31 July 2007

Not for the first time am I very glad that I manage a game fishery in the hills of west Craven.  I read a report yesterday that course fishery managers in more populated areas are having a very difficult time with east European migrant workers who seem to regard any open water as a free larder.  Groups have been stopped with dustbins full of chub, carp and roach and fisheries are losing thousands of pounds in lost stock.  Here in Britain we have lost our taste for these fish whereas in the middle ages every village had its fishpond and course fish were an essential part of the staple diet.  The monks regarded fish as a vital part of the monastery economy and there were very stiff penalties for anyone caught poaching the fish.  Perhaps that's the solution to the current problem.  We need to set up public stocks in every Town and village and anyone caught poaching should be placed in them and pelted with rotten fish?

This run of fine weather continues, it's a little more cloudy this morning, but there is plenty of sun and very little breeze.  Of course the lack of rain since Thursday means that the river has dropped from its best, but there is still some good water for trout fishing on the main pools.

The prospective member that Alan M brought up on Sunday had a very successful day and landed eight fish working up to Rowe End.  He went away with a very favourable impression of the river and a commitment to join the club so a successful day.

I didn't manage to get down to the hatchery yesterday, but am going to do so as soon as I finish writing this.  I will take the rake down just in case there is sufficient water coming down the channel to provide a good enough flush to wash out the gravel.  If not it will have to wait until we next get rain.

Ian

30 July 2007

What a cracking morning!  Rather too bright for good fishing, but what a nice change it makes to have some sun at last.  The stiff north westerly that kept temperatures down yesterday has dropped and we have some high white and fluffy cloud to add a bit of interest to a sapphire blue sky.

I'm planning to go down to the hatchery this morning to rake through the spawning gravel to get rid of the silt that accumulated when the pipe was first opened.  This is is essential if the trout eggs that we hope will be laid here this winter are to thrive in an open, oxygen rich environment.  The only snag is stopping the silt from washing down into he pond where the fry are, but a slate across the inlet should prevent most of the material getting in.

Peter M rang me last evening to tell me that a 10lb salmon was caught (possibly at Rowe End) and released by a member on Friday.  He was actually fishing for trout with a small river rod, light tackle and a very small fly so was pretty stunned when the rod was almost yanked out of his hand by a strong take.  The fish was silver and in very good condition.  We thought that salmon were here at Horton and here is the proof.

A slight departure from the usual fishing theme now, but I know that some members are quite artistic and computer literate and I came across a software program quite by chance a few days ago which I thing could be very addictive.  Just the thing for those long winter evenings when the start of the season seems a lifetime away and you have tied all the flies you are likely to use for the rest of your life.

This program turns pure mathematical equations into stunning graphics only restricted by the limits of your imagination.  It's called Apophysis, is very simple to use and runs what are known as flame fractals.  The software can be found here Apophysis and what's best of all it's free!  Just go to the site that opens in the link and download the file called Apophysis 2.02, don't bother with the beta versions they are still under test.  Version 2.02 works perfectly.  There is an excellent tutorial here Arcane Fractals that will have you creating images like nothing you have ever seen before in just a few minutes.  Be careful, the damn thing is seriously addictive.

Have fun.

Ian

29 July 2007

It's a glorious morning here in the valley with plenty of sun and some high broken fluffy cloud.  It's a bit chill in a light north wind, but it looks set to remain fair for the rest of the day.

I'm just back from an early foray to the Tarn and was reluctant to come away as it's really looking its best in the sunshine with the water rippling in the breeze and reflecting the light in dancing patterns.  The swans still have their two cygnets which seem to be growing well and look quite lively. 

The whole valley seems to have suddenly come alive this morning with farmers up and down the river hastily cutting grass for haylage.  Conditions are almost perfect with a good drying breeze and plenty of sun.  There should be plenty of bottom on the grass after all the rain of the past two months so provided that we get some settled weather over the next few days there should be plenty of good fodder for the winter.  It's amazing how much both cows and sheep seem to love haylage despite its unappetising look and smell.  I tried my goats on it last year and they seemed to prefer it to sweet hay.  It's a Godsend up here as it is so much easier to make than hay which needs so many consecutive days of fine weather to cure properly.

The water level on the river has dropped appreciably overnight, but it's still quite fishable which is good as Alan M is taking a prospective member for a tour of the fishery later this morning.

Ian

28 July 2007

It's a much better morning with plenty of sun and fluffy white cloud driven on by a stiff westerly breeze. It still looks a bit showery, but conditions for fishing should be good on a falling river sheltered from the wind.  It looks as if we shall avoid the heavy rain forecast for tomorrow so Sunday fishing should be OK.

I said yesterday that I would talk a bit more about a new threat to our native crayfish.  This comes in the form of another alien species of crayfish the marbled crayfish.  This creature not only carries the dreaded plague that has so devastated our native species, but it is hermaphrodite so it only takes one animal to begin a population.  The problem is further compounded by the fact that the beast can breed at 8 weeks so it does not take long for it to overwhelm all suitable habitats and drive out any native population present. 

It would seem that despite import being illegal the animal has entered the country via the aquarium trade and is being released because it soon overpopulates any aquarium tank

So far all recorded sightings of this pest have been in the far south, but like the red signal, once established in the wild it will not take long for it to colonise all suitable habitats.  It would be prudent to keep a close watch for any suspected populations and the info below may help in identifying it.

It's illegal to import this creature or release it into the wild so if you do come across it it must be humanely destroyed.

Procambarus sp.

Family Cambariidae

Origin: America

Recent Distribution:

Commercial Name: Marble Crayfish, Speckled Crayfish.

Size: up to 10 cm

Adequate Environment: 100 litres aquarium, neutral pH

Temperature: 18 to 26

28 July 2007

It's a much better morning with plenty of sun and fluffy white cloud driven on by a stiff westerly breeze. It still looks a bit showery, but conditions for fishing should be good on a falling river sheltered from the wind.  It looks as if we shall avoid the heavy rain forecast for tomorrow so Sunday fishing should be OK.

I said yesterday that I would talk a bit more about a new threat to our native crayfish.  This comes in the form of another alien species of crayfish the marbled crayfish.  This creature not only carries the dreaded plague that has so devastated our native species, but it is hermaphrodite so it only takes one animal to begin a population.  The problem is further compounded by the fact that the beast can breed at 8 weeks so it does not take long for it to overwhelm all suitable habitats and drive out any native population present. 

It would seem that despite import being illegal the animal has entered the country via the aquarium trade and is being released because it soon overpopulates any aquarium tank

So far all recorded sightings of this pest have been in the far south, but like the red signal, once established in the wild it will not take long for it to colonise all suitable habitats.  It would be prudent to keep a close watch for any suspected populations and the info below may help in identifying it.

It's illegal to import this creature or release it into the wild so if you do come across it it must be humanely destroyed.

Procambarus sp.

Family Cambariidae

Origin: America

Recent Distribution:

Commercial Name: Marble Crayfish, Speckled Crayfish.

Size: up to 10 cm

Adequate Environment: 100 litres aquarium, neutral pH

Temperature: 18 to 26

27 July 2007

So much for showery weather yesterday.  By mid morning we had  a fair deluge that kept me trapped in the hut long after the students left.  Still, it was more than pleasant to sit in the warmth from the stove and chew the fat with Peter M and the venerable member.

Despite the atrocious weather the course went very well with another large group of highly motivated students who processed a very large number of native crayfish.  We had nearly a hundred in the 14 traps that Paul set out on Wednesday.  These were large, healthy individuals which reinforced the findings we got on Monday that the population at the Tarn is thriving.  One of the traps produced a surprise, a 1.5lb rainbow trout.  Whether this had entered the trap after the crayfish or had been attracted by the mackerel bait in the trap I cannot say, but there it was looking extremely peeved and a bit ragged round the fins after a night spent confined in the trap.  It was uncooperative when I tried to release it and insisted on attempting to return through the funnel back the way it came in.  It was eventually persuaded to leave by a better route and after a brief rest to recover it swam off without a word of thanks. If anyone catches a medium sized fish with ragged pectorals you know who it is and where its been!

Paul mentioned to me a disturbing situation from down south which may have a devastating long term impact on out native crayfish.  More on this tomorrow after I have had time to read up on the situation and can get a good picture to show what the problem looks like.

We have a cloudy and very blustery morning here in the valley and a river that is quite high and coloured after all the rain that fell yesterday.  The forecast for the weekend is promising though and there should be good conditions on the river as it falls and clears during today.

Ian

26 July 2007

I like getting nice surprises, those little unexpected and chance discoveries that give your spirits a bit of a lift.  For a long while I have been looking out for a copy of Isaak Walton's classic on fishing “The Complete Angler” and on the way to Askrig on Tuesday we stopped off in Hawes to browse the market and get some lunch.  Whilst there we dropped into the village hall where there is a regular book sale and I came across a reprint of Isaak's work in almost new condition.  What makes this a particularly nice find is that it's illustrated by Arthur Rackham who has been a favourite illustrator of mine since I was a child and was given a copy of Anderson's tales with Rackham illustrations.  The book is a facsimile copy of a 1931 reprint of the fifth edition of 1676 and is lavishly illustrated with colour plates.  A great find.

The weather here this morning is showery and dull, not perfect conditions for our students to learn how to handle crayfish, but it should be an enjoyable morning non the less.  The river is still a bit on the low side as the rain we had yesterday morning gave over pretty quickly to give a fine bright day.

David H fished the Tarn with his son all afternoon and things were slow until the last hour when they began catching with virtually every cast on dry fly.  One strong take broke a 3 lb line so watch out for Moby Dick!

Ian

25 July 2007

It's chucking it down here at present under a pretty leaden sky, but the forecast is for showers later so maybe it will pick up a bit as the day matures.

The river had got surprisingly low by yesterday afternoon and Brian S and his wife who fished most of the day had a fairly thin time.  All the rain this morning will bring levels up appreciably so, given a bit of decent weather, conditions tomorrow should be better.

Paul is coming up today to set traps for the course tomorrow.  Anyone planning to fish the Tarn can be reassured that disturbance will be minimal.  The traps will be at the top end only with two sets off the boathouse, two sets on each cross wall and a set between the boathouse and the southern cross wall.  Ian W had no problem landing a 2lb+ fish whilst the students were working on Monday and since they will only be there between 11am and 1 pm they should cause minimal interference.

I went up to Askrig yesterday to show Sheila's brother and his family the falls.  There was very good water coming down the Ure certainly enough to encourage salmon to run high up the river, but we saw nothing in the half hour or so that we were by the river.

The really bad news this morning is that the CLA Game Fair which was to be held at Harewood House this weekend has been cancelled.  It seems that the very heavy rain that fell at Leeds on Friday finally defeated the valiant attempts of the organisers to keep the show ground fit for the thousands of people expected to attend.  This will be a devastating blow for all the businesses that were relying on the exposure they would get at the show and will cost local business an estimated

25 July 2007

It's chucking it down here at present under a pretty leaden sky, but the forecast is for showers later so maybe it will pick up a bit as the day matures.

The river had got surprisingly low by yesterday afternoon and Brian S and his wife who fished most of the day had a fairly thin time.  All the rain this morning will bring levels up appreciably so, given a bit of decent weather, conditions tomorrow should be better.

Paul is coming up today to set traps for the course tomorrow.  Anyone planning to fish the Tarn can be reassured that disturbance will be minimal.  The traps will be at the top end only with two sets off the boathouse, two sets on each cross wall and a set between the boathouse and the southern cross wall.  Ian W had no problem landing a 2lb+ fish whilst the students were working on Monday and since they will only be there between 11am and 1 pm they should cause minimal interference.

I went up to Askrig yesterday to show Sheila's brother and his family the falls.  There was very good water coming down the Ure certainly enough to encourage salmon to run high up the river, but we saw nothing in the half hour or so that we were by the river.

The really bad news this morning is that the CLA Game Fair which was to be held at Harewood House this weekend has been cancelled.  It seems that the very heavy rain that fell at Leeds on Friday finally defeated the valiant attempts of the organisers to keep the show ground fit for the thousands of people expected to attend.  This will be a devastating blow for all the businesses that were relying on the exposure they would get at the show and will cost local business an estimated

24 July 2004

The morning began here bright, sunny and almost cloudless, but it's now beginning to cloud up a bit.  Still, the river looks very inviting with a fairly good flow which is pretty clear after no rain for about 48 hours.  Levels are dropping quickly so anyone planning to fish is better off doing so today unless we get more rain later.

We had a good morning checking crayfish at the Tarn yesterday with a large and enthusiastic group of students.  They came fro a wide range of backgrounds including the EA, British Waterways, private consultancies and MOD Estates.

I did my usual short piece about the importance of conservation and natural methods for maintaining and improving the river ecosystem and the work that the club is doing to ensure that our wild trout have a future in sufficient numbers to ensure that our members can catch fish.

I think that they learnt a lot, they certainly saw plenty of native crayfish.  The 14 traps produced about 50 very healthy animals covering a good range of sizes of both male and female and a hand check of the margins picked up some juveniles as well so our local population continues to thrive.  Paul has a repeat performance on Thursday with a new group and it will be interesting to compare those results with what was found by the first group.

Ian