26 June 2015

Rather damp conditions today did not deter certain hardy members from fishing the Tarn.  Mind you, I’m not sure if they were fishing or just having a nap as the boat seemed not to move for a couple of hours according to the webcam.

The damp has made no difference to the river which continues at bare bones level.  This is not likely to change in the forseeable future as we are promised hot, dry weather next week.

Now that I no longer keep goats I use the old goat house as a vermin proof proven store for duck and hen feed.  I went into the store yesterday to get some corn for the ducks and was delighted to find three fledgling wrens clinging to the wall.  I first noticed a nest attached to the stones above the door about a month ago.  This is a tight ball of moss with a small entrance hole and is a beautiful construction.  It seemed empty and there was no sign of anything visiting.  However, not so.  Its just disgorged three wonderful little wrens like tiny mice.  This morning they were flying round the store and perching on the handle of the feed bins.  A great addition to the coal tits that have nested under the goat house roof and the blackbirds that are nesting in the tree opposite.

I could run my own springwatch!



24 June 2015

We now have two entries to the great webcam picture download competition that I announced yesterday.  Both are good contenders for the “shot of the season” and I am of the opinion that we should display all the entries received at the AGM in March next year and ask attendees to vote for their favourite shot.

There has been some email discussion today about the avian life that inhabits, has inhabited or visits the Tarn.  Leaving aside the pterodactyls that we could well do without the consensus so far is that the tarn seems to support far fewer species than it ought.

Some years ago a pair of little grebe (dab chick) were resident, but I have neither seen nor heard these little waterfowl for many years.  Coote seem to come and go.  Some years they nest in reasonable numbers and other years they are almost entirely absent from the water.  I saw fewer goldeneye this winter and no migrating whooper swans.

It’s possible that a lack of suitable feeding is the reason why so few avian species use the Tarn especially in winter.  We have no nearby arable fields and little exposed mud so feeding is limited to plantlife and small amphibians in or around the water.

Of course, it may be that predators are to blame.  The webcams only record activity during daylight hours.  I have toyed with the idea of getting a cheap infrared wildlife camera and setting it up near the reed bed or the wildlife area as these are the most attractive habitats to resident or visiting birds. This may show night-time visitors

I’ll take another look at ebay for something suitable.


22 June 2015

Now here’s a thought as supplied by a regular visitor to the Tarn webcam.  As many of you with access to the cameras will know it’s easy to download the image shown by either camera.  These shots are updated about once every two minutes so they show whatever happens to be in shot at the time.  Often all you get is a still image of the water at the lower and upper ends of the Tarn with not much happening.  Occasionally something unusual appears in shot such as swallows returning to the boathouse, the swans having a “domestic” or intrepid anglers wrestling with the punt in a stiff north-westerly as they try to insert the damn thing into the boathouse.

A couple of days ago Mike H emailed a shot he had spotted and downloaded.  Close inspection revealed a good image of an airborne rainbow trout of decent size.  This is a truly remarkable image bearing in mind that the camera had to be pointing directly at the fish and had to fire at precisely the moment that the fish was at the upper point of its parabola.

The thought suggested to me is that we instigate a competition for the most unusual, spectacular or just wonderful downloaded Tarn webcam shot.  No prize other than the image being posted in this blog and instant internet stardom.  Mike is in front at the moment.


21 June 2015

The summer solstice and it’s more like October with rain, a stiff north-west breeze and a temperature to make brass monkeys nervous.  I was going to do the Turn Dub invert check this morning, but heavy rain put paid to that.  I didn’t fancy standing in the river catching pandemonium.  It’s rather exposed to the prevailing wind on that beat and there is no shelter until you get back up to the lodge.

I did manage to do the check at New Inn yesterday and got average results for the end of June.  I have said before that the big advantage of now having nearly ten years of monthly riverfly data is that one can identify seasonal variations and trends over time.  There is no evidence that fly numbers are increasing due to the habitat work that we have done, but neither are they decreasing.  What we can say for certain is that populations of the six main families of riverfly that I check for most months of the year are stable and providing good sustenance for wild brown trout throughout the year.

The only real advantage afforded by this miserable weather is that the river remains cool and the fish fairly stress free.  There is some algae and filament weed on the Tarn caused by the dry spell we had for a couple of weeks at the end of May.  This is now being dispersed by the wind and wave action and is largely confined to the margins at the lodge end of the water..

Let’s see what this week brings.


19 June 2015

The rain that fell all day on Wednesday worked wonders for the garden, but did little for the river which remains low.  We now have back the strong north-west wind thats plagued us for the past couple of months so river fishing will be a challenge even on the deeper pools.

I have received a copy of the EA guide to catch and release for salmon.  This is pretty familiar stuff and is consistent with the practice adopted by most if not all of our local salmon fishers. I’ll put the guide in the lodge.  Mind you, the guide is rather redundant at present as despite there being good numbers of salmon in the Ribble there has been insufficient water to lift them to Horton.

We may be moving towards a potential solution to our perennial cormorant problem.  Gavin has been compiling a report which he has now submitted to the Angling Trust who were very complementary about his efforts.  With luck we may have measures in place by the end of the season that will prove more effective that those we have tried over the past few years.

I’m going to try to do the invert check for June over this weekend.  There should be just enough water to kick around in down at New Inn so I’ll tackle that tomorrow morning.  I’m off to a cricket match at settle tomorrow that PBA are sponsoring.  If anyone fancies dropping by we commence operations at 1.30pm.


14 June 2015

Some fine rainbow trout went into the Tarn yesterday and despite there being a greater differential in temperature between the tank and the Tarn than I would have liked they all swam away well.

It rained quite hard overnight and we have had a chill east wind all day today so the Tarn water temperature will have lowered and made settling in a tad easier for the fish.

The rain that fell has made little or no difference to the level of the river which remains low.  However, see the comment attached to Friday’s post by Neil who had some good sport despite the conditions.

We may have some good news for those members who arrive at the Tarn keyless.  Rather than post details here I’ll put them on Angli Vespers and in due course send an email to all registered members.


12 June 2015

This otherwise very welcome warm, dry weather continues to knacker the river which is now at its lowest so far this year.  There is a suggestion in the forecast that we may see some rain over the weekend before a return to settled conditions.

Reports suggest that salmon are doing very well in the lower Ribble this spring, but that does not mean that they could not do better.  I received an email yesterday with info about a piece of research that the RFCA are seeking funding for.  One source of such funding could be a scheme run by Salmon and Trout magazine, but that needs your support.  Thye following extract from the email tells you how:

……….the RFCA’s project proposal to Save Our Salmon aims to collect salmon migration data for the Ribble for the purpose of informing future projects. The proposal requires votes to be successful and we’d be grateful if you could spare a minute to visit http://www.saveoursalmon.org/ to cast your vote (Pitch 7). Voting closes 30th June.

I’m stocking the Tarn at around 10am tomorrow.


11 June 2015

We now have a river that’s at bare bones level and bright sun shining from a cloudless sky so fishing conditions are less than ideal.

However, thats not deterred at least three members who serendipitously turned up outside my house this lunchtime.  The first to arrive was Alan M who had two fish on the river.  Alan was in a state of some excitement, not directly due to his two fish, but rather the method by which he had caught them.  Some of you may have heard of Tenkara which I now know to be a Japanese technique of fly fishing.  The equipment consists of a simple telescopic rod available in varying lengths to the end of which is attached a line and leader.  It has no reel and the fly is presented just touching the water surface.  The beauty is that no line is on the water to scare the fish.

As Alan demonstrated the technique our two intrepid Tarn fishers arrived with tales of big brown trout and re-nesting swans. The response of at least one of these two leads me to the view that Tenkara fishing may well become a feature of MAA waters in the near future particularly at the top end and in low water.

For more info see https://www.tenkaracentreuk.com/tenkara_rods/masu_rod

Members should remember that I’m stocking the Tarn this Saturday at around 10 am so it would be best to arrive a while after if you wish not to be disturbed.


8 June 2015

I received emails today from our Sunday guests that were very complementary about our fishery, the way we are trying to develop it and the fish that were caught The following extracts give a flavour of the experience of fishing below Horton for the first time:

Thank you very much indeed for the access to the fishing yesterday. We had a very enjoyable day in fantastic surroundings and all caught some lovely fish. Denise and Andy caught seven each on dry flies and nymphs, I caught eight on dry fly and I’m not sure about Alan as he left before us for the long trip back to Argyll. The fish were a good spread of sizes, from a parr of about 4 inches up to a couple of fish that Andy caught which he estimated at about a pound and a half, which indicates there is a healthy population structure and good recruitment. I have attached a picture of my best fish which was 12” and I had four others over 10”. The fish were fighting fit and spent a lot of time airborne when hooked!


I just wanted to thank you and the MAA for your providing us with an opportunity to fish on your lovely river. As for the fish – superb. It was just as you said it would be – not easy but thoroughly rewarding. All of my fish were rock hard and butter fat! My two better fish were vivid green with comparatively few spots compared to the fish in Tim’s photo – very striking fish. I think drawing a line under the stocking programme must be one of the most sensible decisions the club has ever made in it’s very long history. Some really important messages there for other clubs in the north who are still wedded to their stocking programmes. Thanks again and well done to all involved.

I’d just like to add my thanks too. It was a tremendous privilege to fish the MAA waters. And thank you also for kindly preparing the maps and instructions for us. Attached are some photos. I was struck by how much the trout varied in spotting and colouring over a small stretch river. The pool in the photo was particularly productive !


Just to say many thanks for the opportunity of fishing the Ribble yesterday, which was a real joy. Unfortunately I could not stay as long as I wished so only fished for a couple of hours. I fished the section downstream of the car park through the farm and the large bend further downstream where the channel banks have some stone revetment. I managed to catch four fish (miracle), three of which were between 6 and 10 ounces and a largest fish was a pound and a quarter. Most of the larger fish I saw were in the pool at the farm, but I only managed to catch the smallest one I saw!

These quotes come from anglers who are both passionate about wild trout and know them inside out. You can all be justly proud of your custodianship of the fishery and your bold decision ten years ago to cease stocking the river.


7 June 2015

I had a thoroughly enjoyable time yesterday at the WTT annual gathering.  The company was stimulating, the talks outstanding and the venue hospitable despite the wind.

Neil’s talk on the progressive reduction of stocked fish in the Ribble went down very well and it was interesting to revisit the work that we have done over the past ten years (where the hell does time go?) to establish a wild game fishery here on the upper Ribble.  It’s evident from the work that has been done elsewhere which was discussed yesterday that there is much more that we could do to improve wild trout recruitment, but we have made a magnificent start according to the feedback from yesterday’s assembly.

I set four intrepid WTT members off this morning to fish from New Inn bridge down stream and they promised to let me know how well they got on as well as providing thoughts on what further work we could do to improve the lower river.

I was up at the Tarn first thing.  Catches are beginning to slow a bit so next Saturday’s stocking will be timely I think.  However, despite the persistent wind the returns for the past couple of weeks are far from disappointing.

The swan pen is still sitting tight on the nest and refused to move when I went to see what she might be sitting on.  I’m hopeful that there are at least two eggs under her so we may with luck see some new cygnets in a week or so.

The wind has now died completely and we have a lovely sunny evening. With reasonable water and a fairly decent forecast there may be some decent fishing early this week.  If you are up at Horton do look out for the odd salmon.  The news from the Waddow fish counter is that they are coming up the river in high numbers.  If we get a flood in the next few weeks who knows, we may get a late spring run as far up as Horton (pigs may also be aviators).