Wednesday, August 24, 2011

At Last!

At last! Fishing has improved. It may still be August but around here it looks like mid September and the fishing has responded accordingly. Heavy showers, including two inches in two hours have freshened things up and the fish have roused themselves from their midsummer torpor. Many rise through the day to Olives, although evening fishing is on the wane.

I missed the rain, having been on a kids free holiday with the wife. Child "A" had taken herself off to a Greek Isle, and then on to Portugal and Child "B" descended upon Cornwall with a group of friends and family. With concealed trepidation, and a big pile of books, Wife and I jetted off to the mountains and cold clear water of North West Corfu. Foolishly I forgot to pack my travel rod, but I would have been seriously under-gunned against a gang of Albanians packing spear guns and snorkels who chased the most baby of Bass from rock to rock. Next time, because there will be a next time as the whole week proved to be a bit of a success, the 9ft 8wt rod is going in along with a float rod for tiddler bashing off the rocks.

At home, control was ceded to parents who kept everything ticking over beautifully.... and spoiled the dogs. I am told that the intense rain lifted the river and sent some blanket weed bowling on downstream dragging out Ranunculus as it went. There are a few bare patches, and the level is as it was before we left, but the river definitely looks fresher for a flush of water. Some trees are already shedding leaves adding to the early autumnal feel,and the apples and pears are dropping from the trees, but the grass has gone into overdrive and much of days since my return have been taken up with mowing and strimming.

The Pheasants have arrived, and what a multicultural bunch they are, with poults of all shades and sizes from tiny pale and white to the big black and melanistic; who knows how they will fly, but they all seem to be sticking around. The rain has brought their feathers on and they look in pretty good knick. The introduction of the poults into the pen draws the attention of the resident pheasants who sidle over to check out the new kids on the block. We seem to have quite a few of last year’s birds about, judging by the number feeding on the rides around the pen.

The Maize has shot up with the warm wet weather although the Combine has drawn to a halt and the wheat in the fields that we shoot over is starting to look a little black. About fifteen years ago, heavy rain at this time of the year left part of the wheat crop unharvested and the seed dropped out in the field, subsequently the parish was full of portly pheasants and the food bill was minimal for that year.

After successive winters when the duck shooting has been poor, I am feeding the pond a month earlier to see if we can attract ducks and establish an early feeding pattern. With the heavy rain, Farmer Palmer has had little to do but drag around his plough and disks and little stubble remains. The ducks need somewhere to R&R, so why not the pond? Plastic ducks bob seductively, and barley is on tap to attract all but the most fickle fowl. I’ll leave plenty of cover for a few weeks and hopefully word will get round the duck world that this is the place to be.

Our Rainbows are soon to depart. Fin perfect lumps of four to five pounds they will make their debut on the angling scene at the local big fish water, I wish them well, next year’s lot arrive four days later.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Plenty of Owls

We have had some rain and we have had some sun, the wind got up and a few branches fell down. The fishing? I could prevaricate a little more, but may as well get to the point. Still hard work, river low and not much really happening. Fish have been taken on nymphs, plain ones with anything flashy or splashy scaring more than it attracts, and a lots of juvenile browns dimple the surface for much of the day, but the big lumps lie doggo doing little. On the plus side the fly life has been pretty good. We have some reasonable hatches of Sedges and Medium Olives, and numbers of Blue Winged Olive are up on recent years. Most mornings this past week, I have opened the door to retrieve the paper and found a dozen or more BWO’s taking a rest on the front door and surrounding wall, no wind this week so hopefully a few Sherry Spinners will get back on the water to lay their eggs. The next weed cut is imminent but bar a little titivating there is very little that can be done. A family of Swans burst onto the scene one day this week and the water in front of the fishing hut dropped an inch after an hour of them pulling at weed. With water aplenty, the impact would have been negligible, but with water at a premium they have significantly affected the level of the water in a short stretch of river that holds a lot of fish, weed cover is lost and water level reduced, exposing the fish population to avian predators that seek an easy feast on fish trapped in shallow water. The fringe, left thick to squeeze the flow, is a riot of colour and a momentary distraction from the arduous fishing.

The Combine has been around and done the rape revealing a few well grown fox cubs, and the barley in our back field looks fit, but small and with short straw. The stubble attracted many Owls on the night after it was cut, my wife counted five while driving down the road at dusk, seeking critters exposed by the Combine's perambulations.

It is not just the Owls who are attracted by the easy pickings of a fresh cut corn field. Pikeys abound at the moment and a midnight raid on several sheds in the village resulted in the loss of several mowers and hedges cutters, cut cornfields provide easy access to back entrances and no matter what vehicle they turn up in, an alternative route home if pursued.

We have a few wild Pheasant about, and this week I have been getting our release pen ready for the arrival of our own Pheasants. Unfortunately a Roe deer looks to have got stuck in the pen in recent months and has trashed large parts of the fence in his efforts to escape. Radios are installed and the electric fence erected in keen anticipation of the eight week old poults arrival.

Recent articles by The Wild Trout Trust in the angling press have given cause for concern. It is irresponsible to peddle propaganda on fishery management policy in a national publication. I have previously banged on at length at the nonsense of a national fishery management strategy for the rivers of these Isles; what works for one river does not necessarily hold for all, media savvy cheerleaders encouraging all and sundry to have a go at this and that is irresponsible. Recent articles have centred on stocking policy and the merits of diploid and triploid trout. I could cut and paste ten thousand emailed words,cordial and considered, between myself and a high ranking WT man over the merits of each from which the only conclusion I can draw is that the “Final solution” for the WT is an end to stocking. If those who rely on stocking to maintain a commercially viable fishery are forced to stock with Triploid Brown trout and their use is banned (as it already is in some parts of Europe) will the WT and EA defend their use?
I have my doubts and with the stocking of diploid trout no longer possible, stocking will effectively have been banned and many fisheries will no longer be commercially viable.