28 January 2007

Well, that was a rather better week.  We had some real winter weather, cold but sunny with only a light breeze.  It's all gone pear shaped again this morning with a return to wet and windy conditions, but the forecast is promising so it should improve later.  Despite all the wet we have had over the winter it's surprising how quickly the river drops off after a dry week.  It's by no means empty but the flow is still pretty low.  It just goes to show how dependant the Ribble is on a steady supply of rain on the catchment.

Fingers crossed that we can start on the habitat project at Nanny Carr's in a few weeks.  I had an email on Wednesday from Craven College promising a phone call this week to firm up arrangements.  Once all is agreed I can go firm on ordering all the equipment and materials as well as the tree slips and start spending some of the grant money that we have been allocated. 

A walk up the river on Monday showed surprisingly little damage after the recent storm.  The main change is a substantial bank slip just north of Newhouses which has put several tons of rubble and a tree into the river.  Most of this has been carried away on the flood but the resulting scar is quite noticeable.

Water quality really is looking good a present both in the river and the Tarn with a good steady pH just on the alkaline side of neutral, low temperatures and reasonable ORP.  The wind has certainly helped to clear the Tarn by mixing the water horizons and increasing the oxygen saturation so we should go into the new season with a healthy fishery.

I had a letter on Tuesday inviting me to Bradford Royal Infirmary to have the cataract removed from my left eye on 1 February so I should have both eyes working perfectly very soon and no further excuses for not seeing a floating fly.  The down side is that I can't now attend the fish capture day next Saturday, but the IFM tell me that they will be arranging a further demonstration later in the year so hopefully I can get along to that.

No news about hatching eggs at the School, but it shouldn't be too long now before they see some action.

Next week's posting will be late on Sunday as we have an MAA Council meeting in the morning and a visit from a prospective member in the early afternoon.  If there is anything of interest to report from Council I shall post it up in the secure area of this blog.

All the best


21 January 2007

What a wild week.  It's been almost impossible to get out and do anything useful since last Sunday and Thursday topped the lot.  Early on we had a full flood with the river running well over its banks all the way from Newhouses to Helwith Bridge.  Most of the bank side footpaths below Horton were impassable and a job for this week, weather permitting, will be to check the stiles along this stretch for damage.  By Thursday afternoon the flood had abated a bit but the wind made it nearly impossible to stand up at Newhouses so one can only guess what it must have been like high up on the fells.  Fortunately we seem to have escaped with very little damage apart from a damaged goat house roof and the back gate that was ripped off and flung about three yards up the lane.

It's much calmer now but cold and the clouds are beginning to break up so a trip to the Tarn before lunch seems in order to check for damage up there.  I really pity the swans in that severe weather as there is very little shelter near the tarn apart from the cross walls.

So, it's been a week of desk work (ugh) and making myself a general nuisance around the house.  However, the next not to be missed edition of the Horton Parish News is now nearing completion and you may like to read my short piece on stone flies written for it.

Lets hope that this week is a bit kinder.  We are promised some snow so that will make a bit of a change from all this persistent wet.  See you next Sunday.


14 January 2007

Wonders will never cease!  For the first time in over a week I have been able to go out this morning to see to my livestock and return as dry as when I left.  Not only has it rained almost continuously since last Sunday but just to make things a little more interesting we have had a permanent south westerly gale that's driven the wet into every nook and cranny.  Still, it's dry and quite bright now with a stiff breeze to dry things out a bit.

Apart from the wet it's not been a bad week on the fishery.  On Thursday I went down to the school to see the hatchery tank that Neil has set up in a classroom.  It looks pretty impressive as you can see from the picture in the “conservation” folder.  The installation consists of a large glass tank, shielded and insulated to keep out light and maintain a constant temperature and a recycling unit that filters, oxygenates and cools the water.  At present the circulating water is set at 6 degrees and the eggs have reached eyed ova stage so it shouldn't be too long before they hatch.  The children seem mighty pleased with the whole thing and are looking forward to the eggs hatching.  The plan is for the children to put the resulting fry into the beck near the school so that they can see how the young fish develop.

On Friday I took a prospective member for a tour of the fishery and despite the inclement weather and high state of the river he seemed pretty impressed.  So much so that he immediately phoned the Secretary to apply for membership.  It's always nice when ones own prejudices about the immense charm of this river are confirmed by someone completely new to its attractions.

The latest MAA Newsletter is now with the Secretary for distribution to members as is a copy of my keepers report which sets out all the work that we have been doing here over the past season and outlines our plans for the year to come.  I would really welcome comments from members as to whether you find these two documents useful or interesting and what further info you would like included next time.  Do phone or email me.

More next week.


7 January 2007

Well, here we are into a new year full of promise and anticipation.  It holds the prospect of being an exiting one here on the Ribble with so many plans and projects in prospect.  I can't help feeling just a little anxious about whether all the work we have planned will really happen, but time will tell. 

I really must stop gloating when we get a dry spell here as I'm sure the weather Gods listen and put the boot in.  It's rained pretty much every day this past week and looks pretty threatening as I write this.  Still, the effect has been to keep the river running high and quite clear rather than sudden, coloured spates so the impact on spawning trout should be positive overall.  Plenty of well oxygenated clean water to wash through the redds without any damaging floods.

The latest MAA Newsletter is about to hit the streets bringing members up to date with all that has happened of note over the past six months.  It's not until you sit down to write a summary of the past that you really appreciate all that has been done but on the whole it's been a positive and pretty active period and I like to think that our founding fathers would have been pleased.

I was searching the Internet for a few fishy quotes to include in the newsletter and came across an anti fishing group I have not heard of before.  Pisces are “dedicated to fish welfare and banning angling”.  This particular group of bunny huggers have a comprehensive web site that offers much biased advice claimed as fact and aimed at the general public.  Key amongst this is a page of quotes made by anglers  in various publications which they claim demonstrates that even those who fish consider their sport to be cruel.  Problem is like with all pressure groups the quotes are taken out of context and highly selective.  The hypocrisy here is that their efforts extend to the protection of cormorants which they claim are being slaughtered unmercilesly by angling interests.  Which is the more rapacious and detrimental to the future of our wild fish the cormorant or the angler and who strives to protect and enhance the quality of our native fish and their habitat?  I have yet to see a cormorant nurturing stocks of wild trout or fighting the degradation of our rivers. 

As I have said before we really must be bolder about publicising the beneficial aspects of angling.  So much of what we do to enhance our rivers is done quietly away from public gaze.  That's why publications like Fly-fishers Republic which make known vital work such as that being done on the Wandle are so important, but this must get out to the world at large.  It's no good anglers just circulating this stuff amongst themselves and being self congratulatory.

Enough of this rant.  It now looks as though the sun is coming out and I feel a walk up the river is in order.  I have been invited by the village school to visit them to take a look at how their “Trout in the Classroom” project is progressing.  A chat with one of the teachers on Friday suggests that the eggs are maturing well and are looking healthy.  This is a brilliant way of connecting children with the fascination of wildlife and the interest to be found in our local becks and river and I'm really looking forward to my visit.  More on this next week.