Wednesday 29 July 2009

Week 78

Week 78

Weed cut done and dusted and the difficult fishing continues. A few Browns are showing on the surface but many are now fixated with sub surface feeding. Despite the mixed weather fly hatches continue to be good, flurries of Olives appear from midday onwards and the sedge hatch builds from mid afternoon. A few settled days would, I’m sure, get many of the fish slashing at Sedges. This kind of tricky fishing led many beats to first start introducing Rainbow Trout that were considered to be more free-rising under these conditions. Nowadays they are stocked into the river throughout the season. They are more willing feeders than Brown Trout. Put a 50/50 split of same-size Browns and Rainbows in a pond and the Rainbows will out compete the Browns for food, the difference in size clearly visible within a matter of weeks. We don’t stock Rainbows and there is no pressure to provide a maximum bag for every angler, sometimes a fish caught in July/August is worth four caught in May. Piling more Browns into the river is not the answer and can cause more problems in the close season with too many fish over wintering in the river competing for a scarce food source. Guaranteeing bags can induce bad practice in game bird management, guaranteeing bags in fishing does the same, with water overstocked and any sense of natural balance lost.
Any chump can pile heaps of fish into a body of water, bung on a sparkly nymph/lure and haul four fish out for the most inept of clients, corporate fishing relies on this kind of sport as do some of the more disreputable guiding services. Fishing is not about a guaranteed bag, fishing is about the day, for every successful day there may be an unsuccessful day that will make the rewards of the good day all the more greater.

Angling has taken a bit of a bashing in the press this week, with celebratory headlines proclaiming the return of the Otter, and Griff Rhys Jones clumsily sticking his oar into the water over public access to rivers.

Otters are great. They are furry and brown, fiddle with crabs, and do cute things in water; Hugh Heffner made a million on similar creatures in America. At some point the decision must be made that we have enough Otters, as indeed Hugh had to make in his mansion in Beverly Hills. Currently I have several miles of electric tape encircling the stew ponds and have picked up half a dozen fish with chunks out of their back, dead, on the weed bars. Who will say that we have enough Otters? As Homo Sapiens occupying top spot in the evolutionary triangle, we have a duty to maintain a balance.

Griff Rhys Jones hasn’t looked too good on the water in any of his recent series. Stuck in a Wind in the Willows world, he has shown little understanding of the true riverine environment. His disneyfication of the river environment appeals to a wide audience and is typical of an increasingly media driven world.

I enjoy canoeing; once upon a time I was quite good at it. I also enjoy fishing; there is room for both. For the true canoeist much of the rivers of this isle hold little appeal. On the Tryweryn in North Wales, the Dee at Langollen - excellent canoeing water, canoeing and fishing have cohabited successfully for many years. Jones’s call for the masses to break out their kayaks and start breaking lines is daft, and an ill thought out publicity stunt to increase viewing figures.

Thursday 16 July 2009

Week 77

Week 77

The hot weather came to an abrupt end with some intense showers that bashed loads of leaf laden willow branches down into the river. Much of the rain was absorbed into the bone dry ground, greening up the brown bits. It had little effect on the river other than to give a brief flush of colour. Fly life continues to be much improved on the past few seasons although many fish are tucking themselves away and concentrating on sub surface feeding. The Browns behaved in exactly the same manner last year, it is one of the reasons that some beats stock Rainbow Trout at this time of the year as they are more predisposed to continue feeding on the surface for a greater part of the season.

The weed cut is going ok, I am having to leave thick bars to hold the water level up. I am also bumping several fish with my scythe that are lying doggo, including one fish of eight pounds or more in the middle bends that I had not seen since the winter. Several Eels are putting in an appearance as they start to make their way down river and ultimately to the mid Atlantic and the Sargasso Sea. Big Eels most of them. 2 foot long and between 1 and 2lb in weight.

The Grayling in the river look to have had a bumper time with the flies, many are feeding on the surface and are decidedly rotund; high in the crystal clear water over emerald green weed with sun on their back they look stunning.

The fine spell of weather has brought the wheat and Barley on no end, and early start to harvest is anticipated, although yields may be affected by grain size due to the lack of rain. Plenty o Partridges are “chuckaawing” away in the field of Barley behind our house which also houses a few Leverets.

There are at least two broods of Pheasants in the wood, and the Ducks seem to have had a reasonable year. The pair of Swans on the Flight pond have failed
A sexy young Greyhound over the road has been in season for a few weeks. My eldest Labrador Zebo has been turned to Jelly by her romantic offerings. Off his food for many days he has shed pounds in his efforts to roll back the years. My Wife tells him to stop being such a silly old fool, and that the deed is overrated. The 10 yr old dog when presented with the flighty piece standing, tail akimbo amid the buttercups, failed at the first post. His bottom jaw started banging in a decidedly unattractive manner, his gaze turned milky and he came close to keeling over. The strumpet in question presented herself to the worst Spaniel in the world who passed her by without a second glance, and then to the 18 month old, six stone puppy who shot off to chase Moorhens, leaving the elder statesman to rue his wobbly legs and amorous mind.

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Week 76

Week 76

Thirty-degree temperatures for much of the week, and fishing is hard to say he least. The weed has grown out of the water and is maintaining the level of a fast falling river. Several fish who have been resident on the bottom bends for some years are proving to be real timewasters, with only the finest tackle and perfectly presented fly inducing a take or a play and miss. Sedge numbers are building in the evening and surprisingly the Grayling have remained on the fin and feeding for much of the day. The fringe bordering the river is bursting with colour, purple spikes of Loostrife mix with swathes of forget me nots, yellow monkey flower and balsam.
There are good numbers of Butterflies in the meadows, although I couldn’t name half of them, and funny moths adorn our house wall in the morning. A Nightingale has been singing for much of the week and the Swallows and House Martins that bothered to turn up have all had broods, many of which have fledged.

This year we have once again been warned about the falling number of Bees across the country, for much of this week the perennial Geraniums and other garden dainties around here have been alive with Bees, I have not seen as many for a long time although I have not come across any nests yet, or seen any swarms hanging from trees.

The water temperature in the pond and the river is climbing slowly, algae has bloomed in the pond and it has been necessary to bash the water around with the pump to freshen it all up and add a little oxygen.

The July weed cut is imminent and it will be a heavy one and a tricky one, leave enough weed to hold the water up and cut enough to make areas hold fish. Cut too much and the water is lost and the weed replaced with blanket weed, cut too little and the river becomes impossible to fish. The reduction in flow over the past few weeks has been quite alarming; the Mill Stream is now a pond with all spare water pushed down the river. Fishing over the coming weeks promises to be difficult, but that is often the way with High Summer fishing, and is more often than not followed by a bumper September.

All of the Chickens have now been tagged and ASBOed after numerous incidents of anti social or over social behaviour, and reside in an enclosure with Gun Turrets on an island in the river. An Avian Alcatraz, it can only be a matter of time before one of the resourceful fowl starts chipping away at the walls with a tea spoon and swims across the bay to resume what it considers to be its rightful position on our neighbour’s antique dining table; a sentiment no doubt echoed by our elderly neighbour who would, I’m sure, insist on a dress code of Sage and Onion.