That’s the end what always seems to me to be the longest month of the year. With the persistent wet, dull weather it has seemed even longer this year. We are now on the final straight towards spring and already the rooks in the sycamore are beginning to refurbish last year’s nests. It beats me how these heaps of timber remain in the tree despite frequent gales that will strip your coat off if you stand still. Perhaps we should train rooks to build flood defence barriers. I guarantee that they would never wash away.
We have had some high water this past couple of weeks, but nothing like the severe floods of December. It’s possible that late spawning trout will get away with undamaged redds. However, water temperatures this winter have been quite high and this will have an impact on egg viability.
There has been a refreshing absence of cormorants at the Tarn this week. It’s probably to early to say for certain that they have got the message that they are unwelcome although it is unusual not to find a single bird there for a week at this time of year. I have no doubt that having written this I shall find a host of the damn things busy feeding tomorrow.
A reminder that there is a working party assembling at the lodge on Saturday 20 February. and the AGM is in Horton on Saturday 19 March. Last years turn out at he AGM was pretty pathetic so it would be good to see a few more members present this year.
The first Tarn stocking of the new season will be on Saturday 12 March when I’ll put in 100 rainbow and 50 brown trout. That will give three days for them to spread out and acclimatise before the season begins on 15 March. The fish usually arrive with me at around 10 am and members are always welcome to come along and watch what for me has now become a fixed point in the year. Looking back I see that my first Tarn stocking was way back in 2003 so based on an average of 500 fish a year I will have netted in around 7000 fish on 12 March and with each fish weighing about 2lb that’s 14,000lb or 6.35 tons. No wonder I feel knackered sometimes.
Real winter arrived here in the valley this weekend. We had around 3 inches of snow last night and awoke to a magpie morning of hush. The Tarn is partly frozen, a condition that should deter hungry cormorants unless they come equipped with a lump hammer.
It warmed a bit during the afternoon and a thaw set in so the snow may not last long. That should please the large flock of goldfinches that now seem to be permanently resident in the back garden. I put out two large feeders of sunflower seeds this morning. By mid afternoon they were empty and the dozen or so goldfinches sitting on the fence opposite the morning room window looked rather over stuffed.
At least its stopped bloody raining.
Its been a much quieter week with rather less rain than we had in December. The river remains high though and was looking in spanking form when I met a prospective new member on Sunday morning. We are promised a spell of much colder weather and the fells this morning are already dusted with snow. We could really do with a cold snap to kill off the bugs, allow the river to cool and quieten to encourage trout egg development and give us all a break from the persistent wet.
I understand that at least one member has had his home trashed by the floods. Our thoughts are with David and his family at such a difficult and disruptive time. I do hope that his life returns to some semblance of normality in the not too distant future.
We are planning a river walk on 20 February to look at maintenance jobs on the fishery. I believe that bacon butties at the lodge may be available. This will be a great opportunity for newer members to meet others and to get some tips on fishing this challenging river.
Just eight weeks to go now until the new season.
Well, a new year is upon us with a short run up to the start of the new season on 15 March. This will be the 138th from the founding of the Association and about 134th from the arrival of the MAA at Horton.
I saw a trailer last night for a forthcoming drama on ITV entitled “Jericho” which seems to be about the building of the Ribblehead viaduct and I am wondering if the producers have included scenes of the navvies extreme fishing methods on the adjacent Ribble. I doubt it as I have not been contacted for information.
Talking of said Ribble, it’s in good water this morning and hasn’t been in flood for a few days which is quite remarkable this winter. I’m off shortly to have another check on damage below Horton. The most noticeable change so far is he scouring of the pipe pool bend. The big gravel deposits do move around quite a lot in the average winter, but this year it looks as though an army of navvies have been busy shifting the bed around.
I have just ordered a large bundle of willow stakes to bang into the banks at various locations to provide increased cover for fish. These should be with me after the harvest in mid February and weather permitting I’ll get them all in by the start of the new season.
The Tarn is looking really good. Crystal clear water this morning and an outflow that’s thundering down towards the river. I’m guessing that the cormorants have been given a notice to quit in the past few days as none were in evidence this morning and there are signs in the lodge of some encouragement having been necessary.
Sunday will find me at New Inn meeting another prospective member. We need them as a few older members may not be able to rejoin this year for health reasons.