So we approach the end of the trout season with little prospect of decent fishing conditions over the next two days as the forecast is for much sun.
The Tarn has been busy today with at least five members and guests fishing water that got increasingly choppy as the day progressed. A stiff easterly breeze has been building all day and an hour ago was strong enough to start stripping the leaves from the sycamore in the bottom garden
Too late for this season, but worth filing away for next is a fishing technique that I came across in the paper this afternoon. This one is especially for those members whose visits to the river are characterised by the site of fish making a mad dash up or down stream. It would seem that at the end of the 18th century one Thomas Birch who was keeper of books at the British Museum was given to going fishing dressed as a tree. His arms were disguised as branches and his tackle was dressed up to look like blossom.
History does not record what species of tree he favoured or whether his unique approach worked. However, if, next season, I come across what looks like an Ent motionless by the banks of the river dangling a bunch of flowers in the water I shall know that it’s not the Highland Park affecting the brain again .
We had some rain over night. Not enough to make any real difference to the river level, but just enough to sufficient water in the pools and runs to make trout fishing an option.
With some late afternoon sunshine the Tarn looked spectacular when I last logged on to the webcam. There is no breeze so the surface reflected back the surrounding fells all tinged with red, gold and purple.
Next week I’m involved with a major fish rescue at a civil engineering site near Harrogate. investigation suggests that there are some mighty rainbow trout present so catching them should be interesting.
After a week of fairly dry weather the river is falling away quite fast now and trout fishing is past its best.
The up side is that Martin has been able to crack on with painting the lodge which is now looking better than it has for years.
Orders have been raised for the tree and habitat work along by Rowe End, Near Cragghill and at New Inn so this work will start as soon as landowners have been contacted. Once this work is done we will evaluate it and if regarded as effective in terms of cost and quality a rolling plan for maintenance will be drawn up that should see the whole fishery attended to over the next three to four years.
Some decent weather has brought a late season fly hatch which combined with a reasonable water level should result in fairly good trout fishing on the river.
I hope so because I spent a very pleasant half hour this afternoon discussing the fishery with one of our members from down south who only gets to visit two or three times a year. His last visit had been successful and he seemed delighted with a pound and a half brownie caught above Lodge Hall. I always feel happy when a new member such as he reports how much they have enjoyed their fishing. I can’t work magic on the fishery and improvements are a slow steady process so it’s very much a case of casting a prayer to the God of anglers (Glaucus or Boann?) in the hope that they will smile on the efforts of said member and provide a memorable experience.
Work on the lodge now moves on apace in this settled weather and should be finished by the weekend.
I did the Turn Dub invert check first thing this morning. A rather strange experience as we had dense fog here that restricted visibility to around 20 yards. Working in the river it was as if the world had vanished. All was deathly quiet. Even the song of the river as it tumbled over the riffles was subdued. Just as I finished the check the sun began to break through sending shafts of light through the mist and lighting the water with an eerie glow.
The Tarn looked stunning in this diffuse light with strands and wisps of fog drifting across the water. The swans seemed to be floating on a sea of dry ice. It’s the sort of scene that you can never adequately capture on camera.
The check shows that we continue to have a very healthy population of river fly. A lot of very small cased caddis, many gammarus, but fewer stonefly than last month.
We look set to get some decent weather this week so with the river just about at fishing level it could be worth wetting a fly or two.
I did the monthly invert check at New Inn first thing this morning. What a nice change to be able to kick the substrate in some decent water. In fact the flow was strong enough to make venturing into the deeper mid-stream a tad chancy.
I got some good results that are comparable to the same time last year so no problems with water quality. There were fewer stonefly than last month, but this does seem to be a natural pattern.
If the weather holds I’ll do Turn Dub tomorrow which is always a damn sight easier than New Inn as the substrate is composed of finer material and takes less effort to kick up.
The Lodge continues to progress with more work done today. With luck and fair weather the job should be finished next week.
Acceptances from landowners for the Hot Pot supper are now coming in so let’s see if we can balance numbers and get a good few members present.
A drier day today has enabled Martin to crack on with the lodge and most of the old paint is now off. He plans to work over the weekend to try to get the new paint on whilst conditions are dry so members planning to fish the Tarn on Saturday and Sunday need to make allowances for a bit of disturbance.
I spent most of the morning in the office where, under CEFAS licence, we had gathered together specimens of all seven presently known non-native crayfish that infest our waterways. The plan was to photograph each creature and prepare detailed identification charts for wide distribution. Once photographed the creatures were humanely euthanized and pickled to provide a reference library.
Some of these non-natives are truly frightening in the risk that they pose to our freshwater eco-systems. The Turkish crayfish for example that’s found in the ponds on Hampstead Heath is about the size of a saucer and if this gets into river systems the Lord alone knows what will happen to all other life.
There is a nasty little blighter called a spiny cheeked crayfish that’s not much bigger than our native white claw, but has the demeanour of a shark. Over night they had begun eating each other so one does not have to think too hard about the impact that this species will have on anything else it can grab. Kiss goodby to fish fry. And the added worry is that they are immune to crayfish plague.
There are well over 300 different species of crayfish in North America where most of these invasives have arrived from so the problem can only get worse.
I’m planning to do the monthly invert check this weekend so results later tomorrow and on Sunday.
Despite a miserable wet day the river continues to fall back slowly and a look at the Settle weir webcam will show that the rocks below the weir are visible. I usually take this as a good indicator of salmon fishing conditions. If the rocks are visible there is not enough water if they are covered ten salmon fishing is probably worth while. Having said all that there is certainly enough water for some decent late season trouting including elusive sea trout.
We now have the final quotes for the habitat work on the river below Horton so will be issuing orders for this over the next few days. As I have said before the aim is to get some access work done in time for the height of the salmon season.
Work on the lodge progresses slowly due to the wet weather. The good news here is that we are promised some warm, sunny and settled conditions next week so the job should get finished.
A drier 24 hours has seen the river fall back from the flood we had on Monday so although we still have decent trout water it will be a struggle to winkle out salmon.
Two intrepid members ventured to the Ribble below Settle yesterday to exploit their membership of the Settle club. The intention was to try for salmon in the fast, deep water near Long Preston. They found stiff competition that rather spoilt the endeavour as the video at this link http://youtu.be/Mn2RnLy3O-g will show.
A remarkable view of a usually elusive creature.
It’s predators of a more ancient genera that we have at the Tarn today. I logged on to the webcam after returning from work this afternoon to see a cormorant drying its wings on the cross wall. There seems to be just he one bird at present, but it’s a bit early in the season for them and I am getting a little concerned about the fate of our overwintering brown trout which at over £10 a fish represent a very expensive meal for a cormorant.
The forecast is set for fairer weather than we have had of late so expect the river to continue falling up to the weekend.
Frequent heavy showers throughout today have kept the river in high water. This evening is shaping up to be just as unsettled so fishing conditions should be good into tomorrow.
I can’t promise salmon, but an email I received from Gavin P this morning suggests that fish are running. Gavin was watching the Settle weir webcam when a salmon lept the weir. An amazing chance occurance as the camera takes a shot about once every 20 seconds.