So, the month ends on a welcome wet note; just enough to do some good to the garden and pastures, but, regrettably, not enough to lift the river which remains low.
Those members visiting the Tarn may find a carpenter busy carrying out repairs to the structure of the lodge. The plan is to cut back any rot, replace missing boards, generally tidy up and replace the gutters and down pipes. Once this work is complete the lodge will be ready for cleaning down and painting. A job that will secure its life for a few more years.
I had an email from Neil P yesterday with the good news that he has completed the upload to the members website of all the manuscript books transcribed by David and Jean M. I would recommend that all members with access to the site take a look at the material in the document library which is downloadable in pdf format to read in those rare spare moments. Those of you with a Kindle can of course download the pdf onto that, but be warned there are ten volumes of material each of 10meg.
As most members will know these books contain a wealth of fascinating articles that document the early activities of the association and its members. The books are lavishly illustrated with drawings, cartoons and pictures and deserve a wide audience.
Its been a much duller day today with a fair bit of cloud and just the occasional sunny break. The local forecast for tomorrow is for some rain during the day which will be welcome after a bone dry fortnight. Let’s hope it’s enough to lift the river from its current torpor.
My musings yesterday on the source of the Tarn water prompted one phone call that reinforced my own view that the the aquifer is extensive and connects to the Alum Pot main drain on the other side of the river. We know that this area is the source of the Turn Dub water so despite the Tarn being around 50 feet higher than the dub it’s perfectly possible that some offshoot from the phreatic tunnel under the river arrives at the Tarn. When you think about it there is a logic to this as the tarn lies in a giant shakehole which is the result of a collapse of an underground void. This void will be part of the subterranean drainage system in Ribblesdale that includes all the cave systems along the eastern edge of Ingleborogh.
I shall continue to investigate.
Just for a change the day began overcast, but by mid afternoon the sun broke through and we are now basking in a glorious late afternoon glow. The Tarn looks a picture of tranquility with a couple of coots cruising the deeps. By the way, the coot nest up in the reed bed is still occupied which is a surprise given the fact that there is a vixen with cubs not far distant down the river.
Following on from my concerns about the health of the Tarn given the apparent crash in crayfish population and the lack of weed I chatted to my neighbour yesterday who has lived and farmed here all his life. He is as puzzled as me about the changes we have seen and can shed no new light on where the Tarn water originates. It has to be a spring, but whether this is fed from around the Jackdaw hole area on the east of the river or is connected to the Alum pot water to the west is something that I would dearly love to pin down.
The area immediately surrounding the Tarn is protected under higher level stewardship agreements, but these can be compromised if the water supply is outside any statutory protection. The traditional way to establish hydrological connections is to systematically bung flourescine into all the likely swallow holes and see if the Tarn turns bright green. The dye is totally harmless, but can have rather spectacular results as was the case some years ago when the good citizens of Castleton in the Peak District turned on their taps one morning to find their water supply was a wonderful florescent green following some experiments by the local caving club.
Yet another warm summer day and today we have lost the strong south easterly that’s kept temperatures lower than the cloudless conditions would suggest. The wind does nothing to mask the uv though as my sunburnt knees will testify.
Regular readers will know that from time to time I bang on about the apparent lack of cased caddis in the river and I have speculated whether this is natural or the result of some fairly recent event or underlying condition that has suppressed a hitherto high population. As I returned to the car in Settle at lunchtime which was parked in the sidings I was hailed by an acquaintance who has a workshop opposite my parking spot and was raised at Horton. We spent a very enjoyable half an hour cracking on about stuff in general and Dave told me how caddis were a favourite live bait when he was young and were found under every rock in the river. Of course he also found crayfish in every pool and it’s now over ten years since you could last do that.
The river is not worth the cost of petrol at present, but there is just the hint that we may have some rain later in the week. If this does arrive and falls in sufficient volume to raise the river I shall let you know.
Just after putting up yesterday’s post I turned the browser towards the Tarn webcam and saw in the bottom right corner of the picture what seemed to be a small whale holding station just off the boathouse. I watched this apparition for some minutes as the screen refreshed and at each new picture the leviathan moved hardly at all.
Obviously I was not the only one to witness this because a few moments later into my email in box popped a message from Ian W asking if I could see the goldfish. On reflection I think Ian is right. At the last stocking we did put in a very large golden trout that has not been seen since and I strongly suspect that Moby Dick is this very trout.
It’s been another glorious day, the heat tempered by a stiff south easterly that has made fishing the Tarn quite a challenge. The river is bare bones now and I am much regretting not doing the invert check last week as I intended when there was sufficient water to damp a few olives.
We have an MSc student arriving next week who will be studying the inverts in the river. I am very much looking forward to learning from her approach, methodology and results. One key result I hope will be a better understanding of how the range of families of inverts and the population numbers within each family compares to what we should have in a northern high gradient, freestone river. This information will better inform our management plans for the fishery and should assist with prioritising future actions to ensure that our trout can recruit to their optimum potential.
By the way, we hit a milestone today with over 2 thousand hits on this blog since its relaunch on 9 March. Thanks to all of you for reading and I shall continue to try to find the inspiration to keep writing something worthwhile on a daily basis. It’s not always easy so bear with me.
Another day with the sun cracking the flags. This afternoon a stiff easterly sprang up that has helped to calm the heat but given some challenges to the Tarn piscators.
Talking of which the fine weather has brought members out in droves over the past couple of days, like mushrooms after a shower. Despite the cloudless conditions and harsh light fishing has been very good with catches of both rainbow and brown trout.
The river is not worth a light right now with levels at their lowest for weeks. We shall need some serious rain before it will be worth the trip to wet a line with Ribble water.
A short while ago i was standing outside my back door contemplating the view across the valley when upon my shirt alighted a bwo. How this tiny creature arrived from the river across five acres of prime meadow in the teeth of a headwind is one to speculate. I never cease to be enthralled by these tiny may flies. It just seems to me that they represent perfection in a fly with upraised iridescent wings, a sinuous body and filamental tails. They look so delicate yet manage to survive the worst that nature can throw at them. This specimen hung around for a good few minutes before heading off to what purpose so far from water I know not.
Its been a busy day on the tarn with a lot of members and guests making the most of the sudden switch to fine weather that has brought on good hatches of fly.
I was standing outside the lodge early yesterday morning and watched as a succession of big sedge landed on the wall close by me. Fish were rising repeatedly to harvest this bounty, mixing it with small black gnat that were dancing above the water.
The reason for my visit was to collect some crayfish traps that we put in under licence to check on the resident population. I have some concerns here as numbers of creatures coming to the traps are significantly down on past years. Efforts are now being made to extract some cash from the EA to fund some research that may explain why a population that has been regarded as the most healthy and productive in north west England is now under stress.
It looks as though the swans have given up trying to raise a brood this year as the nest has been abandoned and the eggs have gone. I strongly suspect that this may be more than a little to do with a vixen that is rearing cubs near the river about 300 yards down from the dub.
No post yesterday as I was away all day and a Parish Council meeting in the evening. Good news! summer is acummin in. Sing hey nonny nonny or stuff to that effect. Its been a glorious two days with wall to wall sunshine and a fair bit of heat.
I was up at the Tarn this morning and the place looked stunning with the water mirroring the fells and setting a reverse image of the swans that were cruising the deeps. There were rises aplenty to a good hatch of sedge.
I was not the only visitor over the past few days. Neil P got a stunning rainbow of near 4lb shortly followed by a brownie that was not far off the same weight. For legged fishermen have also been around recently as there is fairly fresh otter spraint on the cross wall.
Now here’s something to get you thinking. The Tuesday boys dropped by just after lunch and reported a conversation with Thomas at the Crown. It would seem that persons unknown have been taking water samples at Horton recently (the facts are vague) and told Thomas that they had detected the presence of grayling just below the village. If this is true then one wonders how they got above the foss. Of course it may all be a wind up. Your thoughts would be of interest.
With the breeze now backing to the south it feels appreciably warmer today and the Tarn trout are responding to a sedge hatch with a good display of surface rises.
I was late up to the Tarn this morning so by the time I arrived most of the new lambs were up and about with just a few still bedded down in the stands of sedge that are a feature of Tarn pasture.
There are a good few lapwing cruising over these sedge stands so it quite possible that a few pairs are nesting here away from the route down to the lodge. The swallows are now arriving in big numbers and I can see squadrons of these little aerial acrobats over Long Bank if I lift my eyes above the PC screen.
The Tarn continues to fish well with reasonable returns from last week. It does seem that the right fly is the key to success in the cold weather that has dominated the first months of the season. Members who have blanked are usually bracketed by those who have topped out so, as always, rewards come through a combination of skill, luck, chance and finding the fish in the right mood.
The river is just about worth a try as we still have a reasonable flow under the west arch at New Inn bridge. With a light southerly just tickling the water wind should not be an issue and the forecast looks set fair for later in the week.
It continues cold and we now have a stiff east wind just to add a little spice to the fun. One day perhaps it may warm up and present us with some decent fishing conditions.
I had an email from Somerset bemoaning the wettest drought in memory. That just about sums up the weather.
I went out late last evening to shut the duck house (I really must remember to put this on my expenses) and witnessed a classic example of duck stupidity. The duck house is under the giant sycamore that houses the rookery so there is always a fair bit of discarded timber lying around (see previous posts about rook DIY). As usual there was a fair bit of duck sodding about before they decided to troop into night quarters and in the process of marching up and down one bird fell over a lump of discarded rook nest. There then followed a fair bit of swearing whereupon said duck turned round and fell over the same bit of timber. You really couldn’t make it up.