29 June 2012

A drier day, but intermittent showers have kept the river in good water with plenty coming over Settle weir this afternoon. The forecast remains unsettled for the weekend and the early part of next week looks to be very wet.  A miserable summer, but kind to our brownies who are enjoying not having to jostle for territory in a diminished river.

In the drier spells next week I am taking our MRes student around the upper river to do a series of invert samples which will be analysed in depth as part of her thesis on WFD targeting.  I am keen to see the results as this work will enable us to compare the fly populations at various locations both in the fishery and on waters below Horton and Settle.  It will also enable me to validate my own work in identifying invert families.  Any significant variation between the results we get up here next week and the checks I did last week will suggest that one of us is mis-identifying.  We should also be able to take the identifications down to species level which I don’t do on the bank side (no power source to run a microscope).

Tarn fish should arrive tomorrow morning so best to delay any fishing visit to the afternoon or even better, Sunday.

Finally, Here’s another of Rob’s brownies.

Another Ribble brownie

Ian

28 June 2012

We’ve just had a thunder shower that deposited about 2 inches of rain in 20 minutes so the gradual fall in the river level has been arrested and it may rise in the next hour.  It’s really muggy and a delight for biting midges so any time spent by the river is going to be in the company of these wee beasties.

I wrote yesterday about Rob’s megga session on the river and thought that you might like to see one of the near forty fish that he caught:

Rob's fish

Rob's fish

This is a cracking river brownie looking fat and sleek with good markings.  Evidence, I think that the river is in not bad nick.  This fish is about breeding size, but it’s not clear whether it’s a cock or hen fish (I struggle to tell them apart outside the breeding season). If most of the catch were like this then I have high hopes for this year’s breeding season.

Ian

27 June 2012

The strange behaviour exhibited by the Tarn swans yesterday is explained.  They are building a nest.  Clearly they believe that there is time left in the season to raise a brood, but I’m not so sure.  Still, over the past 24 hours a major mound of reed and grass has been constructed in the reed bed and the pen is loitering.

The river really is in stonking form at the present.  Flushed with his success last week Rob S came up again yesterday and tells me:

Had another cracking day on the river today. I started at around 10am and called it a day when the rain came at about 4.30pm. Fished up from Horton to roughly somewhere in line with the tarn, mainly using upstream spiders (size 16s) in the faster runs and a small CDC Olive (size 20) in the slower runs and pools. 37 trout came to the net and about half a dozen escaped the net including a couple of about 20″. My best fish came from under the first tree on the left bank looking up from Horton bridge and this is also where I lost the two big ones.
There was a good trickle of olives coming off all day with the odd sporadic hatch of sedges coming off the faster runs.

Who says that there are no decent fish in this river.

We had a monsoon this morning that’s put a good three inches on the river and with more rain forecast over the next two days conditions should remain good through the weekend.

Ian

26 June 2012

I arrived at the Tarn this morning with my brain still in boot-up mode and whilst climbing the stile over the wall by the lane was surprised to see the water full of cows.  As the main operating system clicked in and full processing power was brought to bear on the images sent from the eyes it became evident that the “swimming” bovines were identical to the large herd quietly cudding above the wildlife area.  What I was looking at was a crystal clear refection rendered by the mirror surface of the water. Not a breath of wind stirred and all the coots carried an inverted image as they sailed across the water.

As I walked the margin I disturbed countless damsel flies, most recently hatched and yet to develop the electric blue on the thorax and abdomen that makes them such an alluring sight as you contemplate life by the water’s edge.

The pen was alone on the water and until I reached the reed bed having almost completed my perambulation I saw no sign of the cob.  As I approached the reeds an orange and black bill suddenly rose up on telescopic neck out of the centre of the reeds.  Clearly he was having a lie-in this morning.

The weed is slowly beginning to grow at the top end of the Tarn, but is nowhere near as dense as it is normally at this time of year.

A word of warning.  The high stile on the far side of the tarn is missing a step on the east so do take care until I can get the materials together to effect a repair.  My guess is that the whole of one side will need replacing so this is a job for a free day rather than a quick fix.

Lastly, the Tarn will be stocked with another batch of rainbows this weekend weather permitting.

Ian

25 June 2012

I managed to get the invert check at New Inn done this morning.  A still, overcast and rather muggy start to the day encouraged the midges out in droves and made crouching by the river moderately less pleasant than it should have been.  The results of the check were OK. All families present, but slightly reduced numbers within each family than the same time last year.  This I suspect is more to do with the recent severe flood than anything sinister.

My musings yesterday prompted a comment on this blog from Rob S whose research on Ransome and his association with the club seem to lay to rest the question as to whether or not he was a club member.  His diaries and articles for the Manchester Guardian appear to leave little room to doubt that he was indeed a member.

It would be good to include his writings about the club with the material that David and Jean so lovingly prepared especially if this illuminates the social side of the club’s activities.

It looks as though we are in for a brief period of more settled weather early this week so with the river falling quickly now is the time to bring up that river rod and give the Tarn a rest.

Ian

24 June 2012

The weather has steadily improved as the day has progressed and we are now basking in warm sunshine with minimal cloud cover.  The deluge forecast for last night turned out to be just light showers so the river is now in fine nick and likely to remain so until Tuesday.

Levels were still too hight this morning to safely do the invert check at New Inn so the plan is to try to get it done tomorrow first thing.  With decent water now flowing under both arches of the bridge I am hopeful of a good result and easier kicking than is normal at this bouldery spot.  Often when the water is high I get significantly more gammarus and caseless caddis than is usual here.  Where these creatures go in low water I know not, but they must be present somewhere as they don’t just materialise out of thin air once conditions are favourable.

This suggests that trout feeding preference is likely to be influenced by water conditions and nymphing is more likely to bring results on a falling river after a spate. However, who really knows the mind of a trout or a salmon come to that.  Arthur Ransome was much given to musing on the feeding habits of fish and once posited that salmon may chew gum.  Not literally – though the idea of a Wriggleys superb in a variety of colours is appealing – but he was puzzled like many others as to why a fish that did not and could not feed in fresh water was inclined to take fly.  He thought that maybe it was a reflex reaction like chewing gum; of absolutely no nutritional value, but provided a certain sense of satisfaction and helped to quell hunger pains.

What do you think?

Ian

23 June 2012

It eventually stopped raining by mid-morning and began to dry out. However, its now raining again and forecast to continue so doing until late into the night so the river which had fallen to just bank full will rise again quickly as the ground is saturated.

It’s due to dry a bit by morning so by early afternoon the river should be delivering some excellent if sporting fishing conditions.  The flood that came down yesterday will have given encouragement to any salmon and sea trout lurking below the foss to make their way up to Horton so I should not be flabbergasted if a salmon fly cast on the water tomorrow got a take.

I have never seen so much water in June in all the years I have lived here.  When I went out this morning to see to the livestock I found a spring had opened up just behind the duck house and the path to the lower garden had turned into a reasonable imitation of a beck.

Thank the stars we live half way up a mountain not along side the river which for those of you who know New Inn had reached the top of the wall opposite the Crown by late yesterday evening.  It can’t rain for the whole of July, can it?

Ian

22 June 2012

So much for mid summer.  Its been a truly appalling day with heavy rain since before first light.  Consequently Newhouses lane is impassable at both the Crown and Newhouses ford and the river is in severe spate.  It’s still chucking it down and just to add spice to the mix the wind has strengthened to ensure that water can make its way under doors and through window frames.

Any member contemplating  fishing tomorrow is best advised to steer well clear of Horton until we resurface.  The forecast is not promising with more showery conditions promised for tomorrow and Sunday.  However, every cloud has a silver lining and when this flood does drop fishing conditions should be spectacular provided that all our brownies are not now fighting the current down at Lytham and wondering what the hell happened.

Those of you with access take a look at the Tarn webcam and you will see the water over the lower end of the cross wall.  When was the last time you saw that in summer?

I now need to think up a cunning plan to get three sets of holiday makers out of the hamlet tomorrow if the flood does not subside.

Ian

21 June 2012

Sorry for the silence yesterday, but my desktop PC finally gave up the ghost and departed to that great computer heaven.  Consequently I had to spend much time configuring stuff on the laptop to keep life ticking over.

We had a fair drop of rain today which continues into the evening so the river is showing signs of rising and fishing conditions may be reasonable tomorrow although the forecast is pretty lousy.  The wind that blew again from the east last night has now died away and there is some evidence of hatching fly at the Tarn and on the river.

I hear that the River Ribble Trust has been successful in securing funding for at least three major projects on the river.  I’m not clear as to whether any of these are concerned with upper Ribble waters, but there are plans to carry out further habitat improvements including some in stream works so we shall wait and see.  Most EA funding under the WFD is now being channeled through the rivers trusts and the RRT held a briefing day in mid May to outline their plans for the catchment.  Unfortunately I had a prior engagement on that day, but I have now received a pack of info generated by those who did attend which I am attempting to retrieve off the hard drive on the dead PC.

Finally, until I can get all my email accounts sorted it would be helpful if members used my personal address rather than the club account (keeper@………)

Ian

19 June 2012

Its been an exact repeat of yesterday with rain early on giving way to a glorious sunny afternoon.

Before the showers set in I got up to Turn Dub and did the invert check for June.  A good mix of families and the numbers of individuals was quite reasonable, but slightly down on the same time last year.  So, there are no obvious adverse effects from the algae incident that bighted the river last month and we shall have to look beyond diffuse pollution for the cause.  It was good to find plenty of caseless caddis in the samples although the numbers of baetis and heptagenia were a little lower.  I believe that these latter two families of mayfly are mainly concerned with hatching at this time of year as almost without exception the individuals are tiny compared to samples taken earlier in the season.

I am aiming to do a check at New Inn tomorrow and if time permits I may keep the sample and try to get an exact identification using the office microscope.

It’s good to see how strongly most of the trees planted at Turn Dub have grown in this damp summer.  Many are now above the level of the guards and if growth continues at this rate over the next couple of years we may be able to dispense with the unsightly guards and tidy the river bank up considerably.

I spent a fascinating afternoon sitting in on the presentations of progress with field work that our students are carrying out.  It’s rewarding to be involved with such enthusiastic and committed young people and their research should provide some valuable insights for us in the angling community.  There were presentations on brown trout recruitment at Malham Tarn that could influence the way in which we manage our Tarn, Investigations into the impact of otters on upland biota (a large part of their diet is seagulls not trout) and work on targeting of WFD actions.  A very worthwhile two hours despite the urge to get out in the sun.

Ian