With water levels too low for decent fishing the season has rather fizzled out and the final day tomorrow is hardly worth the effort.
I did the invertebrate check at Turn Dub yesterday in some bright, warm sunshine. The river was crystal clear and flowing strongly over the riffles just below the Turn Dub inlet. The results for this site were once again very similar to last October with a good number of gammarus and a lot of very small cased caddis. The kick close to the bank turned up a couple of surprised looking bull heads. It's important to get these little fish out of the sample quickly because they can play havoc with the results of a sample by eating any invertebrate that wanders within reach. I learnt this to my cost in the very early days of sampling when I left a very large bullhead in the sample tray and then wondered why a seemingly good haul of mixed invertebrates was diminishing as I counted them.
Long term readers of this blog will recall that a couple of years ago we planted a lot of saplings between Turn Dub and the top of the fenced run just above where the Pennine Bridleway will cross the river. Most of the hawthorns have taken, but we had less luck with the ash that went in here. The Woodland Trust contacted me last week and came to visit last Friday. I have now submitted an application to them to complement the planting we did in this fenced area with a thousand mature saplings. At the same time we will repair the fence at the foot of the Tarn and put some native hardwood trees in the wildlife area. The beauty of this scheme is that the Trust provide not only the trees, but also the guards, stakes and labour to put the whole lot in. Once again we will be planting in pockets and groups so as to leave plenty of casting room and avoid creating an unnatural sylvan corridor. Our hope is that these trees will mature to provide good cover for young brown trout. Some willows will be put in right on the bankside so that their roots create ideal homes for mature trout. It will take a few years, but you have to start somewhere.
I was recently sent a wonderful account of habitat improvement carried out on the Wharfe over a hundred years ago They were trying to do then what we have recently rediscovered and improve habitat by planting trees and sowing wild flower seeds to encourage the recruitment of river flies. I will shortly post this up on the club website along with a great deal of other material that has recently been sent to me.
Well, it looks as if that's it for the 2009 season. The river has fallen quickly today and is now too low for decent salmon fishing. With no real rain forecast for the next few days it's unlikely that we will get another spate before Friday.
I got a call this evening from a friend who has lived all her long life in the village and had taken a relative down to Stainforth to see if there were any salmon coming up the Foss. She was beside herself with excitement having spent an hour by the falls during which time she thinks that she saw dozens of fish leaping. Many were quite large, but she was intrigued by the small (she believes about 2lb) fish that were jumping also. these seem too small to be returning salmon and my thought was that these were sea trout, but I would welcome any ideas. Coincidentally Alan M dropped by at lunchtime having caught the last of the good water this morning and also caught and returned an eight pound very coloured fish. Alan said that he was just leaving the pool below Whit (Monkey) Beck when a shoal of five trout passed him going up stream. Received wisdom tells us that trout don't shoal, but could these also be migrating sea trout?
Finally, here is a photo of the discharge entering the river yesterday.
The rain was pretty relentless yesterday and combined with the wind made for a thoroughly miserable day. Clouds do however have silver linings and consequence of all the wet was a river in spanking form this morning or at least it would have been if it hadn't been for Horton Quarry which chose to discharge a rather unpleasant flow of washings down the beck between Cragg Hill and Whit Beck. This came in a series of pulses and caused considerable turbidity down through Cragg Hill. The President was fishing at the time and rang me in high dudgeon. Two solutions sprang to mind, use florescent flies or ring the EA. The latter seemed the more constructive action and a very speedy response resulted.
I stood by the Tay bridge with the Pres and watched this muck spread across the river. It's unlikely to be fatal to fish, but I see no good reason why members should have their fishing spoilt by the actions of a company that should know better.
If any member is down by the Tay Bridge tomorrow and sees a pulse of muck discolouring the water can you please ring me.
Despite this problem I gather that at least two salmon were caught and released today with plenty more seen or lost.
We are forecast more rain tomorrow so the river should remain in good salmon water. There are reports of plenty coming up over Settle weir.
As I confidently predicted yesterday we awake this morning to a river in full spate. Looking out of the window now I can see that the heavy rain clouds are lifting on a stiff westerly breeze and a fair bit of blue sky is breaking through so by lunchtime we should have a falling river and near perfect salmon fishing conditions. Be prepared for blustery showers though as I doubt if the current blaze of blue will last long on this breeze.
I now have a lot of material waiting to upload to the club website which has been sent to me by one of my regular correspondents. I will try to get this on to the site later today so if you haven't visited Angli Vespers for a while then it may be worth a browse later this evening.
Good news for all members who have been eyeing their salmon rod with a growing sense of desperation as the seasons close draws ever nearer and the Ribble remained rather lacking in salmon lubricant. It's been raining hard on and off all day and it's currently chucking it down. The prospects for good fishing water tomorrow must be good and even better the strong winds we have here this evening are supposed to moderate tomorrow morning. So why not forget the extra hour lie in tomorrow and celebrate the transition back to GMT with a spot of salmo salar baiting.
I did the October invertebrate check at New Inn yesterday morning in some surprisingly warm sunshine. The results were unspectacular and rather reassuring. A fair number of seven of the eight families we monitor. No true mayfly (E danica), but as I have said many times before this stony spate river is pretty much hell on earth for a creature more associated with languid chalk streams. I thought that overall numbers were down compared to last year, but a check with the records when I got home showed that the results this year are almost identical to October 2008. That's good news as far as it goes since it shows that the river has suffered no noticeable harm from pollutants.
My ambition remains to see a steady increase in invertebrate populations year on year so as to provide a sufficient food source to support increased trout and salmon recruitment. I think that one of the key factors influencing riverfly populations is the presence of good bankside herbage and tree cover and here we may be able to make some headway after a visit I had today from the Woodland Trust. It would seem that the Trust are fairly flush with grant money for native tree planting at present and we are now looking at a couple of schemes that will increase the amount of bankside planting without impinging on fishing or grazing land. More on this once all the necessary permissions have been obtained.
We had an added bonus this morning up at the Tarn whilst I showed my guest around. Our crayfish are now in breeding mode and a number of large specimens were moving about in broad daylight much to his delight.
Still no rain, but the forecast for tomorrow promises us a wet day so fingers crossed.
Well we got the wind that was forecast for today, but not so much rain. Despite that the river is still in fairly good water and with a wet day in prospect tomorrow should remain so for a while yet. The Ribble salmon should be running up to Horton in good numbers now.
I raised the issue of the Rowe End sewer at last night's parish Council meeting and councillors have undertaken to write to United Utilities asking them why we have now had four pollution incidents in the past two years related to this pipe, what they have done to alleviate the problem and what they propose to do to ensure that no further incidents occur. I seem to have been given the task of drafting this letter (serves me right for raising it). We will see what sort of response we get from UU.
My broadband connection has been going up and down like a bar maid's knickers over the past couple of days so if you have emailed me and not got a reply, sorry. The problems with the equipment are hopefully now resolved (I hope that's not tempting fate). It always amazes me that such a complex and advanced system that we have here to get broadband into this valley does not fall over more often. All credit to LN Communications who designed and installed the network.
Good news for those of you with twitching rod arms. The river is currently in quite good water after 24 hrs of steady rain so we should see some significant salmon movements over the next day or so. The forecast is for more rain sweeping in from the south west on a strong wind so favourable conditions should last most of this week.
It's a miserably wet day so far, but precipitation is falling as mizzle rather than the prolonged heavy stuff that will lift the river to salmon fishing levels. So as we approach the end of the salmon season there is still not enough water to make the trip to Horton to wet a salmon fly worthwhile.
A chance meeting with a member of Settle Anglers in the hardware store in Settle yesterday saw us chewing the fat for so long that we were in danger of being locked in as the store closed. Only the intervention of Mrs F who came in to find out if I had slipped through a time warp into another dimension curtailed the natter. I learn that the screw turbine at the Hydro plant will be installed shortly, but work is well behind schedule and considerably over budget. I really do have my doubts as to whether this generating plant will ever be of any value and I really can't see it having a long life. Looking at the work done so far I get the distinct impression that one really good Ribble flood and the whole lot will go to hell in a handcart. I shall keep my fingers crossed!
It's a dismal start to the day with a veil of thick fog draped over the valley masking the river and fells opposite and severely restricting the view from my kitchen window. No rain so the river is still too low for salmon and judging by the forecast for this week will remain so.
I thought that it was just me that suffered the baleful attention of Mr Sod and his well known law, but it seems that others fall within the scope of his radar from time to time. A regular visitor to the Tarn emailed me yesterday to recount the sorry tale of his last visit on Monday. he took the boat out to mid water and began fishing. The fishing was going well, too well. On attempting to retrieve the anchor he discovered that it was held fast to the bed of the Tarn.
Now I make it very clear to new members when they join that extreme care must be taken at all times when fishing deep for fear of snagging the plug that prevents the Tarn from draining away little thinking that this might actually come to pass. Be that as it may, our esteemed member was now stuck with no means of summoning help and a set of self help options none of which were ideal. He could cut the anchor line and abandon the gear, swim for the shore or make a further attempt at freeing the recalcitrant anchor. He decided upon the latter and after much heaving, sweating swearing and exhausting effort managed to haul up the anchor together with a rather large carboy that was last seen many years ago when it was employed to anchor barley straw bales to prevent them drifting in the wind.
To have dropped anchor right on top of this hazard that has lain happily unmolested for years must count as very bad luck, but leaves me wondering just what else is lurking in the depths of the Tarn just waiting to ensnare an unwary fisherman. A mermaid with a Yorkshire accent or a kraken like giant crayfish? Happy fishing!