31 August 2008

It stayed dry yesterday and we even got a few sunny spells during the afternoon which helped to dispel the gloomy mood which has settled on north Ribblesdale over the 'summer'.  The river has dropped enough to enable me to do the Turn Dub invertebrate check so yesterday morning found me knee deep in the river below the Tarn busy netting out riverflies.  The results I got are encouraging.  A really good spread of all the main families apart from true mayfly which we rarely see on this freestone river.  A lot of gammarus and a good haul of stone fly this time.  Most of the later were very small and I'm still not sure whether size variation is indicative of different species or a range of ages.  A bit of both I suspect.

The results are on the Zoho spreadsheet and once again if you want to be put on the share list for this just email me.

It looks as if I will be running a repeat of the 'Guess the Weight of the Fish' competition next weekend.  I was approached a few days ago by the Horton Show committee and asked if the club would be prepared to do this on show day.  So what the heck, why not?  Those of you in the vicinity of Horton on Saturday 6 September should drop by at the School where you will find the Show in full swing from 12 noon onwards.  It's a typical dales event with produce classes, handicrafts, plenty of sheep and other attractions including sheep dog trials.  This year you also get me and my fish!

It's a still, humid and overcast morning with the ever present threat of rain hanging in the air.  The river is in very good nick with enough water to make trout fishing a real pleasure.  In fact there was a sizable hatch of fly last evening which brought a lot of wild brownies to the surface to feed at the Marker pool and up towards Parker's wood.  We are promised rain later and a very wet day on Tuesday so conditions should remain OK towards the weekend once any flood abates on Wednesday.

Ian

30 August 2008

Considering that my first port of call on Thursday was to have my eyes tested you would think that I might be able to distinguish between different makes of (similar) 4×4 and the profile of (very similar) members, but clearly not.  Twas not the President intent on pursuing sea trout that I saw at Austin's pool, but Mike H who tells me that he got a nice silver fresh run fish of about 15 inches as well as a small brownie.  I shall have to ask Boots for a refund on my eye test.

News reaches me of a new initiative launched by the RFCA recently.  This is an on-line forum aimed at those who regularly fish the Ribble especially for salmon and sea trout.  The site is in its early stages as yet, but looks as if it may offer a valuable way for those who fish the Ribble to share info and keep up to date with local developments beyond their specific fishery.  Find the site at http://ribblesalmonfishing.muux.org where you can register and become part of an expanding group.

Thanks to some remarkable joinery by David the Bates memorial bench has been refettled and refitted back in its place by the big rock outside the hut at the Tarn.  David has clearly spent a lot of time and effort bringing this bench back from the brink of a future as firewood and he has replaced about 60% of the old timber with new wood including two new arms and two new legs (a bit like Trigger's broom).  I have thanked David on behalf of the club and will talk to the Hon Sec about a more formal thank you.

Whilst we were fixing the bench back the Tarn was alive with rising trout seeking out the flying ants that were crash diving on the water.  It was absolutely flat calm and the rise rings spread far across the water interlacing, making complex geometric patterns.  Despite the number of rises fishing looked to be hard work probably on account of the presence of the ants which no one had in their fly box.

It's a gloomy, misty morning with just the hint of mizzle in the air.  Once again it's dead calm and rather humid which may bring on some good hatches despite the lack of sun.

Ian

29 August 2008

I had to go out very early yesterday hence no blog, but the news would have been unchanging – rain!

It's actually stopped raining this morning, it's absolutely still and quite warm, but you can't see further than the other side of the lane due to thick fog. Still, it's better than the constant mizzle we have had for the past week.

I shall be interested to see how the President got on yesterday.  As we came home at about 7.15pm I saw him making his way down towards the weir pools below Newhouses clearly intent on persuading our elusive sea trout that his artificial was a fly they simply could not ignore.

We know that there are sea trout in the river and with the incredibly wet summer that we have they should be up at Horton in good numbers.  Members who have fished towards dark in the past have had some success with this peripatetic trout and conditions looked promising last night.

I am going to try to get the Turn Dub invertebrate check done at long last today now that the river has relented and dropped to a level where one can stand up in it in mid flow.

Ian

27 August 2008

Situation here as per usual – it's raining, but just to add a wee bit of spice to an otherwise monotony we have a very strong and gusty south westerly wind that will make casting a challenge for even the most accomplished fisherman.

It's not all doom and gloom though.  I had a call yesterday evening from the President to tell me that had been up at Horton fishing the river during the afternoon and had caught 2 salmon, a sea trout and a hat full of brownies.  The salmon were in good condition, one about 4lb the other around 6lb and the sea trout was estimated at 2.5lb.  These were caught at the bend below Rowe End and down below Whit Beck.  So a good afternoon spent on a river that was rising rather than falling and a good indicator that there are migratory salmonids aplenty in the river at present.

The river is still high this morning and now is quite coloured after rain last evening and during the night.  We are still promised some better weather, but it seems to be taking it's time getting here.

A bit of advanced warning.  I am leading a group from Craven Conservation group on a visit to the Tarn next Thursday evening so be aware that there may be a bit of disturbance there from around 7.30pm.

I'm off now to be fitted for my duck feet!

Ian

26 August 2008

It looks as if Simon's summer holiday is over and he will have to return early to work.  I had an email from Ian W yesterday following an early morning trip to fish the Tarn.  On arrival at Tarn Pasture he spotted a cormorant busy breakfasting on our rainbows.  This is worrying as the pterodactyls normally turn up in late October once fishing (by humans) has ceased.  We need to keep a good record of sightings of these predators if we are to persuade DEFRA that we have a problem that needs resolving.  They demand evidence before they will grant a licence to cull cormorants so all members should continue to record their encounters with cormorants at the Tarn in the wildlife book in the hut and email me.  If you can get photos so much the better.  These birds are capable of devastating a fishery and their predation has already closed the famous fishery at Loch Leven where many of the brown trout ova and fry came from early last century to stock the river.  They are capable of eating their own body weight of fish a day and their presence spooks the fish sending them down deep and deterring them from surface feeding.  It's a threat I am determined to counter.

Mind you the damn birds probably think it is November on account of the abysmal weather here at present.  It rained all day yesterday and is still doing so this morning.  The river is high and coloured, not yet in spate, but too high to do the last two invertebrate checks safely.  We seem to be sitting under our own personal cloud as a few miles away in whatever direction you travel there is sun and fine weather. 

Ian

25 August 2008

One thing I have noticed when doing the monthly invertebrate checks on the river is the regularity with which bullheads turn up in the sampling net.  I get a wide range of sizes of 'miller's thumb' small jobs not much bigger than a minnow all the way up to large thumb sized specimens complete with fan shaped fins and quite stunning colours.  Our focus tends to be on the game fish in the river, the salmon, brown trout and sea trout, but gobio is a fascinating fish in its own right and seem indigenous to most clean British waters. 

Scientists believe that the bullhead originated in the Rhine and migrated here up the river systems after the last ice age so it's interesting to speculate how it got into the Ribble which now flows westwards.  Of course, that's not always been the case and there is considerable evidence that the river has significantly altered its course over the past few millenia and may at one time have followed a course eastwards as does every other Yorkshire Dales river.

I plan to do a short article on the bullhead for the next Horton Parish newsletter so will spend some time finding out a little more about this delightful little fish that seems so prolific here at Horton.

Typical bank holiday weather here this morning, dull, overcast, cold and a little damp.  Still, we are forecast a run of good weather from the middle of the week as an Azores high locks down over the country so we may well yet get some decent late summer sun.

Ian

24 August 2008

I did the August invertebrate sample at New Inn yesterday.  This is the first time that we have monitored the populations in August so as yet it's impossible to read too much into the results.  However, what we got seems broadly comparable with July's results so I think that all is healthy.  I am getting an increasing number of stone flies at this site and only continued regular monitoring will tell us whether this is seasonal variation or a true month on month increase.  The presence of the various families does seem to shift with the advancing months and I really need to learn more about how to interpret our observations.  This is where our membership of the Riverfly partnership can prove invaluable offering as it does access to experts who can help us to interpret our data and extrapolate these for the future health and recruitment of our wild trout.

There really are an incredible number of minnow at New Inn and their shoals make quite sizable clouds in the water as you wade under the footbridge up towards the road bridge.  They seem to love the warm, sandy shallows here and you have to tread carefully to avoid them.  Even so I collected a lot of litter here yesterday, all of it discarded food and drink wrappers and containers dropped over the footbridge by those too ignorant or bone idle to dispose of it properly.  It really saddens me that so many visitors to this village regard the river as nothing more than an open sewer into which they can chuck their rubbish.  We are a filthy nation and it should be an embarrassment to us all that it takes an American such as Bill Bryson to confront us with our unpleasant habits.  All strength to Bill and the CPRE campaign he has launched to clean up the countryside.

It rained hard in the night so water levels have risen a bit although not enough to make river fishing difficult.  It's now showery with some sun and a moderate westerly breeze so conditions are not bad.  I am going to try to get Turn Dub monitored today and will take a look at the Tay Bridge site tomorrow.

The New Inn results are on the Zoho spreadsheet so, as always, if you want access to this just let me know.

Ian

23 August 2008

I failed to get the invertebrate check done yesterday and I'm going to have a rant.  Not a long one I assure you, but I am a grumpy old man!

For my sins I am Chairman of the community association that brings Internet broadband to the scattered farmsteads and hamlets in the upper Ribble valley.  We do this via a wireless network which connects to the big wide world at Horton Station.  Because of the number of subscribers we have on the network (well over 80) and the increasingly sophisticated use that they are making of their broadband access we need to do some major upgrading to the network.  A key component of this is to install additional phone lines at the station.  Have you ever tried to contact BT? Talking to BT must rank as the most surreal, frustrating and downright annoying experience I have ever encountered.  The company and its call centres are simply incompetent to the point of complete farce.

All we want are two additional lines.  What is the fundamental of BT's business?  To provide phone lines?  Wrong! Their main reason for existing is to provide work for the NHS by inducing advanced stress related ulcers in their customers.

Apparently I can have my two phone lines, but at the exorbitant cost of

23 August 2008

I failed to get the invertebrate check done yesterday and I'm going to have a rant.  Not a long one I assure you, but I am a grumpy old man!

For my sins I am Chairman of the community association that brings Internet broadband to the scattered farmsteads and hamlets in the upper Ribble valley.  We do this via a wireless network which connects to the big wide world at Horton Station.  Because of the number of subscribers we have on the network (well over 80) and the increasingly sophisticated use that they are making of their broadband access we need to do some major upgrading to the network.  A key component of this is to install additional phone lines at the station.  Have you ever tried to contact BT? Talking to BT must rank as the most surreal, frustrating and downright annoying experience I have ever encountered.  The company and its call centres are simply incompetent to the point of complete farce.

All we want are two additional lines.  What is the fundamental of BT's business?  To provide phone lines?  Wrong! Their main reason for existing is to provide work for the NHS by inducing advanced stress related ulcers in their customers.

Apparently I can have my two phone lines, but at the exorbitant cost of

23 August 2008

I failed to get the invertebrate check done yesterday and I'm going to have a rant.  Not a long one I assure you, but I am a grumpy old man!

For my sins I am Chairman of the community association that brings Internet broadband to the scattered farmsteads and hamlets in the upper Ribble valley.  We do this via a wireless network which connects to the big wide world at Horton Station.  Because of the number of subscribers we have on the network (well over 80) and the increasingly sophisticated use that they are making of their broadband access we need to do some major upgrading to the network.  A key component of this is to install additional phone lines at the station.  Have you ever tried to contact BT? Talking to BT must rank as the most surreal, frustrating and downright annoying experience I have ever encountered.  The company and its call centres are simply incompetent to the point of complete farce.

All we want are two additional lines.  What is the fundamental of BT's business?  To provide phone lines?  Wrong! Their main reason for existing is to provide work for the NHS by inducing advanced stress related ulcers in their customers.

Apparently I can have my two phone lines, but at the exorbitant cost of