As regards the Crown waters of the Wye, Mr. Philip Baylis says :-
"There is no falling-off in the stock. On the contrary, for the last two years there has been an improvement, which, in all probability, is to be attributed to the removal of the long nets. In 1905, owing to the mildness of the weather in February and March, the fish travelled to the upper reaches of the river, where, it is believed, good catches were made. The sport in the Crown waters has been poor, for which I can assign no satisfactory reason."
The Usx has been disappointing for a few seasons. Colonel Horace S. Lyne, Clerk to the Board of Conservators, writing unofficially, says:-
" I cannot affirm that there has been a decrease in the number of salmon in the river; but there has been a decided falling-off in the number of fish taken by rod and line. In my opinion, this is almost wholly accounted for by there having been a serious drought for some years. It is true that we have to a certain extent been prejudicially affected by pollution from works and collieries; but the result of this has been greater than it would have been if we had had the usual rainfall. Far from there being a falling-off in the number of fish visiting the river, I believe that during these few years there have been more salmon on the spawning beds than ever, and certainly there has been no decrease in the number of young salmon, locally called ' salmon pink.' If only we have for a year or so a normal rainfall, the fishing, I believe, will recover. The effect of the bad seasons has been to diminish the funds available for payment of water bailiffs; which means that poaching and killing fish by illegal methods have increased. One of the difficulties with which Boards of Conservators have now to deal is that of obtaining means to keep up the proper staff of water bailiffs."
The Dwyfawr, the Dwyfach, the Erch, and the Soch, in Carnarvonshire, are cheerfully reported on by Mr. David Jones, Portmadoc. "Until seven years ago," he writes, " these rivers were left almost entirely unprotected. There was a lack of proper interest in them. The Board of Conservators had no funds, no bailiffs. In 1897 the membership was reduced from 36 to 11, and the County Council appointed to the Board energetic sportsmen, who took the preservation of the rivers seriously in hand. Now we have two permanent bailiffs and sufficient funds to put on temporary men when needed. This has had a quick influence for good. I have fished these rivers for twenty years, and I find that the trout have improved wonderfully in size and number. Last season a professional angler had on several consecutive days baskets of from 10 to 25 lbs. The fish ranged between ¼lb. and 1 lb. We intend putting a stop to professional fishing. We have no cause for complaint regarding pollution. Salmon have not been prospering quite so markedly as the trout. The rivers had been almost denuded of the larger fish by 'burning the water,' as described in old Scots novels-night-spearing by torch-light during the spawning season. This practice has been suppressed. As our rivers have very good breeding grounds, I expect a great improvement within two years."
The Glaslyn, in connection with which there is an Angling Association, is in the district of the Dovey, Mawddach, and Glaslyn Board of Conservators. The stock was falling off until about three years ago. Then Mr. C. E. Breese put in six or seven thousand yearling trout, and these are thriving. There are not nearly so many salmon as there were ten or fifteen years ago. Then five nets were to be seen in the estuary; last season there was scope for only one. Mr. David Jones attributes the decline to the porpoises, which are common in the estuary; the bass, which have been multiplying rapidly; the pollution of the river at Beddgelert through copper mines; and bull-trout. The bull-trout have been almost all cleared out by rod-fishing at night with salmon fry for bait and by netting. One caught by Mr. H. Evans weighed 7½ lbs.; Mr. Jones himself landed dozens, varying from 3 lbs. to 9¼ lbs. My obliging correspondent has no doubt that the bulltrout destroys many thousands of samlets on their way to the sea. He mentions, also, that the pollution has been stopped, and is confident that the river will recover speedily.
The Dovey, the Dysynni, the Artro, the Dwyryd, and the Prysor, are well preserved. Excellent sport is to be found on them, and there is no decline in the stock of fish. This I learn from R. D. Richards, Barmouth, who, in a very interesting letter, goes on to say :-" In the Mawddach there is a falling-off in the stock. That river, unfortunately, flows past gold mines-the only gold mines in the kingdom, I am informed-and the whole of the crushings are discharged into the stream, giving the water a milky-white appearance. The discharge of crushings, which is as fine as powder, cannot fail to affect the fisheries injuriously. It settles in the form of a pasty mass, and is sufficient, apparently, to smother the spawn beds. It cannot be proved that the sludge is actually poisonous to fish. Our Board, consequently, have no remedy. They have endeavoured, unsuccessfully, to prevail upon the companies working the mines to erect catch-pits. Also, they have petitioned the County Council, the Sanitary Authority, to proceed under the Rivers Pollution Act. The Council are averse from the thought of exercising their power. They do not wish to interfere with an industry which gives employment to hundreds of men. However, there is a large and important tributary of the Mawddach, the Wnion, which flows in about five miles from Barmouth. Brisk sport is to be had on the tributary, which is well preserved. In the summer of 1903 the Dwyryd was seriously polluted by the discharge into it of effluent from a disused gasometer tank. This did great damage. Hundreds of dead fish were counted. The Board took proceedings against the Gas Company, and gained a conviction. Since then the river has been restocked, and it is doing well. Fishing Associations have been formed in connection with each river in the district."