27 September 2007 Supplementary

I have just had a call from Paul B (Crayfish Paul).  His yellow Labrador bitch had pups back in July and he has two remaining (one dog & one bitch) who need good homes.  Paul tells me that these are really solid chunky pups who already have a good retriever instinct and would make super sporting dogs.    If anyone is interested or knows someone who is interested in acquiring the perfect country dog then either phone or email me (0172 860394).

Here is  what Paul has to say about his pups.

Thanks very much for putting a word
in the blog about the Lab pups.  I've just two left, almost 9 weeks old, and
ready to go.  The bitch (pictured walking) was due to go down to Peterborough,
but her new owner gave backword yesterday evening.  The dog I was really going
to keep myself, along with a bitch, just because I like him so much.  But a dog
and two bitches just can't work, and I'll have to let him go too.  So both for
sale, with fine championship pedigrees, hip & eye certs, and both parents
have strong retrieving instincts.  I've put them in the Yorkshire Post for five
days from Friday, so they'll go soon.  But it'd be nice to see them go to
someone I might see again up the Dale one day. Their Sunday names are
“Borransdale Honeysuckle” and “Borransdale Spruce”.



27 September 2007

Yesterday was a classic example of why one should always be cautious when offering a weather prediction. Yes, it stayed bright for most of the day but what was not evident at 8 am was just how strong and bitterly cold the wind would get by mid day.  We had a stiff north wind that seemed to wick away any warmth as soon as you stepped outside.  Not good for fishing or for feeding trout.  We still have a very cod north breeze this morning mixed with showers and a fairly leaden sky so fishing on either the river or the Tarn will be a challenge.

I carried on trying to identify the host of invertebrates that were observed here back around 1900 and I think I've got about 90% of them with a few question marks.  The few that I can't find in any of the old books are:

Juniper Beetle, Plover Dun, Dotteral Dun, Black Dun, Orange Brown, Spotted Drake, White legged Dun, Coral eyed Drake, Grey Dun, Fringed Dun, Black Spinner, White Starling, Golden Legged Beetle, Light Pied Dun, Little Brown Dun And Blue Drake.

If you can identify these naturals and offer a Latin name please do email me.

The latest Spiders Plus newsletter landed in my email box this morning.  It's been some time since I mentioned Phil Holding's site which offers both tied spider patterns and the materials to tie your own.  Do take a look at his latest offers.  Now is the time to stock up ready for next season and replace those ragged scraps that have served so well these past few months.

Remember that there will be nothing from me now until next Tuesday morning as I'm off to take a look at the River Dart where I saw my first ever salmon 50 years ago.


26 September 2007

It's a super early autumn morning here in the valley with plenty of sun, high broken clod and a nip in the air to keep things feeling fresh.  To cap it all there is still good water in the river and just a light breeze to spin the leaves off the trees.

My mention of the Burnsall club has sparked quite a flurry of correspondence by email about early contacts between our two clubs which stemmed it seems from a meeting in Leeds organised to draw up a few guidelines for northern rivers and which was attended by Abel Heywood Jnr of the MAA and T E Pritt who was a member of the Yorkshire Anglers, The Burnsall club and who wrote about fishing for the Yorkshire post.  Contact was maintained for a number of years and a large number of fish were exchanged between the Ribble and the Wharfe.  Comment was made at the time about the differences between the native stock in the two rivers with the Wharfe trout being darker on the back with a pronounced pointed snout.  The Ribble fish tended to be lighter and more rounded at the front end.

One email from David M enclosed a synopsis of the invertebrates observed on the river between March and September 1903 together with the artificials used to represent the naturals.  I spent an absorbing afternoon yesterday drawing up a spreadsheet which attempts to identify the naturals, compare these to the results of our recent survey work and link the old artificials with modern equivalents.  This is still a “work in progress”, but if anyone would like a copy I will gladly email it to them in either Excel or PDF format.  It would be nice if those who do want a copy can help to fill in the blanks.

The Tarn looked wonderful yesterday with water over 3″ deep on the bottom step by the hut, a few rises and plenty of bird life – some of it unwelcome as I put up a solitary cormorant as I approached the hut.  There was a sizable beck flowing away from the duck wall towards the river and Turn Dub was in full spate.  The trees we planted at the confluence of the Turn Dub inlet and the main river have survived and flourished despite evidence that those closest to the river are swept by flood when the river is in spate.  These were big saplings when we put them in and the wet summer has encouraged good growth this season so it won't be too long before they begin to have an impact on both the visual quality of the landscape here and the habitat both in and around the river.

Finally, the cygnets are growing very fast and seem to be making up well for their late start.  This in a way is testament to the health and quality of the Tarn.  There is clearly plenty of sustenance there for them.


25 September 2007

We had a lot of rain again in the night to add to the torrent that fell yesterday so it's pretty soggy here at Horton this morning.  However, it has stopped now, the clouds are lifting, the wind has dropped and we have a falling river so by afternoon conditions should be quite good.

My planned trip to St He lens tomorrow has been postponed so there will be an update in the morning.

The reference yesterday to my meeting with Rob from Burns all prompted an email from David M who reminded me about the collaboration that existed between the MAIA and The Burns all club at the beginning of the last century.  On at least one occasion eyed ova were exchanged between the clubs respective hatcheries to mix the blood lines and try to improve stock quality.  So there may yet be Wharf genes in our wild trout and Rubble genes in the fish on the Wharf.  I sent a copy of David's email to Rob and he tells me that there are a number of references to the MAIA in their club archive, copies of which he will arrange to get sent to me.  It will be interesting to see the other side of the correspondence and what Burns all thought of their Rubble ova.

I plan to stop off at Stain forth later today to see if the salmon are moving up the Foss.  This is always an absorbing way of spending time and it still amazes me quite how these big fish manage to breast the flood and surmount what seems to be an impassable barrier.  The sheer persistence and determination displayed is a salutary lesson and shows how, with single minded determination, insurmountable barriers can be overcome. 


24 September 2007

I had a thoroughly enjoyable and, I hope, useful meeting with Rob from Burnsall yesterday lunchtime.  We spent about 2 hours talking about what drove the MAA to move to a sustainable way of managing its fishery, how we got members to support this move, how we developed the strategy and what we have done to implement it.  What struck most was the strong parallel between our respective clubs, the issues we face, the nature of our fisheries and the mix of members.  Both cubs are of virtually the same age (Burnsall was founded in 1873) and are organised on similar lines.  Both run farmers suppers and have still water fishing as well as a classic spate river fishery.  There are marked differences though.  There is a long waiting list at Burnsall despite very high joining, membership and other fees.  They have the services of a full time keeper and lease much of their water from the Bolton Abbey estate.  These expenses account for the hefty fees.  The MAA is uniquely fortunate that, through the foresight of past members, it owns virtually all of its fishing waters.

We agreed to keep in touch and I will be fascinated to see how far and fast Burnsall move to a more sustainable management policy.

I had a stroke of pure luck yesterday.  Just as we were winding up our conversation into the pub walked a fairly new member to book a room for the supper on 12 October.  I asked him if he had been fishing as the water was perfect.  He replied that he was just on his way to do so, but had fished on Saturday and had a superb day with 8 fish landed and a host of others that had escaped.  I could not have asked for a better testimonial to round off the virtues of a sustainable wild fishery if I had deliberately planned it (I didn't, honest!!). 

It's raining hard here at present and has been doing so for the past few hours so we have a rising river which is colouring up.  It's quite windy and looks set to be a miserable day so not ideal conditions. 

I'm in St Helens on Wednesday so there will be no blog on Wednesday morning nor will there be postings on Friday to Monday as I am in Brixham for a family reunion.


23 September 2007

I'll try and get this finished before we lose power for the rest of today!  The bankside check I did at New Inn was very revealing and just shows to what extent prevailing conditions can influence results.  My notebook shows that in a 3 minute check from just downstream of the bridge to a point about 10 yards upstream the following were found.
Stonefly 0
Ephemereridae 1
Cased caddis 10+
Caseless caddis 1
Ephemerellidae 5+
Baetis 20+
Heptagenia 50+
Gammerid 2
water snail 2
Bullhead 1
Worms 10+
Small water beetle 10+

This was a much better haul than we got from the same spot a fortnight ago and has left me feeling much more cheerful about the health of the river at New Inn.  I think that in future we should time our main checks to coincide with a fall from flood.  The volume of water clearly has an influence on how well kick sampling works and a good flow is obviously needed to get the beasties out of the substrate and into the net.

I noticed a couple of fishing related stories in the paper yesterday.  The first is that women recovering from mastectomy are increasingly being encouraged by their oncologists to take up fly fishing.  Apparently the actions involved in casting encourage speedy recovery by increasing the flow of blood to the muscles around the breast area. 

The second is a story recounted by Chris Yeats about a favourite rod.  Apparently Chris prefers to fish using a split cane rod and his favourite is a an old chubb rod which he calls the bishop.  He was recently invited to fish in Norway and took this particular rod with him as it serves well as a light salmon rod.  On arrival at the main airport in Norway he was dismayed to find that his rod was no longer with his baggage.  After some intervention by his Norweigan host the rod was found to be on its way to Sweden, unaccompanied.  At this point he had to rush to get an internal flight but shortly before takeoff the pilot informed passengers that they would be delayed for a short while whilst an urgent package was delivered.  Imagine his surprise when this turned out to be his wayward rod.

Can you see BA responding in the same way?  I think not.

Phew!  Just made it.


22 September 2007

I am delighted to say that we have near perfect fishing conditions here this morning.  It's bright with about 50% cloud cover, no wind and plenty of clear water in the river.  We know from from the evidence of the fish counters further down the Ribble that there are plenty of salmon in the river so it's a fair chance that they will run up to Horton on this high water.  Do bear in mind that the village is without power all day tomorrow.  This should not in any way affect those fishing, but since the Crown will be running on a standby generator lunch menu choice may be a little limited.

I think it would be a good opportunity to do a further riverfly sample this morning in the exposed gravels down by New Inn Bridge.  You will recall that the river was far too low on 8 September when we did the last sample to get a good return from these gravels so it will be worth while, I think, to see just what is living here at this time of year and compare it to the results we got in similar water conditions back in May.  More on this tomorrow before the power goes off.


21 September 2007

The fish arrived safely yesterday and all went into the Tarn without mishap.  Again these were nice plump, healthy fish all around the 2lb mark with a few at 3lb or more.  I did notice that one brownie had got into the mix so it will be interesting to see how long it is before it reappears in the catch returns.  That's it now for the 2007 season and thoughts will soon be turning to 2008.  It won't be long before the cycle starts again next March.

It remained dry for much of yesterday although a stiff westerly wind came up by mid morning which made itself a pest for those fishing the Tarn.  The river had dropped back by late afternoon and was fishable with care, but we had a lot of rain in the night which has just given over so the water is once again coloured and running quite high.  Tomorrow promises to be a better day so conditions then should be ideal for a spot of salmon fishing.

I now get regular phone calls from locals asking when the salmon can be seen on Stainforth Foss.  Quite how I have become the local guru on this topic I'm not sure, but it's good to see so many people taking a keen interest in the wildlife that inhabits the river. 


20 September 2007

It rained pretty well all day yesterday so by mid morning the river was in full spate which lasted until late evening.  It's now sopped raining and the river is falling back off spate and losing colour so it should be perfect for salmon late this afternoon if we get no more rain.

The forecast is unsettled with showers predicted for much of the day.  Friday looks a little brighter, but remaining showery.  We had a very stiff south westerly breeze in the night which is abating a bit now so casting will be a little easier on the Tarn for the usual Thursday contingent.  They will have to put up with a bit of disruption this morning as I plan to do the last stocking there at 10.30 today.  This should have been done on 8 September, but has been delayed whilst the supplier got his pick up back on the road.  He tells me that it's still rather temperamental and prone to not start once stopped so we could have fun if the wick goes out whist down by the Tarn.

I had a phone call from Nick Everall who ran the riverfly course for us back in May.  Nick wanted to know how we were getting on and if we had been using the skills he taught us.  It was good to be able to report that we had not only done a further survey which went very well but had been able to involve other members and broaden the spread of knowledge within the club about monitoring techniques.  He seemed pleased that we were making progress and plans to pass on my contact details to Dr Cyril Bennett, one of the leading figures in riverfly monitoring, who is now back in the UK after working in Australia.  This will give us access to some considerable expert advice as and when we need it.

Right, lets go and get these fish in.


19 September 2007

It started raining here at about 8.30 last evening and is still going strong so we now have a very high, rising and coloured river which bodes well for salmon fishing when the rain finally stops and the river begins to fall.  The forecast is for more rain over the next two days so conditions should (in theory) be just right at the weekend.  That's a bonus for me as I am meeting a chap from Burnsall fly fishers on Sunday to talk about creating a wild fishery and it would be nice for him to see the river in her best form.

I spent much of yesterday morning searching out all the papers and documents I either wrote or accumulated in the process of setting out a management plan and strategy for the fishery.  When you pull it all together it comes to a tidy bundle.  It was quite a rewarding exercise as it showed just how far we have come and how much has been achieved by the club in the past 3 years.  It represents a fundamental shift in the way in which the fishery is managed.  The change is not without its critics, some have very valid points, but there are now signs that the faith that so many had in the proposed changes has not been misplaced.  Evidence shows that there are good stocks of native brown trout and that these seem to be recruiting well since catches include fish whose sizes range from fingerlings to well over a pound.

There is emerging evidence that food is available for these fish throughout the fishery, but we also know that things can still be improved both in terms of habitat and encouraging increased numbers of invertebrates.  The latter is vital especially for our larger fish as the absence of crayfish which must have made up a sizable portion of the diet of our adult brown trout are missing and big trout are big feeders.

Weed I think is part of the answer (we have too much in the Tarn and too little in the river).  I need to explore ways of getting more weed (or an artificial equivalent) into suitable places where fish are known to lie.  It's too late this year to do much as we are entering the spate season, but there is certainly time to plan and organise ready for next spring.  I must get cracking on this.