29 October 2006

    Fantastic news reached me by email on Thursday.  Our application to the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust for grant funding of the habitat work at Cam Beck has been approved.  We can now move quickly to begin work on the ground in early November and I will report progress weekly through this blog.  This is a great opportunity for the club to show what it can do to be a more proactive steward of the fishery.  We will learn much and no doubt make a few mistakes along the way but, hopefully, these will be few.  The area for those who don't know it well, is a lovely peaceful spot which will really benefit from some protection and care.  I have updated the MAA website and will upload the new page on this project later today.

What a foul day we had yesterday.  It rained all day with a stiff north westerly wind blowing a large volume of water into every nook and cranny.  The river is running high and coloured this morning but should clear quickly as we have a lovely bright, sunny start with just a wisp of cloud here and there.  Just right for a final fling before the season closes on Tuesday.

I promised a bit of a retrospective in this posting since we are within a couple of days of the season's end.  Looking back to March I really do wonder where the time has gone but much has been achieved on the fishery this season despite some pretty grim conditions through the summer.  It all started quite badly with a wet and bitterly cold spring which inflicted great hardship on the lambing ewes and resulted in a high mortality of both indoor and outdoor born lambs.  This also had an impact on fishing as conditions were far from ideal early on.

Then it all changed in May and we switched quite suddenly to hot, dry and windless conditions that, by the end of July, had brought a drought to the river which made fishing practically impossible.  Fish were lethargic and remained mostly hidden in the deep pools.  Regular walks along the bank failed to show any signs of life at all and I began to wonder if the river would recover once the rains eventually came.  Another learning experience for me because as soon as the weather broke at the beginning of August back came the fish in good numbers.  The river seemed full of young native trout all about a half to three quarters of a pound in weight, fighting fit and seemingly none the worse for their confinement in small pools that reached bath water temperatures during July.

It all goes to show just how resilient wildlife can be provided that adverse conditions don't persist for too long.

The settled weather gave Phil Sutcliffe good conditions to start work on Neil Handy's plans for the old MAA hatchery and work moved on apace to refurbish three of the old tanks to provide a crayfish refuge and large stew pond for breeding native trout.  Work here continues with the installation of the off line spawning channels which will encourage both brown and sea trout to build redds in ideal conditions for a good fry survival.

The Tarn suffered towards the back end because the high temperatures and low rainfall provided ideal conditions for algae and weed growth.  Conditions are returning to normal now and will be helped along with a judicious application of barley straw later this week.  Wildlife on the Tarn suffered some early setbacks.  The swans who have lived here for years always struggle to bring a full brood of cygnets to maturity but this year was a disaster for them as they lost all seven hatchlings within weeks of leaving the nest.  I know not what takes them but suspect Mr fox is to blame.  Next year I plan to make a few night time visits to the Tarn to see if I can pin down the culprit.

The season has ended on a high note with plenty of water since August bringing a good crop of salmon up to Horton and beyond.  It will be interesting to see what sort of redd count we get this winter.  My guess is that it will be significantly greater than last year with it's dry back end.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that salmon fishing has been rewarding this autumn which in some way will help to compensate for the dearth of good fishing during the spring and summer.

What makes this job so absorbing is the fact that you are constantly learning something new. It doesn't matter how many books you read about the practise and art of river keeping nothing can beat practical experience and observation.  All rivers are different and each river differs in conditions over quite short lengths.  Every year brings its own challenges, surprises, delights and despairs and you realise quite quickly that a lifetime is too short to learn all there is to know about the way the river and its wild life work.  All you can hope to do is grasp the basics that enable you to make a positive contribution to the life of this fantastic river.

So, we enter the closed season with a sense of relief that conditions on the fishery seem to have suffered no lasting damage and an eager of anticipation about our ambitious plans for Cam Beck.  There is much to look forward to and a lot to do before lines are cast again next March.

See you next week.

Ian

22 October 2006

    I've just got in from attending a highly productive and enjoyable meeting of the MAA Fishing Council at which we discussed a whole raft of issues concerned with the future management of the fishery.  The decisions taken will benefit both fish and other wildlife on the river as well as the quality of fishing that members can expect next season.  Some of us then went up to the hatchery site to look at the work completed to date.

The further good news this week is that the water conditions on the Tarn continue to improve with reduced temperature and pH and a sharp increase in ORP (oxygen capacity).  This has resulted in a significant clearing of the water and increased catches during last week.  We agreed today to put barley bales in over winter to help the healing process along and mitigate any problems next summer so members experience of the Tarn in the new season should be better.

As I mentioned yesterday I attended a mink control course on Wednesday.  This was a fascinating afternoon arranged by FWAG, the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.  We looked at ways of controlling the numbers of these predators with the aim of protecting surviving colonies of water vole which suffer greatly when mink are present.  It was a chance to learn in detail how to use the Game Conservancy mink raft as a prime tool in detecting the presence of mink and then targeting specific presence rather than placing live catch traps and hoping for the best.  We will never eradicate these aliens but can at least hope to keep their numbers in check and minimise the damage they do to our native wildlife.

It's fingers crossed this week as I should hear on Thursday whether we have been fortunate enough to get the grant funding we seek for the habitat and fencing work at Nanny Carr (Cam Beck).  So more on this next week.  Everything is in place to go if we get the money with work planned to start on site in early November.

The salmon are still coming up in good numbers and the rain we had last night has caused a reasonable spate this morning which is now falling off.  Conditions should be good this afternoon and again tomorrow unless we get a lot more rain over night.

I plan to extend this blog in future by introducing a members only area with access controlled by password.  This area will contain information private to club members and I will send out details of how to access the area in due course.

I got a notification from ebay last week about a copy of Anglers' Evenings, the bound and published papers that were presented by members at the early meetings of the club.  This was eventually knocked down at over

22 October 2006

    I've just got in from attending a highly productive and enjoyable meeting of the MAA Fishing Council at which we discussed a whole raft of issues concerned with the future management of the fishery.  The decisions taken will benefit both fish and other wildlife on the river as well as the quality of fishing that members can expect next season.  Some of us then went up to the hatchery site to look at the work completed to date.

The further good news this week is that the water conditions on the Tarn continue to improve with reduced temperature and pH and a sharp increase in ORP (oxygen capacity).  This has resulted in a significant clearing of the water and increased catches during last week.  We agreed today to put barley bales in over winter to help the healing process along and mitigate any problems next summer so members experience of the Tarn in the new season should be better.

As I mentioned yesterday I attended a mink control course on Wednesday.  This was a fascinating afternoon arranged by FWAG, the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.  We looked at ways of controlling the numbers of these predators with the aim of protecting surviving colonies of water vole which suffer greatly when mink are present.  It was a chance to learn in detail how to use the Game Conservancy mink raft as a prime tool in detecting the presence of mink and then targeting specific presence rather than placing live catch traps and hoping for the best.  We will never eradicate these aliens but can at least hope to keep their numbers in check and minimise the damage they do to our native wildlife.

It's fingers crossed this week as I should hear on Thursday whether we have been fortunate enough to get the grant funding we seek for the habitat and fencing work at Nanny Carr (Cam Beck).  So more on this next week.  Everything is in place to go if we get the money with work planned to start on site in early November.

The salmon are still coming up in good numbers and the rain we had last night has caused a reasonable spate this morning which is now falling off.  Conditions should be good this afternoon and again tomorrow unless we get a lot more rain over night.

I plan to extend this blog in future by introducing a members only area with access controlled by password.  This area will contain information private to club members and I will send out details of how to access the area in due course.

I got a notification from ebay last week about a copy of Anglers' Evenings, the bound and published papers that were presented by members at the early meetings of the club.  This was eventually knocked down at over

22 October 2006

    I've just got in from attending a highly productive and enjoyable meeting of the MAA Fishing Council at which we discussed a whole raft of issues concerned with the future management of the fishery.  The decisions taken will benefit both fish and other wildlife on the river as well as the quality of fishing that members can expect next season.  Some of us then went up to the hatchery site to look at the work completed to date.

The further good news this week is that the water conditions on the Tarn continue to improve with reduced temperature and pH and a sharp increase in ORP (oxygen capacity).  This has resulted in a significant clearing of the water and increased catches during last week.  We agreed today to put barley bales in over winter to help the healing process along and mitigate any problems next summer so members experience of the Tarn in the new season should be better.

As I mentioned yesterday I attended a mink control course on Wednesday.  This was a fascinating afternoon arranged by FWAG, the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.  We looked at ways of controlling the numbers of these predators with the aim of protecting surviving colonies of water vole which suffer greatly when mink are present.  It was a chance to learn in detail how to use the Game Conservancy mink raft as a prime tool in detecting the presence of mink and then targeting specific presence rather than placing live catch traps and hoping for the best.  We will never eradicate these aliens but can at least hope to keep their numbers in check and minimise the damage they do to our native wildlife.

It's fingers crossed this week as I should hear on Thursday whether we have been fortunate enough to get the grant funding we seek for the habitat and fencing work at Nanny Carr (Cam Beck).  So more on this next week.  Everything is in place to go if we get the money with work planned to start on site in early November.

The salmon are still coming up in good numbers and the rain we had last night has caused a reasonable spate this morning which is now falling off.  Conditions should be good this afternoon and again tomorrow unless we get a lot more rain over night.

I plan to extend this blog in future by introducing a members only area with access controlled by password.  This area will contain information private to club members and I will send out details of how to access the area in due course.

I got a notification from ebay last week about a copy of Anglers' Evenings, the bound and published papers that were presented by members at the early meetings of the club.  This was eventually knocked down at over

21 October 2006

    What a strange week it's been not sitting down each morning to write words of wisdom.  I know that I said the next posting would be tomorrow but I thought that a reminder to regular readers would not go amiss.

There is much to tell and possibly even more by tomorrow since there is an MAA Council meeting here at Horton tomorrow morning. 

 Look out for items on the fencing and habitat conservation project,  Mink trapping and water vole protection, more salmon pics from Stainforth, the books that got away and American signal crayfish eradication.

So log on tomorrow afternoon for the latest from the fishery and the activities of its keeper and Council.

All the best

Ian