Monday, June 11, 2012

The bottom jaw of a Klitchko

The Mayfly continues and despite the change in weather we have seen some very heavy falls of spinners. Heavy rain and wind made conditions tricky and we have just had the average rainfall for the month fall in a day sending the river over its banks for the first time in a long time and flattening a neighbouring field of flax but for over a week it has been raining spent mayfly from around 8pm onwards. Fish continue to feed hard and several more fish over four pound have been put on the bank, one a mean looking cock with the bottom jaw of a

Klitchko, there are also tales of larger fish hooked and lost, all to Mayfly patterns. Olives hatch from mid morning onwards and the number of Sedge is building along with the odd Alder fly but it is the Mayfly bounty that most fish hold out for. A small jack Pike fell to a large Wulff and several large Grayling have also been caught. Several of our visitors who fish elsewhere in the valley have reported instances of fish that have been bunched up and slow to rise.

This can happen here during times of low water and slow weed growth but it is also a tag that is being applied to the increasing numbers of Triploid fish that are now being stocked.

With the June weedcut imminent on this river, the scythe has been serviced and sharpened and put to use on the Itchen where the June weed cut starts a few days earlier. On the Dever there is little to be cut and it will be a short exercise in tidying and titivation but on the Itchen the Ranunculus has been in flower for over a week, the water has gone over the bank and there is plenty enough for bar cutting. The opposite bank is owned by someone else so there must

be a certain amount of cooperation between the two as to where the water goes. There was just under a day cutting which was a tad tricky in places for a first time through as the river bed has the odd surprise hole which I have mentally noted for next time. Plenty of fish have been caught from this single bank beat including a ropey looking Rainbow in the top pool with a farm escapee look about it. The Mayfly hatch has also been heavy although a little later than on the Dever. The proprietor fished late last week in the mayfly bonanza and was preparing to leave when a roadworks lorry turned up and out climbed two chaps in waders headlamps and spinning rods. The stretch is fairly isolated and was a place to keep an eye on twenty five years ago when I was seconded to what was then the National Rivers Authority for three months work experience. With the luxuriant weed growth I am not sure what damage they would have done with conventional spinning methods, and with so much road resurfacing carried now out at night I am surprised they got the time, off but with a registration number and the Traffic police depot for the A34 and M3 a mile away it shouldn’t be too difficult to push them elsewhere.

The first Orchids have put in an appearance, about twenty of the paler purple jobs (I need a better flower book) on one of the middle bends, I think there are another two types to come, a darker purple job of similar shape to its lighter version and one that is vivid purple and shaped like a policeman’s helmet, pictures to follow, when they pop up.

Recently this column has drawn the attention of anonymous comments, An honour, and briefly exciting, the chap didn't hold with our current stocking policy and didn't seem to be as busy or enjoying the weekend as much as I was. The tone became irritating as the one eyed thinking of some who prevail in certain quarters bubbled to the surface. With the language of Galafrei and all things Dr Who, the rhetoric rang heavy with “genetic purity, regeneration” and persistence of the enemy” In fishery management terms I was accused of being a dinosaur with the intelligence and ability for free thinking to match. This went on for much of the weekend, and if I’d known who I was talking to I would have happily continued the debate but no name was forthcoming and the Antiques Roadshow was on which seemed rather apt for a dinosaur such as myself so I signed off

Feel free to get in touch, I don't expect everyone to agree or like what I write, and I will do my best to answer any questions, but let’s have a name!


Anonymous said...

I am sorry that you haven't been able to answer my questions with suitable replies, if only to defend yourself against the harm I feel you are doing in propagating your employment in the manner yiu do. You know that anyone can hoof in the stock fish or feed the river (which is illegal), but it takes a keeper to study, advise, educate and then implement a new way. You are being facetious by saying people are ‘enlightened’, when they simply act on what they see and know to be true. You scorn them for their love of rivers, wild trout and doing what they believe to be right.
Have you ever thought of bending your back to help the Test produce its own wild trout for your rods, and native wildlife, rather than treating the river to the same awful Victorian values and extending to your stews? At the very least please mark your stockies for killing and get the Rods to return the real ones.
At the moment you are a dog in the manger. I'd like to talk with you, face-to-face; I could turn your thinking upside-down and you would be a credit to your employment, instead of helping everyone, except from the river you are charged to keep.

Thank you.

Test Valley River Keeper said...

No name, no reply

Chris de Cani,


Proud to be a Victorian,

if that is how i must be tagged,

and of my work over the past twenty odd years that has seen biodiversity increase substantially in this small section of the valley where Brown trout and much more besides continue to thrive.

Apologies for being facetious and scornful, not too keen on the "dog in a manger" bit though

Oops! that was a reply

Anonymous said...

Sorry can't comment on the technicalities of fishing. However I do look forward to your articles about the river and I do like your sense of humour.
Do you think we can lift the hose pipe ban yet?

Running Man said...

Well you can please some of the people some of the time....

I think the comments around genetic purity and 'wild' fish are misplaced. I'd understand if the river was being flooded with Rainbows but from the keepers previous answers to my questions what is going in is what comes out from the River, with little if nothing added in between.

The continuous pressures of active fishing on the river mean that to leave it to nature alone would mean certain death to the river in fishing terms.

How the stock levels could be maintained without a hatchery when its fished most of the year is a mystery.

A marked decline in the fishing quality would end the industry and work that is sustained by the fishing.

This means in turn that the river would no longer be maintained in the way it is. Therefore the river would not be able to retain the stocks of fish it currently does.

Furthermore with no vigilant river guardians then you can expect a fair bit of your wild fish to end up in the back of a road maintenance lorry. Predators come in many guises.

In searching for some natural nirvana you could kill the very thing you are trying to protect.

Just be careful what you wish for.

Anonymous said...

You must trust the river more. Habitat improvement, rather than stocking tame trout, will provide a great deal more fish, and fish that are likely to stay rather than be displaced by flood or go looking for the man with the feed bucket. This is good news for our native wildlife, which relies upon an availability of every year classes of brown trout, especially through the winter. The river would not die, it would come alive. A reasonable policy of C&R will provide larger specimen trout for the anglers. The keepers will be even more necessary and find themselves intent on improving water quality/volume to protect an ecosystem, rather than knowing they can easily restock into a damaged food chain. Imagine a river full of Test Keepers, all jealously guarding against pollution and abstraction to preserve their wild trout. Who would mess with them!
So more fish, larger specimens, more wildlife and a healthy river; that’s what I wish for.

Test Valley River Keeper said...

Increased biodiversity, fish of all year classes, effective habitat mananagent,

every box can be ticked for this stretch of river

Test Valley River Keeper said...

Increased biodiversity, fish of all year classes, effective habitat mananagent,

every box can be ticked for this stretch of river

Running Man said...

Is there not already C&R with some small allowances anyway.

The river is maintained to me anyway by some pretty hefty permit prices. If you make it harder to fish and less likely to catch then the money will dry up. This will impact local community and you'll have less keepers.

Like it or not people who fish these days want to catch fish, thus the immense popularity of Rainbow bashing on Reservoirs.

Its about balance, if they are putting in fish that are reared from local stock then I just don't see what the issue is.

Running Man said...

On a positive note I'll get my chance to spend 3 days on the river in two weeks....can't wait, especially as there now seems to be little or no chance of 'drought' affecting the fishing

Anonymous said...

You are completely and utterly mistaken. Excluding stock fish, when the native fish of the river have everything they need to propagate and flourish will not make the fishing hard, nor make fish difficult to catch nor reduce revenues. A population of wild trout, when not constantly out competed by artificial introduction, increases exponentially. When fish are returned, especially in the river like the Test, the trophy grade of large adults provides the anglers with a real prospect of catching huge fish, and the fishing becomes a wonderful meritocracy.
If the fish are reared from local broodstock, to have their offspring sterilised, then those adults have their young lost from the river, but, the cultivated strain of Test Browns certainly hasLeven influences and who knows what is left of the true chalk stream wild brown bloodline?
If the river has a good natural entitlement of wild trout, and I do not think it does thanks to the exploits of this keeper and others like him, why continually tip in hundreds of over-large cultivated brown trout? Where’s the food for them all, or the territories for the wild trout? Why are his fishermen allowed to kill wild trout in their bag instead of just stock trout? Because everyone is kidding themselves that this is riverkeeping and this is fishing. It is neither.

Test Valley River Keeper said...

Thanks for all of the comments, the good the bad, the informed and the uniformed.

If you feel the need to accuse me of something please don't do it anonymously

Anonymous said...

I will remain anonymous because I do not have a vested interest in trout fishing or indeed indulge in the sport. I do have a passion for all chalk streams and the wildlife it supports. The anonymous critic strikes me as a purist, a noble pursuit but not realist in a changing world.
The river test keeper frequently mentions otters and I am sure he is not too impressed when they take his reared trout. Surely if you relied on just the native brown trout and Tarka still had a healthy appetite you would have quite a task to prevent him consuming your wild trout. On the other hand our factory farming keeper could always rear a few more to feed Tarka and her family.
As appoint of interest could somebody tell me where the John Lewis keepers sit on this subject. I believe they have quite a stretch of the river test.

Test Valley River Keeper said...

More anonymity, oh well thanks for dropping by all the same.......I think.

I also have a passion for the chalkstream habitat and am proud of our work here over the past twenty years that has seen a substantial increase in biodiversity, not to mention many species of fish present in the river in all year classes.

Factory farmer I am not, our rearing methods are relatively extensive in comparison to table farms, retro or old fashioned would be a more suitable description for our fish production methods. Think "a few chickens in a barn as opposed to thousands"

I am well aquainted with the keepers on the John Lewis Estate. I worked full time on their stretch of river for a year prior to attending college and part time for 3 years while completing a fish farming and fishery management course, it is a very nice estate with 12 miles of well kept river.

Oops! another answer to an anonymous comment

Running Man said...

So a non fisherman who is an expert on chalkstreams and seemingly catching fish, no vested interest !!

Really are you sure ? That's like a vegetarian commenting on steak dinner.

The catch policy on the Test is 1 or 2 fish at most per angler per day. I'd bet most dont even take that. I know I've never killed one.

Anonymous said...

Do you have to be an expert to have a passion for chalk streams, and to put the matter straight I do not catch fish in any form whatsoever? The only trout I ever tasted was while staying in the Black Forest, in a Guest House, and that was delicious. I don’t think that makes me a vegetarian does it?
I used to know someone who was a very good Fly Fisherman and he practiced casting on his lawn, I was very impressed at the skill of it. I hope your implication, is that you have to be a Fly fisherman to appreciate the beauty of a chalk stream?