Wonders in Somerset

The River Avill is a beautiful stream flowing through the Exmoor National Park in west Somerset, though the lower reaches, through Dunster Marsh, have suffered from channel straightening and diverted flows. 

avill dredged

In an excellent practical collaboration between the local EA fisheries team (headed by Fisheries Officer, Matt Pang), the local parish council, the Angling Trust, landowner (Crown Estate) and WTT’s Mike Blackmore, a new lease of life has been given to a recently dredged section of the channel. The project involved local residents, Exmoor National Park volunteers and staff and students from Bridgwater and Petroc Colleges (42 volunteers in total) installing woody debris to create low-level berms and deflectors to improve flow diversity through the system. There are now good signs of improvements to life in the Avill. 

Matt Pang reports that the project site has established really well with beds of Ranunculus starting to form and the low lying berms vegetating. The flow deflectors are working well, creating plenty of riffles, pools and gullies. Really encouragingly, recent EA fishery surveys have reported juvenile trout where they were not found in 2014 and sea trout smolts, not thought still to be present in the catchment. This finding may well help to effect alterations to weirs on the Avill to ease access for more sea trout into the river.

avill improved