29 April 2014

I was at the Tarn first thing this morning attending to a stuck lock on the boathouse that was reported yesterday.  It was glorious in early sun and the amount of fly on the water was impressive.  I have also made the swallow hole in the boathouse wall a little larger as the resident swallows were clearly confused by the absence of the big gap that there used to be above the old door (the lock is now working fine).

Those of you who check the member’s website may have noticed a couple of new items under the “Resources” menu.  These are “Weather Station” and “Weather Summary”.  These are feeds from the new weather station that will soon be installed by Neil at the Lodge and will provide up to the minute weather information for the Tarn.  The data at present is just in test so I’ll let you know when all is up and running.  It’s hoped that the availability of this data will enable members to make informed decisions about a trip to Horton.  The big advantage of the system is that it will provide historic data over time so that you can see what conditions have been like, how much rain has fallen, the temperature profiles and such like.

I’m hoping that this data will help to reveal the ideal climatic conditions for Tarn fishing and what influence the weather has on fly hatch and so on.


28 April 2014

A lovely, still, warm evening so I went up to the Tarn to watch the evening rise.  As I stood by the lodge he surface of the water was peppered with rise rings and several fish broke surface.  Can there really be a better spot in Yorkshire to spend an hour just soaking up the atmosphere, doing nothing but watch nature busy at work.

The air was so still that the water gave an almost mirror reflection of the surrounding pasture complete with inverse sheep, swallows and curlew. The rises that broke this image set patterns running across the surface with shards of light as merging ripples caught the westering sun.

The swans are nesting, but clearly we are still at the construction stage as the pair were down by the duck wall feeding and the nest empty.  No sign of shells or any disturbance so my guess is that the pen is yet to lay.

Pleased to see that a member recently re-joined after many years absent had some success this afternoon.  Conditions were not easy – no surface ripple and a bright overhead sun.

It was supposed to rain today. Maybe tomorrow.


27 April 2014

After a couple of false starts the Tarn swans are now breeding.  I was up at the Tarn first thing and was delighted to see the pen securely ensconced on a nest in the reed bed.  This is a smaller edifice than the previous pair were wont to construct, but it’s a workman like job.  I could not see the number of eggs laid as the pen was fast asleep and the cob on high alert.  we shall see what success they have at hatching and rearing.

Last week was a very successful one for Tarn fishing with 30 fish caught by seven members.  Most went back so stock numbers remain high and a few fish have had an education.

I forgot to remind members last week that dogs are not permitted at the Tarn.  It’s clear from the muddy paw prints on the seat in the lodge that someone has forgotten this rule.  This is now all the more important as the cows (and the bull) went out from winter quarters this afternoon and will spend the summer on Tarn pasture.


26 April 2014

Another day of two halves – a very wet start followed by much clearer and brighter conditions this afternoon.  The rain has made a marginal difference to the river and for a few hours there may be some decent fishing on the deeper runs.  More rain is forecast over the next few days so the level may be maintained into the new week.

As predicted the village has been heaving with people all day either running or watching the fell race.  It’s the 60th event so numbers seem to have been greater than for a few years. My spies tell me that the winning time was two hours fifty-four minutes.  A little slow, but that would be due to wet conditions underfoot this morning. How the hell one runs a marathon distance with the addition of several thousand feet of ascent and descent in that time really beats me.  Perhaps we should enter a MAA team next year although I can’t see there being a rush of volunteers.


25 April 2014

The day turned progressively damp as it wore on and we now have steady rain which, if it persists, should improve fishing conditions on the river.

The Tarn is fishing well – too well for some.  The ex-secretary came up this morning and caught three fish on ten casts.  A long drive from Manchester for a half hour’s fun.

The President spent a while in the boat last evening watching his fishing partner land trout and had resigned himself to another attack of “President’s Curse” (a blank visit) when an over wintered brownie of some appreciable size took pity and accepted his fly.

Here’s the proof.

presidentHe could have looked a little happier (as could the trout), but it was raining at the time.

It’s the Three Peaks race here at Horton tomorrow so the village will be heaving with offcumdens.  Best avoided.


24 April 2014

We had a fair drop of rain in the night.  Enough to soak the garden and fields in the valley, but not really enough to bring the river into decent fishing condition.  It’s presently running at around .18 meters at Locks Weir so the pools and deeper runs up here will be just about fishable on fresh water.

The Tarn is like a mill-pond in early sunshine.  It’s warmer so there may well be a decent fly hatch later to encourage surface feeding.

The less good news is that Settle Hydro is presently under repair after being out of action all winter.

If anyone is interested in a building project in the Dales that will deliver a very decent home then look no further than Foxwood farmhouse next door to me that’s just come back onto the market with planning consent.  A very reasonable purchase at £220k for what will make a four bedroom house.

The swallows are now here in force all busy seeking out nesting sites.  I did engineer access to the boathouse for the pair that habitually nest there.  I’ll check later to see if they have found the hole.


23 April 2014

A nondescript sort of day that saw no dragons slain, but did see (at long last) the final touches put on the Applied Ecology Trust charitable status registration.

I’ve been working on this for the best part of a year trying to fit it into other work priorities.  I had not realised when I started just how much detail the Charity Commission required.  This included a governing constitution running to over seventy pages and other supporting evidence.  However, all is now completed and the whole pack submitted to the CC for consideration.

Our hope is that the Trust will be able to commission research from under and post graduate workers on a range of Ecology based projects including some focussed on the Ribble and Newhouses Tarn.

We have some funding in place and the promise of support from Imperial College, London and of course PBA Ecology.  Any member who would like a copy of the Trust prospectus is very welcome to contact me.  All donations gratefully received.


22 April 2014

The weather forecast over the weekend promised a fair drop of rain this afternoon.  Of course, this failed to materialise and all we got was a light shower so the river is still very depleted.  The cloud base is now lifting and there are one or two bright breaks so I doubt if we shall get much precipitation over night.

The wind has moderated over the course of the day so fishing the Tarn tomorrow may be less of a challenge for those like me who are adept at tying wind knots.

It’s good to see more members using the register at the Tarn to record the fly used when landing fish.  This does help those with less experience or country members to understand what has recently been successful in killing fish although nomenclature can be an issue at times.  One long-standing member now sadly deceased had his own method of naming flies that was damn all use to anyone.  Every fish caught had its killing fly recorded.  Regrettably the fly was always “Whoms Teed”.  It took me several years to fathom that this simply meant “home tied”.  Rest in peace Sammy!


20 April 2014

I did the Turn Dub invert check first thing this morning.  A task made all the more interesting by a nasty north-east wind that seemed to come straight from the Urals and a lot of filament weed in the river.

The check revealed an outstanding number of olives (baetis sp.) and a fair few very large flat mayfly (heptagenia sp.).  I also found some tiny cased caddis about 2mm long and should have kept some of them to study more closely under the microscope.  However, being a berk I forgot to put the sample bottle in the pack.

The swans are definitely not nesting, Both were performing aerobatics when I got to the Tarn – flying about a foot above the water, lowering the undercarriage and water ski-ing.  I have never seen the successive pairs of Tarn swans do anything quite like it.

The fishing results for last week are reasonable with 10 visits producing 28 fish.  Some members blanked, but others seemed to do very well.  A gentle reminder that all visits should be recorded in the register even those where no fish are caught.  This helps me to determine how well the Tarn is fishing and gives me a chance to investigate potential problems should there be a run of unexplained blank visits.

Happy Easter.


19 April 2014

I had a kick around in the river at New Inn first thing this morning checking on the inverts.  All is fine despite the low water conditions that made the check twice as hard as it should be.  The main problem when water is so low is that the only flowing water is mid-channel where all the large boulders are.  This makes sampling rather like booting a stone wall – wonderful when it stops.  It also tends to skew the results as most of the gammarus and caseless caddis are to be found in the detritus rich margins which of course are dry.

No matter, the results show very good populations of baetis and heptagenia with reasonable numbers of caddis and stonefly.  I’ll do Turn Dub tomorrow which with its less bouldery substrate is a little easier to sample even in low water.

Another sunny day although we have had more cloud and breeze this afternoon than we had yesterday. It’s supposed to go down hill tomorrow. We shall see.