31 July 2006

    For some days now I have been following reports of a major pollution incident on the Ribble below Clitheroe.  About 26 July a substance identified as kitchen effluent was poured into a storm drain on the A59.  It seems that this was a similar substance to that found at Barrow off the A59 a couple of weeks before.  The second incident caused fish deaths at Swanside and the EA erected a dam to try to contain the spread of the effluent.  Unfortunately the same effluent was poured into the drain a few days later overwhelming the dam and polluting the Ribble as far as Grindleton Bridge.  This incident caused the death of many fish including a number of large sea trout.

By yesterday the plug of pollution had reached Brungerley and there were a large number of dead sea trout and salmon by the bridge.  Fortunately the concentration of the pollutant seems to be lessening but the fear is that the effluent may have gone to the bottom of the deeps with who knows what consequences.  The EA together with the RFCA are monitoring the situation and doing what is necessary to minimise the impact of these incidents and we owe a debt of thanks particularly to David Hinks RFCA Chair and MAA member and his colleagues for all the time they have spent on this.  I have posted up a photo taken by one of Davids colleagues to show the impact of this senseless and selfish act by some idiot tanker driver.

The response to this really does show how vital fishing associations and their co-ordinating bodies are in helping to monitor and preserve the pristine nature of our waterways.  As David Bellamy said, fishermen are vital to the future conservation of our rivers and lakes.  It's surely the most unarguable defence we have against the sustained pressure from PETA and its ilk to ban sport fishing.  It does not get enough publicity.

We had a fair bit of rain last night here at Horton and again it's much fresher (cool even) this morning.  Currently there is quite dense cloud cover well down on the hills so more rain is a distinct possibility.

30 July 2006

    Well, well, well; wonders will never cease.  It seems that so many have logged onto this blog over the past month that the permitted bandwidth has almost been exceeded.  I got an email last night from Fasthosts who provide a platform for both this blog and the main website to tell me as much.  So, I have taken another executive decision and upgraded the blog at the princely sum of

30 July 2006

    Well, well, well; wonders will never cease.  It seems that so many have logged onto this blog over the past month that the permitted bandwidth has almost been exceeded.  I got an email last night from Fasthosts who provide a platform for both this blog and the main website to tell me as much.  So, I have taken another executive decision and upgraded the blog at the princely sum of

30 July 2006

    Well, well, well; wonders will never cease.  It seems that so many have logged onto this blog over the past month that the permitted bandwidth has almost been exceeded.  I got an email last night from Fasthosts who provide a platform for both this blog and the main website to tell me as much.  So, I have taken another executive decision and upgraded the blog at the princely sum of

29 July 2006

    Just before he went on holiday last week, Alan Maden called me as he was concerned that these blogs were becoming more and more suicidal.  I was able to reassure him that, despite some despondency about the dry conditions, I was fairly optimistic about the future of the fishery here at Horton. 

I am not alone, it seems, in having a morbid absorption with the state of our Yorkshire rivers.  The Craven Herald carried an article yesterday by John Sheard lamenting the current state of the Aire and predicting rather gloomily the imminent demise of the native brown trout. 

One hot, dry summer does not necessarily set a pattern for the future but with average temperatures predicted to rise in future it is perhaps pertinent that we as fishermen and fisheries managers begin an urgent enquiry into the actions we might take to preserve the future of all salmonids in our rivers.  What we need is some kind of forum where this issue can be examined by academics, scientists and informed amateurs alike, strategies identified and actions agreed supported by good sound advice disseminated widely.  Perhaps this is already being done but I see no real evidence from bodies such as the EA, the Salmon and Trout Association or the Wild Trout Trust.  These organisations do sterling work in promoting and supporting actions that help to conserve and improve the habitat of our game fish but there seems to me to be a lack of focus around ensuring that all salmonids have a future in a warming world.

The time for this would seem to be now  whilst there is still time to act.

As for current conditions it's much cloudier here today, but still very warm.  Rain is promised later so let's just hope.

Ian

28 July 2006

    Well, the President reported that he had a fairly rewarding few hours at the Tarn on Wednesday evening so it looks as if all has settled down following re-stocking on Tuesday.  He also told me that he walked the river towards Selside and each step on the gravel put up any number of fish in the pools upstream of Dale Mire.  Apparently they shot off with a considerable bow wave indicating fish of some size.  These will all be natives.  Either large brownies or maybe sea trout that came up in the spates we had in May (they must be wondering why the hell they did). 

So, the native stock seem to be holding up fairly well in this drought, indicators are good and when we get some rain life should, hopefully, return to near normal.

A very shaken Mike Howarth stopped by on his way to the Tarn last evening having been run off the road by a quarry waggon.  Can I remind members that here at Horton we have an agreement with both Hansons and Lefarge who own the three Horton quarries that any waggon driver reported as driving without due care will be denied a load at their next return to the quarry. You need to ring and report location of incident, waggon registration, operators name (ie Miles Fox, Hanson, Lefarge, Robinsons, etc, etc) and time of incident.  A lot, I know, when trying to avoid impact with a stone wall but it's worth it.

Mike dropped off a leaflet published by Scottish Natural Heritage about American signal cray fish.  This illustrates the uncompromising approach that the Scots take to these alien pests despite the fact that they have no white claws in Scotland.  An approach we would do well to emulate here in England before it's too late for our native species.

It's a bright, warm, sunny day here again with mares tails of cloud that possibly promise some rain tomorrow.  There is a weak Atlantic low approaching so we might get something more that a thundery shower.

Ian

27 July 2006

    I met the club's oldest fishing member and his friend Ron up by the Tarn yesterday.  We spent a happy half hour putting the world to rights and discussing this and that.  Roy related to me the strange tale of his pipe.  Some good few years ago he was fishing the Tarn one October by the far cross wall when he dropped his pipe into the water.  Despite searching all round the bed he found no trace of it.  The following season he happened to be casting near the same spot, looked down and there was his pipe lying on the gravel bed.  After a clean up it was good as new.

I had a thorough check of the Tarn yesterday to see how Tuesday's stockies had settled in.  No sign of them apart from one fish floating belly up just out from the boathouse (no certainty that this is one of the new fish) so I trust that they will be fine.

I took the president to the Hatchery site yesterday evening.  He seemed favourably impressed and is keen to do some judicious pruning along the river today to improve the fishing on some of the lower sea trout pools.  He should have a good day for it.  It's not too hot, there is good cloud cover and little breeze.

Ian

26 July 2006

    Well, the deed is done.  We put into the Tarn yesterday 200 of the finest rainbow trout I have ever seen.  These were stunning fish; iridescent, plump, lively, no ragged fins and in superb condition.  The water temperature was very much on the warm side but after spending half an hour equalising the temperatures of the water in the tank and the Tarn all fish swam off well when introduced. 

The Tuesday boys arrived just as we were leaving Tarn pasture and a conversation with them later in the day revealed that they saw no fish all afternoon (they did get a 4inch tiddler down at the marker pool in the morning that was safely returned).  So I suspect that our stockies headed for deep water and took the residents with them.  I will go up to the |Tarn this morning & check on progress.

It's a funny sort of morning, cloudy but bright and warm with a mist down over the hills.  There is absolutely no breeze and not much sign of rain, but who knows?

Ian

25 July 2006

    It's always a great pleasure when members stop by at Newhouses for a chat and yesterday was one of those occasions.  David Marsden who has been involved with the club virtually all his life paid a visit with his wife and we spent the morning discussing everything from tanning to the history of the MAA.  Not only extremely pleasurable but also highly enlightening.

He left with me a pamphlet written and published in 1879 by Able Heywood the club's inspiration and first secretary which includes the substance of an address read by him at the conclusion of the Association's first year.  It describes in detail the rapid growth of the MAA and sets out the underpinning philosophy of active participation by all members in the Association's affairs.  He puts forward two proposals for investing the clubs growing funds. Firstly the acquisition of fishing waters and secondly the establishment of a library.  Sadly the library was sold some years ago but all current members benefit greatly from the first since we probably enjoy some of the most extensive privately owned waters in Yorkshire.  Raise a glass to Able Heywood and his six founding partners next time you fish at Horton.

I have made an executive decision and will go ahead with the re-stocking of the Tarn today.  I had a long discussion with the supplier yesterday and we concluded that, in balance, it is a risk worth taking.  The forecast is for rain later this week and already it's starting to cloud over here.  If we defer then there is no guarantee that conditions will be ideal  in August.  Presently the water looks good.  It's a bit warm at the surface but cool enough at depth and the pH is tolerable.  The most significant plus is that despite all this hot weather there is still no sign of an algae problem.

Ian