Thursday 25 June 2009

Week 75

Week 75

A tricky week for fishing, several days towards the back end of the weed cut completely unfishable. Everyone seems to have had a lot of weed to cut, and it took me longer than ever before to clear all of the cut weed down. Unfortunately during this time the inlet pipe to the fry stew became partially blocked and several hundred of this year’s fry perished. Further down river a keeper has lost hundreds of Brown Trout Stock fish after weed built up overnight. Fortunately we have still have enough fry for our needs, my friend downstream is desperately scouring the country for pound plus Brown Trout that seem to be in short supply. The weekend following the cessation of weed cutting saw a marked improvement in fishing with good hatches of Olives and fish taking spinners in the evening. Sedge numbers are building up and the fish feeding time is getting later and later in the day.

It is a fantastic year for Orchids, more and more push their way up in the meadows, and I put back the topping as increasing numbers appear. The Balsam Poplars are having a terrible time, several of the younger one’s have died and the more mature ones look decidedly tatty. All other trees are in the pink bar some bankside Alders that have lumps and bumps on the leaves that could be a virus.

With the warm temperatures the Flight pond has experienced another bloom of algae and is full of fry, mostly Perch, Roach and Rudd. The Tench and Bream have also been carrying out some late spawning, thrashing around in the margins of the island. My son scooped half a dozen of the Perch fry out to put in his fish tank, where they lasted five minutes, and now lie inside a Malawi Cichlid.

The Grass Snake has turned up again in the garden pond, Last time he/she was the size of a bootlace, now over a foot in length, it is wreaking havoc among the newly formed frogs.

One of our new hens that have never knowingly underlaid has been introducing herself to the inhabitants of the Parish. Not content with coming into our house through the patio doors, she has ventured further afield. My daughter opened her bedroom door at teenage dawn (about 10am) and found the errant hen pecking at the carpet on the landing. Our elderly neighbour rang the house on several occasions this week to inform us that our nosey hen was touring her kitchen or perched on the mantle above the fire. Unfortunately the wandering hen has had to be incarcerated, although our neighbour requested incinerated, after a calling card was left on her highly polished antique dining table.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Week 74

Week 74

Fine dry weather, Mayfly still hatching – the fish, relatively unresponsive. Full of food after a fortnight of bacchanalian feasting on tasty Mayflies the Brown Trout and Grayling lie mid-water or hug the bottom, physically and mentally digesting the excesses of the past few weeks. The odd fish rises, mostly small stuff, juveniles who never seem to tire of feeding, Mum and Dad sit on sabbatical from the hard stuff, turning their noses up at the tastiest Mayfly that passes their way. Give it a week and they will be up feeding again, the odd Olive and maybe a Sedge, but show them a Mayfly and they will turn away, the effects of surfeit and excess still fresh on the mind.

The June weed cut has been one of the heaviest I have known, with the river flow decreasing by the day. The weed that is left becomes more important than the weed that is cut. Enough must be left to hold up the water level with spaces cut for fish to lie. Half of this water is “bar cut” – bars of weed left to hold the water up, with space between the bars for fish to lie. Strip too much water out and the water would drop by up to a foot on the shallows, the fish would congregate in deeper holes and become concentrated, and reduce the number of fishable areas. The Mill Stream has now been reduced to a pond with all the water pushed down the main river.

The House Martins have turned up, a pair taking up their summer residence on top of the security light sensor in the stable yard. For unbeknown reason they have arrived eight to ten weeks after their normal arrival date and have missed out on a feast of fly life. No Swifts in the eaves of the Mill House as yet, although several were performing high-speed acrobatics over Longparish Cricket ground at the weekend.

I have come across three separate broods of Partridge this week, all French, but an indicator of the favourable conditions for raising chicks this year; with luck English Partridges will also be enjoying the same success with their broods.
Orchids are poking their heads up in the meadows, only early purples, but orchids all the same. The yellow of the alien invading monkey flower mixes with the Forget me Nots as the fringe starts to bloom and herald the start of summer proper.

Monday 8 June 2009

Week 73

Week 73

A warm week and the Mayfly hatches continue with some heavy falls of spinners in the evening. A few spinners have fallen early in the morning giving a brief rise, the fish taking a lengthy siesta before rousing themselves for their evening feast. The weed growth is phenomenal, Water Celery a foot out of the water and Ranunculus in full flower, the water flow, although reduced after the long dry spell, is pushing over the banks due to the dense weed growth.

On a weekend cricketing foray to Woodgreen in the New Forest, we passed over the Avon a mile from the ground. The Ranunculus was up out of the water and flowering as far as I could see downstream.

The dearth of Swallows, Swifts and House Martins continues. There are several large broods of Mallard on the river along with Two tufted Ducks still sitting on clutches of eggs. The Ducklings are feasting on the heavy hatches of fly, as are the Wagtails that momentarily hover as they pluck an ascending fly from the air. I almost trod on a brood of French Partridge as I tramped my way through the wood, the mother refusing to leave her brood as they bumbled their way around my wellies. The current spell of hot dry weather is perfect for rearing chicks, plenty of insect life for food and no heavy rain that can kill a fluffy feathered chick in a matter of minutes.

A similar hot spell a few years ago would have resulted in a particularly amorous couple breaking cover. Always on a Wednesday afternoon, The Army officer who like his comrades was given the midweek afternoon off to do PT opted to put his privates through their paces with a bottle blond beau who also happened to be orange all over. Making themselves comfortable on a bridge with an aptly romantic sobriquet at the top of this beat, a picnic would be laid out, wine would be taken and before long the clothes would come off. I was first introduced to their antics by a rod who stopped me on my way home for lunch after some weedcutting. He informed me that there was a bit of a “Holiday Camp” atmosphere at the top of the beat and would I mind taking a look as it was disturbing his fishing. Unsure as to what to expect I grabbed my dog and set off, still in my waders, up the bank, jumping into the river before the final bend leading up to the bridge to cause the maximum surprise to what I expected to be kids mucking about. I charged around the corner and was stopped in my tracks by the pair, set to partners and galloping their way over the bridge, The Officer cool as you look tactically withdrew and stood to attention to meet my gaze,

Dumbstruck the best I could come up with was,

“I hope you’re not fishing!”

He assured me he wasn’t, my dog found his picnic before he could introduce me to his “wife” and I made my way downstream frantically calling the dog’s name.
They turned up a few more times that summer and although funny at first did become rather tiresome. By chance I bumped into him in Homebase in the winter, not with Lady Marmalade it has to be said and fleetingly he looked please to see me, until grey cells reminded him of where we met last.

Monday 1 June 2009

Week 72

Week 72

A fine and warm week, the river is down and the weed is up, out of the water and flowering, temperatures in the twenties most days and a slight wind have resulted in some of the best Mayfly fishing in recent years. While driving down the lane at eight thirty from a cricket match earlier this week, there were clouds of Olives and Mayflies dancing over the fields and hedge, the still air allowing them to return to the river and lay their eggs resulting in some heavy falls of spinners that all fish have feasted hungrily on. Evening fishing has been fantastic with Mayfly patterns catching most fish; some have struggled in the morning when the fish have been at their most soporific after the previous night feasting.

While eating in the garden one evening this week a similar scene was played out over our heads, as the Mayflies massed beside a Sycamore tree that stands in the corner of my vegetable plot to perform their courtship dance. In Previous years this sight has been accompanied by the whistling and whirring of Swallows and Martins as they criss cross the garden spectacularly taking the Mayflies in hundred mile an hour mid flight. This year, we have to date, a handful of Swallows, no House Martins and a handful of Swifts. In previous years up to a hundred swallows and Martins have used the stables and house eaves for nesting sometimes up to three broods in a summer. I don’t know where they have got to but they are missing out on a real feast.

I also carried out the monthly invertebrate sampling this week. Once again high numbers of Olives and Gammarus came up along with a similar number of caddis and mayflies as the last sample. There were more Blue Winged Olive in this sample, double figures, but not a significant amount.

The flight pond is warming up, and the algae blooming strong, it may be necessary to flush some water into the pond to drop the temperature, the fish do not seem distressed although they are not being fed at he moment.
All of the chickens have settled in and are producing eggs at a slightly reduced rate now that they are fed with corn. We have feasted on Omelettes and scrambled egg for much of the week and probably have a cholesterol count bordering on life threatening. But in the words of a well known Scottish comedian “ The graveyard’s full of people who’d love my cholesterol count”