31 Augudt 2009

A very wet day yesterday brought the river back up to full flood last night.  It's dropped during the day despite a few showers and provided that we get no significant rain overnight it should be fishable tomorrow.  Be warned though, the forecast is for a wet week so it's going to be pot luck as to whether you find decent conditions if you plan to fish at Horton over the next few days.

A short while ago I was standing in my back kitchen contemplating the absence of view across the valley when a large raptor landed on a fence post beyond the lane.  Even with binoculars I failed to get a positive identification even though the bird was less than 10 yards away.  It looked like a large hawk with a speckled brown breast an long curved wings.  Too small for a buzzard and too large (and the wrong colour) for a sparrow hawk.  It has me puzzled.

All this precipitation has rather put paid to the regular draw down of the crayfish excluder ponds at Ling Ghyll.  Unless we get an unforeseen anticyclone before early October then I think the plan is to remove the pump and close down the site for the duration of the winter.  Some creatures will inevitably have gone over the falls in all this high water, but the numbers will have been significantly diminished by the presence of the dams.  So there is no real problem.  Next spring everything will be in place for an early start to the programme and given some decent weather a long summer schedule of draw downs should see all traces of plague removed from the river.


29 August 2009

Guess what – yep, you got it, it rained pretty well all day here yesterday and by last evening the river was in full flood.  Precipitation seems to have given over during the night so the flood is now falling back, but the water is heavily coloured and my estimate is that it will be late afternoon before we have decent trout water.  The salmon should be on the move though and it may be worth seeking them on the deeper runs between the pools where they lie up in slacker water.

Apart from all that it's quite windy here at present wit a stiff north westerly sweeping across the valley.  It's also unseasonably cold – definitely two waistcoat weather.

It looks like Simon will need to come out of retirement.  There is a semi resident cormorant at the Tarn and where you have one you fairly soon get others so we will have to do what we can to persuade this particular uninvited guest to move elsewhere and certainly before the final stocking next week.


26 August 2009

After a surprisingly nice day it's back to normal this morning with heavy rain blown along on a stiff westerly wind – the dying convulsions of hurricane Bill. 

I got the invertebrate check at New Inn done yesterday morning which produced few surprises.  Heptagenia are well down in numbers, but a check back reveals that this is a seasonal decrease not something to be concerned about.  Baetis nymphs are plentiful as are gammarus and stoneflies.  What is intriguing is the size of these creatures.  Most are very small compared to the general size profile evident in the samples earlier in the year.  I guess that this is because most are recent hatchings with more mature creatures having emerged into winged adults over the summer.  From a fishing perspective the results suggest that representations of adult olives should do best for rising fish, but nymphing with very small patterns might also produce results.

We have had a few incidents of casual trespass at the Tarn recently, mostly dog walkers who assume that it's their right to swim their dogs.  I have put a notice on the bottom gate stating that there is no public access to this site so we shall see whether that has the desired effect.  With a follower herd in Tarn pasture at present there should be no dogs near the Tarn so if you come across trespassers here you are encouraged to evict them.


23 August 2009

I was up at Turn Dub early this morning dodging the showers to do the August invertebrate check.  In moderately high water I found strong representation in all seven of the usual families present.  There is clearly a seasonal profile to the results as this time there were a lot more gammarus and stonefly than earlier in the season and a check back to the results from last August showed a very similar profile.  So any member planning to nymph the top end should have with them some representation of these two species.

It reaches my ears that two of our illustrious members may be in the process of attempting to recruit a ghilly to row them round the Tarn.  No harm in that I guess and it does help to ease ageing limbs given that the boat can be a real pig to row in even a light breeze.  However, the prospective ghilly in question happens to be a fairly buxom young lady whose normal gainful employment is pulling pints in the Crown Hotel.  My understanding is that she has been promised a fish in exchange for her efforts.  A casual perusal of the fishing log in the hut suggests that if she does “do” for our intrepid  piscators she may be waiting some while for her fish! 


22 August 2009

I have said before that you never quite know what manner of exiting things are going to turn up in your email in box.  Far too often it's stuff you would not choose to allow your wife or servants to read, but every once in a while up pops a genuine email that contains an unexpected surprise.  It's like those old jamboree bags fondly remembered from childhood that sometimes had hidden away inside a small toy that set you in a good mood for the rest of the day and made the other gunge in the bay almost palatable.

My reference to Arthur Ransome a few days ago prompted such an email from a relative of Nat Hunt.  We know that AR fished at Horton, but until now I have never seen tangible proof that he fished the Tarn.  Here is an email and attachment that dispels any lingering doubt.

Hello Ian,
Further to your notes of 17 August, you may be
interested in the attached copy of the Christmas Card (home -made) sent by AR to
NH in about 1931.   Another similar card contains the following
“Hurry up with the gaff, Hunt, L. Ness monster this
All sounds very exciting!
AR also sent NH a copy of AR's book “Rod and Line”
on the occasion of NH's birthday in Nov 1931.
Best Wishes,
John G

Anyone familiar with Ransome's books will instantly recognise the style

Thanks, John I'm in your debt.


21 August 2009

As my Mother is so fond of saying “if it's not one thing it's another” having confidently claimed a low river yesterday it happened to rain all night after a fairly damp afternoon and the river is now pretty full, fast flowing and coloured.  It's been a fairly dry day today after a few heavy showers this morning so the early weekend should see some good conditions provided that we get no more heavy rain tonight.  Looking at the local forecast I see that it may be fairly bright tomorrow before more heavy and prolonged showers move in to upset things on Sunday.

I have been slightly concerned that catch returns on the Tarn of late have been disappointing with the ratio of catch to visits well down on results from back in July.  Talking around I learn that this pattern is being witnessed on still waters across North Yorkshire so it's probably down to the weather rather than any local issue with the Tarn.  Talking to members who have fished here over the past few days reveals that dry fly are being taken , but quite a few fish are being lost mainly due to rather desultory feeding habits.  The fly is being sucked in and expelled before a strike can be made.  Perhaps the flavour is not to the liking of our resident rainbows.  Does anyone know what damsel fly tastes like?


20 August 2009

Another damp and dismal day here at Horton.  Just enough rain to be a pest without really adding much benefit to a rather low river.  Still, it's good to see one new member having some success with our wild fish yesterday afternoon despite conditions being far from ideal.  Barry P has put an article on the club website asking for a few tips to help improve his success on the river.  A short article from one of our river experts would be very welcome on the website particularly as the club is now recruiting an increasing number of new members who are unfamiliar with the capriciousness of the upper Ribble.  So come on there must be a frustrated author out there bursting to share hard won knowledge.

I have been laid up all this week with a dodgy knee which seems to have been caused by an allergic reaction to midge bites.  Since Sunday I have been hobbling around and unable to get to either river or Tarn.  Happy to say that it seems to be getting better so a day spent mink spotting and catching up on other jobs is planned for tomorrow.


19 August 2009

It's a bit of a dour day.  No rain so far, but it's cloudy and very humid.  The river is now past its best, but just about fishable on the better pools.  It seemed to fish well last night and prompted Gavin P to email me with further observation apropos whether we have an increasing population of young trout or young salmon.  Gavin tells me that:

With you having raised
the question of possible miss identification of some of our Ribble young fish,
and last night having fished the pool across  from the Crown pub it made me look
a little closer at the fish we where catching. The 3 fish that I caught where
most certainly trout and comparing the pictures posted on the club web site
named home grown it was interesting to note that the fish last night and others
all show quiet remarkably long pectoral fins compared to the example picture of a
trout par. These fish are different from the Wharfe fish in my experience which
show rounded stubbier fins in this area probably due to them being stocked fish
or on the other hand the trout on the Wharfe perhaps do not have to endure the
spate conditions that the fish in the upper Ribble often have to put up

The finage on our Ribble
fish if this was the only means of identification then it would be difficult to
tell both juveniles apart. With you commenting on identification I looked to see
if I had a trout parr picture as small as the young salmon picture that I have
posted. It might be possible that some member might have in there albums a
picture of a small trout parr from the Ribble so that comparison can be made
between the two more closely.

This might be going over
old ground put good pictures on the club site must be off benefit to all who

So it seems pretty certain that the young fish that have been so abundant this season are wild brown trout.

For a long time now I have been going on about “Anglers' Evenings” the three volume collection of papers published by the club in its early years.  For those of you who don't have a copy and have never read these fascinating insights into the minds of our earliest forebears here is a treat.  If you go to http://www.archive.org/stream/anglersevngs00manciala/anglersevngs00manciala_djvu.txt  and http://www.archive.org/stream/anglerseveningsp00manciala/anglerseveningsp00manciala_djvu.txt 
you will find the complete text of the first and third volumes of these books.  The second volume is there to.  If you look to the left of the website page you will see a button marked “view other formats” click on that and you will see a little flashing book.  If you click on the book you can open a facsimile copy of the volume complete with pictures. It looks as if you can also open and save the books as a PDF document.  Thanks to David M for spotting this site and alerting me to its whereabouts.  I have put these links on the club website.


17 August 2009

Now here is a treat for those of you who like their fishing spiced with a little intrigue.  Many of you will know that club folklore has it that Arthur Ransome fished at Horton frequently and I have it on good authority that he was a regular visitor to my illustrious predecessor Nat Hunt who would tie flies for Ransome to use on the River and at the Tarn.  Ransome is a fascinating character about whom much has been written down the years since his death in 1967.  A new biography has recently been published that attempts to chart the time he spent in Russia as a correspondent for the Daily News.  It's an established fact that Ransome was an MI6 agent, but this book claims that there is evidence that he may have been a double agent supplying information on British foreign policy to the Bolsheviks. 

Certainly Ransome was pretty close to the main players in the Bolshevik revolution and married Trotsky's secretary, but there is strong evidence that he was fiercely loyal to England although his miserable existence as a schoolboy at Rugby school left him with a deep distrust of authority.  When asked by an MI5 officer tasked with debriefing him what his politics were he replied “fishing”.

What's slightly weird is that his main base whist reporting on Russian affairs was a Hotel in Tallinn called the Golden Lion.  Many years later he would once again be based at the Golden Lion, but this time at Horton in Ribblesdale.

So why not add “The Last Englishman: The double Life of Arthur Ransome” by Roland Chambers to your Christmas list and the next time you fish down from Horton or stand by the Tarn reflect on the fact that you may well be standing in the boot prints of a man who witnessed at first hand one of the most momentous events of the early 20th Century, spied for his country and went on to write the most enchanting series of children's books in the English language.

Turning to matters a little more prosaic.  It's been wet this past 48 hours so the river whilst not at its best is just about fishable.  The forecast is for warmer more settled weather over the next couple of days so if you do come up to Horton you may find the fish obliging.


15 August 2009

The wet weather that we were promised on Friday arrived rather breathless and looking sheepish this morning.  It's been raining on and off all day with quite a stiff south west wind this afternoon.  The river is up a bit, but still well below its best and the cold, windy conditions has deterred riverfly from hatching.

I got an email yesterday from a member that had me laughing out loud.  for those of you who can't or don't visit the club web page here it is in full.

Hi Ian,
   Some while ago when heading to the local newsagent for my morning paper, I was amazed to spot a small roach of about three inches long stuck on the windscreen of a neighbours Jag.It being rather early in the day – about 7am – I rubbed my eyes and did a double take, and thinking that the three pints of Thwaites's consumed the night before were the strongest I'd ever supped, checked again. Sure enough a freshly dead silver fish glued by it's slime, was stuck on the window of the car. Being quite early in the day I failed to spot anyone to confirm what I had spotted, and so carried on to buy my Daily Mail still doubting my own eyes. On the return journey I spotted the owner of the car emerging from his abode about to set off to work,”Phil”,I called,”just a minute.Have you seen that fish stuck on your windscreen?” With a not surprisingly puzzled look on his face he asked me to repeat the question.”Have you seen the roach stuck on your windscreen”? All the time getting nearer to where the Jag was parked, on arrival at the vehicle I was again stunned, as the pesky piscatorial had just as miraculously disappeared again. Needless to say neighbour Phil was looking at me rather strangely, and not surprisingly slightly backing away from me with a dubious look in his eye as I attempted to describe to him what I had seen not ten minutes before on my outward journey. But lo and behold !
Exactly where I “thought” I saw a fish was the shape of a the missing roach in fish slime on the glass. “Ah! that proves I haven't imagined it”, but where on earth has it disappeared to!          The only feasible explanation I could come up with, apart from a very elaborate hoax by an unknown prankster was “birds”! A heron or more likely a gull had picked up the fish from a nearby millpond and dropped it whilst flying over that spot. Then when I moved on descended to pick up its dropped breakfast.Birds are notorious for moving things from place to place in the fishing world, fish spawn, frog spawn, diseases.They have over the ages been blamed for – and probably rightly so-all manner of “Whence It Came” theories and could, quite conceivably, be responsible for fry in the Tarn.If not then at least I got to share my little story with you.

That's a very discerning roach.  If you have to get stuck on a windscreen make sure that the car is one on which you don't mind being seen dead.  I suppose a trout would have nothing less than a Range Rover or Roller.