Not a great deal of note happened last week. The rain continues unabated and the fields round about are either under water or a spongy morass. Although the weather is a real pain making working outdoors unpleasant it does mean that the river has been in excellent water all winter and the fells at the top of the catchment are full to bursting which should keep the river in decent water well into the fishing season.
I’m keeping a watch out today for an escapee. The hawk experience down at Settle misplaced a Steller’s sea eagle yesterday. This bird is black and white, but has an 8ft wingspan so can’t be mistaken for a magpie. Apparently it’s quite tame and answers to the name of Nikita. I’m off up to the Tarn later just to check that it’s not illegally fishing (they feed on salmon so rainbow trout would probably be acceptable) although what the hell I do if it is I’m not sure.
It continues wet here with hardly a dry day since Christmas. wonderful for the condition of the river and the Tarn, but hardly conducive to working out doors.
I went up to the Tarn early last Sunday to gather information for a project we have in gestation and stood for a while on the board walk around the lodge looking out over the water. Out of the corner of mv left eye I caught a movement in the sedge along the water margin so stood still and waited. Slowly advancing towards me was a dark shape keeping close to the water and seeming to slink in and out of the sedge clumps. It’s the first time that I have been within 10 feet of a wild dog otter and I’m not sure which of us was more surprised. We watched each other for a few moments before he got the wind up and very cautiously went up the bank and slid under the gate above the new picket gate we put in the year before last.
I have long known that the Tarn is used by otters as I regularly find spraint on boulders in the water margin. Rarely do I find evidence of them feeding and this is the first time in twelve years that I have seen one and so close. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the camera out in time to capture the proof.
The weather is best not commented upon other than to say that the river is in great condition with constant high water and no damaging spates since Christmas. It should not be long now before the trout and salmon eggs tucked away in he redds start hatching. It’s then that we need spate free conditions so that the aelvins can thrive, become swim-up fry and disperse to the calmer river margins.
I now have consent from the EA to stock the Tarn with fertile mixed-sex fish so the fist stage in plans to experiment with brown trout breeding is in place. Once the weather picks up in the spring we will move to the next stage which will involve placing a few tons of pea gravel down near the duck wall where here is a constant flow of water out of the Tarn. Evidence at Malham suggests that brown trout there are spawning right at the tarn outflow so it will be interesting to see if our brownies do likewise if we give them something suitable to build redds.
Other than that the fishery is just ticking over waiting for 15 March.