Monday 28 June 2010

Week 102

Week 102

Not much weed was cut in June, the river has dropped off quite a bit and already there are signs that blanket weed is set to explode. The Mayfly hatch went on well into the June weed cut although, for the past week, fish are fed up to the back teeth with them. Numbers of sedge in the evening are up on last year, with many still bumbling around on the river the following morning before setting themselves down in the fringe. A bat has also been flitting about on the bottom bends in the middle of the day. While clearing cut weed just before lunch, it careered around above my head. I assume it had some demanding youngsters who needed a feed, driving their mother/father out at an ungodly hour in search of sustenance.

Recently, we were invaded by the local over 60’s, for an afternoon of entertainment and sticky cakes. My employer laid on a Falconry display on the front lawn. The Chap in charge had a boot full of birds. Two types of Scops Owl, a Tawny Owl, Harris Hawk, Peregrine and Lanner Falcon, and a tiny American Kestrel. As soon as the birds were put out in the sun, a couple of local buzzards appeared, along with a Red Kite who swooped low to suss out the new kids on the block. From another box on the back seat he produced a Kookaburra. A whistle from his master set him cackling, and the sky above filled with crows, jackdaws, and many more eager to see the voluble alien creature. He didn’t fly the Kookaburra, but the Hawk went up, and the Falcons bombed across the lawn at speeds that were too quick for some eyes that had already wandered to the cake table.

My concerns over the Orchids proved to be unfounded. I have topped most of the meadow, rounding the Orchids as I spotted them. Walking through the half acre that we leave for Gamecover at the top of the beat there are a couple of places where there are a dozen in a square yard.
English Nature and English Heritage have set about the Iron Age defence ditch that forms one of our main drives on a shooting day. Most of the woodland has gone, although the mature Yew and Ash remain. A substantial Holly Tree was one of the first to go, revealing the mother of all Badger sets. Brock had gone to town in his endeavours to create “Chez nook”. Never mind me and my Pheasants damaging this ancient ditch, this bunch of badgers have flown in the face of English Heritage and dug a swimming pool, sauna, and chucked up a conservatory with mock Tudor frontage. It is quite a development and has impacted considerably on the historically important site.

Monday 14 June 2010

Week 101

Week 101

Some spectacular hatches of Mayfly have resulted in some of the best fishing for years. This week Mayfly have been on the water from seven in the morning until ten at night. Fish have filled their boots on hatching Duns and some heavy falls of Spinners. Light winds throughout the heaviest hatches have resulted in large numbers of Mayfly making their way back to the river to lay their eggs which bodes well for next year. Heavy hatches of Olives have been mixed in with the Mayflies, mostly medium midday jobs, but a good number of three tailed blue winged ones coming off in the afternoon with a noticeable fall of sherry spinners most evenings.

Cricket kicked in big time for this household recently, and during our travels around the county in a pantechnicon full of whites and wet weather gear to festivals far flung, we can report that mayfly hatches on the middle Itchen looked good, The middle Avon is filled with flowering Ranunculus and experiencing good hatches of fly and several New Forest streams are low and weed free. At home, the weed is putting in a spurt, and Ranunculus on the top shallows has started to flower.

Last year we were treated to a fantastic show of early summer orchids, this year they are slow to put in an appearance. The surge in growth of meadow grass may have made them less visible, or, like everything else this year, they may just be late. Whatever the reason my dogs come back every morning covered in ticks having run through the long grass, it may be time to start up the topper.

Urban foxes have made the news recently, and are not quite the cuddly creatures that most envisaged. Fearless of a human kind who seek to preserve them at all costs, recent incidents may yet see the folk of Bayswater and Balham turn out with horns and hounds to run Reynard to ground.

The Goose problem persists. Three have hatched and are not the colour that they ought to be. Dad could be Canadian, Graylag or Lesser white front, who knows? Mum is proud, and Surrogate Dad incredibly protective of his mottled brood.

In recent weeks Stockbridge High street has taken on a Jamboree/St George's Day air as large numbers of guides in uniform, parade along the pavement. Along with Otters, Cormorants and Japanese Knot weed, numbers of Guides are up this year.

Now I have some good friends who guide, and I have even had to do a bit myself. Unable to do "flim flam"for much of the day I am clearly unsuited to the task. Living on the premises like many keepers I prefer to drop in and out on any who require assistance. I would suggest that most would have caught fish over the past two weeks without the aid of a guide; at Mayfly time, something big and fluffy presented to a fish that is feeding hard will normally suffice. How on earth you spin this advice out for ten hours or more and justify a sky high fee I do not know. It is in the Guide's interest to make fishing seem raltively compicated to justify his appearance on the bank.
One problem that has arisen recently with guided fishing on this river are Guided rods who catch their limit for the beat early in the day, then continue fishing catch and release till the sun goes down as the Guide is obliged to fill the day. The regular who turns up when the fish are rising, hoping to take 2 brace for the pot ,will return home when his limit is reached and the river is rested. Guided fishing does have its place in the angling world, but too much on this river results in an increase in angling pressure, that you do not get with unguided regular rods.

Week 100

Week 100

Hot dry weather, and with limited weed growth, the river is low. Hatches of midday olives have been the best for some years and rising fish are guaranteed throughout the afternoon. The river is stuffed with fish and with limited growth of marginal fringe and gin clear water, are easily spooked; disturb one fish and he may charge upstream and skitter another dozen. There are some huge shoals of Minnows in the streams around the garden and a podgy Brown Trout of five pounds or more hangs lazily in the slack water on the millstream in front of the house, the first few Mayflies have started to appear which may herald his imminent downfall.

After last years dearth of Swallows Martins and Swifts, the few that have turned up this year have gorged themselves on Olives in the afternoon, and, despite their late arrival should result in them bringing off a couple of broods at least. Some trees are still breaking bud, the Mulberry particularly stubborn in its refusal to join in the early summer festivities.
Some friends of ours on the other side of the river have recently completed an impressive pond project in their back garden. Three feet deep and full of natural goodness it teems with wildlife. Throughout a boozy late afternoon barbecue, Mayflies climbed clear of the water, frogs sang their song in the fading light and unfortunately a grass snake put in an appearance, sending “mien host” screaming to the kitchen. Keenly averse to snakes, a request has been put in for the triumph of a pond to be filled in, unless a plan for ridding the area of snakes is implemented immediately. The search is on for St Patrick’s mobile number, or at the very least some bloke with a mongoose. I couldn’t come up with an answer other than getting rid of the frogs which is almost impossible. Any ideas let me know.