This fish has wriggled free from a heron’s strike. Herons use their lower bill to pierce and their upper bill to hold. The fish darkens from the entry wound forward towards and including the head, but only on one side as can be seen here. Without becoming too scientific, freshwater fish are constantly trying to get rid of water and retain salt. This osmo-regulation is reversed in marine fish. A wound like this will lead to fresh water flooding the body, meaning the fish has to constantly urinate until the wound heals. The melanism is already beginning to fade in this Brownie. He will be as right as rain by the end of the summer.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
When fishing for chub the approach should be a very stealthy one or we risk scaring the fish. Why is it that a similar approach isn’t popular with trout anglers? They prefer to stand rather than crouch or sit and march up to the river, putting a long coloured line over the fish.
This stealthy angler gets a few chances at those wild trout under his nose.
During an afternoons weed cutting, above Conksbury Bridge one year, I had time to take a break and watch the mayflies hatching. It was possible to see the nymphs swimming to the surface from the river bed, breaking their thorax through the film and hatch clean off through a split where our shoulder blades would be. When the weather is chilly or misty (as it was today) the duns take longer to hatch, lying still in the nymph below the surface, like a tiny thin stick. On sunny days I challenge anyone to catch it on film because it all happens so quickly. I plucked the trapped mayfly from its shuck and let it walk from my fingers for it to join the rest of the big floppy ‘S’ shapes, disappearing into the woods.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The mayfly to me is the spinner. Many anglers miss the fall of imago, their appetite for catching long since sated by the hatch of duns, they turn in for dinner. They miss not only another chance to get amongst the trout but also a remarkable natural spectacle that occurs on only a few evenings each year.
Imagine being asked on a daily basis; ‘What are you doing?’ , by complete strangers as you go about your business.
I don’t like it one bit. My usual reply to those with such terrible manners is to call across and ask if I can help them, but to be honest single finger gestures are just as effective. This doesn’t give a very good impression though and I can only guess the conversation back in suburbia coffee mornings, when the incident is played out and the man in the river ‘just stuck his finger up at me’, doesn’t show us in the best of light.
A previous under keeper didn’t mind being stared at, the current one feels the same as me. Melissa was throwing balls for her dog, Webley, in our back garden yesterday. The garden has high walls around its perimeter with a footpath running down one side. A family of six, including two small children who were helped up to see, stopped and watched her while she and Webley played. So the townie coming into the country and staring at it human occupants isn’t restricted to riverside activities.
What if the shoe was on the other foot and the country people started to watch the Scaffolders and Construction Workers through binoculars? What if they approached people in the street and asked them what they were doing? The cells in the Police station would be full before the day was out.
Townies think the countryside and those in it exist for their pleasure and entertainment. Perhaps it does and we do.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Head River Keeper, Haddon Estate
I am employed by Haddon Estate to look after and bailiff waters their fishery interests. These waters include 7 miles of the River Wye including the river running through Bakewell. The fishing is let on a yearly and daily basis with day tickets costing £65/day to fish with artificial floating flies only, to give the trout a sporting chance. All fish are returned alive to the river and no fish are ever killed by our paying guests. The river in Bakewell is fortunate to hold a large number of fish that are enjoyed by hundreds of people each day.
At approximately 22:20hrs on Sunday 25 May 2008 I was patrolling the North Bank of the river through Bakewell as part of my duties. Four adults could be seen leaning over the handrail on the single span bridge over the river, opposite the Co-op. It was dark at this time but the were easily seen as they stood almost directly under a street lamp which lit up the area. As I watched a man cast a handline into the river. This man is now known to me as:
xxxx xxxxxxxx of
Satisfied that an illegal act was taking place I telephoned my assistant Jan Hobot and asked him to drive to Bakewell Police Station where he was to ask a Police Officer to attend the scene. After a few moments I saw xxxxxxxx catch a fish and lift it from the river. At 22:40 my assistant appeared from the South Bank/Bakewell side with two Police Officers. I watched xxxxxxxx throw something into the river as the Police came into view.
In the presence of PC xxxx xxxxxxxxx I cautioned xxxxxxxx and asked if he had permission to fish the water. He said he had not. PC xxxxxxxxx then searched xxxxxxxx and discovered the handline he was using and a spool of nylon line. The handline had a barbed hook attached. By this time my assistant had found the fish they had throw in and was trying to revive it by standing in the river. Unfortunately it could not be saved and a decision was made to kill the moribund trout.
I told xxxxxxxx that he would be reported for fish poaching offences and that the line, spool and fish would be seized as evidence. He said that he was sorry for the trouble he had caused.
W. G. M. Slaney
25 May 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
It wasn’t hard to find the cause; white powder sprinkled through a grid covering our ten year old brood fish could be seen caught between the grid joints and making small piles on some leafy debris. The deadly water had left the tank, joined the river and back through the rest of the farm inlets where it finished its killing.
The Police were called as we realised this was something all together different to the trouble we were used to. Our EA Officer turned up in double quick time and ordered that the river water, thirty miles downstream, was stopped from being pumped into the public water reservoir, supplying the city of Derby.
When our Police Sergeant was shown the powder he bent down to take a closer look and with a sage expression on his face, took a finger full and began to lift it to his nose! The EA Officer saved the Sergeants life by quickly stopping him sniffing the lethal cyanide powder.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
We hope to build a special relationship with this local college, taking students for work experience and hosting regular visits. A grayling fishing event is to be planned for the winter also.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Our local Natural England office has a farm visit advisory service. They are able to calculate how much nutrient has been spread on fields during the winter and persude the farmer that he doesn’t need 20/40 artificial fertiliser as well. This keeps the nitrates down in the ground water. Thanks.
Dry weather and extensively farmed catchments are OK. Drought and euthrophication leads to algae; that’s bad news. It smothers the ranunculus which leaves more nutrients available for even more algae. Fewer flies, less fish food, no braiding of the channels; rubbish. There is still time to turn it around though and a good flush through will save the season on the small streams.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
“What does she want?”
We were gapping a wall at the top end of Bradford Dale, in the frost. She is 200 yards upstream and frantically pulling at her clothes whilst watching something splashing in a deep water dam.
“Someone’s fallen in” says my mate.
We cover the muddy ground and up the footpath towards her in record time, even in wellies and overalls. I’m first to reach her and quickly notice slight rings dispersing from something resembling a black button, 10 yards out.
“What is it?!”
“It’s my dog!”
It makes sense. A black terrier is treading water but is so tired it is vertical and the last part of it is disappearing below the surface over 8 feet. The black button is its nose.
I jump straight in, swim out, lift up the dog, swim back and lift it up onto the bank. It rights itself, shakes, has a wee and goes off up the bank…rabbiting. Climbing out I remember the electronics in my pockets while my mate reassures the lady who is thoroughly fretting.
We walk back down to the wall and he persuades me to spend the next five minutes copping the wall so the job is finished. I’ve stopped dripping; icicles are forming on the drips. Finally back at home it’s straight in the bath to warm up.
Click on the picture to read the labels.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The v-notch weir has to be a right angle and h is the height of water. We were able to get the entire river running through the v-notch here and found a flow of 750m3/day during one late summer period. 60% of the flow is going underground to the next valley and coming out here:
2) Q=VA which can be measured with an orange or 'beer can in the Narayani' in the case of my Father! The Lathkill and Bradford are easy to measure because their cross section is so square.
3) Timed filling of a known area such as a dustbin. We used this method when monitoring the through flow at the fish farms.
Monday, May 12, 2008
At 2am, everyone knows where they are going, so this was strange. As the van came past me I noticed it was three up in front. There’s no rush, you have to give these things time to mature in cases like this but when I trundled back down the road my suspicions were confirmed with the van parked on the verge across the road from a well stocked trout farm. The lights were off and the van was still as I passed by and this meant we had trouble. Down the road and through a gate I parked the vehicle behind a thorn bush, grabbed the image intensifier and the phone and began to run back up the middle of the road, in the pitch black with the monocular to my eye. I’d made a rough count of the corners in the road from where I pulled off into the field, back to the scene. Unfortunately for me I missed counted because as I turned a corner I was upon them, eight men, out of the van and trying to break into the fish farm right in front of me. I ducked into some cover on the road verge and threw myself flat. I’d got myself far to close and was literally amongst them.
It pays to know your kit. I hadn’t taken the time to investigate the functions of this new mobile phone and I needed to turn off the back light and be sure the ringing volume was at nil, or below. I rang the keeper for this beat, as one of the men came to take a leak about ten feet away. It was important that he picked up and didn’t ring back, I wasn’t sure I had disabled the ring on the phone and the Nokia tone was the last thing I wanted as he returned the missed call. He picked up. I told him what was going off and instructed him not to call back, I gave him half an hour to organise the Police and I would call him.
During the next half hour I watched as the men trashed the place! The site was miles from anywhere and they had no need to be quiet. All the time I was making mental notes for my statement; seeing who was smashing down doors to steal equipment and who was fishing out the trout. The time came round to make the call and everyone was ready; Police, Keepers, Dogs were waiting a mile down the road. My instruction was to call when they moved off. During my vigil one of the group had moved the van further down the road so as not to attract attention from the occasional passing car. Now he went to fetch it and as the group finished their rampage they jumped back into the van and made off in the opposite direction to the Police. I called and about 30 seconds later two Police cars screamed past under blue lights in pursuit.
The van was stopped, searched and following information from my statement, the men got 250 hours community service each, were ordered to pay compensation for the many trout and the damage caused plus some stiff fines. It turned out they had made a 200 mile round trip to steal what they could that night.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Two things could be happening here:
The adult is a male, visiting a female sitting eggs and reaffirming the bonds before going off hunting.
The owl is the female, visiting a young brood after resting up for the day in a near by barn. The parents don't spend the lay up period of daylight being mithered by the ever demanding young owls. They need their rest and will sit out near by. When dusk arrives they are keen to check that all is well before going off hunting.
I'm really pleased with the low light settings on my camera when I could only just spot the owl myself. Canon XH-A1 with CS3 Premier Pro are the hard and soft ware of choice here.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Telephone conversation with fisherman on the river:
“ Warren, I’ve caught that big old black bugger under the bridge. Do you want me to knock it on the head?”
No! Put it back carefully please. The video shows this dark fish back on station after its return only 36 hours ago.
During a riverside conversation with Gareth we likened the killing of old fish for the sake of it with entering an old folks home with a Kalashnikov. Same with the old fish turned ‘cannibal’. All trout are cannibal but if a big male was ever caught during our mayfly it would always be dispatched as a 'service to the fishery'. However those big males are extremely welcome on the redds in December and like the old fish, they are part of the river…they should always go back.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Over the next seven days we aren’t going to use the vehicles at all while we experiment futher with the use of bikes for patrolling. I have some jobs planned for the Kubota tractor but the Landy’s will be in the garages all next week.