Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bank Holiday tools

Tuesday 6th is a long way off. When it comes around we will have spent many hours night watching, many miles walking the rivers and our local Police Station telephone number will be the most frequently called number on all our phones. The weather isn't helping. Rain on all three days means Skegness, Blackpool and Mablethorpe will be quiet and this corner of the Peak District will be very busy. With the roads blocked with traffic and look-outs keeping an eye out for my Landrover, the mountain bike is the perfect tool for fast patrolling, when you need to be everywhere on the Estate at once. The reward for all this hard work will be nearly an inch of rain on the 6th.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Summer Spinner

We watch the BWO spinner fly upstream for several hundred yards. They sight in on the fast water on the weir and deposit their eggs by bombing onto the water. That done and their energy spent, they give in and drift with the stream. The fish head upstream too, lining up to feed on the surface soup of little bodies. Only half of the flies that change to spinners will be on the menu, the males don't return to the water but die in the fields, woods and hedgerows. Unfortunately although I shoot in HD and get some stunning quality from my XH-A1, the blogger reduces it to poor quality. We are doing something about it though...

Haddon Rd CSO

CSO damage being done to a low, clear and certainly not flooding River Wye. This is perfectly acceptable in law. I wonder what the new swim up fry, sheltering in the river margin think to it?

NIRS 582075
Thanks Jan.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


The cock bird is the sole nest builder, often completing many nests which will be rejected in turn by the female until she finds one that is right for her. He may have a couple of females on the go at once and will flit between his ladies when the nests have been approved.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


During a patrol this afternoon I came across an oldish couple wandering down a riverside footpath towards me. They had two huge carrier bags absolutely stuffed with something. My heart sank as they drew closer and it was confirmed that they have completely stripped out a whole bed of watercress. They promised not to take anymore and they sloped off, red faced. When I got to the place where the bed had been it was like a moonscape, they had pulled it all up by its roots!
Natural watercress contains a fluke worm that can affect the function of the liver.

Friday, April 25, 2008


C.ombined S.ewage O.utfall

Water Authority representative addressing Government sometime in the 60’s:
'We wish to use the above facility, created from concrete and set at 60 degrees to the line of flow to discharge sewage into rivers during times when the flows in the sewer rise to 6 times their dry weather flow. Don’t worry because the same rain that caused the sewer to rise will raise the river and dilute the sewage.'

They must have known they were telling lies. You see the CSO can discharge after 17 minutes from the start of the rain. I know, I’ve timed it. The rainwater falling on the roofs and yards of the 8 villages feeding our sewer is treated to very efficient run off over tarmac and stone, down concrete channels and cast iron pipes. The Lathkill, and the hundreds of other spring fed rivers and streams in this country take days to rise, if they rise at all. I know of no river in the land that has such fast run off to match the sewer. Do you?

Last year I wrote to a water authority who were still claiming all rivers would dilute CSO sewege and I asked them to remove the statement from their website. It was gone in a week.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pollution on the Lathkill

Bowers Hall CSO again.
NIRS 581326

Sorry about the focus.


10 am Thursday 24th April 2008
Chesterfield Magistrates Court
Court 2
Haddon Estate/ Environment Agency v Michael Anthony Mcgraw

Mcgraw, D.O.B. 16/06/70 of 56 Rochester Road, Longton, Stoke on Trent attended court today after having his application for legal aid rejected a week ago.
The court heard that on Friday 7th September 2007 at 4.40 am Mcgraw was arrested for fishing the Derbyshire Wye without permit or permission. He was in possession of dead fish and a fishing rod and was seen laying down on the river side.
Under interview at Bakewell Police Station later that morning after having his car impounded and spending time in custody at Buxton, Warren Slaney the River Keeper for Haddon Estate who own the fishing rights, asked if he had killed any more fish. Mcgraw said no. However a later search of his car revealed 6 more fish. During the interview Mr Slaney produced his current Environment Agency Rod Licence and asked if Mcgraw had a licence to use a rod. He said he had but further investigation revealed that he did not.
Mcgraw paid £105 to get his car released from impoundment. He was ordered to pay £105 compensation for the fish killed, £150 costs and £75 in fines.
Mr Slaney from Haddon Estate said “This is a very good day for wild trout and a very bad day for one particular poacher from Stoke on Trent”.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bridge Fish protection

To protect your Bridge Fish you will need:

Re-bar, wire, hammer, willow branch, willow whips.

Lay the willow branch across the main flow under the bridge. Bang 3, 6 feet lengths of 16mm re-bar into the river bed and wire the bars to the branch. Take a number of live willow whips and train them over the river margin.

The result might not guarantee the saftey of those wild trout from the morons who want to haul them out on a hand line from above but it will make it very difficult for them. The trout can be fly fished from below.

St George's Day

Rain for the next few days; perfect growing weather for the newly turfed new river banks and my veg plot. We are fencing out cattle from some previous hard work and bank reclaimation. Ironically the farmer has new status and grant aid but the rivers are much worse off.

There should be plenty of water about for our Mayfly fishermen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Confident feeding; your call

Referring to an earlier post we know that wild trout may still rise when they suspect they are being watched or even fished for. But, they are very much harder to catch. On busy rivers or at busy times those trout living in pools close to fishermens carparks will be watched and fished for more than others. These fish may have anglers fishing for them for a good part of the day or at least the full extent of the hatch or fall. They are able to avoid the sharp piece of steel and the stressful event that is capture by rod and line if they scrutinise the floating insect following the flow towards them or by eating tiny black smuts, impossible for the angler to imitate. A fish rising confidently is an entirely different matter and is likely to take fluff from the furthest corner of your trouser pocket, dubbed quickly onto the hook.

How do you know if he has seen you? If you stand off the pool or glide and watch the fish rising, count the rises he makes per minute. If when you slip into position he rises less; he suspects. If he stops; he knows! Be careful to index his station against some bankside vegatation. After a few minutes on your hands and knees you will have lost him entirely.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Next project: Ogden Island

So called because the completion date is Ogden Day (June 5th ).

The project will open up 160 metres of double bank Derbyshire Wye to fly fishing after a break of approximately 100 years. The island has been created by a side channel and is very overgrown. With a aid of bridges, some careful clearing and bank repair it is planned that anglers will have some very interesting fishing. Particular emphasis will be placed upon creating holding water for adult trout from the brash and cord freed up whilst clearing a path through.

Planning; The length will be broken up into four separate sections which will be completed from the downstream limit, up. The whole length will be subject to an overall plan, with sub sections having their own micro planning.

Invasives; Removal of invasive animals and plants. Completed with the removal of six Canada eggs and the spraying of two pieces of Giant Hogweed. Signal Crayfish traps laid. Mink rafts laid.

Recording. Due to the unusual nature of the project we will record both in still and moving film, from the project first steps, through to the capture of the first trout on Ogden Day.

Birds; Installation of a cormarant hide and ten bird boxes.

Water Mole!

School visit to 'Market Monday' in Bakewell.

Two Teachers and about fifteen children of about eleven years old looking over a bridge in to a mill tail-race.

Teacher: Ahhh! A rat! [points to a small brown fury mammal sitting on a rock in the river margin]
Child: It’s not a rat Miss, it’s a Water Vole.
Other Child: Look, Look, [pointing] A Water Mole!
Other Children in unison: A Water Mole! A Water Mole!

...always better to be nearly right than completely wrong.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

metcheck My site of choice when planning the week/fortnight ahead. Apart from a slight warming during the middle of next week, when the wind comes round to the south west, we can look forward to more cold weather conditions until at least the 5th May. This year should provide more understanding of the system the mayfly’s use to hatch all at once. If they use temperature as the cue then surely we will have a late mayfly, if it’s day length they use it will be business as usual during the last week in May. I wonder how it will effect the Hawthorn flies being land insects?


Three hours covering then middle of the day today were taken up with a walk from one valley, over the high ground into the next valley and back.
I saw:
Sky Larks
Gold Finches
Brown Hares
Water Avens
Grayling spawning
Wild Rainbow Trout spawning
Marsh Marigolds
Water Voles
Field Voles
Bachelor herd of Norwegian Black Fallow Deer

I didn’t see;
Giant Hogweed
Himalayan Balsam
Japanese Knotweed

Friday, April 18, 2008


This morning Jan and I were killing two birds with one stone. Removing a bund from the middle of an access track provided an opportunity to cover the butts of some willows we had laid in the river with soil. It’s important to get these willow branches to grow.

During a few moments when the tractor engine was turned off we both heard alarm calls from the blue, great, and coal tits in the adjacent wood. The pitch of the ‘seet calls’ indicated a raptor was hunting and sure enough a sparrow hawk was glimpsed through the trees. I do know that the small birds have a separate call alarm call for cats, hawks and for man and the high pitched seet always has me looking for the hawk well before it comes into view. During a discussion Jan asked why the hawk doesn’t home in on the birds via their alarm calls. Good question.

Would you believe that studies have shown sparrow hawks can’t hear the call given off by the tits to alert other small birds of their presence. You have to ask yourself why, when a small bird is so clever/has such well developed innate behaviour, that it continues to fly into the glass of the garage window!

Our local sparrow hawk is more interested in jackdaws at the moment and is taking them from a cliff face as they revisit their nests. Quickly as the hawk can manage the jack daw is taken under cover so it cant be mobbed and the screams of the jackdaw subside to silence.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nervous feeding

Despite there being very many smaller flies on the surface our fish only has eyes for the BWO. Notice he returns to his original station but is slightly concerned about the camera, the tripod and the man on the bank. Those snapping rises indicate nervousness. He would be a difficult fish to catch. The more I think about it, the more it becomes clear that the knack to successful dry fly fishing is keeping yourself concealed from the fish and not underestimating its ability to know you are there.

1/2 hour off

In between getting the tractor irretrievably stuck and the arrival of a chain to pull it out, I had half an hour walking slowly up the river bank on the Wye just watching. It was difficult not to notice that the grayling were spawning or at least the black males were chasing each other over the gravel. Trout use shortening day length to assist their congregations on their redds, coarse fish use critical water temperature to time massing together to spawn. Grayling are more likely to use day length, although I don’t know for sure, as their spawning takes place at almost exactly the same time of year.
Two tree creepers were working up the Alder trees and seemed unconcerned at the green and brown creature ‘leaning on his spade’. They came quite close and it was very pleasant to watch them, with the sun shining and the trout clopping on the surface. All too soon it was back to work, making noise and disturbance while we filled in the beginnings of a nasty oxbow.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mopping Up

This wild brown trout was feeding like this from the start of the hatch until the very last few; some four hours of constant rising. Not many duns got past and were able to take off but an hour after the hatch finished, the spinner came back in terrific numbers. It's so important that our wild trout get time off to feed confidently at the surface, to prepare in this case for the long winter ahead.

Having said that, those of you who have fished for limestone trout will know that despite what the film might suggest, the fish aren't easy to catch. The best tip, if you ever try, would be to learn to turn over a long leader, in the sitting position. You are going to have to keep everything invisible. This isn't casting to fish up in the water, in-between weed beds at long range that can't see you. Forget windows and fields of view, they see everything!


Everything is paired at the moment. It’s funny how on every pool we have two coots who tolerate two moorhens (or vice versa) but never ever two pairs of each! The Curlews are paired on the moor, the Lapwings are paired on the big meadow and the swallows are paired, I am told, as they return from Africa.
My Larson trap is working over time, taking advantage of the Magpies strong territorial instinct. It is never nice to wake at dawn to the noise of these wretched creatures flushing mothers off their nests so they can breakfast on young Blackbirds or Thrushes. As soon as one pair is caught up, another arrives to take up the desirable residence that is Coalpit Lane. My trapping is creating a Magpie vacuum that is filled in an instant.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mink Raft

Mink can't seem to resist investigating a tunnel and find it equally hard to stop visiting islands in the river. Therefore we give them a tunnel on a floating island. No need for bait or camouflage, we find it makes no difference. If any of you have live trapped you will know how time consuming it can be to visit traps everyday, often when the object of all this fuss can be miles away. Problem solved by the bright sparks at the GCT who devised a sunken basket, filled with oasis block and a layer of clay. The clay stays damp and records the coming and going of the riverside creatures, until a dirty great mink print arrives. Then it’s out with the clay and in with the tunnel trap. You usually pick up the mink within a week. Simple. We have around a dozen running in their clay state all year, with particular attention given in the spring and when the young are spreading out to find patches of their own in September.

Snow from the bedroom window

Not quite enough to track the fox but some future ground water and a nice scene from the bedroom window this morning. I am afraid I have pruned the young Copper Beach so I can see the 'poaching point' on the bridge from my window.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Wheelwrights Corner on the Bradford

The sycamore cord is sacked and the brash set in beetle banks, the walls have been rebuilt and hazel and willow planted. The project will be completed with a restoration of the building to make it safe. The walls will be capped with lime mortar and turfed. The Old Wheelwrights Shop will then be left to age with dignity until it is finally absorbed into the landscape, many years from now.

I love the wood plug in the wall and only wish I knew what the sign, that must have hung from the nail said.

Paid for by Anglers.

Wheelwrights Corner

During a Saturday afternoon patrol in Braford Dale a friend pushed through a broken stile and said 'this wants mending too'. He wasn't really complaining, more thinking out loud but he was right.Being on the furthest limb and the greatest extremity to the estate, this area of woodland is little visited by estate staff and tenant farmer.

The next weekend we were back and after a couple of hours we had decided on a plan to improve an area of woodland, dry stone wall and public footpath (thanks Andrew). Most important of all the last remaining structure from a rich industrial past was being condemned, so we plan to sure up the old Wheelwrights Shop, being consumed by ivy, elm and sycamore.

This is Wheelwrights Corner before the work started.

With the big sycamore felled, letting in the light, and the wall and stile sorted out, it's beginning to look a lot better.


Following some very sound advice from friends, after they read this blog and commented in the negative on a fly fishing forum, I have decided to offer a day of fly fishing instruction to the local care home. Fly is sparse at the moment so I intend to arrange it for mid summer. First of all, thank you to my friends for putting the idea in my head. Secondly, would anyone living locally be willing to help out with the basic tuition and buckets of enthusiasm? Please email with your name if so.
Once again, thanks.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Part of the three miles

Holly, black and hawthorn along 480 meters of headland. Part of my target of three miles in the next ten years. We have to stretch to the moon in hedgerow again.

Bakewell Meeting

Gathered in a circle, by the side of the urban river in town. Our task was to find correct locations for the signs advising the public the stop feeding bread to the birds (

Looking downstream to a small footbridge a man hands a boy a note, who then runs off in the direction of town. He has clearly been sent to buy bread. Sure enough after a short time the boy arrives back, out of breath and hands over the change to the adult. There are two boys with the man who then start to throw in bread, but not to the ducks, this is carefully directed bread feeding for the fish.

Back to the huddle and we are making a decision. I can think of worse places for meetings. Jan then says ‘Warren. Look.’ Amongst a busy riverside scene with people milling about the two boys have started to fish with handlines. ‘Go on then Jan’ and he is off like a long dog to the Police station and in two minutes we are all in two’s; two Police Officers, Two Keepers and Two red faced boys. We take the lines and the bread before the man joins us. He is teacher at a care home and the two boys are his pupils. He says he told them not to fish when he brought them to Bakewell. The boys are peripheral to the problem. We have decided to conclude the matter with a well worded letter to the Care Home Principal.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Beating the Bounds

It's traditional for us to walk the whole length of the rivers on all fools day. We have some fishing that is accessed through peoples gardens and yards, so we are keen to say hello and meet our neighbours from time to time. We are also keen to assert our sporting rights so this is a note in the diary saying that all is well.

Opening Day Osprey

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Derby Uni LL.B.yr4 Birmingham Uni (field lecturer)