30 September 2008

The last day of the trout season and what a miserable one it is.  We have lost the gale that blew yesterday afternoon and most of the night, but it's a dull, dank drizzly sort of morning where everything including the fish is keeping its head down.

The Tarn looked pretty dead first thing.  No sign of cormorants, but not much sign of anything else either.  Time to think about stocking up with fuel for winter and getting the chimneys swept ready for the cold days ahead.

Yesterday I posted up the results from the invertebrate survey we did last week.  As always if you want access to the online spreadsheets just email me.


29 Septemeber 2008

It's a wet start to the week and after a dry couple of weeks
it looks as though the last couple of days of the 2008 trout season will be
wet.  The forecast is for quite autumnal conditions around the middle of
this week so those members venturing up to Horton for the Hot Pot supper on
Friday and who are planning to stay over and fish for salmon on Saturday may
well find some decent water. 

It looks as if the dining room at the Crown will be full on Friday as we have
nearly 40 members, guests and landowners confirmed as attending and a few more
always turn up unannounced. It should be a convivial evening despite recent
sadnesses in the club.  Sandra always does us proud with a meat pie to
fill even the most ardent trencherman. I anticipate that belts will need to be
loosened a notch on Saturday morning and a bracing walk along the river will be
the order for many. 

The Craven Herald last week carried quite a long article reporting an interview
with David Hinks, Chairman of the RFCA and a MAA member.  David was
explaining why Ribble anglers are seeking assurances from The Settle water
turbine company that their proposed power generation plant at Settle weir will
have no adverse impact on migratory fish.  Far too many have jumped on
this particular allegedly green band wagon and the company concerned seems to
regard the proposal a done deal even though the planning application has only
just gone in for consideration. There are many issues concerning the ecological
impact of the scheme that need to be resolved.  It would be remarkably
foolish to permit this development on the grounds of its benefit to lowering
carbon emissions only to see it negate all the hard work that many have done
over the past few years to turn the Ribble into one of the finest salmon rivers
in England.

The Herald perversely accompanied the article with a photo of the weir in full
spate as much to infer that there is always plenty of water so what's the problem?.  A full spate is a condition that prevails only infrequently.  Normally the
weir flow is low enough to expose the rocks in the pool below and this is far
more typical showing why any abstraction here must be offset by an improved fish pass that permits migrating fish to pass the weir in low
water acerbated by turbine abstraction.

We will watch these developments with concern and interest.


28 September 2008

I went up to Turn Dub this morning to complete the invertebrate check for September. The weather is perfect with plenty of warm sunshine, a little broken cloud and almost no breeze.  The river needs a flush through.  It's full of filament weed below the Dub which made sampling tricky and not a little tedious extracting the wee beasties from the weed in the net.  The results are very encouraging and much more representative than the samples we took from the first three sites on Thursday.

The predominant family this time is undoubtedly baetis.  Each of the four samples I took came up crawling with them ranging in size from the almost microscopic to some quite decent sized specimens.  The prize of the morning though must be the biggest stonefly I have ever seen. This monster of the deep was nearly an inch and a quarter long and looked as fit as a fiddle.  He/she went back were I found him/her.

Simon has lost his head again I guess removed by a passing cow as I fixed his head on pretty securely last time I was at the Tarn.  I shall have to fettle a new one of something less attractive to passing bovines.  I think it must be the orange plastic bags I have been using that attract the cows as his first head which was white lasted a season without being munched.  The fishing return in the hut shows that catches have been fairly light over the past few days so I will go ahead with the planned stocking on Tuesday despite the fact that there is now only just over 4 weeks to go to the end of the season.  With the river so low it will be good to ensure that the Tarn is fishing well.


26 September 2008

We got the invertebrate check done yesterday at all three survey sites.  The results are a bit low in terms of total number of creatures, but OK when looking at representation of families.  The river is very low now, probably at its lowest since early June so some of the best gravel beds are not accessible which always depletes the number of creatures in the samples.  I shall complete the spreadsheets later today and upload them to the database.

It was a dull sort of day, overcast and still with no sign of life in the river.  There were a few sedge hatching, but nothing to excite the fish and encourage them to rise.  The cloud has melted away this morning and it's bright, sunny and a little chill with hardly a breath of wind.

Many members will be at Sammy's funeral today and I shall be with them in thought if not physically.


25 September 2008

and allow our older members to have a go at sampling as well as sorting and identifying.The plan is to do he autumn invertebrate check today.  A few members are coming up to Horton to help with this so we should get things sorted by lunchtime.  The river is a tad low for good sampling, but at least it should prevent few hazards.  I will post up the results tomorrow.

It really is sods law isn't it?  All summer we have had high water making fishing a challenge.  Now when we could do with higher water to get the salmon running we have a near drought.  Such is life.  Still It has come good just in time for local farmers who are out getting in a late crop of grass off meadows that have been too wet all summer to cut safely.  By all accounts the grass is in reasonable nick  Another near disaster averted.

It's my sad duty to tell you that Beatrice, Sammy's wife died on Tuesday.  A truly awful business.  Sammy's funeral will still go ahead tomorrow and I know that a good few members will be there to pay respects.  I am stuck in Horton since Sheila is in hospital but Sam will be much in my thoughts throughout the day.


24 September 2008

We picked up a rather blustery north east wind yesterday that made casting a pain, but it remained dry and quite sunny.  The wind has just abated and the cloud that built up over night is now beginning to break up so the day may be quite reasonable.

I was looking out of the kitchen window on Saturday morning and saw an elderly couple wandering about.  They bumped into the Hon Sec who had just turned up to fish the river and seemed to be in deep conversation.  Being nosey I went out to see what was up and found that this couple had lived at the farmhouse next to mine and for a brief time had lived in my house.  The old chap told us about days when Newhouses was full of livestock living in the barns that are now either my garage or converted dwellings.  He talked about the river and remembered Nat Hunt as an old man and Walter Pollard who was keeper here in the 1940's.  He gave me a name for a pool below Newhouses so 'Midge Hole' will be added to the next edition of the map.


23 September 2008

A number of members have asked to be kept informed about arrangements for Sammy's funeral.  I understand that the family have decided to proceed with a cremation this Friday (26 September) at 11.30.am at Wigan Cemetery, Ince. Find it off the A573 between Platt Bridge and Wigan. Cemetery Road leaves the A573 by a large red brick hotel..  I believe that the plan is to follow with a service of remembrance at some time in the future once the prognosis for Bea is clearer.  A good few MAA members will attend the funeral as will a rep from the RAF Association.  A sad day, but not one on which to be morbid.  I'm sure that many tales of his irreverent and impish humour will be recounted and his memory celebrated in a way appropriate to his unique character.


22 September 2008

When you stop to think about it (and I'm sure you do constantly) photosynthesis is a remarkable process.  I sat on the boardwalk round the hut yesterday afternoon watching fish rise to a sedge hatch and soaking up the welcome sun.  The surface of the Tarn was covered in what seemed to be little splatters which looked like rain drops falling on the water.  Strange, I thought.  The Sky was almost cloudless so rain was unlikely as a cause.  I started looking for a fly hatch and there were a few sedges emerging.  Their struggles off the surface were obvious so they were not the cause.  On closer examination I saw that these 'splatters' only occurred over the weed and were absent over the stony bottom areas.  It turned out that what I was seeing were thousands of tiny bubbles (and some larger ones) rising off the weed helping to oxygenate the water.  With this amount of oxygen being given off it's hardly surprising that the water in the Tarn looks so healthy and the fish are so fit.  We may mutter from time to time about the way that the weed interferes when fishing with a weighted line, but on the whole it's presence is entirely beneficial.

We have a marked contrast in the weather here this morning to the sun we enjoyed yesterday.  It's overcast and a bit drizzly with a stiff westerly breeze.  The local forecast is for a return to brighter conditions tomorrow.  We shall see.


21 September 2008

This run of glorious autumn weather continues with another blue sky morning and plenty of warm sunshine.  I stood at New Inn yesterday afternoon and watched a sizable hatch of sedge coming off the water prompting a reasonable number of rises in the pool above the bridge.  I was down there following a visit from the Hon Sec who brought a guest up to Horton to fish.  As he arrived at the Crown he happened to be doing what I did later and stood by the wall watching rises when into his field of view sailed a red float followed by a flotilla of sweet corn.  It seems that a laddo camped on New Inn flats had decided to try his luck and was promptly  'spoken to' and his licence examined.  This turned out to be out of date so a call from my place to the EA followed which revealed that the nearest EA enforcement officer was at Carnforth and no action could be taken.  It must be acutely frustrating for the EA officers on the ground to be so under resourced and one really wonders why we pay such a high (and rising) price for our rod licences only to see enforcement given such a low priority by EA managers.

My further visits to New Inn later on found our friend in his tent presumably having been persuaded that fishing at Horton would be less that rewarding.

Although the river is dropping off quickly now there is still sufficient water for good trout fishing.  It's far to low for salmon although one was seen jumping in the Marker Pool yesterday.


19 September 2008

By strange coincidence our efforts to persuade Natural England that we need to take measures to control predation of fish on our waters by cormorants seems to have coincided with a pan Europe push to address this issue.  The latest RFCA newsletter landed in my inbox this morning and you may be interested to see the Stop Press item that was included



Information is being sent to clubs and owners about
a paper/report by
Dr Heinz Kindermann that is being
presented to the the EU Committee on Fisheries, all about the problems created
by the excess numbers of cormorants.  We
are urging everyone clubs and individual members to write to their MEP