31 March 2017

After a wet, grey start to the morning we enjoyed a wonderful sunny afternoon, just right for formally opening the new PBA offices at Giggleswick.  Good to see two members of MAA who dropped by for a chat and a burger.

We also saw Flying Scotsman on its journey up to Carlisle celebrating the opening at long last of the S&CR after line repairs that have taken eighteen months.

On my way back home from Giggleswick I stopped off at the Garden pool for a quick check on the river and found it in great condition.  There was a good flow under the west arch of New Inn bridge and just a touch of colour on a fairly fast flow.  Conditions for fishing  should remain good well into the weekend.

Finally, anyone who finds themselves in Settle tomorrow is very welcome to drop n to Victoria Hall and say “hello”.  I shall be there between 10 am and 3 pm manning our history archiving stand at the Stories in Stone first year celebrations.  Our project website is now live we have already put over 400 items of historical info on the site.  Find it at www.dalescommunityarchives.org.uk

You will find there under the “Topics” menu item a couple of monographs that I wrote several years ago about the Horton trout hatcheries.


29 March 2017

As I predicted yesterday the weather has turned wet today with increasingly prolonged showers through the afternoon.  It seems to be brightening although tomorrow is forecast wet also. The river is now in good nick with decent water and not too much colour.

It’s also fish quite well as evidenced by an email I received from an enthusiastic member who fished last week:

Hi Ian, It’s a start.. the bigger of the fish measured 16″.. A touch thin as expected, due to the time of year. Caught on classic North Country Spider’s…… “Fished Upstream”…. as 99.99% of river fly fishing should be done. A few large dark olives tried to make an appearance, but the weather just wasn’t correct for this fly. After all they are known as a foul weather fly.? Rain, Dull and overcast skies are the required conditions. Ideally with a light upstream wind for us anglers, stopping the flies getting through and off the surface quickly. Also the bed of the river is absolutely studded with caddis case’s… there seems to be far more this spring, Compared to last year?
Andy also sent me a couple of photos so here is one of them just to whet your appetite:
A very nice early season brownie.

28 March 2017

Those of you who regularly log on to the webcams at the Tarn will have seen today turn wet towards evening.  More rain is forecast for the next few days bringing to an end this spell of warm, dry weather.  The upside is increased water in the river and better fishing conditions.

I’m not usually a fan of Channel 5 and its tendency to cater for the viewing tastes of the lowest common denominator.  However, a series that began last Tuesday is well worth a watch.  Wild Yorkshire records a year in both the Dales and Moors national parks and PBA was involved in the making of one of the programmes in the series.  Look out next week for a sequence filmed at a waterfall not far from here where salmon are seen making their way up to Horton.  There should also be a short sequence about native crayfish.

I now have six rook nests in the sycamore two of which appear to be a semi-detached job housing four rooks, presumably close relatives.  The timber has stopped falling from building activities so I raked up the stuff lying on the ground.  I have a heap about three feet high and roughly the same across.  Enough to build two more nests.  Rook pie anyone?



26 March 2017

Its been a glorious warm, sunny spring day.  I really can’t remember the last time we sat outside in March in T shirts drinking tea and stuffing cake.

The Tarn looks wonderful as seen from the two new cameras on the lodge.  As I write this there are two men in a boat (minus dog) busy casting a line or two.

I was up at the Tarn first thing and have returned the Association history and manuscript books to the lodge.  I’ve also put a bag in the rubbish bin for old line and leader – please, no food items as these attract rats and mice.

It’s astonishing how fast the river drops.  After the deluge that we had last weekend I thought that the river would remain high for a couple of weeks.  It’s still in good water, but that won’t last long if we have a dry week.


25 March 2017

Spring has arrived at last here in the valley.  The curlew are calling, lambs are leaping and we have a glorious blue sky.  It has seemed like a long winter and I suppose that it’s still too early to celebrate its passing.  I recall a few years ago a wicked cold snap in April that gave us two feet of snow and killed hundreds of new born lambs.

The weather has brought out intrepid river fishermen and one hardy soul is as I write this trying his luck with cold trout.

Council have very kindly agreed to allow me to try to drown the PBA team at the Tarn on Wednesday.  We need to renew our water rescue certificates so will, for a brief while between 10.30 and about 13.30 on Wednesday, be close to the lodge effecting rescue from deep water.  This should not inconvenience members who wish to fish because the Tarn below the lodge will be free from disturbance.


22 March 2017

The atrocities committed in London this afternoon at a place with which I am intimately familiar make it inappropriate to talk about fishing this evening.

All our thoughts are with the families of the dead and injured particularly the family of the murdered officer.


21 March 2017

Its been a mostly better day today although we have been pebble dashed by regular heavy showers of hail. The river looks in very good condition with plenty of clear water flowing under both arches at New Inn bridge.  The cold wind will keep most fly life off the river so no sign yet of fish rising.  I stood by the Garden pool this lunchtime until driven back into the car by hail and saw no fish moving, but that does not suggest that they are not there.

There was much discussion at the AGM about excessive weed growth in the Tarn and it was agreed that efforts would be made this season to ensure that this was kept under control.  The task is a whole lot easier now with the lethal weed cutter, but it does require at least four people to manage the job (two in the boat and two on the bank shouting encouragement – sorry, that should be raking weed).  David is compiling a list of able-bodied volunteers who will be willing to help out on working parties so members who wish to volunteer for such service should let me know.

The aim is to clear fishing corridors so that a line can be got down to brown trout lurking in the deeps.  It’s not to completely clear the Tarn of weed.  The stuff provides oxygen and cover for fish.  In future there should be good fishing off the margins of the cleared areas.


20 March 2017

The floods that we experienced yesterday seem to have had little detrimental impact on the river despite at one stage Horton being cut off from the outside world.  I’ll take a walk later tomorrow and check out the fences and stiles on lower river.  It’s not usually the force of the water alone that causes damage, but the accumulation of brash against bankside structures that takes them down.  This early in the season much of last years dead grass and reed will have been progressively removed by winter spates so there will be less material to pile up and cause problems.  It’s often a late Autumn or mid Winter flood heavily laden with brash that has real damaging impact.

One of my regular correspondents sent me a photo of Thornton Force in Kingsdale.  This often benign fall on the Twiss (or is it the Doe) resembled the Victoria falls. Only the crocodiles were missing.

One casualty of yesterdays wet is the Tarn webcam.  I’m not sure what the problem is, but it failed to update after 10 am yesterday.  Water and sensitive electronics are not happy bed fellows.

We are promised a further deluge mid-week, but thereafter the local forecast is rather better so there may be some decent fishing at the weekend.


19 March 2017

We awoke this morning to a flood of biblical proportions following a night of rain falling on saturated ground.  The river is in full spate and the meadows below Newhouses are submerged so that it’s difficult to tell where the river is apart from the foaming torrent that seems to mark its course.  It’s still raining hard so conditions will remain bad for some time.  Indeed, we shall probably be trapped here for some hours because the ford is around 3 feet deep.

I took along to the AGM the updated Association history and manuscript books that Jean Marsden has been working on over the winter.  When (if) the weather improves I’ll put these fascinating folders in the lodge once more so that new members can browse when either the fish are not cooperating or the weather makes the lodge a more attractive place to be.

I was contacted a few days ago by the Ribble Trust who are facilitating a meeting with scientist from Birmingham Uni. exploring ways to reduce water temperature on the upper Ribble.  The main aim is to improve conditions for salmonids and further encourage the recruitment of fish.  Anything that contributes to the trout holding capacity of the river is well worth considering so we look forward to that meeting with keen interest.

On that theme, returning members will notice that much has changed at Far Moor just opposite the Tarn on the far bank of the river.  This whole area has been planted with native trees that will not only provide good shelter and shading on the river, but also consolidate the unstable bank and prevent further slippage.


18 March 2017

A really good day for the MAA today.  Started at 9.30 by meeting a prospective new member, braving the monsoon like showers to show him a bit of the fishery and the Tarn.  Then on to one of the best AGMs for several years.  Lots of new faces and several old (some very old) ones.  Finally, the webcams are back on line and the weather station should be back up on Tuesday.

Neil Handy was at the AGM and brought along the award and trophy he won with our support for re-wilding the upper Ribble. Wonderful that someone who has devoted most of his working life to the benefit of the river and our enjoyment of it has got some tangible recognition.

It was a truly appalling night.  Strong wind and torrential rain that put 3 feet of water on Newhouses ford and 2 feet on the lane by the garden pool.  We went to Settle at about 7.30 to celebrate our wedding anniversary and ploughed through flood all the way to the top of Sherwood Brow.  The flood had receded a bit by 10.30, but it was still a fairly hairy drive back.

The season is now truly underway so more tomorrow.