Despite the atrocious weather we had a good gathering at the lodge yesterday and prepared for the new season.
When I arrived at Tarn pasture I found it under several inches of water with quite sizeable runnels carrying water into the Tarn. This biblical deluge persisted all morning and it was only after suitable fortification with bacon and sausage butties courtesy of Claire and Neil that we felt able to brave the conditions and walk the river. Most of us headed for Cragghill where we walked down to Penny bridge checking stiles and looking at places where additional stiles are needed.
The fence at the pipe pool has been moved back away from the bank collapse. About ten feet of bank has been lost here so the river is now appreciably wider. It will take some time for the exposed gravel to settle down so fishing at this favourite spot may be a challenge this season. I’ll look at stabilising the exposed bank with willow as it’s highly likely that future spates will move the bank back even further.
It was decided to buy more willow stakes which will be with me this week. We are promised some decent weather from tomorrow onwards so I should be able to get the willow in before the next deluge.
Its been raining all day so the river is again over its bank in several places and the meadow opposite the house is full of mallards. My own ducks think this is wonderful stuff and have spent the day turning parts of the croft into water filled bomb craters. They say that there is nothing so happy as a pig in muck. Ducks in mud beats that hands down.
The willow stakes that I ordered on Wednesday arrived on Friday so I spent a while on Saturday morning putting them in.
This work was a total joy in calm, bright sunny weather with the river wadeable and the banks soft after the winter rain. The rods are over a meter long and look ready to root so I’m very hopeful that they will make an almost instant improvement to bankside habitat.
I worked up-stream from Newhouses, planting in small groups trying to mimic natural growth patterns in areas where the bank looked vulnerable to erosion. It surprised me how much willow went into so short a distance and I failed to make the target of Newhouses risings. I thought that it would take a good while to knock in 100 willow stakes, but armed with a length of rebar and working steadily I got everything in in under an hour. It seems to me that we could do a great deal more for a reasonable outlay and without spending a lot of time doing it. And there is still time this season to make a big impact.
The pre-season working party is at the Tarn next Saturday. Meet around 10am to prepare the lodge and boathouse for the new season, look at jobs to be done in warmer weather and share some bacon butties.
Inevitably having rejoiced last week in the absence of cormorants the damn things would turn up. And so it came to pass that the Tarn did receive a visitation on the first day. Whereupon there was a great wailing and a gnashing of teeth. And the Keeper did smite the water and cry in a great voice “bugger off”. Whereupon it did.
Since then its been quiet.
Members will have by now received an invite to the AGM on 19 March together with a printed report for last season. This is a return to a tradition that dates back to the foundation of the Association. The report contains a list of members during 2015 as well as reports on fishing the river and the Tarn.
I had a call during the week from the Wild Trout Trust asking about progress with some ideas that we raised with them last season. The main one is the removal of the concrete weir at Selside that will require EA permission. It was hoped that the EA would fund this work as part of the limestone Ribble project. However, the need to allocate resources to flood relief programmes as a result of this winter’s storms may mean that money is no longer available. There may be other sources of funding however so all is not lost.
I have delayed buying and planting the willow because of the continued high water here. The stakes will arrive next day after order and need to be planted almost immediately. It looks as though we are due some settled weather mid week so I’ll order the willow tomorrow.