31 May 2011

It's a bright, but rather chilly start to the day.  Very little wind and both the river and the Tarn are looking in great form.  There is just a hint that we may get some rain later in the day so fishing conditions here are better than they have been for months.

If this decent weather does hold then the plan is to do some electrofishing on the side becks on the upper river as part of the MSc study of the contribution that these becks make to trout recruitment.  My understanding is that six sites will be fished, starting at Stainforth and finishing high up on Gayle beck.  Any ones guess what we shall find.  More on this later in the week.

Ian

30 May 2011

The weather seems to have fallen into a pattern.  It starts wet (sometimes also windy) then gradually clears to a brighter evening.  Today has begun wet without the wind and is already showing some signs of brightening.  The river is just on the high side of fishable, but if the rain eases it should be spot on later today and tomorrow.

The Tarn is looking good now that there is a good flow out of the bottom end by the duck wall.  Evidently the springs have opened and the water is once again being replenished, keeping the algae at bay.

I did the invert check at Turn Dub this morning.  This is the first check here since March because of a lack of water in April.  The difference in findings is striking; far fewer baetis, some very large heptagenia and an encouragingly large number of cased caddis.  I looked back over my records for the past couple of years.  Nothing for 2010 because there was no water, 2009 produced a very similar result to today so no cause for alarm.  Sampling conditions were just on the right side of safe because of high water and a strong flow.  This put the centre of the river out of bounds so the results will be slightly skewed and my guess is that the free swimmers (baetis, stonefly etc) will be out of the strong flow, possibly under boulders and therefore under represented in the sample.  Still, the river looks healthy enough and the bankside vegetation at the Dub is now growing well protected by the fencing so habitat here should continue to improve.

Ian

28 May 2011

A lot of overnight rain has brought the river into flood this morning.  It's still raining on and off and blowing a hooley again so any member planning to travel up to Horton today is best advised to delay until this afternoon when conditions may be better.  No guarantee though.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been party to a number of discussions with the Environment Agency about a major project that will help to deliver the requirements for our river set out in the Water Framework Directive.  These discussions have resulted in a proposal, prepared by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust with professional and scientific input from PBA Ecology, that sets out a series of projects that cover the entire catchment of the Ribble from High Gayle to the sea.  These projects are designed to promote collaboration with other organisations such as United Utilities, minerals companies and local authorities; not forgetting landowners to deliver actions that will improve the ecology and landscape of the Ribble valley and ensure that the Ribble meets the WFD criteria by 2015. 

28 May 2011

A lot of overnight rain has brought the river into flood this morning.  It's still raining on and off and blowing a hooley again so any member planning to travel up to Horton today is best advised to delay until this afternoon when conditions may be better.  No guarantee though.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been party to a number of discussions with the Environment Agency about a major project that will help to deliver the requirements for our river set out in the Water Framework Directive.  These discussions have resulted in a proposal, prepared by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust with professional and scientific input from PBA Ecology, that sets out a series of projects that cover the entire catchment of the Ribble from High Gayle to the sea.  These projects are designed to promote collaboration with other organisations such as United Utilities, minerals companies and local authorities; not forgetting landowners to deliver actions that will improve the ecology and landscape of the Ribble valley and ensure that the Ribble meets the WFD criteria by 2015. 

27 May 2011

It's been a difficult week hence the silence for the past couple of days.  Good news is that the invert survey at New Inn gave good results and in line with the same period last year.  Far fewer baetis than in March, witness to the hatches of olives that have taken place during the past few weeks.  There were some very large heptagenids in all the samples, one or two so big that you could have saddled them and rode them home.

The big surprise was a lonesome true mayfly Ephemera danica.  I thought at first that it was a large stonefly scurrying under some weed in the sample tray.  However, having extracted it the three tails were a big give away.

The river is also teeming with bullhead fry and these must be providing a good snack for our brownies who are still showing very little enthusiasm for surface feeding.

The river is in fairly good nick now and well worth trying at almost any beat on the fishery.  With continued unsettled weather forecast here for next week it's likely to stay in quite good water.

Ian

24 May2011

We were without power for most of yesterday not due to the wind (which was fierce), but because ENW were replacing more poles and lines in the area.  We also got an upgrade to the broadband network equipment here so things a trucking along this morning.

It's still very windy this morning so casting will either be a major challenge or over easy depending on whether you are with or against the wind.  The forecast suggests that things may calm down during the day and with good water now on the fishery it should be worth casting a line later in the week.

They do say that there is always someone worse off than yourself and the sparseness of river fly hatches on this cold bouldery river seems now to be matched by that erstwhile river fly paradise, the Hampshire Test.  The hatch of Ephemera danica has crashed in the past few years giving the lie to the term “duffer's fortnight”.  There is much concern down south about this lack of fly and what may be the cause of it.  They are also suffering spells of turbid water which is suppressing the weed growth.  The two factors may be linked, but no one is sure.  Lunn, the former keeper who is now over 80 and the grandson of probably the most famous of all the Test keepers thinks that this is just part of a natural cycle as he witnessed a similar occurrence back in the 1960's.  Again to shows that we should not be too quick to jump in with remedies to what appear to be unique and potentially disastrous problems.

Off today to talk to a landowner about extensive fencing work on the upper becks.

Ian

21 May 2011

A couple of dry days have reduced the river level somewhat, but it's still fishable on the deeper runs and pools.  A strengthening breeze this afternoon is keeping the fly off the water and rises are few and far between.  However, if you look into the upper ends of the pools there are some big trout lurking in the broken water where the spent flies drift down on the current.

I think that the argulus problem the I reported a week or so ago has largely cured itself thanks to cooler conditions and some significant inflow to the Tarn thanks to the rain we had last week..  This is something to watch though if we return to warm, dry weather and the fish begin to descend the water column.  We are due a wet evening and night here so levels should lift again for tomorrow.

Be aware that the Tarn webcam may be on and off a fair bit during next week.  The wireless network that provides our Internet service is being overhauled and updated to give a more stable and faster connection to the wide world.

Ian

19 May 2011

Just a quick update on conditions.  The river is now looking very enticing, but be warned because of the drought we had up to a couple of weeks ago the decent levels we have now will not last.  Best grab your waders and head for Horton this weekend.

Ian

17 May 2011

Don't you just get a warm feeling when a plan comes together or a theory turns out to be sound in practise?  A few days ago I was musing in these columns about the algae problem on the Tarn and posited that it was probably best left alone because nature has a way of restoring balance given time.  This wet and wild weather we have endured over the past fortnight has worked wonders.  The Tarn water level is now back to normal and the algae has all but vanished from the water column.  One less problem for me to worry over.

The river is now in near spate and likely to rise further during the day as it's still raining on and off.  The wind has decreased so it feels a bit warmer and the forecast suggests that we may get brighter periods later today raising the hope of some decent fishing at long last.

The meeting with the Ribble Trust yesterday afternoon provided a few more details about the work planned for this summer.  A detailed project plan is being worked up that will identify what is to be done, where and how so I will say little about this until I have the plan.  The main themes of the work will be grip blocking, bankside fencing and instream work, but as I have said before, this can only happen with landowner agreement and getting this agreement will be the first main task.  I have agreed to help and will be working with someone who has a good understanding of the agri-environment schemes that may help to soften willingness.  We shall see.

Ian

16 May 2011

We had a foul day here yesterday.  A fine soaking drizzle blown on a strong north west wind made conditions most unpleasant, but did not deter one hardy (mad?) soul from fishing the Tarn from the boat for most of the morning.  It's a repeat performance today (apart from the presence of the piscator) although the wind has backed round to the west and is a little warmer.  The river is getting into quite good nick with all this rain and if the wind drops and it gets a bit warmer there might be some good fishing later this week.

We are about to lose our electricity supply for the rest of the day whilst Electricity North West replace rotten poles and the dodgy supply to the house.  This will probably bring down the broadband service at the Tarn so the webcam is likely to be off line today.

Ian