This prolonged Indian summer has brought a rather premature end to the trouting season and with just a day left to go we can probably kiss goodbye to trout fishing for this year. It often happens that we get a good flood around mid October so there is yet a chance of a salmon run before rods are put away until 2016.
A good start has been made on replacing stiles between Helwith Bridge and Horton village. So far David has put in 12 to both replace existing stiles and erect new ones to open up additional fishing. So when the 2016 season begins next March access along the most popular beats should be better.
The annual Hot Pot supper on Friday should see a good turn-out with 15 members and guests complementing at least 18 local landowners. I have now booked everyone in, but there is still room (and a supper) for any late attendees.
I’m off to Martin Mere tomorrow to watch pink footed geese.
I’ve just returned from a walk along the river with Tom W helping him to identify access points between Helwith Bridge and the Pipe pool. A combination of high banks and decrepit stiles makes fishing this beat a challenge for older members. The new stiles will help, but looking at access through Tom’s eyes has given me pause for thought and sparked a few ideas.
Tom arrived hoping to fish for salmon, but there really is too little water to make this anything other than a hope. The forecast suggests that we are in for a dry start to the new week although this is no guarantee that no rain will fall. We are unlikely to see any salmon up here until after the next flood. Still, there are four weeks to go to the end of the salmon season so there is yet a chance.
I received via email a photo captured from the Tarn webcam that seems to show something large, feathered and upended floating on the water. No sign of this when I visited so it may have sunk. A choked cormorant?
Persistent heavy rain last night and frequent showers today have lifted the river to decent trouting conditions. We shall need more rain to bring salmon to Horton, but for now the last few days of the trout season should provide some decent sport.
I have been keeping watch on the Tarn over the past few days and the cormorants have been conspicuously absent. I’m not sure what the reason for this welcome lack of pterodactyls may be, but perhaps there is better feeding elsewhere.
Members do from time to time bemoan the presence of weed in the Tarn particularly when fishing deep for brown trout. However, this does provide good cover for fish fleeing from a marauding cormorant.
I received a phone call this morning from the fish scientist at the Ribble Rivers Trust. Paul tells me that his team will be electric fishing on the river above Horton over the next couple of weeks so if you see some suspicious activity then it will probably be Paul. What they find will be of great interest to us. The survey will be limited to a few riffles on the main river and some side becks above the Tarn, but it should provide a better understanding of the level of trout recruitment and whether this has increased since the last survey. I have asked for a copy of the survey findings and already have that for last year so some comparison may be made.
Also today the fence around the wildlife area should have been repaired. This will hopefully discourage cows from getting into the planted area and eating the trees. The main problem was at the north-east end of the fence where it enters the water. The posts here had collapsed and cows had trampled the wire. The plan is to replace the wire with a post and rail section well out into the water. The next challenge, as I said a while ago, is to replace all the stiles on the lower beats. I’m also planning a number of habitat improvement jobs for the closed season. Key amongst these is some extensive willow planting between Horton and Drain Mires. These will be bare willow stakes driven into the bank at water level. As they grow they will provide good shelter for trout without harming the quality of fishing. In fact the idea is to vastly improve the fishing on these beats.
We have had some rain here today that looks as if it may persist into the evening. If it does then the river should offer some decent fishing tomorrow as the breeze is light and it’s not too cold for a fly hatch. Make the most of it though as the forecast suggests that by Friday the rain will clear and we shall see a return to the Indian summer we have had this past couple of weeks.
I’m delighted to see that the fishing returns at the Tarn for last week show a great improvement on the week before. I was beginning to wonder what had happened to all the fish that went in a couple of weeks ago since they showed little inclination to take fly. This week just gone produced nearly three fish per visit with a good number of brown trout joining the fun.
We have arranged for a fair bit of maintenance work to be done in the near future. This will see stiles between Helwith Bridge and Cragghill replaced and the fence round the Tarn wildlife area repaired. The plan is to erect a post and rail section where the fence enters the water at the north end to try to deter the resident cows from getting into the trees. The chap doing the work is called David so say hello if you meet him.
The cloud has been building all afternoon and we are promised a lot of rain from just after midnight so there may be good water tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted on this.
Still no sign of cormorants at the Tarn. Their permanent absence is rather too much to hope for. I suspect that they have found easier fishing elsewhere whilst the Tarn has a good crop of weed where the fish may hide. I suppose having said that they will return in force tomorrow.
I can’t believe that we are already approaching the end of September and the close of the trout season. Time does seem to dash along. In the words of the song “….one day you find ten years have got behind you; no one told you when to run; you missed the starting gun…”.
Regular readers of the drivel that I write will know that whenever I predict weather conditions the Gods always conspire to prove that prediction economical with the truth. So it has been for this week. My confidence at the weekend that we should see rain bringing good conditions to the river has been unfounded and we have basked under blue skies with glorious sunshine. Still, the river is not unfishable as this report from Gavin on his activities yesterday will show.
Fishing was slow I had 10 Neil had 4 with a few more lost fish, but they were very localized and very little activity on most of the river even though quite a few small up wing flies were skirting around the river. The fish quality was terrific with stunning small fish all good news really.
I have been in Settle most of the day, but a check on the Tarn late this afternoon and a check of member’s emails suggests that there has been little cormorant activity today (someone will no doubt prove otherwise).
I talked on the phone for a while yesterday evening with the Association’s historian. Jean tells me hat she is beginning to think about taking up the reins of the written history again this Autumn and will now start working backwards from the present day towards the point in the early 1930s where the existing history tails off. If any reader has material that may be of use in helping to record the activities of the Association over the past 30 odd years then do please let me know. We would be particularly keen to have reminiscences of those who knew Mark Thompson or of any Association activity such as building the lodge or constructing the old Tarn fish pen. If photos are available that would be even better.
Sorry for the silence over the weekend, but not much has happened that’s worthy of report.
We did get a fair drop of rain on Saturday morning that lifted the river well into yesterday. Its fallen back a bit now although levels should rise again in the week as rain moves in on a brisk wind tomorrow.
The cormorants returned this morning from their weekend break and three were busy fishing until I disrupted activities by unleashing the latest device in our growing arsenal of party poopers. The main problem this morning was the silence of the scarer. Will members please remember to turn this back on before they leave if they have disabled it. I have put a message to this effect in the lodge notice board, but clearly one member who shall remain nameless can’t read.
A while ago I was asked by the Wild Trout Trust to write an article for their annual journal Salmo trutta. I have now finished this and those to whom I have shown it seem to think it ok. To read it you will have to wait until next March when the journal is published. You will also need to be a member of WTT, but since all serious trout fishers should support this outstanding organisation that should prove no hardship.
I spent an hour this morning at New Inn talking with a prospective member who is keen to join next season. If accepted that will make three new members in the past two months and compensate for some of the losses due to age and health.
These conversations do remind me just how much I have discovered about the river, its fly and fish life and the art of angling over the past 13 years. Time to put this learning into practice and catch a few fish.
I have seen no evidence of cormorants at the Tarn today. Either the Phalacrocorax (look it up) union has called an all out strike or the deterrents are working better than I hoped. We now have a means of scaring the bejesus out of them so if they do return it may be possible to induce heart failure and so solve he problem once and for all.
The river is now well off its best with water levels fairly low. Rain is forecast over the weekend and well into the coming week so conditions may well improve. I’ll keep you posted.
I was at the Tarn mid morning following sightings of a cormorant fishing. It must have heard me coming because it had removed itself by the time I arrived at Tarn pasture. What I did find was a group of four Canada geese the first of these that I have seen on the Tarn for a few years. They are not entirely welcome by everyone as the cob made a great show of steaming up towards them, neck outstretched and hissing as only an angry swan can.
Members visiting the Tarn will find a new notice on the board. This gives details of the take limit for October only . Because of the degree of cormorant predation Council have decided that during the last month of the season the take limit will be raised to six rainbow trout. This excludes brown trout which should all be returned as they are out of season in October and do stand an evens chance of overwintering if the cormorants leave them alone. This dispensation commences on 1 October and will cease at the close of the season on 31 October. As now, fishing must cease once you have your six fish either taken or returned.