Sunday, July 21, 2013

David Gower to host Strictly

Well, where did the river go? I have a vague memory that a few years ago I expressed concern over the speed at which the river level fell following a reasonable winter of rain. It’s happening again, conditions may have been exceptional over the past fortnight with sticky heat and high temperatures, but while carrying out the July weedcut it is apparent that the river is hardly pushing through at all. There is still a taint to the water which is frustrating, although over on the Itchen the water has cleared for the first time this season.
Day time fishing has become particularly fruitless although one fish of four pound that had been skulking on a bend for a few years went silly in the sun and snatched at Klinkhammer at the hottest part of the day. Most activity occurs in the last hour of the day with fish abandoning the bottom of the river to slash at sedges. There are currently some very large grayling laying low on some of the bends, large for this river is two pound plus, and I am confident that several will be caught when we start sub surface fishing at the end of the month. There are also grayling fry on the shallows by the ford in the millstream which is a popular site for “the lady of the stream” to kick up her redd if a little hazardous in the traffic. Fewer shoals of roach are in evidence, although there are some large solitary fish well in excess of two pound, that are immaculate and unmarked. Hatches of fly in the past few weeks have been fairly good, Olives and BWO if not pour of the water, hatch regularly and the evening has seen some reasonable falls of spinners. There seem to be plenty of duck about, when the river is falling it pays not to be too tidy with the fringe and the marginal growth, allowing it to creep out into the river squeezes what flow remains and keeps the weed and gravel in reasonable order and reduces the settling of suspended solids, the ducks have enjoyed this extra cover, plus a Waterrail that flushed from cover on the middle bends when Otis’s made investigations as to the identity of the bird that his nose had betrayed. Away from the river, we have never had a year like it for butterflies and bees, reports in the press suggest that they are having a hard time of it of late, but that is certainly not the case around here. The water meadows that I would normally top in late June have been left a little longer because the orchids were late to put in an appearance, a few strides through the long grass shifts a plethora of butterflies while the bees buzz contentedly on the verdant fen that is now a riot of colour. I will have to top the meadows in a few weeks once the orchid seed has set, but the fringe will be in full flower by then and Loostrife, monkey flower and much more besides will provide an equal attraction.

Disaster occurred on the Kennet recently when organo phosphates leaked into the stream and did for most of the invertebrates in ten miles of the stream, the use of the particular organo phosphate is banned in many countries, an appalling incident occurred in India recently where school dinners were cooked in mustard oil contaminated with such chemicals wiping out an entire class. Anglers have been advised to wash their hands and not consume any of their catch, all that feed on aquatic invertebrates, mostly fish and birds, will go hungry for quite some while and the aquatic environment will be impacted upon. The pollution incident came to light, not through government agency testing, but through Invertebrate “kick sampling” by interested angling bodies on the river. A long, long time ago when I was a hungry student on the middle river, one of our regular stocking trips was to Frensham Fly Fishers on the River Wey. Always on a Saturday morning, many members would turn out to assist with the stocking, before taking us to the pub on the green for a ploughmans and pint (a welcome meal for a starving student) where I would earwig the headkeeper for who I worked, in discussion with Dr Cyril Bennet, Frensham Fly fishing club member who expressed concern over the decline of the Blue Winged Olive. Dr Bennet went on to develop a method of assessing aquatic invertebrate populations by means of a simple and inexpensive kick sample. A few minutes of shuffling around in the river with a fine net followed by a visual assessment of beasties caught and in what numbers. Dr Bennet and his team secured funding for equipment to be given to interested parties, encouragement was given by Governement Agencies and for many years Dr Bennet and his gang held workshops to demonstrate the technique and dish out free sampling equipment. I attended a refresher course with Dr Bennet a few years ago and briefly shared a petri dish with Jeremey Paxman which was a bit of a worry at the end when questions were called for.
The serious pollution incident on the Kennet came to light through the kick sampling developed by Dr Bennet and his team. Gammarus Pulex, the freshwater shrimp, are the first to cash in their chips should anything nasty enter the waterway, a typical kick sample on a chalkstream will turn over hundreds of the wee beasties, an angler who fished here a few days ago, carried out one of the kick samples that raised the alarm, his sample showed one groggy Gammarus. Once the alarm was raised Government agencies acted fast, and the publicity machine moved into action, with furrowed brows very much to the fore when “action” was called, but without Dr Bennet’s kick sampling, this “invisible pollution” event may have gone unnoticed. I don’t know the fella, I was just the lad on the trailer netting out the fish years ago, but Dr Bennet received a thoroughly deserved MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours list.

left to the Blue Winged Olives, they’d have made him a Saint.

The Angling Trust, an independant body formed to take cohesive action on behalf of all forms of angling , achieved considerable success following pressure put on command centre central to address the burgeoning population of inland cormorants. Flying in the face of an IFM report that suggested that cormorants were ok, the Angling Trust have secured a catchment by catchment deal that will asses local populations of cormorants and issue predator licences accordingly, a sensible modification to the current beaurocatic licensing system. If you are not a member, get on and join. The Angling Trust are doing good things.

The future of lights and power is fracking, the message is writ large everyday by loons in power who have been sold the story of a friendly source of gas. Those who object are deemed idealogical weird beards and yurt dwellers. Myself, a seething mass of testosterone, who laughs in the face of tofu and granola, want to know where the water is coming from because it will impact on the river that I have looked after for lots of my life. I can take the seismic activity, at this age it may provide a welcome jump start, but am uneasy by the oily sales pitch from on high that promises hundreds of thousands of pounds to local communities who agree to frack. Today for the first time, concern was raised in the papers about the sourcing and disposal of water in the south east, I am too modest to say...

ok I’m not

here’s the link

you heard it here first, an unlikely alliance with the water companies, but if it helps preserve this river I’d do the spoons with Genghis Khan.

With Child B occasionally in residence, cricket still takes up a large part of our life, a recent Sunday friendly in the Bourne Valley featured an unjust early dismissal for yours truly resulting in a tour of a nearby lake, eutrophic and spewing its guts into the precious river below, which didn’t ease my mood. Above the outfall of the nutrient rich lake where hundreds of ducks and geese are fed daily by joe public, the river ran clear, below the outfall filamentous algae abound. It’s a no brainer, online lakes in the upper reaches of this river system need proper management plans to prevent their impacting on the river below.

Cricket again, Andrew Strauss is causing concern in this household, his summary during play is the equivalent of “Say what you see” Alan Shearer on Match of the Day, I have mushrooms in the fridge that could pass more pertinent comment, and recent ramblings by David Gower suggest that he has entered a delicious period of later life enlightenment. He may be the president of our cricket club, but I am not required to put a positive spin on all that he utters. Recently he has suggested that all raised in town be given countryside classes and vin rouge prescribed free on the NHS,

Hear, hear says I, (and not because he is El Presidente)

A louche Peter West?

what price David Gower the next host of Strictly Come Dancing albeit with the lights turned low and the show screened after eleven?

A plea:

This column is soon to start a petition to force supermarkets to introduce a dress code during hot weather, It is beyond belief what the cream of local town society deem suitable attire for the purchase of frozen peas on a hot saturday morning.

Please show the petition your support

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