26 May 2015

Looking back over my recent emails I realised that I missed one from Geoff B who attended the local salmon tagging talk last Wednesday evening.

Geoff tells me that:

Just a quick note to say that after the salmon tagging talk Wednesday night it appears none of the tagged salmon made it above the foss. Two made it up to Settle then dropped back. It looks like we only get autumn fish at Horton. Duncan and myself had not bad success on the river but we are both fed up with the wind. the tarn fished well between gust of cold wind there appeared to be a hatch of lake olives.

Sorry Geoff, the wind continues strong from the north-west although we do have some late sunshine.

The wind did not seem to cause too much difficulty for one young angler at the Tarn this evening.  Ethan, Neil’s son got a brace made up of both rainbow and brown trout.


25 May 2015

One of the benefits of advanced years is the wealth of memories that can be summoned by the senses. Be it a smell (careful!), image, sound or texture one can be instantly transported back over the years .  When these memories are pleasant they can be a joy, uplifting the spirits, kindling a warm glow and perhaps a sense of resigned loss.

Such memories were triggered for me by an article about fishing on Dartmoor in the WWT annual journal.  Those who know me know well that I am no fisherman.  My interest lies in the management of our fishery, the wildlife that live in, on or near the river and the casual conversations with members.  However, one of my earliest memories is of being taken fishing by my uncle Cyril (not a name too common these days) on the Dart which flowed through our Devon village.  I can still see him clad in waders, split cane rod in hand ambling down the meadow in front of his house to the deeply shaded river bank where I was bade keep still and quiet.  I must have been all of four.

Cyril was a great countryman.  He had been a gamekeeper and was a demon with rabbit nets and a ferret. I was too young to realise how much I could have learned from him and as we moved to London when I was six I never got the chance later on to spend any time with him.

The weather continues to confuse and confound. One day warm and sunny the next bloody cold and windy.  We have had both today.  It started overcast and windy.  Now it’s sunny, the wind has backed to the west and it’s warming up.  Trouble is there is now too little water in the river for decent fishing.


22 May 2015

At long last we have lost the nasty cold wind.  We awoke to a “soft” morning of drizzle and thick mist.  The drizzle died out quite early, but the mist has persisted for most of the day.

I have spent the day traversing the southern dales prospecting sites to hold a fast flowing water training day for PBA.  I started at Helwith Bridge and ended up at Linton Church after looking at several sites on the Ribble and Wharfe.  The problem with the Ribble is that good water cannot be guaranteed and whilst there was plenty today by mid June when the course is scheduled we could be in a drought.

The wharfe is a much better prospect and the site at Linton Church is probably ideal.  It even has fish.  As I stood on the bank by the cascade that falls into the main river I saw several fish rising.  Mind you, this was also true at Helwith Bridge where the warm, soft conditions had encouraged a good hatch of fly and fish were feeding in the broken water below the bridge.

The forecast is for decent weather over the weekend.  So with the river boasting a moderate flow fishing conditions should be better than they have been for weeks.


21 May 2015

Conditions here have not changed.  Certainly not for the better.  The north-west wind that seems now to have plagued us forever is still blowing, we have had some sun, but not really enough to stir much fly life.  A couple of intrepid souls did attempt to fish the river early today. it will be interesting to find out how they got on.  They had decent water, but not much else.

A few days ago I mentioned Salmo Trutta The annual journal of the Wild Trout Trust.  I have been asked to prepare an article for the 2016 edition.  A long way off yet, but I guess that time in its usual fashion will gallop on so I’ll begin to rough out some ideas this summer.

After the first flush of swallows a couple of weeks ago I have seen very few recently.  This may be due to the wind and the cold preventing fly life from taking wing.  Even the midges seem to have vanished.  What we do have are large flocks of goldfinch greedily devouring the sunflower hearts in the garden feeders.  Usually by this time of year they are infrequent visitors.  Strange times.


20 May 2015

Sorry for the silence over the last couple of days.  Chance to sit down and write has been limited.

Weather and river conditions here continue much as they have for the past month with much rain, a strong and cold north-west wind and decent water.

We do now have some sunshine, but the persistent cold wind is driving fly life off the river and discouraging trout from surface feeding.  The forecast looks a bit better with the suggestion of calmer, warmer conditions into the weekend.

The Tarn is fishing well during spells when the wind falls slack.  However, here too aquatic fly life is sparse when the wind is strong and this is frequent.

I am planning to play catch-up tomorrow with preparing a schedule of works following the river survey so that we can begin to prioritise, budget and plan to start work.  I really don’t know where time goes.


15 May 2015

Emails I received over the past couple of days illustrate very well the impact that prevailing weather and water conditions have on fishing success.  Yesterday I copied an email that I had from Alan M.  Today I have included here part of an email received from Gavin.

We fished the same section (as Alan) last night, but the water had dropped off so quickly and was very clean and clear. We only saw a few small fish moving all around the Penny bridge area, and Neil spotted a very large fish in the shallows running up to the Penny bridge, but not a fish stirred on the lower sections and pools and we only succeeded in moving 6 very small fish that I would have had to stretch to get them to 6”. A complete contrast to Alan’s returns, but again different conditions with a cold wind skirting the river. Not an insect stirred so all appeared to be keeping their heads down.

A real contrast indeed.

A couple of posts ago I talked about the monster brownie that Frank tricked into taking a fly on the Tarn.  Here it is.  One of the finest brown trout caught at the Tarn in many years.


A stonking brown trout.  Perhaps we can train it to catch and eat cormorants!

The 2015 edition of Salmo Trutta landed on my door mat this afternoon.  As usual it’s packed with interesting articles.  I’ll refer to a few of them over the next few days, but if you want your own copy then why not Join the Wild Trout Trust, help to conserve our native trout and learn about the sterling work that the Trust does to ensure the survival of salmo trutta.


14 May 2015

The river is now falling back from the perfect water conditions that we had earlier this week, but is still very fishable or would be if this annoying, cold north-west wind would abate.

As evidence of how good conditions were here is an email I received yesterday from Alan M.

Hi Ian Just a note. I fished the river yesterday from Helwith to the Deighton water and it was in cracking form. I had 9 fish and lost 2 all on dry fly. The fish are in great condition and I think are now of a larger average size. I had fish up to the pound but none less than 9 inches. I have not had any of the 6 inch fish we were getting.

Cheers Alan

This is interesting as it shows not only that there are very good numbers of brown trout now resident, but also that fish are progressively increasing in size.  Its taken a while (almost ten years), but we now have a fishery in far better shape than when we spent thousands of pounds stocking it with farm bred fish.  Also, the fish now present are naturally conditioned and able to survive through drought and spate in good numbers.

Nature is sometimes quite astonishing.  I went out this afternoon to go down to Settle and drove the run-about Toyota which was parked next to the 4×4 tank.  As I sat down I noticed that the tank was packing a fair amount of herbage in the wheel arch so got out of the car to clear it before I forgot about it.  On close inspection I discovered that some enterprising blackbird had built a nest in the suspension on the front offside wheel.  Now the tank was last used on Tuesday so the building can only have taken a couple of days unless we have been driving around with a blackbird nest on the front struts.



12 May 2015

After another wet morning the river remains in good water.  However, that’s about the sum of the good news as the cold and very strong north-west wind will deter any but the most hardy fisherman from tempting a trout on the river.

Two members did fish the tarn this morning after a tussle with the outboard.  One individual who shall remain nameless managed to introduce his brand new line to an intimate relationship with the prop and had to beg the loan of a spanner to effect a divorce.

I’ll put a spare screwdriver with the prop spanner in the outboard cupboard to save embarrassment in future.

Having managed to commence fishing this pair were rewarded with what’s probably the king (or queen) of the Tarn.  A brown Trout that I am advised was well over 5lb.  It went back so once its recovered from the shock of being caught for the first time in years it may take again.

This is an advanced warning for 7th June.  Council have agreed to make available to the Wild Trout Trust four rods to fish the river below Horton on that Sunday.  The WTT have their Annual gathering at Waddow on 5th to 7th and always wind up with a day’s fishing on the Sunday.  The river from New Inn bridge to Far Gearstones will off-limits to our guests so available to MAA members.


11 May 2015

Unexpected heavy rain this morning has kept the river in very good water although a strong wind this afternoon rather took the gloss off sunny conditions.  Its turned cloudy now and rather still so conditions tomorrow are uncertain.

As I came back up from Settle yesterday afternoon I spotted a figure standing in the garden pool waving a rod.  I frequently turn speculative angles off this pool so stopped and prepared to “have a row”.  No need.  The figure turned out to be Geoff B having great fun with the resident brownies.

The swans are having a tough time again this year.  A nest has been abandoned just beyond the cross wall after the first clutch of eggs were destroyed by a fox or otter.  The pair are now trying again with a new nest in the reed bed.  It’s such a shame that our resident swans find it so difficult to hatch and raise a brood.  Nothing that I have tried over the years has had any benefit whatsoever.  That’s nature I suppose.


9 May 2015

The heavy rain that fell here overnight and into the early morning cleared just as we gathered at the Tarn to organise the fishery survey.  Dividing into two teams we walked the river from Selside to Helwith Bridge discussing and noting the works needed to improve access for members and other general maintenance tasks.

Re-assembling at the Crown we compared notes and found we had compiled a very comprehensive survey of the condition of the fishery.  Without going into detail at this stage the main tasks are the installation, repair or replacement of stiles to allow access to the river bank.  There are access notices needed, some fencing work and a number of places where tree pruning and shrub clearance will open up pools without causing harm to shading.

The idea now is to prepare a prioritised schedule of tasks. get these costed and arrange for materials and labour.  Not everything will be done at once and not all tasks will be completed this year.  However, we now have collective agreement on what needs doing and I have a good idea of the priorities. The intention is to publish the task list so that all members can see what will be done so that any tasks not listed can be suggested, agreed and added.

The conditions today were almost ideal for the survey as the very high water enabled us to spot those access problems that are only apparent when the river is not wadeable.

The sun is now shining and the cold wind has abated so with the river falling off the flood fishing conditions tomorrow should be perfect.