28 July 2011

It's been a dry few days so the river is now quite low, but still fishable on the deeper runs and pools.  The Tarn is fishing well despite the water temperature being on the warm side.

I was up at the Tarn this morning with the advanced crayfish course and sat watching rise after rise to what appeared to be terrestrial flies (clegs) just above the surface.  Many of these rises were quite violent with fish emerging head and shoulders above the surface, falling back with a splash that caused our students some distraction from their close observation of the small fresh water lobsters.

It's beginning to look as though we may get some rain later this evening which will help to freshen things up a bit for the weekend.  Hopefully it will be more than a shower so the river gets a good lift and moves the waiting salmon further up stream.


25 July 2011

The invert results I got from New Inn yesterday were encouraging.  Plenty of stonefly and shrimp as well as the usual suspects (baetis and Heptagenia).  The big surprise was a solitary Ephemera danica, the true mayfly.  I get the occasional one or two of these big nymphs up at Turn Dub, but this is the first one that's come into the net at this bouldery site.

The river seems to be in good nick with plenty for our brownies to eat, but we could do with a drop more water to make fishing really worthwhile although when I write this I usually get a terse email from a regular correspondent reminding me that the river can fish well in almost any condition if the right technique is used.

I had a very anxious angler on my doorstep a while ago.  He had spent the afternoon at the Tarn and had found two fish tails on the boardwalk round the lodge.  He thought that I should know about this as something was clearly making a merry meal and leaving the evidence.  For a moment I was stumped as nothing in my experience tends to snack on Tarn fish whist perched on the boardwalk in full view.  Then I remembered.  I removed two crayfish traps from the Tarn on Saturday and removed the mackerel tail bate whilst I collapsed the traps and took them to the bank.  I forgot to return to pick up the bate.  I shall put up an identification chart in the lodge so that in future members can distinguish between trout and mackerel.


23 July 2011

I got out early this morning to do the monthly invert check at Turn Dub before meeting the crayfish course students at the Tarn.  In very good water (plenty of flow, not too high and a colour of Bowmore) I got a nice representation of all the families I look for with the usual exception of the true mayfly which is not keen on this freestone river.  There were plenty of bullhead in the samples, mostly young fish and probably this year's spawning. 

It's been a few years since the bankside fencing went in along the beat up from Turn Dub and this is the first year that I have been really conscious of what a remarkable transformation is taking place on the river margin.  The native herbage is really growing away well now and the thousand or so trees that we put in a couple of winters ago are just beginning to peep over the tops of their guards.  In a couple more years this beat will be a haven for wildlife and provide some exceptional cover for our wild trout.

I was down at Dry Rigg quarry yesterday (hence the absence of a blog as the day was spent on Parish Council site visits in connection with planning applications). Just at the entrance to the quarry site Lafarge have created a trial habitat area by flooding an old excavation, planting sedge and reed and setting out small islands.  We stood leaning on the wall watching a wildlife tableaux laid out in front of us with coote, sand martins, oyster catchers and a host of inverts and butterflies.  All this has arrived in the four years since the site was laid out and is a real testament to the commitment of the management and workforce at Dry Rigg to minimise the impact of the mineral workings.

It just shows what can be done with imagination, a little money and bags of enthusiasm.

I've wittered on long enough, but finally the crayfish survey went well,  Just a slight concern about an apparent increase in the incidence of white porcelain disease in the trapped sample,  but this could be down to a number of factors none necessarily sinister.


20 July 2011

Firm news that salmon are making their way up to Horton.  My suspicions about the presence of Geoff on the river in high water were well founded and he tells me that he got a 9lb hen fish below the pipe pool, missed one and saw another.  This suggests that salmo salar is present in good numbers.

Gavin P also emailed me following my musing about the habits of Tarn brownies and tells me that

“These fish when caught are stunning solid fish and much in line with a
conversation with Geoff we feel the best chance would be in the evening. On my
last visit the other evening I fished around the margins fishing to rises no
more than a few feet out and ended up with 2 nice browns and dropped 2 more of
at the net.

looked like the rise form of most of the fish close in to the edge was different
to the rainbows much further out and although this might be a coincidence it
seems common with browns I have hooked on the tarn that all have come in the
evening mainly when its quiet and from the fringes of the

So, there you go.  It looks as though our brownies are late risers and come up out of the deeps to feed close in as the light fades.

I mentioned the other day that the annual crayfish check would happen this week and Paul tells me hat he will set the traps on Friday morning so watch out for these by the lodge and both cross walls.  The students who will carry out he check will be at the Tarn on Saturday from around 11pm so expect the place to be a bit busy.

It's finally stopped raining for a few hours so the river is falling from the flood and losing colour.  Good trouting water just now.


19 July 2011

The river is still up and down like the proverbial yo yo with pulses of colour as wash off is carried down stream.  On occasions when conditions are favourable it's producing good numbers of fish.  Alan M had seven last week between the pipe pool and Helwith Bridge.

I spotted Geoff B outside the Crown yesterday afternoon with the river in high water so my guess is that he was in pursuit of salmon.  I shall try to find out how he fared. I was on my way down to Brants Ghyll to try to get some photos of the beck before the water level dropped.  We have the National Park planning committee visiting Horton on Friday to look at a number of sites where planning applications have been submitted.  One of these is the Old Slaughterhouse site by the Grey bridge opposite the Crown where an application has been submitted for the erection of three houses.  The concern is that a retaining wall round the site will cause damage to the existing wall on the opposite bank by concentrating the flow when the beck is in spate and I wanted some photos just in case levels have dropped off on Friday.

Mind you,  there seems to be no let up to these heavy showers so the beck may well remain full all week.


17 July 2011

Another wet night and it's currently sluicing it down with no sign that it will let up soon. The river is coming on to full flood so unless you fancy a punt at a few elusive salmon the river is probably not worth a crack today.

I was up at the Tarn first thing getting a soaking.  Walking down from the road I put up a brace of hare, fine looking animals in peak condition that lolloped off towards cow pasture along the wall.  The swans were keeping out of the foul weather in the reed bed, otherwise nothing was moving on or around the water.

The Tarn is fishing pretty well and the number of members visiting has increased markedly over the past couple of weeks.  It's good to see newer members visiting regularly and getting some success at each visit.  Surprisingly few brown trout are being caught.  Perhaps they are not so daft as rainbows and exercise much more discretion in the choice of fly they will consider.  I also suspect that they reside much lower in the water column than rainbows and rise less frequently.

I am currently being studied intently by two young swallows who are perched on the phone wire outside the office window.  Every so often they have a shake to dislodge the wet then resume their quiet contemplation of an upright ape pounding away on a keyboard.  It's nice to provide amusement for our wildlife.


16 July 2011

A wet night and even wetter morning are bringing the river back to near flood conditions.  It's difficult to predict what fishing conditions will be like for the next few days as the forecast is rather mixed although the promise of further rain during the week should keep the river pretty full.  Best bet is to keep a watch on the webcam at Settle weir before deciding to head for Horton.

I got the latest newsletter of the Atlantic Salmon Trust yesterday which is largely about plans for the autumn round of presentations on the outcome of research into the life cycle of salmon and sea trout.  We seem to be learning a great deal about where salmon go, what they do and how they feed when they leave our fresh waters.  Anyone in the vicinity of Alnwick Castle on 30 September is welcome to attend a discussion on the findings of this research.

Here is a thought for members to ponder.  The Parish Council has been asked to consider to what use the community could put 5 former quarrymens' cottages in the village.  A number of ideas have been suggested none of them will utilise all the accommodation available.  Any ideas as to how the club might make use of some free space should be sent to me.


13 July 2011

A very busy Parish Council schedule has kept me from this blog and the river so far this week, but things have quietened a bit now just in time to enjoy a spot of evening sunshine (and wall to wall midges).  It's been dry for the past few days so the river is much lower than it was at the weekend, but it's still fish able although gin clear water will test your backwoods skills if fish are not to be spooked.

Next week we plan to do the annual crayfish survey at the Tarn.  This will be the eleventh year that the population has been checked making it one of the most continuous study programmes on native crayfish anywhere in the country.  The results show a steady increase in both population and size of individuals demonstrating the near perfect conditions that our Tarn affords to this endangered creature.  Fingers crossed that we will find no problems.  So if you do spot traps set out, each with its EA licence you now know why it's there.  More on this next week.

By the way, the swans are very partial to the odd slice of bread.


9 July 2011

The past 24 hours has seen a lot of rain fall on the fells around the catchment so the river is now in flood and likely to remain so for some hours yet.  The sky still threatens rain so it could be early next week before levels drop to give decent trout water.  However, every cloud has a silver lining and this high water has brought salmon up to Settle so if levels remain high this weekend we could see a few up at Horton.

The wet weather is also helping to keep the Tarn relatively clear of algae and the water high and clear.  Whilst on the subject of the Tarn we are getting increasingly anxious messages from the EA and Natural England about the need to keep vigilant for signs of “killer shrimp”.  This alien pest has arrived from eastern Europe and was first found at Graffham Water.  It seems to be spreading and it has a devastating effect on fisheries and aquatic ecology.  We need to take stringent precautions to prevent it arriving here so it's essential that all gear is thoroughly disinfected and dried if its been used on waters other than ours.  There is a disinfectant trough at the lodge and the club has provided landing nets.  We will be reviewing our biosecurity measures and deciding what further action is needed.


7 July 2011

A fair drop of rain over the past 24 hours has brought the river to good fishing conditions and with more rain forecast for the next 48 hours or so it should stay that way over the weekend. 

For those members visiting the Tarn the latest news from the front line is that fish are refusing to look at anything other than a dry fly which is a bit surprising given the wet conditions, but then fish don't read the rule books.  It's us idiots who write them and try to determine what goes on in the mind of a fish that's been around as a species 10 times longer than the upright ape.

Happy hunting.