The Seiont, the Gwyrfai, and the Llyfni have suffered from drought. Mr. R. Pughe Griffiths, Carnarvon, writes:-
" When the rivers once fall it requires a great deal of rain to fill them. The declivity is in each case great in proportion to the length. Last year the floods did not come until the season had closed, and very few fish were reported to me as having been taken by rod. Our keepers state that a splendid lot of fish have been spawning. I do not see that there is any falling-off in the stock of fish, and, if one may judge by the continual increase of licenses, the popularity of the rivers is not on the wane. Still, we have difficulties. As a Board we are unable to fix any limit as to the size of fish to be taken; and until now we have been unable to keep off the professional fishermen, many of whom are neither more nor less than poachers. I am acting as temporary clerk of a committee who are trying to form an Association for the whole of Carnarvonshire. The Association will, I trust, be empowered to issue a ticket, without which no one will be able to fish in private water. In this manner we shall be in a position to keep undesirables off the river. I need hardly say anything to you about the unsatisfactory ways of Parliament as far as fishing is concerned. We have to thank one of the Scots members- Mr. Caldwell, I think-for blocking the Bill promoted by the Lune Board of Conservators. If this Bill had been allowed to go on, there would be but little need for Fishery Boards to pray for new legislation."
The Dee shows vitality. At present, I am told by Mr. John Simpson, Chester, superintendent in behalf of the Fishery Board, the river does not seem to have quite so many salmon as it had before 1896. Fish were fairly plentiful for some years up to that time. Then a cycle of bad seasons began. The river seemed to deteriorate in its productiveness until 1902. The season of 1903, however, opened with a splendid run of fish, and since then the river has continued to improve. Mr. Simpson mentions that spring fish "had never been characteristic of the Dee" until 1903.
The Elwy and the Clwyd are peculiarly dependent on the weather. In 1903, summer being wet, the rivers kept at a good height for the greater part of the season, and both nets and rods did well. In 1904 there was not much rain. Sport and professional fishing were alike poor. Ultimately, however, there were plenty of fish on the spawning beds. The season of 1905 was the worst for many years. All through the best time the waters were too low to tempt the fish from the sea. The number of salmon spawning was thought to be below the average. There is little or no serious pollution, and disease has been practically unknown for fifteen or sixteen years. The draining of the uplands causes the rivers to rise and fall so quickly that they are seldom in ply for more than a day or two at a time.
The Lune has had varied fortunes during the last few seasons; but it has deteriorated on the whole. The chief cause is over-netting in the estuary and at Skerton Weir. The weir is at the head of the tidal waters. The owner is entitled to net salmon immediately below the weir, and consequently this fishery has been termed "the key of the river." Over thirty nets of various kinds are used by the fishermen in the estuary. The estuary is seriously polluted. The whole sewage of the town of Lancaster and of the outlying district is, absolutely untreated, turned into the river. The Board of Conservators appear to understand the serious state of affairs; but their funds are small. They have, however, at last erected a grating at the foot of the tail race to Skerton Mill, and that will enable more salmon and sea-trout to run into the higher reaches. If more "diagonals," or fish passes, could be provided at Skerton Weir the river would be much improved. The riparian owners near the source could give assistance in preserving the fisheries.
The Wyre yields to the rod many sea-trout every season, and is not deteriorating. The reason is obvious. There is no obstructive weir, no pollution to speak of, no excessive netting in the estuary.
The Kent, the Leven, the Duddon, and smaller waters in their neighbourhood, continue to be in a state of fair prosperity. Mr. John Fell, Chairman of the Board, favours me with interesting particulars. " It is difficult,'" he writes, " to obtain accurate statistics of the netting in the large estuaries of Morecambe Bay and the Duddon; but the issue of licenses is well maintained, which affords evidence of success. Salmon of great size are rare. Early spring fish are unknown. The migration from the sea begins about the middle of June. In 1903 and 1904 there were abnormal runs of sea-trout. Excellent sport was then found by the anglers in all the important minor rivers. The Kent would be a fine salmon and sea-trout river if it were not injured by weirs and pollutions. The Board have spared no pains to overcome these difficulties, and, being aided by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, have now a prospect of distinct improvement. The Leven, which flows from Windermere to the estuary of Morecambe Bay, yields excellent sport, with salmon and trout, to members of a local Association; but the number of salmon caught by the rod has not been so great as formerly. The Duddon, a beautiful and rapid river, flows through fine scenery. It is to a considerable extent in private hands, and there is not much information as to its yield for anglers. The estuary has a good stock of salmon and sea-trout. The Board spare no effort, within the measure of their funds, to improve the fisheries. Much more might be done, however, if a larger expenditure were possible. Public interest in the fishing steadily increases, and legislative provisions to protect streams from injury by pollution or otherwise are well supported.""
The Eden for two or three miles above and below Carlisle has been poor for a good many years. Mr. H. H. Hodgkinson, Honorary Secretary of the Angling Association, writes:-