Thursday, July 19, 2012

When woody debris goes bad


If anyone from flood defence would like the contact details of those who implored us all to fling bits of wood into the rivers of these Isles in a National Angling publication just to see what happens, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Thankfully most ignored the advice in these environs else we’d have had a huge pile up of timber in front of the hatch in the house causing havoc for much of this past week. Done well woody debris works, done badly it causes damage. I’ve said it before but two thousand words urging everyone to “have a go” and see what happens was irresponsible advice from those who proclaim themselves experts in the field.

I have seen various examples of its use in recent times, both effective and ineffective. A consultation that incurred a bill running well into three figures recommended work that would have seriously impacted on the bottom hundred yards of our fishing.
The advice has not been taken up but the report is there for all to read on the internet of you delve deep enough. Another installation not far from here was quite peculiar and looked to have achieved precisley five eigths of f*** a** I hope the owners had not been required to stump up a similar sum for a consultation. If the fleece is fine enough and the walking shoes of the latest design (the equivalent in painting and decorating circles of Tarquin the interior designer in a stripy shirt) some will always be lured to the bait.


The banks may be a bit squishy, and the meadows remain unmowed, but the river has not looked this good in July for some years. The July weed cut has been a heavy one, I even eschewed church to cut weed on a Sunday, the lord may frown on those who wield a scythe on the Sabbath but the allotments near a rising spring hole may notice the difference as will the ducks who live on an island that was under threat of being submerged. It is the first time in some years that I have had to cut weed with a mind to getting rid of water , taking weed off the shallows and edging the fringe to make the channel as big as possible has dropped the river by four inches and got it back under some semblance of control. The Millstream is also in its best condition for some years. In dry years water is taken away from this man made channel to supplement the flow in the main river. The fringe has been cut back hard and weed has quickly returned with the increased flow. Fishing between the showers has been pretty good but the promised settled period of weather should see fish adopt a more regular feeding pattern, with this amount of water the second of half of the season promises to be much improved on recent years, if I had to pick a week to fly fish for Brown Trout on this river I’d go for September, Grayling fishing in October and early November holds equal promise.


Several Kingfishers currently fill their boots on Minnows in the Millstream and Roach and Rudd fry in the pond and unfortunatley our tiny trout in the stew pond have also drawn the eye of the emerald and orange bird. Many times during the day I round a corner to hear a “Wheeet!” and witness the "blue-green flash" scarper. The larger fish in the pond have enjoyed the top up of fresh water, normally at this time of the year blobs of blanket weed appear in the warm water and the fish take on a torpor that is only lifted at the onset of dusk or dawn. There are some very chubby Bream that do the rounds for much of the day and a couple of ancient Commons pushing twenty pounds spend much of the day fiddling around in the Phragmites. The margins are alive with silver fish fry providing sustenance not only for the Kingfishers but also the large Perch that charge open mouthed through the shoal sending the small fish skittering across the surface.


The reed beds in the top water meadow that we burn off in spring are almost impenetrable to man but are a hive of activity as various bugs beasties, butterflies bees and much more besides flit from flower to flower to reed. Stand still and look close and there is an awful lot of activity.

Today we received visitors from the “EU Water Framework Directive” Beamed aboard to Bransbury Mill central, at reception phasers were set to “stun” then quickly turned to "off" as it turned out to be the beleaguered boys from the EA’s fishery department who wanted to have a quick shufty with electronic probes over a hundred metres of our river to make an assessment as to the......well I’m not really sure but it’s aims are laid out here:

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/Research/Fisheries_WFD_150410.pdf

Much is promised, and for an EU directive it appears to be a relatively sensible one, Its principle "plus" that river catchments must be looked at individually. Purveyors of muddled national inland fishery strategies please take note.

The one hundred metres of river subjected to survey didn’t show up any Roach, Perch or Pike all of which thrive in other reaches of this river along with the odd Chub, Dace and a lone Orfe Concern was showed over our lack of Bullheads although these are present in numbers in other areas. The hundred metre stretch surveyed was all fast and shallow, a survey of hundred metres of deeper water would have thrown up a differnet set of results. Plenty of Grayling popped up along with several Eels, Loach and Minnows. Brown Trout made up the bulk of the sample, most of which on visual inspection received the classification of “wild”. Team leader was pleased with what he saw and asked if we had ever stocked the river. His reply on hearing that it had been stocked regularly with locally sourced Diploid Brown Trout for many many years?

“Well that blows a few theories out of the water”

If only

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