Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Week 21

Week 21

What a wet week! The first three days a complete wash out, the following two marginally better. With the luxuriant weed growth holding the water up and the extra water from the rain the banks are becoming pretty soggy. The Mayfly continue to hatch and despite the weather this is turning into one of the best years for Mayfly for some while; most fish being caught between four and seven o’clock. Walking up the river in the morning the fish are hard on the bottom, sated from the previous evenings feed, the few fish that have been caught in the morning ignoring Mayfly patterns, taking instead small Olive patterns, a black Gnat or an Iron Blue. On the wet days the rain has ceased at around four in the afternoon and has had the effect of flicking a switch, fish high in the water slashing at hatching and falling Mayflies. A late shower on Thursday resulted in a huge fall of spent mayfly onto the road bordering the river, the flies dropping to the sodden surface of the road to die and lay their eggs believing it to be the river. While walking the dogs up the road I saw hundreds of spinners lying on the tarmac. The June weed cut cannot come soon enough, the Ranunculus is now out of the water and flowering, forming a dense obstacle for the river to flow over or through, related to the buttercup it has a flower made of white petals and a yellow centre, does not flower every year but is spectacular when it does. More funny birds continue to turn up with reports of a purple Heron around the middle Test. Some of the early flowers are now out in the water meadow, the first signs of early Purple Orchids, and swathes of ladies smock/cuckoo flower. The “fringe”, the line of reeds and sedges that border the river are starting to get high and will need cutting next week, full of flowers and made up of a variety of “marginals” that cost a fortune in a garden centre it forms an important part of the riverkeeper’s job through out the season. It must be kept at the right height around 18 – 24 inches for this beat, to allow the angler to scan the river for fish, and to use it to conceal himself from the fish. It cannot be allowed to fall over in to the river so obstructing flow, and making the river smaller, it provides a valuable protection against erosion but must not be allowed to grow too thick, it must be allowed light and protected from too much shade, too little light resulting in the fringe thinning, leaving the bank open to erosion. During periods of low flow, the fringe can be allowed to grow out into the river, squeezing the making body of water so keeping the flow of water up, in periods of high flow it is cut right back. At the end of each season I cut the fringe right down to a height of around six inches and edge it in hard, this allows the river to scour out any silt that may have built up along the side during the summer. A practice that has been carried out for hundreds of years up and down the river.

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