Those of you who wish to pay their respects to Les Stretton will wish to know that his funeral will take place on Monday 4 October at 12.45 in the Parish church at Upholland near Wigan.
Of course, it's the last day of the trout season and the river is in good nick following a fair drop of rain yesterday. It's turning bright now and with almost no breeze conditions are good. Mind you the weather has really b*****d up the webcam. With no sun and no wind all week the battery went flat around midnight and all you will see is a blank page until either sun or wind puts some juice back in. The forecast is for more rain tomorrow so we should see some salmon running on Saturday
We are expecting a stunning turn out at the supper tomorrow with over 50 members' guests and land owners now booked in. This event continues to go from strength to strength thanks in no small part to a brilliant hot pot and the hospitality of Sandra and Thomas at the Crown.
See you tomorrow.
After much effort on Neil's behalf the Tarn webcam is now up and running well streaming live pictures to the member's website. These images update automatically every minute so you don't need to keep reloading the browser page. At present the camera is set to show the majority of the water from the lodge looking towards the duck wall. The resolution is sufficiently good to reveal rises and as the end of the cross wall is just in picture we should be able to monitor cormorant activity. Now that the power is mainly coming from a wind generator the camera will continue broadcasting pictures irrespective of the light so on very bright nights it may just be possible to pick up nocturnal activity. Neil has done a brilliant job on this and deserves much thanks.
No chance of nocturnal pictures this week as the forecast is a very mixed bag of rain, wind and much gloom. It's particularly dark this morning, but quite warm and almost windless. There is still enough flow on the river to provide some reasonable end of season trout fishing and with a veritable deluge promised for tomorrow and again on Friday there may well be good salmon fishing to be had for those staying on after the Hot Pot on Friday evening.
This promises to be quite an event with nearly 50 members, landowners and guests expected to fill the Crown Hotel.
The invert check at New Inn gave no surprises (to me at least, the minnow I caught in one sample looked a bit shocked). Plenty of olives and a reasonable number of small May dun and caddis, but no gammarus and very few stone fly. Looking back this is pretty much the pattern for last September at this spot. This is now the fourth year that we have been monitoring the inverts in the river and I must get down to compiling a profile to see whether all the data we have gathered shows any changes year on year.
It's my very sad duty to report that long standing club and Council member Les Stretton passed away last night after a short illness. Les will be fondly remembered as a larger than life character whose wicked humour, kindness and warm companionship at many club events will be very sorely missed. For many years he was a regular on the annual pilgrimage to South Uist and his passing will leave a great void for those who make the journey in future years.
Our heartfelt condolences go to his many friends and to his family.
The sun put in a rare appearance today and bathed the Tarn in a glow that really accentuated its beauty as Sammy's family gathered to scatter his ashes. Despite the chill wind that made the water decidedly choppy Peter gave a masterful demonstration of oarsmanship to enable Sammy's nephew to scatter the ashes on the water. A fitting resting place for someone who spent so many happy hours fishing from the boat. The only real regret was that so few members were present. Just two of us were witness with the family. I had hoped for a more generous send off.
We may soon be able to restore the service of live pictures from the Tarn. If all goes to plan tomorrow an improved power supply should ensure that the camera works without interruption. If so then watch for synchronised flying practise from the swan family. I had an email yesterday from one of the Tuesday boys which I will put on the Club website. It records the boy's delight in seeing for the first time the three cygnets being taken through their flying lessons. We witnessed the same performance today as seemingly on a nod from dad two of the three youngsters began to accelerate down the Tarn until they reached take off speed whereupon they throttled back amid much wing flapping and came to rest. Their sibling was much too busy stuffing its gullet to take part.
The river despite having fallen since the rain we had on Thursday is still in good fishing nick. So there is still time and opportunity for brown trout before the season ends next Thursday. Watch out for the bitter north east wind. It's cold enough to worry a brass monkey.
A rather nice morning has gradually deteriorated to a wet afternoon with a veil of cloud drawn across the fells. It's still mild and I have seen a good few sedge on the wing so despite the damp fishing remains good. It may well be wet tomorrow and Friday so conditions on a drier Saturday should be good for those planning to wet a line after seeing Sammy off at the Tarn.
Fingers crossed that we may have a fisheries minister in post who actually listens to reason and is opposed to one size fits all policies. The S&TA and AST met Richard Benyon recently primarily to discuss the Trout and Grayling Strategy. Opportunity was taken at this meeting to raise issues of a more fundamental nature such as funding for fisheries work in the EA and the structural changes needed within the EA to ensure that he Water Framework Directive actually leads to improved catchment conditions. It's clear from this meeting that Benyon is not a fan of legislation that offers no scope for local management based on local knowledge and conditions. Watch this space.
I was up at the Tarn early this morning celebrating the fact that at long last its stopped raining. A warm and rather muggy start to the day had encouraged a good hatch of sedge and our Tarn fish were making merry with more rises than I have seen for some days.
The cygnets are getting big and bold now, confident enough to stand their ground as I approach and give me a good hissing. Their flight feathers look well developed so it won't be long before they try out a few tentative glides.
No sign of dead fish so our occasional mustelid visitor cannot have been about since the weekend. Mind you, with so much water in the river he is probably far too engrossed chasing salmon.
I went over to take a look at the new bridge. This seems to be making glacial progress and looks little different from early last week. It really is a monster structure with a massive ellipse spanning the river. I have serious doubts as to whether the job will be finished by the end of the month when their licence runs out.
Those of you who knew Sammy Wood may wish to know that his ashes are being scattered at the Tarn on Saturday 25th September at about 11.30. I know that many of his friends will be there to witness and pay their respects so do come along if you can. I thought of Sammy last week. I was up a ladder pruning the climbing dog rose that covers the gable wall of the house when I heard a distant rumble from up by Ribblehead. This grew in volume and I almost fell off the ladder as a Lancaster bomber came sedately down the valley at almost roof top height. I thought, if only that could have happened on 25th it would have been a remarkable send off for the venerable member.
It's been raining since late afternoon and so far 3 inches have been deposited in the bucket outside the back door. As you can guess the river is in full spate and carrying a dark colour. Not an ideal day for fishing unless you like a really wild salmon battle.
The forecast gives a showery day tomorrow and then dryer and brighter conditions. Let's see.
I was planning on doing the September invert check today, but no chance. One slip and you're in Settle. Talking of invert checks, I now have records for the upper Ribble from Cam Beck right down to Long Preston thanks to all the hard work that PBA's interns did over the late summer. It's interesting to see how the populations differ along the river mainly due to habitat and substrate changes. No real surprises except on one beck below Settle where gammarus seem to have taken over the universe. Mostly it's caddis and the usual emphemera.
The arrival of better weather combined with decent water in the river brought a plethora of members and guests up to Horton to fish on Thursday and Friday. I have yet to learn how they got on so fingers crossed for now.
We have a repeat of the predation that cursed the Tarn a couple of months ago. Five dead fish were found at the margin. Most were headless, but one had been stripped bare to the bone. It's unlike mink to leave good food to waste so the culprit is, I think, a rather larger mustelid that pays us a visit from time to time.
Water levels are falling back quickly now and the river is past its best for salmon fishing. Still good for trout though and with rain forecast for the weekend and Monday before a return to dryer settled weather fishing should be OK early next week.
It's finally stopped raining, the wind is decreasing and the river is just beginning to fall back and lose a bit of colour. The forecast for the next 48 hours looks promising so if we don't get more rain overnight fishing conditions here tomorrow and Friday should be first rate.
Pack a salmon rod!
Ye Gods what a night. It blew a gale and deposited half a monsoon in the valley until late this morning when the cloud lifted and some sunshine broke through. It's still very windy, but the sun is valiantly maintaining a presence glinting on the full spate that's turned the river brown and angry. As this lot drops the salmon should be running in good numbers.
Here is one from the dark side. I got an email yesterday forwarding a poster from the Non Native Species Secretariat (no, I hadn't heard of them either, but assumed they must exist given the proliferation of non native species in the wild). This poster asks all fishermen to be on the outlook for a “killer shrimp” which rather than running amok in the High Street targets young fish and inverts seriously altering ecosystems. Currently it's only found in Grafham water, but given the propensity of non natives to migrate across catchments with unwary human help it may only be a matter of time before it's on your doorstep.
I have put a copy of the poster in the lodge so keep your eyes open.
Don't forget the Hot Pot supper on 1 October. Invites are landing on doormats now and the Crown still has some rooms available for those who would rather not drive home in a replete state.