29 November 2007 supplementary

Right, let's see if we can return to some sense of normality.  I have just spent all day recovering as much data as I could from various back ups and stored programme files after my computer hard drive failed on Sunday.  I had just turned the machine on to write this weeks blog when everything froze and we then went into a boot loop where the PC continually restarts without ever loading windows.

The circuit board on the hard drive is apparently knackered, all the data is still tucked away on the disc, but it's no longer accessible.  There we go, a lesson to us all never to trust these damned machines and to always keep an up to date back up of all important files, settings and documents.

Enough of that, what of the fishery.  Well, we had a great morning last Saturday when 5 of us met Neil Handy at the Crown and walked the river down to Studfold looking for spawning salmon.  We only found 3, but we came away having learnt a great deal from Neil about the habits of spawning salmon on this river and his plans for their future encouragement.

The Hon Sec lent me a book by Carter Platts about  wild trout river management.  This was written in the 1930's and is a vast fund of practical advice about the nurture of wild brown trout and salmon.  There is nothing new under the sun.  Carter Platts was doing what we are trying to do now over 70 years ago.  His chapters on encouraging fly life on spate rivers are fascinating and his methods are well within the scope of the MAA to emulate.  In we are already doing much of the work that he extols.

All the trees have arrived so once I have agreed with the landowner where we can and can't plant I will arrange a working party to get them in.  Some are 8 ft saplings so will take a little more effort to plant than the usual slips, but they should have almost immediate impact next summer.

We also now have a stereo microscope which I found at a bargain price on ebay.  This will make the process of identifying riverfly families much easier for failing eyes and should enable us to readily separate out families with similar characteristics.  It should also enable us to identify very small specimens of the 9 families we are recording giving us a much more robust set of data.  It's a good instrument with top and base illumination and very clear optics that are surprisingly comfortable to use.

Barring any further disasters I will post an update on Sunday.

Ian

29 November 2007

Sorry for the absence of a blog on Sunday, but the hard drive on my PC died on Sunday morning and I got the machine back with a new hard drive yesterday and am currently trying to rebuild about 4 years of work and records including email addresses and accounts.  If anyone is trying to contact me by email and not getting a reply please ring 01729 860394.

I will do a blog later today!

Ian

18 November 2007

Well, weather wise it's not been a bad week – until today!  The bright, cold days seemed to me to be ideal for a walk along most of the river so I went up to Low Birkwith on Tuesday looking for evidence of spawning salmon and found nothing.  Still, the river looked to be in fine form with plenty of duck about, a good clear flow and it was a delight to be out in the bright sunshine.  I made a similar trip down to Helwith Bridge on Thursday.  Again I saw no salmon, But there was a monster trout rising in the pool at Rowe End and again a lot of duck, especially down by the Pipe Pool.

These names remind me that we have almost completed the map of the fishery with all the pools and runs named for the first time.  Once this has been discussed with one or two long standing members to ensure that the names are valid we will make our work public.  It will certainly help to provide a common understanding of where places are on the river and offer new members a good basic understanding of this extensive fishery.

Despite my personal misgivings about Bill Oddy (for some reason he really irritates me!) I watched one of the Spring Watch programmes last week mainly because they were due to show some unique shots of spawning salmon on the upper Tweed.  These were mainly cock fish, but the interest lay in getting the camera down under water to give a salmon eye view of life on the redds.  It certainly showed just how much some of these big cock salmon suffer in their desire to breed.  One or two of the fish that came into view looked as if they had been through a shredder.  There were no real shots of spawning, but it was a good effort to capture river life as we rarely see it.

Keeping with TV for the moment.  I had one of those double take situations last night when watching Have I Got News For You.  I would swear blind that they showed a picture of the venerable member up to his navel in the Tarn.  This turned out to be an elderly bird watcher who became stranded by the rising tide, but the guy was the spitting image of SW.

I did the monthly bankside invertebrate check at New Inn yesterday and got very encouraging results.  Well over 80 heptagenia in the 3 minute sample as well as over 60 baetis nymphs and a good number of blue winged olives.  Two bullheads turned up looking a bit sheepish in the first two samples from the gravel bank below the bridge.  There must be quite a population of these fascinating little fish on this bank as I keep getting them in the sample net.  There were more stonefly in this sample than I have got before and one of these creatures was a giant at about 3/4 of an inch long.  I found quite a number of spent stonefly shucks or cases floating on the sample tray so it would seem that the stonefly are still emerging in the sun we had this week.

I will do a check at Turn Dub tomorrow and then post up the detailed results in an on-line spreadsheet so that all of our riverfly monitoring group can see them.

Finally, it looks as if the trees will be here on about the 26th of November so I plan to try to get them in on the first weekend in December after agreeing specific planting places with the landowner.  Volunteers to help heel them in would be welcome.

The weather has now taken a turn for the worse and its raining this morning with a real feel of winter in the air.  The forecast promises some wet snow or sleet here before the day is out so it's a day to be spent by the fire, I think.

More next week.

Ian

11 November 2007

The weeks do pass quickly.  It really seems no time at all since I sat down to write the blog last Sunday yet not a lot has changed here and very little happens of real note.

Four of us gathered here yesterday morning to put together a comprehensive map of the fishery.  After 2 hours of chat, debate and discussion we have come up with a working document that identifies all the key runs and pools from Helwith Bridge up to Lodge Hall, labels those with known names (not always the local ones, but those in common usage within the club), gives names to those pools and runs which had no name, identifies significant hazards and shows access paths and parking places.  The plan is to refine the draft and correct any errors then issue it to all members together with a short covering note.

The hope is that the map will serve as a handy guide and provide a common understanding of the geography of the fishery.  In future it should be possible for members to describe with some precision where they caught that fish of a lifetime rather than simply trying to offer a vague description of the pool or run.  It should prove possible to be much more precise about where fish were caught when completing fishing returns and the record books that Neil Handy is keen for us to keep.

Speaking of Neil, he has plans to try to increase the population of sea trout in the upper Ribble and we will find out more about this in due course.

The Craven Herald this week carried a prominent article about the Lady Vicar of Bentham who it would seem is a keen fly fisher.  She got to thinking about flies and which fly would best represent her local bishop.  Not finding an obvious candidate amongst the myriad of existing patterns she sat down to compose something suitable and came up with a Klinkhammer variation to be known as the 'Bishop David'.  This is a dry fly  dressed using wool and modern materials in colours associated with the bishop and designed to be robust and able to withstand a bit of rough treatment.  There is no record of how successful the pattern has been on the Wenning.

Salmon should be spawning here over the next couple of weeks and I plan to go out fairly often to see how they get on and which parts of the river they are using this year.  There do seem to be a fair few fish in the river this year possibly on account of the wet summer and now the temperature is dropping they should be making for the spawning gravels in good numbers.  More on this as I get something worth recording.

Meanwhile, ore next week.

Ian

4 November 2007

It always take a while to adjust to not writing this blog every morning and for a few days I get a sense of having forgotten something, but being not quite sure what.  Still, during the quiet season it does mean that I'm not scratching round every day to try to come up with something that might be of interest to you and not just me.

The Wild Trout Trust autumn newsletter arrived on Thursday bringing its usual fare of news about conservation projects and forthcoming events.  The first of the latter takes place today with the Fly Fair at Stoke on Trent.  I know that the WTT will be there so do go along to their stand and have a chat with them. If you aren't a member do consider joining this body whose sole purpose is to provide our wild brown trout with a future.  The newsletter featured the MAA and our riverfly training day which they sponsored.  This was a surprise as the feature has my name at the bottom and I could not for the life of me remember writing an article for the WTT.  I know I am getting old and have occasional 'senior moments', but I do tend to remember if people ask me to write stuff.  What happened here is that I wrote to the WTT after our training day to thank them for their generosity in sponsoring the day and to tell them how we got on.  It's this email that they have published with some slight editing.

I came across this quote the other day

Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Teach a
man to fish, and he'll buy a funny hat. Talk to a hungry man about fish, and
you're a consultant.
  – Scott Adams

Too true!

I spent some time yesterday updating and cleaning up the MAA website so if you haven't visited the site for a while do take a look and let me know what further improvements should be made.  It would be nice to revise the photographs before the start of next season so if any of you have some good shots that you would like to share via the site do email them to me.  A few more pictures of our wild brownies would be especially welcome.

Now for those of you with cast iron coffee tables as well as cast iron bank balances here is another Christmas list suggestion.  Fred Buller has been on the trail of angling's greatest catches and has just published the results of his detective work in a book titled 'The Doomsday Book of Mammoth Salmon'.  This complements his earlier work on giant pike.  The tome weighs in a a mighty 6lb and runs to 480 pages so it's a seminal work on the subject covering the whole history of angling for big salmon not just in Britain and Ireland, but wherever Atlantic salmon are found in rivers.  we learn about massive Norwegian fish of over 70 lb taken in 1951 and an incredible 64 ponder caught in the Thames in 1789.  What chance that being replicated today?  This amazing book can be yours for

4 November 2007

It always take a while to adjust to not writing this blog every morning and for a few days I get a sense of having forgotten something, but being not quite sure what.  Still, during the quiet season it does mean that I'm not scratching round every day to try to come up with something that might be of interest to you and not just me.

The Wild Trout Trust autumn newsletter arrived on Thursday bringing its usual fare of news about conservation projects and forthcoming events.  The first of the latter takes place today with the Fly Fair at Stoke on Trent.  I know that the WTT will be there so do go along to their stand and have a chat with them. If you aren't a member do consider joining this body whose sole purpose is to provide our wild brown trout with a future.  The newsletter featured the MAA and our riverfly training day which they sponsored.  This was a surprise as the feature has my name at the bottom and I could not for the life of me remember writing an article for the WTT.  I know I am getting old and have occasional 'senior moments', but I do tend to remember if people ask me to write stuff.  What happened here is that I wrote to the WTT after our training day to thank them for their generosity in sponsoring the day and to tell them how we got on.  It's this email that they have published with some slight editing.

I came across this quote the other day

Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Teach a
man to fish, and he'll buy a funny hat. Talk to a hungry man about fish, and
you're a consultant.
  – Scott Adams

Too true!

I spent some time yesterday updating and cleaning up the MAA website so if you haven't visited the site for a while do take a look and let me know what further improvements should be made.  It would be nice to revise the photographs before the start of next season so if any of you have some good shots that you would like to share via the site do email them to me.  A few more pictures of our wild brownies would be especially welcome.

Now for those of you with cast iron coffee tables as well as cast iron bank balances here is another Christmas list suggestion.  Fred Buller has been on the trail of angling's greatest catches and has just published the results of his detective work in a book titled 'The Doomsday Book of Mammoth Salmon'.  This complements his earlier work on giant pike.  The tome weighs in a a mighty 6lb and runs to 480 pages so it's a seminal work on the subject covering the whole history of angling for big salmon not just in Britain and Ireland, but wherever Atlantic salmon are found in rivers.  we learn about massive Norwegian fish of over 70 lb taken in 1951 and an incredible 64 ponder caught in the Thames in 1789.  What chance that being replicated today?  This amazing book can be yours for

1 November 2007

Well, there we are then.  The end of the 2007 fishing season here at Horton.  There was quite a flurry of activity on both the river and the Tarn, but so far I know not what success was achieved.  Alan M dropped by to show me his new Labrador pup.  This is going to be a BIG dog with an incredible 'wow' factor.  It has already doubled in size from the picture I put up just a few weeks ago when Paul B was looking for a good home for him.  He certainly found one.

I mentioned yesterday the Telegraph review of multi part travelling rods.  The winner is the Orvis Zero Gravity 9'6 which is assessed as having a crisp action, capable of throwing a long line with absolute precision.  It took 20 yards of double-taper line out with one false cast.  With the w/f line it was apparently “mind blowing” and the review team were fighting over this rod by the end of the day.  This is a four piece rod with exceptional balance which fought a fit 2 pounder with ease.  There you are, Christmas sorted.

Also featured in this article were the Sage 2-Axis 10', Grey's Platinum XD 10', Loop Opti Stream 9'3 and Hardy Angel 10'.

Most of these performed well, but cost went against the Sage, the Grey's was judged a little stiff, but good value, the Loop was too whippy and had a poor finish.  The Hardy is an incredible rod at a premium price – judged a good buy for those on an unlimited budget.

The Nature of Britain included some breathtaking photography of salmon and some nice shots of riverfly.  It was good to see our local friends the Heptagenia so well represented even if most of the viewing public will now have the impression that this flat bodied mayfly grows into Ephemera danica more common on southern chalk streams.  The sequence showing the ferrox trout in Loch Ness was very interesting, but I was left wondering why there was no real mention of our native brown trout or the grayling or a short piece on how some brownie make their way to the sea.  I suppose it's about capturing viewers with tales of monsters.  After all, the ferrox is not exactly representative of brown trout although the reason why fish in some waters turn cannibal was well explained.

Given the plight of our native crayfish some mention of these unique creatures and the steps being taken to conserve them could have been included.  But at the end of the day the photography really was stunning.

More on Sunday

Ian