31 March 2012

We had a very productive walk over this morning with Jack on Gayle beck.  The plans that the Trust have are ambitious and should lead to some significant improvement in the trout holding capacity of this degraded beat.  The main aim is to erect fencing along both banks of the beck from Thorns Ghyll down to the water gate below Gauber, at least half a mile.  Some judicious tree planting will be done at selected areas to provide shelter and lower the water temperature in summer.  Some in stream work including the placement of tree root plates as bank protection will take place and these plates will be supplemented by the insertion of willow rods to further stabilise the bank and enhance the amount of cover.

It will obviously be some years before the full effect of this work will be evidenced in improved conditions, but the fencing to exclude stock should have an almost immediate beneficial impact.  The work is far beyond the capacity of the club’s limited financial and human resource, but we should benefit immensely in the form of improved fishing on this infrequently visited beat.  We have arranged for stiles to be put in at pre arranged places to facilitate access to the bank side and will be able to influence the placement of the trees.

The work should commence almost immediately and members are very welcome and indeed encouraged to volunteer to help with the work.  I will post up here the work schedule and it’s then a case of turning up on the day to lend a hand.

After our morning walk the Hon Sec, Julie and I tackled the New Inn stile and put in place the new steel hand rails.  I am aiming to re bolt the treads, fix non slip tape and tidy up sometime during tomorrow.

Before the walkover Platts both and David F spent a couple of hours at Selside opening up the pools with some sensitive pruning.  This work has improved access to one of the best beats on the upper river and let a little more light on to some of the runs and pools without harming the beneficial cover.

All in all a good day for the club.

Ian

30 March 2012

We had a foggy start to the day here in the valley, but by lunch time the sun broke through to give a sunny if rather cooler afternoon than of late.  I was up at the Tarn first thing for a check around and saw off a heron intent on breakfasting on the frogs that are now in the tarn margins in abundance.  The cob is having a right old ding dong with the cygnet that simply won’t get the message that it’s no longer wanted.  The pen is busy nest building so egg laying is not far off.

The Tarn was ghostly quiet in the mist.  None of the surrounding hills and fells were visible, just this deep bowl of mirror calm water roofed with a diffuse light.  I have put up in the lodge a couple of posters about the salmon tagging project for information and enlightenment.

I had a meeting scheduled with CEFAS the fisheries lab this morning so went down to the office only to find that the inspector who was to check the lab facilities and issue the alien crayfish holding licence was running two hours late.  Put the time to good use catching up with some paper work.  The good news is that we now have our licence to keep red signals so the study to test our ideas on alien crayfish control can proceed as soon as we get the EA licence to trap the blighters.

I shall try to be a little earlier with tomorrow’s posting then follow up on Sunday with the outcome of the Gayle beck walkover.

Ian

29 March 2012

A look at the weather this morning which is yet again dry, sunny and warm drew me to the conclusion that a visit to Kendal today is pointless as the muck that threatens the beck will be set like concrete.  So I’ll spend some time at the office setting up the tanks for the alien crayfish eradication experiment.

I had a call from Alan M last evening who tells me that he now has a copy of the early history of the Association written by David and Jean.  We plan to make this available to all members in due course once various issues have been agreed  and will discuss how best and in what format to do this.  It’s a massive document occupying a large ring binder so the best bet may be to serialise it on Angli-Vespers and copy the files to CD or DVD.  However, there are certain rights to be respected here and we will need to resolve these before making the document available.

I also had a call from the Hon Sec and amongst much else we arranged to tackle the New Inn stile on Saturday after the Gayle Beck walkover with the Ribble Trust.

I talked yesterday about the Wild Trout Trust and forgot to mention that there is a member’s open weekend at Appleby on 2 – 3 June.  This will include a series of lectures on Saturday and fishing on the Eden on Sunday.

I hate to say this, but we really could do with some rain now.  The ground is beginning to crack up and the river should no be this low in March.  I am getting fearful for fishing conditions as we move into summer unless April brings some decent rainfall.

Ian

28 March 2012

Yes, I know, I’m late again today, but determined to keep to a daily update.  The post has just arrived (3pm) and brings me the 2012 edition of Salmo Trutta the journal of the Wild Trout Trust.  This is packed full of interesting articles and on a flip through seems to be the best edition yet.

Of particular note are articles on why not to stock rivers, scale reading to age brown trout and sea trout, how to keep rivers cool and much more.

Those of you who are not yet members of the WWT really should consider laying out a few pounds (35) and contribute to the work of this group of passionate trout nuts.  Their work really does make a difference to the quality of our trout rivers.  I know that times is hard, but times are harder still for our wild brownies.

Right, enough preaching.  I’ve just met Brian S on his return from the Tarn having given up on a low river with too little fly life. It would seem that despite the unseasonal warmth our riverfly are holding tight to the nymph stage and not venturing forth to multiply. just yet.

I’m back up at Kendal first thing tomorrow so may not get chance to put up the blog until after lunch.

Ian

27 March 2012

This is the longest run of decent weather we have had here since about this time last year.  Yet again we awake to cloudless blue sky, warm sunshine and not a breath of breeze.  I’m off shortly to the Kendal site for a further environmental check, but in these dry and settled conditions the risks to the ecology of the adjoining beck and wetland habitat is minimal.  Still, better to be safe than sorry especially as some neighbours are watching like hawks all on-site works for any sign of adverse impact.

We have now fixed a date to walk over the site of the proposed habitat improvement works on Gayle beck with the Ribble Trust.  This should ensure that the we can feed in our own observations and needs to the plan.  If all comes to fruition we should see some significant improvements to the trout holding capacity of this much degraded beat and work that is far beyond the capacity of the club.  I’m sure that the Trust will be looking for volunteers to help when work gets under way so I’ll post up details once we have had our walk over.

Sticking with the work of the Trust, I will put a couple of notices up in the lodge about the salmon tagging initiative that’s due to kick off next week.  These explain what to do if perchance you should catch a springer with a dorsal tag.

And finally, the material needed to refurbish the stile at New Inn has all arrived so I will get down soon to making this structure less of a hazard to long life.

Ian

26 March 2012

A bit late with this today due to having too many things to do and not enough time to do them in.

Gavin P emailed me yesterday afternoon to say that he had spent the morning trimming back the shrubbery along the river at Selside.  This beat with its dense tree cover is a fine place to fish, but the banks are impassable due to an extensive growth of gunnera like herbage and overhanging branches.  These latter have now been trimmed back so that wading the river margin is once again an option.

Gavin also tells me that he spotted numerous well grown brownies inhabiting the holes under the bank side trees.  These were approaching 1lb with one specimen over that mark.  These fish appeared less readily spooked than is normal behaviour on this river.

It’s yet another glorious day and this sunny weather is likely to last all week before wetter conditions move in at the weekend.  Make the most of it.  This could be summer.

Ian

25 March 2012

Because of the switch to BST I was up at the Tarn as the sun rose this morning and what an absolutely stunning sight.  Curls of mist were rising from a water surface that was so still that it reflected a perfect image of the fells around.  The only disturbance came from the cob who was harassing the cygnet off the water and a few rises from early feeding fish.

I walked down to the river to do the Turn Dub invert check the silence broken by the soft crunch of frosted grass and stood by the bank for some minutes just drinking in the atmosphere, the air seemed freshly minted just holding the tang of the water flowing over the mossy boulders.

Despite a very low river i got good results which compare well with last year both in terms of invert numbers and water quality.  In fact the latter readings are almost identical to last March when we were also in a mini drought.

The Tarn is fishing well as demonstrated by the returns that i have posted up on the member’s website.  We are currently running at just over 3.6 fish per visit with some complimentary comments on the return sheets.about the quality of the fish.

Looks like I can’t avoid another day in the garden despite my aching back.

Ian

24 March 2012

Another glorious spring morning with wall to wall sunshine, no breeze and some welcome warmth.  I went down to New Inn first thing to do the monthly invert check.  The river is now so low that finding decent water to kick around in was a challenge.  What water there is occupies only the main sub channel which has a bouldery bed.  Not ideal for kicking in.  However with a bit of persistence and much sweat I managed to get a decent result.  Plenty of baetis nymphs and a few heptagenia but low numbers on the other five families.

I will have a go at Turn Dub tomorrow morning.  This should be a little easier as the substrate contains more gravel and cobbles making the kicks less of a major work out.

The good news this morning is that the Tarn webcam is back up and running after Neil spent most of yesterday morning re-aligning the antenna and rewiring.  There is also once again wireless broadband access at the lodge for those members who need to remain connected to the big wide world whilst at the Tarn.

Ian

23 March 2012

It’s a return to dull and gloomy conditions here this morning after a stiff easterly blow last night.  No sign of rain so the river remains low and not worth the cost of the journey to fish until we get some significant wet.

My plea the other day for some bits of angle iron bore fruit and many thanks to Gavin P I will now get on and refurbish the metal stile along the bank by the football field.  This has bothered me for some considerable time as the Great British Public seem to regard it as a legitimate route into the field and their offspring use it as a climbing frame.  A decent hand rail, some non slip tape on the treads, a bit of judicious repair and a warning notice should minimise the risk of the club receiving a howler from some ambulance chasing lawyer.

Ian

22 March 2012

It’s a glorious start to a spring morning here in the valley.  Just a few fluffy clouds and some mist hanging in the gulleys on the fells and down by the river otherwise it’s sunshine all the way.

The other day when sorting through some papers left to me by an old club member I came across a series of reports prepared for the old Lancashire Rivers Board.  These considered the state of salmon fishing on the Ribble just after the second world war and they make interesting reading.  The main objective of the reports is to examine the results of efforts to restore salmon fishing by introducing spring run fry from Thurso.  The main finding is that spring salmon runs had doubled as a result of this action having risen from an average of 1938 fish for the seven years 1932 – 38 to an average of 4011 fish during 1939 -45, this whilst the number of salmon and migratory trout licences steadily went up over the same period.  It will be interesting tompare these figures with the current number going through the Waddow counter.

Also included with these papers is a little booklet entitled The Ribble Salmon Fisheries – Materials for a History.  If any member would like to borrow this stuff to occupy a wet afternoon just let me know.

Off now on yet another Parish Council jaunt to discuss reducing energy costs for traditional dales houses and then up to Kendal for a check on the environmental controls at the construction site. It’s all go!

Ian