31 March 2009

It's another rather grey start today, but once again the promise is for the sun to break through later just as it did yesterday.  It feels appreciably warmer so there may well be a worthwhile hatch of fly this afternoon. 

It looks as though the Salmon and Trout Association may well put their considerable campaigning weight behind efforts to control the spread of alien crayfish.  Paul B has written to them outlining the dangers that these creatures pose to salmonid ecosystems and the devastating effect that infestations of red signal crayfish in particular can have on salmon and trout recruitment. 

I have acquired a high definition video camera so with a bit of luck this blog may feature video clips in the near future.  That's if I can master the intricacies of the thing and the art of editing whatever I do manage to record.  They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think that the two media need to complement each other so this will not become an extension of YouTube.

I have fixed a cork fly board in the hut so members are invited to put on it any river or Tarn pattern that they would like to share with others.  I will leave a note book on the fly bench for you to record any notes about these patterns that you wish to pass on. 

Ian

30 March 2009

It's a misty moisty start to the working week after all the fun of the sun yesterday.  In fact it's very foggy here at present and the river is veiled from my kitchen window.  It does feel a tad warmer though and the sun is forecast to break through later so it should be quite a good day for fishing either the river or the Tarn. 

If you find yourself housebound today why not log on to the Wild Trout Trust website www.wildtrout.org.  This organisation that is dedicated to ensuring that our wild brown trout have a future is running its annual on line and postal auction starting today.  On the front page of the website you will find a link to the ebay site where the auction is hosted.  Here you will see a host of lots to suite most budgets and interests including books, prints, flies and fishing visits both at home and overseas.  Treat yourself, get bidding, grab a bargain and help to ensure that there will always be wild brown trout in our UK rivers.

Ian

29 March 2009

What an amazing start to summertime.  I went up to the Tarn first thing to blow away the cobwebs after a 60th birthday bash last night.  The water was a mirror reflecting the hills and azure blue sky.  The margins had a skim of ice which gave the impression of a cracked and frosted frame.  A heron stood on the duck wall and eyed me with deep suspicion. He (or she) will have trouble with our fat trout.  The stone loach and emerging frogs that inhabit the swampy ground at the foot of the Tarn are likely to be the menu.

The swans seem to be starting a nest close in to the cross wall at the far side of the Tarn.  If they do nest here then it may well prove possible to protect the nest this year by throwing a fence out and back to the wall, encircling the nest site, but leaving access to the water.  We shall see.

The air was crystal clear with no hint of haze and Selside stood out in sharp detail across the valley.  Looking north Whernside loomed large with details picked out in clear relief.  There are two Canada geese in residence at Turn Dub,  Whether they too will nest is uncertain.  A few years ago a paid did nest near the Dub and raised a dozen goslings.  I was surprised to learn last night that these wild geese make good eating.  The meat is very gamy with a hint of liver.  It's dark, but apparently very tasty if cooked very slowly.  Not like the recipe for badger where you joint your badger, put it in a pot with veg, add stock and a stone.  Cook for 12 hours then throw away the badger and eat the veg and the stone.

The river is in almost perfect condition having dropped its colour, but retained good flow after the recent rain.  It's a bit too cold to encourage our trout to free feed freely as it needs to be around 10 degrees for optimum feeding and the temperature this morning in the water was nearer 6 degrees.  However, the sun is making its presence felt and without the wind of the past few days the water should warm slowly.  The forecast for the week is for much more settled and warmer conditions so look forward to some ideal fishing conditions.

Ian

27 March 2009

It's a grim start again today with a bitingly cold north west wind blowing along some mean showers.  The forecast gives hope that the wind will drop by this afternoon, but the rain may increase by evening so expect the river to be high and coloured tomorrow.  We should consider ourselves lucky that the weather is about the worst threat to safety whist fishing at Horton.  One member has just emailed me some photos which show in graphic detail the risks posed to fishermen in some parts of the world.  Crocodiles are not common at Horton so we are unlikely to suffer the fate of the individuals or individual in these photos.  They show a captured croc together with its stomach contents which include human arms and legs.  Nice!  Keep a eye out when you are next fishing up a Selside you just never know!

Better news reaches me via Paul B who rang to tell me that all the funding is now agreed for the North Ribblesdale crayfish project and work will start very soon to restore our native crayfish to the river as well as conduct a thorough survey of the Tarn population which has not been done since 2002.  Paul also tells me that a further step has been taken in the battle to control the spread of non native crayfish species so all in all a good week for Austropotamobius pallipes.

Ian

26 March 2009

It's been a foul start to the day with strong winds, rain and low temperature.  There is a hint of brightness in the sky as I write this so the day may not be a complete washout. Fishing conditions will be challenging as the heavy overnight rain has raised the river level to just below spate conditions and there is a lot of run off coming from the pastures and meadows colouring the water.

I spent a while yesterday trying to identify my little yellow baetis nymphs, but am still none the wiser.  There seems to be a paucity of information about the colour of riverfly nymphs generally.  I have some pretty comprehensive field guides that should enable identification down to species level, but these rarely mention colour as an identifier so maybe colours vary within species depending on habitat?  I shall persevere.

I forgot to post up a photo sent to me of one of our early season trout (sorry Rob) so here it is just to whet your appetite.

Ian

25 March 2009

I did the riverfly check at Turn Dub yesterday and found good representations of all the families included in the monitoring scheme.  Most abundant was baetis with heptagenia a close second.  There were a good number of stoneflies in the sample and just a few gammarus, but this is not an ideal gammarus spot as there is too little detritus present in the river to tempt them.

Once again I found a fair number of sulphur yellow baetis nymphs which I must try to identify.  Two bullhead completed the haul from this site both quite large specimens.

Keeping with things watery, Edward M dropped by yesterday in foul weather on his way to fish the Tarn for the first time this season.  He happened to bring with him a portable water sampling kit complete with data logger.  On his return he reported three good fish caught and sampling results that show just how good the water quality at the Tarn is at present.  The oxygen reading shows super saturation at 110% so our fish will not struggle to breath and decomposition at the bed must be minimal.  The conductivity reading was very low showing that there is little nutrient in the water in the form of phosphates or nitrates.  Again this is good news as algae growth depends on nutrient being present.  pH was 8.2 which tallies well with my own observations and is well within the parameters required by trout for a healthy existence.  Finally, temperature came in at 7.2 again ideal trout conditions.  The plan is to monitor now on a regular basis using this kit so that we can pick up any significant changes and respond to them accordingly.  For example, a low oxygen saturation reading would signify problems for fish breathing and can be countered by mixing the various horizons within in water column so preventing mortality by asphyxiation.  All good stuff.

We had a lot of rain (and wind) in the night so the river is in better water than of late. It's a slightly better day so far with a hint of brightness, but fairly heavy cloud and a pretty stiff west wind.  The forecast is for unsettled conditions over the next few days.

Ian

23 March 2009

It was a grim start to the working week with rain driving in on a strong west wind.  It feels much colder than of late.  However, the rain has now stopped, the sun has broken through and it's a tad warmer.  We still have a very strong west wind though.

My musings yesterday about the elusiveness of Ribble trout prompted a correspondent with a lifetimes experience of the river at Horton to confirm my observations – or lack of them.  The fish here really are difficult to see and you need a degree of faith to believe that the river hosts a good population of brown trout.  This does make fishing tricky as unless you can cast to a fish that you see rising (and many do) fly fishing here is very much a matter of seeking out likely lies and covering these with a pattern of casts.  This ability to read the river only can come with experience, trial and error and demands patience. 

It also seems to me as a very infrequent fisher that to keep a good fishing diary complete with diagrams, comment on conditions, fly life seen, artificials used, etc, etc would be of great benefit and these diaries would provide invaluable information about the state of the fishery helping to inform future actions aimed at maintaining and enhancing its viability.

It's a pity that the club web site is so static otherwise it would be quite possible to utilise this as a way of maintaining an on-line composite diary that all could contribute to.  I do know of a way of achieving this, but it would mean rebuilding the existing website using a content management system as the base program.  Not difficult, but potentially time consuming and only worth doing if it's likely to be used.

Your thoughts are welcome.

Ian

22 March 2009

The weather has gone a little pear shaped this morning.  There is a nasty cold north west wind blowing down the valley and the cloud has increased as a precursor to more unsettled conditions forecast for this coming week which should see a drop of rain which will be welcome as the river is now looking quite depleted.

I have often been puzzled by my failure to spot fish lurking in likely lies especially when on visits to other rivers trout can easily be seen holding station behind suitable rocks and debris.  I thought maybe that I was just not tuned in to penetrating the camouflage that our wild trout adopt, but an email yesterday tells me that others have equal difficulty spotting fish lying where they should be.  One member sat for a long while eating his lunch down by the Pipe Pool and failed to spot a single fish yet this is a pool that regularly provides very good fishing.  They do say that if you can't see them you can't catch them and fishing becomes a lottery based on chuck it in and hope.  Perhaps it's just a bit too early in the season and our fish are low down and tucked away under the banks.  It would be good if regular fishers of our waters could share their observations by posting comments on this blog.  I fact my correspondent suggests just that.  He would find it helpful if the river experts could share knowledge with newbies about flies used, places fished, technique used etc. which will build to a body of knowledge about fishing here at Horton.

We have pondered the idea of restarting the old Anglers' Evenings so how about picking an evening in early summer and having as a theme 'good practice fishing at Horton'.  We could start with a brief look at the river then adjourn to the Crown for supper and a series of talks or presentations by the club's master fishermen.  We could even video the session as part of the club archive.

We put 160 really bonny fish into the Tarn yesterday.  I am mightily impressed with the stock from our new supplier.  These are fit, full bodied fish with perfect fins and tails.  All are around the 2lb mark with some up to 3lb.  You will find a few blue trout amongst the rainbows.  These fight well and make superb eating having a firmer flesh than the rainbows.  Do let me have your thoughts and views on your experience with these fish.

Ian

21 March 2009

The first day of spring and this glorious weather continues to light up the dales.  I drove up to Ribblehead yesterday and despite the haze the scenery was stunning lit with a golden diffused light under an azure sky.  It's a frosty start here this morning, but the sun is now burning through and warming everything nicely.  Perfect conditions for stocking the Tarn later today and good fishing weather if a little bright.

I connected the water pump in the hut yesterday morning. This will supply water for washing hands, mugs, teapot, etc, but should not be used for drinking as it comes straight out the Tarn and I can't guarantee that the pump will not impart a slight trace of oil.  Ther is a non return valve between the pump and the inlet so no water can siphon back to contaminate the Tarn.  If you use the sink do please remember to empty the waste bucket sensibly after each use – NOT in the Tarn.

The book shelves in the hut are still empty so if members have any suitable volumes surplus to need do please bring them up.

The geese I mentioned the other day were clearly in passage because they had gone by first thing yesterday.  Looking at my bird book suggests to me that these were probably greylag en route to summer quarters.

Despite the very low water the river seemed to fish well yesterday.  Alan M got two below Horton so we now know that there are wild fish present and feeding all the way down the fishery.  I will post up a couple of pictures of the the seasons first fish later today.

Ian

20 March 2009

Sorry to those of you logging on yesterday who got an error message about lack of bandwidth.  It seems that so many are now reading this stuff that the traffic exceeded the limit imposed by the hosting company.  With the agreement of the Hon Sec I have now upgraded to a higher level package and all should be working again.

I have just done the invertebrate check at New Inn this morning and what a surprise.  The river is now very low after a couple of weeks without rain so I was expecting a fairly meagre result.  This certainly proved true for heptagenia (yellow May dun), but the results for baetis was quite spectacular with well over 200 specimens covering a range of sizes and colours coming into the net.  This is a marked contrast to January when in high water I got mostly heptagenia and lots of them.

So the main information you need from this is that if you plan to fish around New Inn over the next few days small baetis patterns are likely to tempt most fish.  It would be worth trying something very small and bright yellow as a good number of nymphs in the sample were sulphur yellow about an eighth of an inch long.

I came upon a flock of about 20 geese up by the Tarn early yesterday.  Too far away for a positive identification, but they looked too white to be Canadas.  I plan to wander up there shortly for a more considered look if they are still there so more on this tomorrow.

Finally, it's another cracking day here with plenty of sun, but a rather chilly south east breeze blowing up the valley.  As I have said above the river is now pretty low so fishing some of the shallower runs will be difficult and the pools are the best bet until we get some rain.

Ian