A couple of days ago I alluded rather obliquely to a plan to control excessive weed growth in the Tarn. I can now say a little more about this because those plans have been finalised by Council.
The Tarn will be closed to all members on 11 and 12 May whilst a specialist company is engaged in removing weed and accumulated silt from an area at the north end of the Tarn. This is where weed growth is at its most excessive and has greatest adverse impact on ,members’ fishing. The aim is to create discreet areas free from weed growth whilst retaining sufficient weed to maintain a healthy ecosystem and cover for fish.
Material removed from the water will be disposed of away from the Tarn thus preserving the pristine conditions that members find so appealing.
Following this work it will take several days for the water to clear, However, I understand that fish are likely to actively feed because of the disturbance to inverts and other food species.
Members of Council will be on site on both days to monitor the work whilst in progress and it’s hoped that as a consequence of this rather more aggressive approach to weed control a much greater proportion of the Tarn will be available for members to fish.
This Spring still can’t commit itself to arriving fully and regular hail and snow showers have plagued us this week playing havoc with my beautiful flowering dicentra spectabilis.
Despite further wintry showers this evening a check on the Tarn webcam a few minutes ago revealed a lot of rises so something must be hatching off the water, alder fly?
The 2017 Wild Trout Trust journal arrived on the doormat on Tuesday packed full with very interesting articles including one about the growth rate of brown trout in Malham Tarn. It’s surprising given that the number of fly fishers in the UK must be in the hundreds of thousands that only 2500 of them regard the sustainable future of wild brown trout to be of sufficient importance to join the WTT. This is a body that doesn’t just talk about wild trout recruitment and preservation, it gets down fixes problems that affect the health of the fish and the waterways that they inhabit. If you can afford a rod licence then you can afford to join WTT and help the Trust to achieve even greater results in future http://www.wildtrout.org/
Plans are afoot to tackle excessive weed growth on the Tarn. I’ll say more about this once Council give me approval to do so.
Meanwhile don’t bother with the river, I have rarely seen it so low in early spring.
Its been a much better day without the persistent north-west wind that’s made life outdoors less than enjoyable this past week.The Tarn has looked stunning in the sunshine with just a ripple on the water surface. Just a shame that there are so few waterfowl present although the large flock of oystercatchers comes and goes giving a sense of life to the place.
Those of you who take Fly Fishing and Fly Tying magazine will see the first of a series of articles penned by an MAA member. The first one in the current issue is well worth a read for those new Association members wishing to learn what killer fly to use on this most challenging of trout waters.
Its been unseasonably chilly this week. No overnight frost, but a persistent north west wind that seems to penetrate anything that you care to throw on. Its also been rather dry so the river is well off its best. Low water and a strong, cold wind do not make for good fishing conditions.
The Tarn is fishing rather better and the amount of fly life now present in the water is a great surprise. Each caught and taken fish is stuffed the the gills with caddis and alder fly larvae. It’s perhaps a surprise that they bother to take an artificial. Perhaps a case of eyes being bigger than bellies?
Gavin stopped by on his way to the Tarn this evening whilst I was unloading compost from the truck. He has noticed that fish are avoiding the area of the Tarn immediately under the cormorant deterring kite. This is probably not surprising because fish tend to be very wary of anything moving overhead. So, not much point in fishing adjacent to the kite unless you really wish to avoid catching anything.
When I left you on Friday i was regaling you with an account of a day spent with the Ribble Trust et al. To continue from where I left off seems a good way to begin today’s burblings.
Our fist port of call on Friday was to the Tarn to look at the weather station and other gizmos adorning the lodge. We had quite a discussion whilst there about the drainage of upper Ribblesdale, the complex aquifer and how the Tarn receives its water. One upshot of all this chewing of fat was an offer to fly the drone with its temperature sensitive camera over the tarn. This would reveal gradations in temperature, reveal hot and cold spots and thus show the exact location of feeder springs in the substrate of the Tarn. It would also show where fish are most likely to be found in periods of hat weather because they will migrate to areas of water of lowest temperature.
I already have a pretty good idea as to where the springs are because certain areas of water freeze over much slower that the bulk of the Tarn. However, having an image taken from above showing gradation of temperature with the possibility of geo-referencing will locate precisely the input springs.
Turning to other matters, we had a very wet day here yesterday so the river is back in fairly good water. The promise of dry, cold conditions this week means that decent river fishing will not last long so a visit early in the week is recommended.
Mike Howarth and I spent most of yesterday in the company of the Ribble Rivers Trust and Dr Stephen Dugdale of Birmingham University. Stephen visited the river to identify sites for a major scientific study that will have the aim of furthering the understanding of how water temperature impacts on the health and welfare of salmonid species.
The plan is to install up to three stations on the river that will record atmospheric and water conditions and integrate the data obtained with water temperature profiles obtained by flying a drone with a heat seeking camera periodically up the river throughout our fishery.
It’s hoped that the practical outcome of this academic work will be a better understanding of the works that best control water temperature and provide fish with cool refuge in times of high temperature. This should unlock grant funding for the undertaking of significant habitat work.
It was a very interesting if rather tiring day. In fact Mike and I exercised our right as OAP’s to chicken out of a forced route march up Cam high road to the junction with the Ling Ghyll track. We reasoned that we knew very well what grips looked like and did not need to see these close to and so we stopped about three-quarters of the way up and chewed the fat before returning to the car to await the return of the enthusiastic youths.
The next step is for Stephen to obtain necessary statutory permissions before installing equipment in early June and flying his drone over the summer. Once complete the study should add considerably to our understanding of where and how best to provide bankside shading to lower water temperatures and thus increase the recruitment of all our salmonids.
More on this tomorrow.
Sorry for the silence over the weekend. Fine spring weather discourages sitting in front of a PC.
The river is now very low and with nothing more than showers forecast for this week fishing conditions are unlikely to improve before Easter. Still, the weather has caught us out before now s watch this space.
The Tarn however, is fishing very well and most visits seem to produce good returns of very healthy fish. There is evidence that some fish have suffered from cormorant predation, but with less pterodactyl activity in March this hopefully will not be repeated and damaged fish will recover. Members who have fished in this early season period have seen a good few very large brown trout and I was shown photos of two that were caught and returned last week. This is clear evidence that some of our brown trout from last season have successfully over wintered despite the attention of the cormorants. It’s also testament to the amount of food that’s available at the Tarn. We usually stock 2lb fish so anything above that weight that’s caught indicates growth. We are seeing brown trout at least double the weight they were put in. Good news.
Finally, I have changed the information requested on the guest ticket. Instead of recording fish taken I should now like to know the number of fish caught by guests. This will provide a better understanding of how successful guests are when they fish our waters as very few if any actually take fish now.
There are some stunning pictures coming from the webcams at the Tarn this evening. The fells are aglow with late sunshine and a light breeze is rippling the water. All that’s missing is a flock of waterfowl on the water to make the images perfect.
Spirex took a host of samples from the Tarn this morning and they have taken these away for analysis. Gavin tells me that:
…….we found significant numbers of Caddis, caseless caddis, alder fly, stone fly, damsel fly and abundant Hog lice and shrimp which is a great turnaround from last year, blood worm appeared in the mud samples so hopefully a full larder for the growing fish. It was impressive the variety and number of larval forms we found today and in quite large quantities. Surprising was the number of alder fly larva which came up in the silt samples along with blood worm. Not of these where evident last year when we looked. There was a massive population of both Hog louse and shrimp under every rock we turned.
What was less surprising was the variety and abundance of weed species and we shall give some serious thought as to how best to achieve a balance between retaining weed to maintain good oxygen levels and permitting decent fishing.
However, the larvae species found provides a good indication of what our fish are feeding on and perhaps what artificial may do the business (or perhaps not)
More on this in due course.
I spent all day in Settle launching our new history website that seems to have taken a lot of my time this past few months and kept me away from the river. It was a very successful day with over 30 keen visitors many of whom had collections of historical material that we may add to the site before funding ceases next March.
I did take a look at the river on my way back this afternoon and found it very much lower than at the weekend. It’s still fishable, but with dry conditions forecast for much of this week it’s probably best to visit before mid-week.
Council are actively gathering data that will help us to better understand the environment and ecology of the Tarn. To provide a sound,scientific and evidence based assessment of conditions there Council have engaged a specialist company to take samples and analyse them for evidence of any factor that may adversely impact on aquatic invertebrate life. We have a suspicion that something happened last summer at the Tarn that had a detrimental impact on aquatic fly life and the resident crayfish. So far we have found nothing to explain this. However, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence so further investigation is underway.
A return to spring weather today after the rain that fell towards the end of last week. The Tarn webcams have been broadcasting some stunning images this afternoon although the camera facing north is a bit troubled with condensation. I’ll take a look at that in the morning.
I logged on to the cameras a few moments ago to see a lot of fish rising so aquatic fly life must be taking wing in the late evening sun.
The river is still in quite good water because we had some very heavy rain here at Horton yesterday morning. Settle was dry all day and the road only showed wet as you got to Studfold. Just a local cloudburst.
The fields round here are now filling with lambs and my bird feeders are attracting siskin as well as the ever present goldfinch. Another sign that winter is (hopefully) behind us.