The River Avon rises south east of Cumbernauld and flows for around 28km in a north easterly direction before meeting the Forth Estuary at Kinneil, near Grangemouth. Including tributaries, there is a total length of almost 76km. The Avon is primarily a Brown Trout water. Over the last thirty years the population has been augmented by stocking trout from Howietoun, varying in size from eyed fry to takeable trout.
Fishing on the River Avon is controlled by the local Fishing Clubs, Slamannan Angling and Protective Association, Avonvalley Angling Club, Linlithgow Angling Club and by individual Riparian owners. These Clubs have had Leases for around 60 years on distinctively different stretches of the river.
The River Avon Federation was founded in 1998 by Slamannan Angling and Protective Association, Avonvalley Angling Association, and Linlithgow Angling Club when the Migratory Fishing Rights were offered by the Crown Estate. In total the River is divided into six Beats, with five controlled by the Federation. Members of each of the three Clubs’ have access to two common Beats, and a Beat reserved for each individual clubs. The sixth, a single bank, tidal Beat at Polmonthill is separately controlled by the Avon and Kinneil Angling Association.
In 2005 Slamannan APA started a five year, grant assisted, phased project to improve the upper reaches of the Avon that had suffered from ill-advised dredging in the 1970s. This project won a Wild Trout Trust award in 2008. The final, fourth phase is due to start in 2013.
As required by the Forth District Salmon Fisheries Board following legislation, a Management Plan was produced for the River Avon in June 2010 and agreed by all four Angling Clubs with interests in the Avon, with Falkirk Council and with FDSFB. Copies of the plan were issued to West Lothian Council and SEPA.
An initial meeting of a River Avon Management Committee, comprising representatives of the angling interests was held in February 2011 to monitor progress against the Management Plan. To date 60% of the Priority Items identified in the Management Plan had commenced. Electrofishing is undertaken on the Avon and tributaries every year to monitor fish populations. A survey of invertebrates (River Fly Monitoring Programme) continued throughout the year along the full length of the River and a detailed survey of Invasive, Non-native, plant species was undertaken during 2011. Federation members have completed authorised weed control courses and spraying of Invasive Plants should commence under FDSFSB auspices in Autumn 2012. A mammal survey and a mink trapping programme should commence in late 2012 / early 2013.
In Autumn 2011, a granted funded project allowed the Federation to clear the Mains Burn, Linlithgow of fallen timber and debris, opening up additional spawning ground for migratory fish.
The run of migratory fish on the Avon remains small and under threat. Catches of salmon vary from year to year, but only usually number between one and two dozen, with fish between 4lbs and 14lbs being caught each season. At present the FDSFSB recommend a catch and release policy for salmon. Salmon fry have been found during electrofishing in the Slamannan area, but are vulnerable to kills by pollution. Seatrout catch returns are higher, generally double that for salmon. In the main, these are finnock, but individual fish up to 5lbs are caught every season.
Brown trout continue to thrive, with the numbers stocked significantly reduced to encourage natural regeneration. Trout average 9” but fish of over 2lbs are caught every season.
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