Well, that’s it. The end of the 2015 season, the 137th since the MAA was founded and the 133rd since the Association arrived at Horton. No one season is like another and this one has been no exception with the river up and down as usual and a mad rush in the last few days to bag a salmon on fleeting high water.
The Association has been busy. New stiles are in place between Helwith Bridge and Cragghill, access to the river has been improved, cormorants have been given the heave-ho and plans have been made for further work in the closed season. Fish for the Tarn to be delivered next year have been ordered and we will get the first stocking done before the start of the season so that members get a full seasons fishing.
Members who are also supporters of the Wild Trout Trust should look out for next year’s journal as it will (hopefully) contain an article about our approach to managing a wild trout fishery.
We have several new members, some of whom will fish for the first time in the new season. We will make them welcome and very much hope that they enjoy their visits to the river as much as those who have fished here for many years.
I’ll now switch to a weekly blog and will aim to do this every Sunday until 15 March 2016.
A very wet and thoroughly miserable day has a silver lining in that the river is now in great salmon water and should remain so well into tomorrow. I met a prospective MAA member at New Inn this afternoon and it made a wonderful change to be able to look at a river in almost too much water.
The forecast is for a drier day tomorrow so the flood should abate during the morning (it’s just about stopped raining now at 7.20 pm).
About an hour ago I went out to close up the hen house and found a barn owl sat on the telegraph pole outside the house contemplating life. I have often heard a pair of owls around he hamlet this summer, but this is the first time I have had a good sight of one of them.
Despite the river being at a fairly low-level there are still salmon fighting up the Foss. My neighbour was down at Stainforth this morning hoping for her first ever glimpse of a leaping salmon and was not disappointed. Not only did she see several fish, but she also managed to capture a photo of an eight pound very dark fish cresting the falls.
When I met her this afternoon she was buzzing with the experience and I spent a good half hour introducing her to the life-cycle of the Atlantic salmon and its history in the upper Ribble. One mystery solved for her was the reason for the fish pass at Settle and Langcliffe weirs. It’s not until you begin to explain fish ecology to someone who is unfamiliar with the topic that you realise just how much you have learnt and understood.
So, even though the river is very far from ideal for salmon fishing it could just be worth casting a fly over some of the deeper pools at Studfold and Rowe End this week.
The Tarn continues to offer rather challenging fishing. As I have mentioned before this is not for want of fish nor is it because of predation (unless we have a night-time otter – not beyond the bounds of possibility). It seems to matter a great deal what fly is offered as Fred told me at the weekend that he had no joy for quite some time until he changed fly and then was into fish after fish. Fussy eaters are rainbow trout at times.
The decent salmon water hat we had yesterday was a bit of a flash in the pan as the river has dropped quickly over the past 24 hours and is now not worth attempting. I know of one fish that was caught yesterday. Alan M had a 8lb coloured fish at Rowe End and tells me that nothing much else was moving.
Time is now running out on this season so perhaps all that members can hope for is the possibility of a similar sight to that which enraged a trout fisherman on the Dart a few weeks ago. He arrived at his favourite, remote pool only to find that it had been taken over by a group of geriatrics enthusiastically skinny dipping. Anyone who bathes naked in the Ribble at this time of year needs their head examined so members here should be safe enough.
Sorry for the silence over the past few days. I have been trying to get the garden tidy before the weather broke (which it has now done).
Its been raining steadily for the past 12 hours or so and the river is rising to a level where salmon should be running up river. There is just about enough flow to lift fish up the Foss so we should see these making their way to Horton in the next few hours. The forecast is for more rain over the next week so the season may yet end on a high note.
Time to blow the dust off the salmon gear.
The Tarn is a very hit or miss affair with some members getting good catches and others blanking. This does not seem to be associated with cormorant activity as none have bee present for a fortnight. There should still be a good number of both rainbow and brown trout resident so maybe its weather / temperature related. Let’s see what difference the rain makes.
The weather here continues dry with no rain forecast for the next few days. Therefore salmon fishing is really a non-starter. There are good numbers of fish in the river below the Foss, but we shall need good flood to get them up to Horton. No prospect of that before the weekend (that should tempt fate!)
The latest newsletter of the Ribble Fisheries Consultative landed in my inbox today. Lots off good stuff reported by David Hinks and one article particularly caught my eye. Non native invasive species are a real problem and can cause havoc to an ecosystem. It would seem that both killer shrimp and zebra mussels have been found in Glasson Dock. Without due care they could spread throughout the Ribble catchment so this should serve us as a reminder to take precautions when moving around the fisheries that we visit. Simple measures such as Check, Clean, Dry help to eliminate risk. What this means in practice is hat all anglers should check their gear – especially waders and boots and particularly felt sole waders – for suspicious material; clean all gear after use and dry it thoroughly. If you can’t dry the gear before the next trip then use a good disinfectant on boots and waders. Fam 30 is an excellent, cheap, highly effective and environmentally safe disinfectant and can be bought from any agricultural supplier such as Carrs Billington in Settle.
Also, I note in today’s Craven Herald a notice issued by the Ribble Rivers Trust about their proposed fencing work at Far Moor. They have applied to the Secretary of State (DEFRA) for permission to fence over 300 meters of the moor (it’s a common, hence the need for SofS approval) along the high bank above the river. This will create a very wide strip between the river and the fence, mostly near vertical which will be planted with native trees. Far Moor is the rough grazing on the right bank opposite the Tarn downstream from the bridleway bridge. If this goes ahead we shall benefit from a long beat that’s sheltered and shaded providing good trout habitat.
I spent a while at the Tarn this morning carrying out abdominal and spinal surgery on Norman who was mauled by a cow last week. I also moved him to a position where I can keep and eye on him via the webcam. I think that the resident bovine population finds his uniform either curious or offensive as this is the second time that he has been attacked.
It was an odd sort of morning with almost no breeze, no rises and just a solitary swan showing any sign of life. Tarn fishing last week seems to have been difficult and the 3 brace limit for rainbows during this final month seems rather optimistic.
However, all is not bad as there are salmon at Horton as evidenced by at least two catches last week. One was dark, but healthy and I know not the condition of t’other.
I knew that if I predicted decent weather this week the Gods would take a contrary view. I’m not wrong. It chucked it down (technical term) last night and most of this morning and the river is now in full spate. Certainly high enough to encourage and enable salmon to crest the foss.
Like mushrooms after a shower certain members were evident (a familiar vehicle parked at Studfold) at the pipe pool this lunchtime busy seeking salar. No doubt in due course I shall hear to what degree of success or otherwise.
Its turned drier now although the clouds remain threatening. Water levels should remain conducive to salmon fishing until tomorrow morning even if we get no further rain.
We had a fair drop of rain over the past 24 hours. Enough to soak the garden, but not enough to raise the river to salmon fishing level. The forecast ids for more settled weather so the chance of a flood big enough to lift salmon up to Horton is presently remote.
Last Wednesday we went to Martin Mere near Liverpool to watch pink footed geese returning to their roosting grounds. As the sun dipped towards the west the sky filled with birds. Great skeins of geese came out of the west heading straight for the hide, their calls drowning out the sound of the ducks that were dabbling around on the mere in front of us. A spectacular sight. We has already spent the afternoon wandering around the reserve looking at the vast range of waterfowl that make it their home. Well worth a visit next time you are passing Liverpool.
Last night’s Hot Pot supper seemed to go very well. There were a good number of members present complemented by around 20 land owners. As usual the two groups tended to keep separate, but judging by the level of noise in the dining room at the Crown a good time was enjoyed by everyone. As usual Sandra did us proud with an excellent meat and potato pie followed by apple pie. We then adjourned to the bar and set various worlds to rights.
Speaking of things set to rights I am hopeful that our cormorant problem has been reduced by at least one following certain activities on Friday afternoon. I have seen no evidence of returning cormorants today so fingers crossed.
David has done a sterling job on the stiles between Helwith Bridge and Cragghill. As of yesterday 12 new stiles have been put in place. These are sturdy affairs that should assist even the most rheumatic member to cross the bank side fences without risking life and limb.
It’s been a very gloomy day today after so many days of wonderful sunshine. The fog has persisted right through to the evening and as temperatures fall it’s thickening again. We are promised some rain early next week although as yet it’s uncertain whether this will be enough to lift salmon over the Foss.