was carried out which looked at the potential effects of changing the flow to the river to allow releases from the reservoir during the spawning months of migratory fish to the detriment of water levels for the rest of the year. This was found to be unworkable and was considered to have an overall negative impact on the river. Presumably, people originally thought that releases on the Derwent might happen in the same way as they do from Kielder on the Tyne. Unfortunately, one glance at an Ordnance Survey map would show Kielder is just a tadge bigger than the Derwent so the idea was disregarded.

All things considered, and bearing in mind the nature of the river, the Derwent Angling Association does not envisage any major runs of migratory fish into club waters, if any. Despite the new Derwenthaugh fish pass, there still remain two major obstructions on the Axwell Park beat that can only be passed in high water. This probably wouldn’t be a problem if all summers were as wet as 2012 but on average the river tends to flood in the winter months, and even when it does flood, it usually drops quickly. And due to the reservoir the river does not naturally spate.

The Derwent Angling Association is most certainly not opposed to the free passage of all species throughout the entire length of the Derwent, we’re just a bit alarmed by the way the project has been so sensationalised in the press. It’s annoying to read incorrect articles from people who really should know better, but I suppose you need justification when spending over a quarter of a million pounds on a fish pass that does not at present work. (And if they really want free movement over the whole length of the river, someone’s going to have to build a pass to get the fish over the reservoir!)

So, in a nutshell, yes, a fish pass has been completed, but it will have little or no effect on the river fished by the association. In exceptional circumstances, we might see the occasional sea trout or salmon in our water, but one swallow does not make a summer and the odd fish does not mean syndicates will take over our water like they have the Tyne.

We will of course be monitoring the situation and will add further information as it becomes available. So, despite some wild rumours to the contrary, we will be remaining a trout and Grayling association, because if nothing’s broken, then why fix it?

Junior Competition rescheduled (again!)

The Junior Competition has been rescheduled for this coming Saturday 4 August at the weir at Shotley Bridge. The competition is free to enter for all junior members and everyone will receive a prize.

As before, there’s no need to register – just meet at the car park by the new bridge (this is the car park next to where the iron bridge used to be) between 8am and 8.30am, with the competition starting at 9 am.

All participants will receive prizes.

Parents are encouraged to attend.

Good luck to all who enter and let’s keep our fingers crossed the weather hold out this time!

Until the River Ceases to Flow

Don’t miss the first instalment of club Membership Secretary Ian Colborne’s very personal history of the Derwent valley and how the river has always been at the very heart of everything. In this cracking good read, Ian also tells the story of the capture of the biggest ever trout from the Derwent, which tipped the scales at an eye-watering 7¾lbs!

Until the River Ceases to Flow (Part 1)

Junior Competition cancelled (again)

Because of the extra water in the river following yesterday’s storm it has been decided in the interests of safety to cancel this Saturday’s Junior Competition. At one point yesterday evening, the river rose almost six feet and although it’s dropped back a lot now, it’s still far from fishable and certainly not safe either, particularly with more rain forecast.

We’re truly sorry to have to cancel the competition again but on this occasion we didn’t really have much choice.

Keys found at Shotley Bridge

A set of keys was found at Shotley Bridge car park yesterday. If they’re yours, get in touch and we can arrange for their safe return.

Junior competition postponed due to bad weather

Due to the current high water levels and with more rain forecast for tomorrow, we have reluctantly decided to postpone this year’s Junior Competition, which was due to be held this Saturday 12 May. The competition will now be held in July at a date to be announced. As soon as the date is confirmed, we’ll email members, as well as announcing it on the website and on Twitter.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Licences for 2012

Members’ licences for 2012 will be available for renewing members to pick up from Ebchester Post Office from this Saturday 17 March. Be warned though that they do keep Post Office hours, so will only be open in the morning on Saturday (until 12.30pm, I believe). They also asked us to tell members that they tend to be very busy on Mondays and Tuesdays so if you can avoid going then, they’d be extremely grateful.

This is for membership renewals only – any prospective new members should get in touch with membership secretary Ian Colborne at at

The Post Office also has a shop attached which sells a wide variety of snacks and drinks, so if you’re looking to pick up a bite to eat on your way to the river, give them a try.

Derwenthaugh fish pass

Whatever your feelings might be about the new fish pass at Derwenthaugh, it’s still fascinating to see it being built. The EA are keeping a photographic diary on Flickr which they’re updating as the the project progresses.

Head to to see what’s going on.

A couple of things…

As mentioned at the AGM, the Post Office at Shotley Bridge is closing, so renewing members wishing to pick up their new club books for this season should now go to Ebchester Post Office instead. They should be available a week or so before the start of the season, but I’ll put a notice on the website and on Twitter as soon as I know they’re in. You can also pick up your EA licence while you’re there.

We have arranged for Paul Procter to come and give a talk with slideshow to get us in the mood for the coming season. This will take place at The Crown and Crossed Swords in Shotley Bridge on 14 March at 7.30pm. Paul will be talking about his recent trip to New Zealand as well as about fishing the Eden. As well as being a first-class angler, he’s also a first-class speaker, so do try to make it if you can. You can find out more about Paul at his website at and you can read the Trout & Salmon article he wrote about the Derwent here.

North of England Fly Fishing Show

Don’t forget it’s the North of England Fly Fishing Show tomorrow (18 February). The North of England Fly Fishing Show is the only show of its kind in the North East England. Trout & Salmon anglers from the North East region and further a field have the opportunity to view, try and buy, in one location a massive selection of rods, reels, fly lines, fly tying materials & equipment, flies, hooks, tippet materials, sports clothing, etc, etc, in anticipation of the coming season.

The 2012 show will see more new attractions following on from last years successful show including many new fly tying demonstrations projected onto display screens, allowing you to see all those fly tying skills in more detail, with plenty of question and answer sessions with all the flytiers.  Included in the attractions there will be additional presentational talks on a variety of subjects such as, small still water fishing, competition fishing, salmon & trout fishing holidays, etc.

For more information, see