31 August 2011

Well there we are, summer almost over and autumn looming large on the horizon.  It's been a grey and gloomy day with much cloud, but very little wind.  The river is very low now with just a trickle going over Settle weir.

It struck me as I was driving up the lane this afternoon and looking up river I haven't seen a heron fishing the Newhouses weir pools all summer.  In the past few years hardly a day passed without seeing at least one grey poacher stood motionless by the water waiting for the chance of a strike.  Why the herons have moved on I know not although it's not for want of fish as the pools are full of young trout.

I'm not complaining as the fewer grey piscators frequenting these waters the better for our trout, but It's another of those puzzles that nature throws up when you stop to think.

I dropped into the office this afternoon and found the place buzzing with activity (and the carpet liberally spread with mud following a rather mucky bat survey at a quarry over in Lancashire).  It looks as though the company will be giving a presentation at the River Restoration Centre annual conference at Nottingham next year on the work that PBA have been doing over in Cumbria.  We now have 450 meters of new trout stream giving access to over 6 kilometres of sea trout spawning beck that has been denied to these fish for the past 150 years.  Much credit to United Utilities and Eric Wright the civil engineers who have done all the heavy work.  It just shows what can be achieved when you have an integrated project team bringing diverse expertise and skills.

Ian

30 August 2011

Sorry for the recent silence, but the holiday weekend has been busy with family birthdays etc.  I did manage to get done invert checks at both New Inn and Turn Dub and these show that the river remains healthy with good samples of most of the families of river fly that I look for.  Results are comparable to this time last year with a slight increase in the number of caddis at Turn Dub which is encouraging for winter feeding.  The surprise was a good sized true mayfly found at Turn Dub.  These creatures are not really at home in our freestone spate river, but do turn up from time to time and clearly have an historic presence as the club records reveal the green drakes were seen on the water back in the 19th Century.

The water was almost too high to do the sample safely on Sunday at Turn Dub.  Its fallen off now quite a lot as the weir webcam will show, but is still fishable.

Gavin P had a good session over the weekend and writes that:.

 
just a quick note i fished from the Tay bridge up to the sewage works to
day and spent much of the day with an audience of campers children, but once
again a further year on it was astonishing to see the activity of so many young
fish. some fish not recorded which at first i thought were minnows turned out to
be small trout in perfect condition although quiet dark in their colouration,
but the river was teaming with them. there was no evidence of any salmon par
from what i could see and certainly not in the fish i returned.the biggest fish
today would have only been 8

30 August 2011

Sorry for the recent silence, but the holiday weekend has been busy with family birthdays etc.  I did manage to get done invert checks at both New Inn and Turn Dub and these show that the river remains healthy with good samples of most of the families of river fly that I look for.  Results are comparable to this time last year with a slight increase in the number of caddis at Turn Dub which is encouraging for winter feeding.  The surprise was a good sized true mayfly found at Turn Dub.  These creatures are not really at home in our freestone spate river, but do turn up from time to time and clearly have an historic presence as the club records reveal the green drakes were seen on the water back in the 19th Century.

The water was almost too high to do the sample safely on Sunday at Turn Dub.  Its fallen off now quite a lot as the weir webcam will show, but is still fishable.

Gavin P had a good session over the weekend and writes that:.

 
just a quick note i fished from the Tay bridge up to the sewage works to
day and spent much of the day with an audience of campers children, but once
again a further year on it was astonishing to see the activity of so many young
fish. some fish not recorded which at first i thought were minnows turned out to
be small trout in perfect condition although quiet dark in their colouration,
but the river was teaming with them. there was no evidence of any salmon par
from what i could see and certainly not in the fish i returned.the biggest fish
today would have only been 8

24 August 2011

A report from the team we left concluding the electrofishing tells me that a total of well over 300 trout were recovered from the channel as well as 18 eels.  The whole job has gone exactly to plan apart from one slight hiccough with the gear when a circuit board burned out yesterday morning.  This was fixed by lunchtime so the project was quickly back on track.  It proved possible to start watering the newly created channel last evening and bring this up to full flow today.  Everyone seems highly delighted with the results so far.

The team will do a final sweep up tomorrow morning to check for any stray fish then it's just the final landscaping and planting to complete before the site is taken down and we begin regular post project monitoring.

The promised rain materialised as just a short shower this afternoon so the river is lowering quite quickly.  I am aiming to get the invert check done tomorrow first thing before I have to start searching for water.  I was going to do it today, but felt a bit rough early on.  Better now.

There has been a flurry of correspondence throughout the day about repainting the lodge and it looks as though a consensus has formed around getting a professional in to do the job thoroughly before the winter sets in.  This will not only make the place look more cared for, but will also ensure that this fine club asset lasts for a few more generations.

Ian

23 August 2011

It was a glorious summer's day over in west Cumbria yesterday, but rather too warm for all the hard work that we had to put in to set up the fish rescue.

The morning began with an attack on the brambles, bracken and tree saplings that overhang the 500 meter by wash channel along the old reservoir.  Whilst two intrepid gardeners tackled the botany Neil and yours truly set about making up three sets of stop nets and installing them at the upper end of the channel, the mid point and the lower end of the channel.

Having consumed lunch we began the first sweep with the electrofishing gear.  This was a low power sweep to pick up most of the big fish and the eels.  It was slow work in the deep narrow channel, but by 4pm we had swept up to the mid point and collected over 30 brownies of varying ages and sizes.  These were beautiful fish with stunning markings.  The decision to sweep on low power was vindicated by the speed at which the stunned fish recovered and the total absence of any burn marks on those captured.  We also got a couple of eels one of which was over 16 inches and determined to climb out of the tank.

All fish were recorded and returned immediately to the water down stream of the by wash channel.

I'm taking the day off today, but an augmented team will clear above the mid point and then do a higher power sweep to pick up all the trout fry we saw speeding away from the annode.  Then on Wednesday the channel will be dewatered and the flow sent down the newly constructed beck that bisects the valley where the reservoir used to be.  With most of the water gone we will do a hand search to collect any escapees that have remained in the puddles and gravel.

The new electrofishing gear worked very well with the best part of 3 hours work out of one of the batteries.  It's not light gear to lug around all afternoon but the diving harness that this stuff is attached to looks as comfortable as you will get.

Its not been a bad day here at Horton today.  The sun has been out and is currently providing a very pleasant evening,  The river is fairly low, but should rise with the rain we are promised tomorrow.

Ian

21 August 2011

An early morning trip to the Tarn to get the fishing returns for last week and a hop down to the Dub revealed a river running far too high to safely do the invert check so that will have to wait until later this week.

There has been a flurry of correspondence over the past couple of days about the possibility of repainting the lodge if it ever stops raining enough.  I have been contemplating doing this job all summer, but the weather has had other ideas.  The timber needs to be dry to get a good key for the paint and prevent trapped moisture from lifting the paint as the timber heats and swells in the sun (what sun?).  It looks as though we may get this job off the ground next week weather permitting so if any member fancies a scrape and a dab just let me know.

On my way down to the Dub this morning I came across a dead sparrow hawk hard by the wall that runs alongside the river.  Examination suggests that it died from a broken neck having collided with the wall.  Whilst on the avian subject I surprised a cormorant as I came back up the hill to the Tarn.  This was evidently contemplating breakfasting on the rainbows that I stocked yesterday as it was paddling around just off the cross wall hard by where the fish went in.  It's a pity that the swans don't react to these pests in the same way that they do with the Canada's and make their life hell.  It would save me a lot of hassle.

Ian

20 August 2011

We stocked the Tarn this morning with 100 bonny rainbows that wasted no time in heading for deeper water and cover in the weed.  This is the last stocking of the season and should keep fishing ticking over nicely until the end of the season.

The water is remarkably clear for late August and this is due in large measure to the amount of rain we have had this month especially the biblical torrent that fell last mid week.

I don't know if he's psychic, but the Hon Sec turned up this afternoon, the first sighting of this rare breed for many months.  He left me to wet a line at the Tarn after some decent fishing on the river yesterday.

After a dry day its now turned wet so there should be enough water for a decent invert check in the morning.

Ian

19 August 2011

A dry day so the river has dropped appreciably and is once again flowing under just the eastern arch at New Inn bridge.  I had hoped that levels would keep a little higher until tomorrow as I plan to do the monthly invert check and this task is always much easier when there is a moderate flow.  One thing I have noticed over the four years the I have been monitoring invert larvae at New Inn is the increasing boulderyness of the river here.  It was never an easy length to sample, but either I am becoming more decrepit (highly possible) or moving the substrate is genuinely getting more tasking.

Much of the finer material seems to have been washed away over the past couple of years leaving mostly football sized rocks.  Booting that sort of stuff around for a total of three minutes leaves the feet a little tender.  I'm loath to shift to a new site as it will break four years of continuous data.

Turn Dub is much the easier site and on a decent morning there are few more enjoyable jobs than dancing in the river here. Even though the roads on both sides of the valley and the railway are only about half a mile distant it always seems a most remote and tranquil spot.  frequently as I walk down the drumlin from the Tarn I put up duck and the occasional heron and the silence is briefly disturbed with anxious quacks before settling back to quiet slumber.

All the new electrofishing gear turned up today and most impressive it does look so provided that the weather behaves we are all set for a busy day on Monday.

Ian

18 August 2011

Now here's a heretical thought.  Over the past few days I have heard from a number of members who have recently searched the river for salmon with mixed results.  Almost without exception they report getting catches of large brownies.  Given the usual reluctance of our river salmo trutta to bother its ass with a nicely tied and immaculately presented spider pattern or nymph perhaps tactics should be changed and the river in future fished with salmon tackle?

It's been unexpectedly dry here today.  The forecast promised prolonged rain which never materialised.  A shower put in an appearance about an hour ago and the sky has clouded.  No sign of significant rainfall though.  The river is still in quite good nick and should stay so for at least a further 24 hours.

I'm off to west Cumbria early part of next week to assist with a major fish rescue in connection with a big civil engineering project.  A reservoir has been de commissioned and the site is being naturalised by reinstating the beck that used to flow down the valley.  Our task is to electrofish the old half kilometre bywash channel so that this can be removed and the area landscaped.  The captured fish (including salmonids) will be returned to the beck downstream of the site after recording.  Should be fun.

Ian

16 August 2011

A lot of overnight rain has once again brought the river back to near bank full conditions.  Its turned drier and brighter now so levels will be falling over the next few hours, but fishing conditions should remain good into tomorrow afternoon.  Some promised sunshine tomorrow will hopefully encourage a few rises from our elusive brownies.  The fish are there as has been proved this week by some good returns reported by river fishers.  A 16 inch brownie came to the net down near Helwith Bridge on Sunday.

I understand that the local highways authority are to carry out major repairs to the cobbled ford at Newhouses which should reduce the wear and tear on members cars as they make their way up to the Tarn.  This work will be done “as resources permit”, but in the interim highways are to fill in some of the deeper potholes by the ford.  In the meantime do take care as you cross the ford.  The best way is to keep to the left as you drop down the slope to the cobbles then steer to the right as you leave them.  This avoids the worst damage and limits the strain on suspension.

Ian