Sorry about the silence yesterday, but I was late back from working all day at Kendal and went straight out to celebrate Sheila’s birthday.
Apart from one very violent thunderstorm with associated heavy rain it was remarkably dry yesterday. This was more than compensated for by very persistent rain overnight that deposited nearly two inches of water in the valley so the river was just off full spate this morning and carrying a significant colour. Its been a fine dry day today so water levels are now falling fast and by tomorrow conditions will be good for trouting. The forecast is for a more settled spell over the weekend and into next week so although the flood will have shifted a few salmon last night they will not move far up the fishery until the next high water.
Reports of the pursuit of salmon earlier in the week disclose a lack of success with greedy small trout trying to take salmon flies. I gather that these were persistently knocked and a few takes made, but most fish were around the eight inch mark.
Watch out for further work next month on Gayle beck as the next phase of the improvement works takes place. This will involve the planting of native trees to provide shade and cover and the placement of large woody debris to protect vulnerable banks and offer cover for juvenile and mature trout. In a few years time this length of the fishery should offer some cracking sport and the habitat will be vastly improved.
I was late back from Halifax yesterday hence no post. However, it would have talked about a wet day that saw Settle weir a foaming torrent by late evening. Today has been dry so far and quite pleasant for a change, but more rain is forecast for tomorrow so the river will remain in very good water for some time yet.
On the way down the valley yesterday morning I spotted what I assume is one of last year’s cygnets standing in a field by Helwith Bridge. Although it’s impossible to be sure this may be the youngster that keeps returning to the Tarn much to the irritation of the residents. It eventually gets the message that it’s not wanted and goes off down river for a while only to return and start the whole process off again. I suppose that eventually it will get the message, but it beats me why a five acre tarn cant support more than two swans. When you see them on canals or rivers there are usually dozens all seemingly living in harmony.
A fair drop of rain in the night and a steady down pour that’s just begun will keep the river pretty full for the next 24 hours at least. It’s just on the cusp of decent trout fishing, a bit high and still carrying a distinct colour. OK for salmon.
I have just uploaded the next chapter of the Association history so those of you with access can navigate to the library on Angli Vespers and download the file.
I was up at the Tarn early this morning before the rain set in and stood for a while just surveying the rather soggy terrain. I don’t think that Tarn pasture has dried out at all this summer and there is quite a decent flow of water running down the field and into the Tarn. It’s starting to cut an embryonic channel and if it keeps at it our daft brownies may try spawning at the inflow in addition to their half hearted efforts at the outflow.
The swans were having a lie-in and floated heads under wing down near the wildlife area. This is now showing good signs of regeneration now that the cows are excluded. The saplings are struggling a bit in the persistent wet, but a good few have survived so far and are fighting up the tubes towards the light. It’s going to be a long time before there is a canopy of cover, but you have to start somewhere.
I rose this morning with the intention of doing the monthly invert check at New Inn. The weather thought otherwise as by the time I had finished seeing to the livestock the rain was bucketing down. This state of affairs lasted all morning so we now have a river just falling off the flood and in cracking salmon condition. I came past Settle weir about an hour ago and the water was foaming over the weir boards about the colour of Theakstons best.
Its turned showery now and the forecast suggests that tomorrow may be drier if no brighter so trouting could be good as the river fall towards mid day.
Having spent the past few minutes catching up with today’s paper (about half a ton of it) over a welcome brew I was absorbed by a review in the Culture section of a book by Miriam Darlington entitled Otter Country. The review suggests that this is well worth putting on the Christmas list as it deals with the author’s search of England for this increasingly common, but elusive mustelid.
I know that anglers are supposed to have a rather ambivalent attitude towards this predator; however, most of the evidence that I have seen suggests that they are opportunistic feeders and just as likely to take gulls as trout. Besides, the presence of a few otters on a river are likely to be testament to it’s health and our aim, if we aspire to creating a truly wild fishery as we do on the upper Ribble, should be to manage the river so that it can support the full range of taxa that should be present whilst ensuring that the fishery is a productive one. In fact it’s possible that a few otters will help to keep the trout population healthy by weeding out the weaklings, preventing them from passing their unfavourable genes to the next generation.
In humans it’s called eugenics and we don’t go there!
A little rain overnight kept the river in good water all day and allowed most of the colour it was carrying on Wednesday to drop out so fishing conditions today should have been fairly good and should remain so up to mid day tomorrow.
The sky is clearing now and the threat of heavy rain has lifted for a while so the swallows are whizzing past the office window busy on an evening fly hunt.
News reached me the other day of a salmon caught on the fishery just below Horton. If this is correct then the next flood should bring a few more salar up over the Foss to make their way up to Horton. Time to dig out the big flies and renew the migratory licence. Remember that any fish caught with a tag and short antenna lead hanging out of its mouth is carrying a tracker. It should be replaced carefully and the place, date and time it was caught can be sent to me for forwarding to the monitoring group. Details of the study are on the notice board in the lodge.
I’m really late with the posting today as I spent rather longer in Skipton this afternoon than I planned, but let’s pass swiftly over that.
The weather last night was atrocious a lot of rain falling that was not really forecast so the river this morning was just off spate conditions much to the puzzlement of one member who came up on my promise of good conditions. Its been a dry day today so the level has fallen back and provided that we get NO overnight rain (I can’t promise) then conditions tomorrow should be good.
As I came back up the lane from Horton this evening I was looking out for the resident geese and whilst I did not spot them did see a swan cruising on the river just below Newhouses adjacent to the field with the recently planted trees. I guess that this is the youngster who keeps trying to move on to the Tarn.
Yet another day that conformed to the current pattern – a wet morning followed by a dry and sunny afternoon. So the river remains in good form with decent water.
Any member fishing up from Horton village may be surprised by a small flock of domestic geese that have taken up residence above Austin’s pool. These belong to my neighbour, but clearly fancied a change of scene as a few days ago they all took off in unison did a double circuit of my house and headed down river. Attempts to lure them back have so far proved less than successful. The hope is that they will eventually get bored and head back.
The vixen that took the swans eggs earlier in the summer has now been removed (permanently) so the hope is that unless another moves in this autumn we may get some breeding waterfowl in the vicinity of the Tarn next year.
Just an update on conditions here this evening. We had a very wet start o the day, but by lunch time the sky had cleared and the afternoon has been warm, dry and sunny. The river now looks in stunning form with good water from the top end of the fishery down stream.
The burst of warm sunshine should encourage a good hatch of fly so it may even be possible to cast to a few rising fish tomorrow.
Last evening I was looking out of the half landing window which in this traditional Dales farmhouse is full height and was watching the bird table playing host to around two dozen SBB’s mostly sparrows. Whilst I watched the SBB’s suddenly departed like a swarm of bees and I looked around for the reason, probably the cat. Not so alighting on the peanut holder came a woodpecker that spent the next five minutes or so hammering away at the nuts resplendant in its black and white plumage off set with red rump and pink top knot. I have not seen one of these striking birds here for a couple of years and one more to add to the growing tally of visitors this year.
It’s been an almost exact repeat of yesterday weather wise with a dry start rain for most of the day then some sunshine towards evening. So the river reamains in very good water and with drier conditions forecast up to Wednesday fishing conditions should be about spot on.
With the end of the month fast approaching it’s time to begin thinking about the invert check for August and trying to fit this in with a pretty hectic work schedule this week. I also want to have a crack at shifting the old metal stile by the lower gate to Tarn pasture. This is in surprisingly good nick considering how long its been in situ and a brief dig around last week established that it’s not concreted in just buried about three rungs deep. If I can get it out then it’s going down to the northern cross wall to replace the lethal wooden stile.
As I sit here just after 9pm with the sky deepening to dusk there are bats swooping past the window working the night shift to the swallows daytime patrols. The main difference is that the bats never collide with the window whereas there are usually two or three dull thuds every day as another young swallow or blackbird mistakes the glass for a fly through. Fotunately I have so far only collected one corpse from the gravel path under the office window, but have picked up several rather stunned juveniles and waited with bird in hand whilst they recovered their senses and flew off.
Short of keeping the curtains closed all day long I’m at a loss to know how to prevent these collisions.
It looks as though the stock fish I put in the Tarn yesterday have dispersed well as I have been getting reports from those who fished yesterday afternoon of easy fishing from the reed bed to the duck wall. Of the fish that were taken one or two were spooned to find out what they had been feeding upon and in the main it’s water boatmen rather than the usual shrimp. So there is a challenge for the fly tyers.
We had a meeting up at Gayle beck this morning to fix where the access stiles should go on the new fencing and to inspect the work that the Ribble Trust have been doing all summer. The result is agreement on a a number of stiles including some on existing fences. This will significantly improve access for members to some of the best beats on the River above Selside. The stiles will be engineered to ensure easy access for those less mobile souls and will feature a hand hold above fence height.
I was not there. I was busy putting the last of this season’s fish into the Tarn and getting a soaking from the steady mizzle into the bargain. A mix of rainbows and brown trout went in including one brownie of approaching 3 lb in weight.
Everyone then assembled at the lodge where we discussed a plan mooted by another club for a fish breeding venture. After kicking the idea around for a while a consensus formed around the view that we had no problem with raising a few native fry that could self release into Bransghyll, but breeding fish of takeable size was neither practical or wise. We have seen the true potential of the river this season when we have decent water and it’s not fish we are short of. The main challenge is to improve habitat and cover on the river above Horton and this is being progressively addressed by the Ribble Trust and the club.
Later the sun came out and we have had a cracking afternoon and evening. If the decent weather hold overnight then with very good water in the river fishing tomorrow should be first class.