About Ian

River Keeper for the Horton and Ribblehead Fishery of the Manchester Anglers' Association who were founded in 1878 and established the fishery in 1882. This is a game fishery providing fishing for wild brown trout, sea trout and Atlantic salmon.

19 August 2017

I went down to New Inn first thing this morning and cut up the tree wedged under New Inn bridge.  Most of the brash went down river on the flood that was still running. The larger logs are stacked under the west arch on the gravel bank and will go with the next full spate unless someone takes them for firewood.  A really fun job, but I could have done without the audience standing on the footbridge making smart-ass comments.

The river really is in stunning form.  Just a touch of colour, cold and fast flowing.  Perfect for growing trout and for salmon seeking out the spawning gravels.  It really is odd that so few members fish the river especially when conditions are so good.

Those planning to fish the Tarn next week should be aware that the cobbles on Newhouses ford are being reset starting on Monday.  Contractors have told me that they will maintain access at all times, but expect some minor inconvenience until Thursday.

Whilst on the subject of the Tarn we are stocking for the last time this season next Saturday.  Fish should arrive at around 10 am so it’s best to give the new arrivals a while to settle down before fishing.


15 August 2017

A lot of rain fell in a short while earlier today and has brought the river to a level where a good flow is running under the west arch of New Inn bridge.  This minor flood has also stripped a large bough from a tree at the top end of the garden pool and deposited it just above the bridge.  I’m working tomorrow all day so will go down on Thursday morning and remove the timber to the bank.  That’s provided the river is not in flood again.

There is a short piece about Horton school on More 4 at 9 this evening.  A bit like bolting the stable door after the horse has departed, but nice to see familiar faces on TV expressing sensible yet passionate views rather than the usual “celebrity” tripe.


14 August 2017

Once again I have been away from the blog for far too long. Sorry.

Last Sunday we went to a book fair at Ingleton and found a little gem.  It’s a guide to the Craven area published in 1850 and written by a chap called Howson (an old Horton name).  there is much of interest in this slim volume, but one section on Horton caught my eye.  Howson describes Newhouses Tarn and talks about the Tarn being stocked with brown trout from the river.  Who was doing the stocking and who was catching the fish he does not say, but remember that this is at least 30 years before the MAA were doing so.  He even mentions that the need for stocking was because of an absence of a feeder in which fish could breed.  It also puts back the formation of the Tarn to before 1850, a date which some authors have noted as being the date of its creation during a severe thunderstorm.

It may be that the stocking was organised by and for the Hammond family of Arncliffe who owned the land and the Tarn.  Maybe not. Mike H may have a view.

I am inclined to believe Howson because his many descriptions of local caves and potholes are surprisingly accurate and free from the usual Victorian guff.

If you come across this volume in a second hand book shop it’s well worth an investment.



1 August 2017

Yorkshire day, true to form, has been wet.  Very wet. The river is not in spate,but is flowing strongly under the west arch of New Inn bridge.  As a consequence fishing on the river should be very rewarding tomorrow between the showers.

We put 100 rainbow trout into the Tarn last evening and received a good soaking for our efforts.  All fish seemed highly impressed with their new habitat and one individual got so exited that it left the water turned a victory roll and returned to the depths.

I was delighted and surprised today to receive in the post a packet of photographs sent by a former pupil at Horton school who must read the gibberish that I post here because I mentioned last week setting up an exhibition to mark the closure of Horton school.  I shall of course write and thank you, but the images of the school in the early 20th Century complement other material that has come to light recently.  I spent several hours  over the weekend cataloging a couple of hundred items.  These will now be digitised and that which is not restricted by data protection legislation will soon appear on dalescommunityarchives.org.uk.


30 July 2017

At the last council meeting a couple of weeks ago a discussion was had about the number of blanks recorded by members visiting the Tarn.  It was agreed by majority that we should put in an additional 100 rainbows at the beginning of August and monitor the result in terms of impact on fishing success and the health of the Tarn.

We shall be putting this stock in at around 5pm tomorrow evening which should be entertaining as thunderstorms are threatened tomorrow.

The river continues in stonking form thanks to the persistent heavy showers that are making this summer a bit of a washout.  I stood by the garden pool yesterday afternoon dodging the showers and watching fish rising all the way up the pool from New Inn to Harber meadow.  This pool would appear to be alive with fish.


22 July 2017

A wet night and even wetter morning until lunchtime lifted the river to the extent that it was running strongly under the west arch at New Inn.  Consequently there should be some decent fishing for a time tomorrow although the best conditions are probably right now.

I have been away from this keyboard for several days helping Sheila prepare an exhibition on the history of Horton school.  The village school closed yesterday for the last time bringing to an end nearly 600 years of continuous education provision at Horton.  The earliest reference to a school here that we have found is dated 1523, a will leaving money to “our ladies school at Horton”. Until 1876 the school was a free grammar converting in that year to an elementary which it has remained until yesterday.

The MAA in the early 20th C organised sports events and awarded prizes for the children.  Times change, families are smaller, village populations age and small village primaries with their wonderfully happy and nurturing cultures become untenable.  Very sad.


8 July 2017

This morning I put 100 rainbows into the top end of the Tarn.  They should hopefully lift the catch returns a bit.

When we arrived with the fish a large flock of duck took off in a flurry of wings and much complaining about being disturbed.

The recent wet weather is a bit of a pain, but it is keeping both the river and the Tarn in decent water.  The Tarn is still crystal clear with no sign whatsoever of algae or the filament weed that has made fishing so difficult this past couple of years.  Taking a lot of rooted weed out has certainly made casting easier, but I am beginning to wonder whether the resident fish have migrated to the weed bed at the top of the Tarn.  Recent fishing returns have been much lower than my calculation of remaining fish suggests they should be.  Let’s see what difference this stocking makes.


1 July 2017

I suppose the only positive one can take from this persistent wet weather is the fact that the river remains fishable on most pools and runs and the water is cool enough to suit our wild brown trout.  Apart from that it’s pretty miserable.  As I write this we sit in a spell of heavy mizzle.  Not really rain, but wet enough to soak through a sweater in no time at all.

I was out this afternoon when an esteemed member called by seeking urgent medical attention for a tooth broken on a vicious apple.  This set me thinking that we do not have much information available to members who may suffer accident or become unwell whilst on the river or at the Tarn.  Given that the average age of Association members must be over 60 there is perhaps more chance of a need for medical attention than for a group of 20 year old’s.  Having said that, in my 16 years as keeper I have known few occasions when members have been taken ill at Horton.  However,  I’ll give the matter some thought over the next few days and discuss it with Council.


23 June 2017

A quick update on conditions here.  It’s been raining most of the day, not heavily, but steadily so the river should be in good water tomorrow.

Gavin tells me that the batteries that drive the electric outboard are not charging well so do be warned that if you use the boat with the motor you may need to row back to the lodge.  The problem will be investigated when Gavin gets back from abroad.


19 June 2017

When we eventually get rain and members venture to the river those that fish by the pipe pool will notice that a weather station has been erected just up stream.  his is part of the data logging equipment that’s recording water and ambient temperatures as part of the programme to better understand how best to reduce water temperature in high summer.  It’s best left alone.

The Tarn was stunning in early morning sunlight yesterday.  For once my early morning foray to the Tarn found a member busy tempting trout to breakfast.  He must have arisen at the crack of dawn and his excuse was that it was Fathers’ Day.

The Tarn is not fishing badly despite the strong sunlight and high temperatures.  The water has not yet reached tepid so the trout are still surface feeding early morning and late evening.  The water is as clear as crystal and it took no time at all for the turbidity stirred up by the weed removal to drop out.

There is just a chance of rain later in the week ‘though probably not enough to bring the river to good fishing condition.