The last Tarn stocking took place on Saturday. A mix of brown and rainbow trout went in with a good few blue trout included with the rainbows. These were mostly just under the 2lb mark and looked as fit as a fiddle.
The exercise was watched intently by a cormorant sat on the rock just below the far cross wall. This blighter seemed impervious to our presence, loud noises and gesticulation. If it were not for the occasional flap of its wings I might have assumed that some kind soul had planted a plastic decoy just to wind me up.
A regular Tarn fisher has suggested to me that I should clarify a comment that I posted a few days ago about checking the stomach contents when gutting taken fish. The idea is to do this in the kitchen sink at home, not in the lodge or on the Tarn bank. I had not supposed that any member would gut their fish at the Tarn, but who knows?
The cormorants are back at the Tarn. It was only a matter of time as so many have been seen lower down the Ribble valley. However, their early arrival at the top of the river is a nuisance.
This is particularly so because the final stocking of the season takes place tomorrow. A mix of rainbow and brown trout to liven things up a bit. It really is hard to believe that the season is almost over. Still, this year has given us some of the earliest salmon catches for quite a while and the massive flood on Monday should deliver more fish to Horton.
I’m off on my belated birthday treat tomorrow. A flight over the dales in the co-pilot seat of a helicopter. So fingers crossed for some decent weather.
We had an astonishing amount of rain last night and through most of today. By 7 am this morning the water was above the clapper bridge at Newhouses and the river was rising fast. By 10 am when i needed to go out the ford had dropped a few inches, but the river was a foaming torrent. The main road to Settle was under several inches of water most of the way to Helwith Bridge and Settle weir looked like a maelstrom.
I have never in the 17 years that we have been here seen so much water during the summer and only once or twice seen so much in winter.
The river is now dropping fast leaving flooded pastures and meadows. One can only guess what its done to fish stocks so it will be mighty interesting to see how well the river fishes over the next few days. I strongly suspect that we shall have some salmon here by tomorrow.
Autumn is forecast to arrive early with an Atlantic storm due over the weekend. Its been raining most of the day here so the river is starting to lift and with a lot more rain forecast for tomorrow fishing conditions on Sunday and Monday should be better than for a week or so.
I continue to receive very favourable reports on the condition and abundance of river trout. The pools seem to be full of healthy fish. They take a fair bit of patience to winkle out, but from what I have seen so far this season may prove to be on of the most productive for quite some time.
I understand that the old bull resident in Tarn pasture took exception to the Hon Treasurer the other evening. This may be because he was carrying a bright new anchor or the bull simply did not like the look of Gavin. However, it may be best to keep an eye on him (the bull not Gavin) and to avoid getting between him and his harem. He has never caused any trouble in he past and probably just had an off day.
A rather wet and autumnal week is forecast to turn drier and more settled over the weekend. With the river presently in good water there should be some decent fishing for a few days yet and with the stiff breeze decreasing in strength conditions may be very good.
I have spent quite a bit of the week at Stavely working on a fish and crayfish rescue to enable extensive engineering works to commence to repair damage to bridges and armoured banking caused by last winter’s floods.
It’s always interesting to compare trout stream populations to our own river and this one had a surprising number of salmon fry and parr. Indeed, there were considerably more juvenile salmon than trout of any age. There were also a lot of native crayfish.
I’m off back to the Lakes next week. This time to the Sprint where we are once again enabling major flood repair work to get under way. Hopefully, Cumbria will go into this winter with a little more resilience to flood damage if we get similar weather to 2015.
After my long blather yesterday here is a short report from Andy R on his first visit to the wild north of the fishery at Thorns ghyll.
It’s amazing how fast extra water runs off!.. Saturday really was one of those occasions when… “you should have been here yesterday” … was very much the case. But we still caught a few (very stunningly marked) small wild trout. A slightly longer level line was needed on the Tenkara dry fly set up. Just to put a little distance between angler & fish… they are very easily spooked! So with a low profile and a longer line we were able to rise quite a few fish. Caddis or stonefly patterns seemed to be the order of the day. In fast broken water the cdc tent wing caddis rides the surface really well.
And a couple of pics:
We have been conducting some data gathering to try to learn more about the character of the Tarn so that we can better manage it as a fishery of the very highest natural quality and haven for native wildlife.
As part of this study I spent an absorbing hour yesterday with a local cave diver and geomorphologist learning about the surface and subterranean drainage of upper Ribblesdale. As we know the Tarn is fed by water welling up from depth and this water appears to be of the very highest quality thus providing habitat that is almost uniquely free from contaminants.
What we have never understood is the source or sources of the water. There has been much speculation, but no firm evidence. Dye tracing conducted in the 1970s established connection between sinks on both sides of the valley and the major resurgence at Turn Dub. Connection was also made between Sell Gill holes, Haytime hole and the resurgence at Newhouses risings. None of these tests ever returned a positive result at the Tarn. However, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence so further tests may return different results.
What I learned yesterday was enlightening. The drainage beneath the valley is completely independent of surface drainage, something that I am familiar with from 20 years plus of caving activity. Here, the water entering at the sinks travels north down the dip of the limestone before turning west along the strike of the rock and then trending south up dip before rising under hydraulic pressure to resurge. What this means is that we should look no further north for the source of Tarn water than Fawber or Top farm. None of the pots with active streamways due east of the Tarn are likely to feed it. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that the Tarn water is the result of percolation from the surface rather than the sinking of an active stream way.
I’ll take a wander around Fawber over the weekend and look for likely gathering points.
Finally, the river is falling fast now, but should remain in sufficiently good water o enable fishing tomorrow.
A wet day with more rain forecast overnight should provide good river fishing tomorrow. The river is already rising because of heavy showers and should continue to rise through the night. The forecast for tomorrow is good, still with some sun and enough cloud to provide shade.
I logged on to the tarn webcams a short while ago and was puzzled by the sight of something that resembled Moby Dick close to the upper camera. As the picture updated this resolved itself to be three upended ducks now the right way up.
Finally a plea. It would be helpful for some research that I am conducting if members would be willing to spoon or examine the gut of any trout that they take from the Tarn and tell me what they find if the gut content is identifiable. Even whether the fish seems well fed or not would be helpful.
The height of summer and it feels and looks more like autumn today, A few showers have done nothing to lift the river although to be truthful it’s in fairly good water and should fish well.
Today I finally got around to downloading to my PC the video that I took of the diving exploits at the Tarn. It’s not the most exiting stuff you will ever watch because of a great deal of faffing around talking. However it offers an interesting record of an event that doesn’t take place every day. The pity was that the battery died before the divers emerged and we began a bit of weed raking so the really interesting stuff I did not film. Perhaps I should invest in a spare battery pack.
Whilst filming the divers entering the water down near the duck wall I spotted some droppings that I’m fairly certain are otter spraint. You can usually distinguish otter poop from mink poop from the smell and this stuff smelt like otter. Not the most welcome of visitors to the Tarn, but they don’t tend to stay long because of a lack of cover so probably do limited damage to fish stocks. I’ve not seen many heron at the Tarn this summer, but then again I have seen very few frogs so that’s probably why. An odd year.
Having such an extensive fishery does mean that certain beats get visited more often than others. The river below Horton, the beats around the Tarn and Selside are particular favourites and for very good reasons. Access is good, there are good pools and cover and plenty of trout.
Very few members venture to the wilds of the top end by Ribblehead. This is real backwoods country where the river or rather Gayle beck flows through the miniature limestone gorge of Thorns ghyll. It’s a bit of a hike to get to Thorns from the Hawes road but for those who relish a challenge and are not afraid of a bit of a scramble the river here could offer some unforgettable fishing. There are pools at Thorns that have probably never had an artificial fly land on them and the trout are as wild as you are likely to get on this river. Don’t all rush and spoil the solitude of this glorious place. However, an occasional visit will be one to savour.
Today has been Yorkshire day and the Dales national park grew by almost a quarter to take in the Howgill fells, Wild Boar fell and Barbondale. The West Riding just got back some of the territory it lost in the 1970’s. A day to celebrate.