30 December 2013

I trust that you all had an enjoyable Christmas and managed to stay reasonably dry in the foul weather we have had this past week.  It’s no better today and put paid to my plans to do the Turn Dub invert check first thing this morning.

I did manage to do the check at New Inn yesterday as the river was moderately high and the day broke with no rain for a change.  I got very good results with high numbers of heptagenia and baetis nymphs as well as a few gammarus and stone fly.  Absent this time were cased and caseless caddis, possibly due to the persistent spates we have had over the past month or so.  I can’t compare these results with past years as this is the first December check that I have managed to complete since I started sampling in 2007.

I set too this morning, ordered the fish for the Tarn and completed the S30 consent application to put them in.  This usually takes a few weeks to process as Natural England have to be consulted on our stocking plans to ensure that these do not adversely impact on our native crayfish population.

Counting down the weeks now to the start of the new season, about 10 to go!

Happy New Year


22 December 2013

The silence last Sunday was due to my being away in London for my mother’s 89th birthday.  I took the opportunity to visit some haunts that had not seen nn my presence for many years (and probably won’t see me for many more).  Back here in the valley things are pretty much as always with incessant wet weather keeping the river in almost constant good water.  The down side of this is that it’s just too high to get an invert check done without risk of ending up at Settle.  Plenty of time yet this month so fingers crossed that levels drop a bit this week.

The large tree wedged under the east arch of New Inn bridge was removed by the landowner yesterday anticipating our own arrangements to get the thing shifted.  Attention will now turn to removing some of the large branches overhanging the garden pool that make fishing here well-nigh impossible.

I have just acquired a handy gadget that will enable me to geo reference locations on the river together with high res photos.  When conditions improve in the spring and before the herbage gets too high I intend making a detailed map of the fishery locating all stiles and other works as well as access points and other info useful to members.  This map will form the basis of a management plan for the fishery from which we can identify areas for action and mark these as they are completed.  I have been intending to do this for several years, but kept getting side tracked to other projects.

Have a great Christmas and see you in 2014.


8 December 2013

It seems pointless commenting on the appalling weather we had on Thursday as most of you will have had your own experiences.  It wasn’t the wind so much as the sheer volume of water that fell from the sky that was most significant up here in the valley.  By mid morning the river was visible from my kitchen window and thundering down through Horton. By Friday the level had dropped off and left in its wake a fair amount of debris.  Thankfully the large woody debris so carefull placed by the Ribble Trust seems to have stayed where it was put, but we now have a rather large tree wedged under the west arch of New Inn bridge.  I doubt if anyone else is going to shift it so I’ll take a saw to it sometime this week.  Better to wait for the river to drop off again as its been raining all day here and once again the river is in full spate.

We had a MAA Council meeting here yesterday.  A really inspiring meeting with lots of great ideas for improving the fishery and the Tarn being thrown around.  I’ll report on these more fully in the privacy of the member’s website, but as we no longer need to pay for the lease of the Deighton water there is cash available to invest in improving access for members to good fishing beats on the river, a rolling programme of tree pruning and general bank maintenance, new stiles and some exiting experiments with trout breeding at the Tarn to maintain the stock of brown trout we put in this year.

The AGM will once again be held at Horton on the first Saturday after 15 March.

I may be a bit late with the blog next week as I am otherwise engaged over the weekend.


1 December 2103

I was reading last week of a new threat to our chalk stream ecosystems.  Its been discovered that the phosphates used in dish washer tablets are leaching into the aquifers that feed rivers such as the Test, Avon and Kennet and the resultant increase in available nutrients are causing algal blooms.  These blooms reduce the oxygen content of the water and shade out the native beneficial plants that help to keep the water clean and well oxygenated.  This has a detrimental impact on fish especially brown trout.

It’s not so long ago that research had highlighted the damage to fish reproduction caused by oestrogen from the contraceptive pill.  This was finding its way into fresh water systems from sewage processing plants and preventing fish reproduction.  We live as part of highly complex ecosystems with webs of interaction and interdependence.  Every activity we undertake has an impact to some degree on these webs, not all of them beneficial. I’m certainly no eco warrior, but I do believe that ecology should be one of the foundation science subjects taught in schools.

Fortunate are we who manage fisheries well above habitation and sewage systems.  We have our own concerns about diffuse pollution from agriculture, but even this is mitigated by low density stocking of sheep and cattle and few farmers round here apply till to their pastures.  One of the big benefits of bankside fencing is that the herbage that grows up within the fenced margin acts as a filter removing much of the enriched run-off from pastureland. Over the next few years we should see the majority of the fishery fenced to some degree. I know that some anglers regard these fences as a barrier, but I believe that the benefits far outweigh the minor disadvantage of having to walk a few yards to find a stile on the fence.

Those who fish the Tarn regularly will know that the approach lane needs to be negotiated with care during the fishing season due to the presence of logging wagons travelling to and from Greenfield forest.  I have just heard that the forest has been sold to the consortium who own Cam woodland which sits as a block attached to the north of Greenfield.  Now, the owners of Cam woodland have just secured access to their holding via Ribblehead and Cam high road.  Fingers crossed, but it doesn’t take a leap of imagination to see that it would be far quicker to extract Greenfield timber via the same route since most of it goes to Ribblehead.  Expect howls of protest from the usual suspects.  They don’t have to live with several tons of timber passing inches from their property several times a day for six or seven months of the year.