After a dry day its turned very wet this evening much to the chagrine of a member who is currently cutting a very lonely and damp figure on the cross wall. I just hope he’s catching something other than a cold.
I spent all afternoon with our MSc student getting invert samples from three sites on Wigglesworth beck. The highest point was tricky to find and after locating a suitable spot we called at a nearby farm to ask permission and talk to the farmer. He seemed highly amused by the plan to kick for inverts and confidently told us that we would find nothing as the beck had been seven feet above normal three weeks ago. Indeed it had run in his front door and out through the back. He seemed totally unfazed by this. Just goes to show what a wet summer we are having.
On the way down to the farm deep in conversation and not paying proper attention I managed to walk straight through an electric fence. Got more shocks reconnecting the damn thing than walking through it.
The forecast is for a fair drop of rain overnight and if it does continue as it’s falling at present the river may be back in good fishing condition by tomorrow morning.
For the past few days the weather here has been more akin to April than July with frequent showers blown on a westerly breeze and a distinct chill at times. The forecast is not promising if your mind was turning to thoughts of poncing around in shorts and I have all but given up on us getting anything approaching a decent summer this year,
The river continues low to middling, still worth a punt on the pools and deeper runs, but the showers are not doing much to lift the water to decent fishing conditions so they are more of a pest than a benefit.
I have been watching off and on the Tarn webcam which seems to be showing a couple of avians sitting on the old gate at the end of the cross wall. Whatever they are they have been sitting there almost all day and I can#t quite see at this distance what they are. I haven’t had opportunity to visit the Tarn today, but will nip up there first thing tomorrow to try to solve the puzzle.
Whilst on the subject of the Tarn, it really is fishing very well just now with over 50 fish coming to the nets of 16 visitors last week. Half of these fish were returned (that’s half of the total number not half of each fish!) and looking at conditions a few moments ago it looks almost perfect with enough breeze to ruffle the surface, but not enough to make casting a challenge.
Another showery day that’s seen the river drop back to quite a low level with just a trickle going under the west arch at New Inn bridge. The forecast is for continued unsettled conditions so it’s impossible to predict how fishing conditions will be over the next few days. However, the sky looks quite stormy just now so we may get some appreciable overnight rain.
The Tarn is fishing well though and the returns shown on yesterday’s guest tickets tell a story of success. The margins of the Tarn are alive now with damsel flies and care is needed when traversing Tarn pasture to avoid treading on a host of tiny froglets that have emerged from the water.
So far this season I have had no sight of the shoals of big minnows that were resident by the lodge these past two years. Perhaps they fell victim to the heron who stood patiently by the reed bed for much of the early spring and flapped lazily away as soon as he or she spotted me on my way down from the road.
The next chapter of the club history will go up on Angli Vespers tomorrow. So keep a watch on the library section and enjoy.
Slight change of plan today. We had intended collecting invert and water samples on Wigglesworth beck, but as the weather was decent we decided to go a little further afield and do Stocks beck between Gisburn and Barnoldswick. This is a major feeder for the Ribble above Clitheroe and is recorded by the EA as a failing water course.
We spent all morning traipsing up and down the beck and driving between sampling points and I was pleasantly surprised by the apparent health and varied habitat we found. Above Gisburn the beck is well weeded and host to very good populations of river fly and gammarus. Judging by the number of loach that came into the kick net these fish are present in abundance also. Jen now has the unenviable task of sorting the samples and identifying the families present. The waterside water quality results were all good for oxygen, pH , conductivity and disoved solids. We shall see if there are any nasties when we test the samples we took away, but I doubt it.
You may be wondering what all this has to do with the upper river fishery. My answer would be that whatever happens lower down on the Ribble has potential to affect the migration of sea trout and salmon and Jen’s work will hopefully influence he way in which the EA target the priorities necessary to implement Water Framework Directive actions which will have a profound impact on the health of our river.
It’s a nice evening now with some late sunshine and a light breeze. Perfect conditions for a few hours on the Tarn.
Today has been mostly dry with just a couple of light showers so the river is now past its best for good fishing. The forecast suggests rain over the weekend, but this is patchy so don’t expect dramatic improvements in conditions just yet.
The Tarn is likely to be busy tomorrow as I have just recieved bookings from two members for guest tickets and these members are more likely to be on the Tarn than the river.
Keeping with club business I have booked the Crown Hotel as a venue for the annual Hot Pot Supper. This will be held on Friday 5 October and if members require accommodation you are advised to get in touch with Thomas PDQ (Horton 209).
Keep a look out for a programme fronted by Ray Meers that will air sometime in the Autumn. This will feature colleages at PBA and focus on trout in the western Dales. Filming for this went on all day today and everyone seems pleased with the results. Look out for a certain well known fisheries officer.
It’s back to invert and water quality sampling tomorrow, this time down at Wigglesworth just below Settle. It will be interesting to see how the invert populations we find down there compare to the top end of the river.
I spent all morning up at Ling Ghyll with our MSc student helping her with an invert and water quality sample. I left her to do the heavy work (she is considerably younger and fitter than me) whilst I sat on a boulder and timed her kick sample. Whilst I sat contemplating nature and the stop watch I became aware of a pair of little beady eyes watching from the far side of the beck. Focussing on these revealed a stoat who stood upright with its front paws on a rock watching our proceedings with rapt attention. After a short while it got bored and bounced off down the beck rummaging in every hole and crevice before skipping back to resume its former pose. We stopped work to watch this performance for around ten minutes.
The creature seemed totally unfazed by our presence, indeed I’m not sure which of us was more fascinated by the other’s activities.
Having eventually got the required samples we had a root around to check on the health of the resident crayfish having got one of this year’s young in the sample net. A short search soon turned up a number of specimens including one female guarding a clutch of young. So, the Ling Ghyll native crayfish are thriving.
My musings yesterday prompted a couple of responses one of which is a comment on the blog another came from our historian to confirm that the article is not in the cuttings book. It’s pretty certain that the source is the Yorkshire Weekly Post and the author is Carter Platts.
Jean M sent me a number of articles of which the following may serve to put this season’s fishing experience in some context.
Since 1882 careful records have been kept of the results of the fishing; and these are naturally very valuable. A casual glance at the ten years’ statistics shows that August is by far the best month on the Ribble. This in itself is an interesting point, when, as so many anglers are aware, good sport is seldom obtained on other rivers in that month. In 1905 no less than 648 trout were taken in August, the greatest number taken in any one month since the water was first secured in 1880. August in Ribblesdale is always a pleasant month, and very different from other places, when holiday makers in their thousands take their pleasure. But during the past season the merry month of May ran these figures very close and 635 trout were secured. These are the two months when the sport is best.
Despite the persistent mizzle that fell all morning the river is now off its best and likely to remain so for the next few days. We are under a blanket of cloud, but this is currently offering no precipitation much to the relief of the member who is at this moment moored in the in the centre of the Tarn.
I received an email this afternoon from a member who came across a 1907 newspaper article that sings the praises of the club, its activities and trout breeding skills. These articles were mostly the work of Abel Heywood Jnr who, as a book publisher, had good contacts with the Manchester press and the skill to write copy that the papers could publish. Abel reported on the activities of the club from its formation until the outbreak of war in 1914 whereupon the papers had more than enough news to fill each edition and had no space for the doings of the MAA.
This particular article does not seem to be an example of Abel’s work and I have a feeling that I have seen it somewhere before with an attribution. It’s full of references to places familiar to members one hundred and five years later. It’s reproduced below.
I did the invert check at Turn Dub yesterday morning just before meeting students on the crayfish course at the Tarn. The results of the check show the river to be in good health and I obtained results very similar to last July with no appreciable impact from the persistant high flows this year.
The crayfish check was a bit more promising than I had feared. When we last put traps in early in June we got almost no creatures. This time the 16 traps produced a total of 50 mixed males and females. The females showing signs of having bred this year. The results are well down on 2010, but do at least reveal a surviving and significant population. We found almost no sign of disease on the creatures in the traps. This is an improvement on the results obtained last year when around 40% presented with a common herpes like virus.
I was up and out early this morning and did the invert check at New Inn. This too gave results comparable to last year with the exception of gammarus which were absent this time. I’m not too bothered about this as looking back over the previous five July records I see that this creature is either present in good numbers in July or not present at all. I believe that this may be due to the amount of available detritus. If we get a wet summer then the material that these creatures feed on gets washed away. A dry summer ensures that a good quantity of detritus can build up.
I also noted a steady decline in the number of heptagenia since 2007. This I suspect is due to the changing nature of the substrate at New Inn which has become increasingly bouldery since I started doing a montly check in 2007. There would seem to be less available suitable habitat for these stone clingers than hitherto.
Its not a bad day now after a cloudy start. The temprerature has risen as the cloud has lifted and broken and we now have some decent sunshine. The river is still in moderately good water so would reward a keen angler today.
Three quarters of the way through the month and time to think about doing the monthly invert checks whilst water levels are still good. It’s so much easier to collect good samples when one is not booting around in a thimble full of water between dry stones and it will be interesting to see how this year overall compares to previous years in terms of riverfly abundance. My fear is that the persistent rain will have a detrimental impact on the ability of may flies to mate as they only get the briefest of opportunities so to do. There may be an abundance of nymphs this year the impact will only be seen by sampling next year.
I have seen far fewer damsel flies and sedge on the Tarn and this also may be due to the cool wet weather although when i was up at the tarn this morning setting traps there were constant rises to something hatching on the water.
It really is quite remarkable how much difference this wet summer is making to river fishing. I had a call this afternoon from Alan M who reported bringing 20 fish to the net between Drain Mires and Selside. So we can conclude that there are excellent populations of brown trout from Helwith Bridge to Seside and we must be cautious about what we do with any fish breeding venture.
I had an email from the Ribble Trust to confirm that they have been awarded a substantial grant by the EA for further habitat work. All we need to do now is ensure that this is done without compromising member’s interests.
Just light showers today to keep the river in good fishing condition. As I came past Settle weir this evening there was a very good flow coming over carrying quite a colour.
I was reading through the club history last evening and was struck by the frequent references to how unfishable the river often was during the summer. We seem to believe that persitent low flows are a recent phenomenon, but our Victorian and Edwardian forebears spent much thought, time and effort in trying to extend the quality of fishing water after a flood. Hence the weirs that span the river upstream from New Inn. The first attempt to hold back a falling summer river took place in the1880’s just upstream from the Garden pool which lies opposite the Crown Car park. The pull in adjacent to the river was until quite recently a garden belonging to Riverside cottage and grew rhubarb. The club erected a weir at considerable effort creating what became known as Austin’s pool after a leading member of the Club Council.
It looks as though we are in for a drier period over the weekend and into next week so make the most of the decent water during the next couple of days.