Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ribble: a river under pressure?

I'm in a foul mood today. It seems that everywhere I look I see threats to the health of the places I hold so dear.

On Thursday night I had a few hours on my local river and was depressed by what I saw. We had a fish kill last month when effluent from a local works entered the system and, apparently aided by exceptionally low flows and oxygen levels, wiped out approximately 50 trout, grayling and sea trout along our couple of miles of river. This may not represent a large proportion of the total population, but is galling all the same.
Although there have been a few showers over the last week, I knew the level would still be dead low, so I took a rod and had a wander to see how things looked.
The water was up about 6 inches on last time I visited (mid June), but still well below zero on the gauge. The slight increase in flow had dislodged a lot of the scummy weed which had formed, releasing it into the flow and making fishing anything but a surface fly damn near impossible.......

That in itself didn't bother me too much as I would be spending the evening on the dry fly, but I hate to see a game fish river weeded up and stagnant and I felt decidedly fed up as I worked my way through shrunken, feeble pools looking without success for signs of feeding fish.
Sport was entirely non-existent until about 9:30pm when a decent number of egg-bearing blue winged olive spinners returned to the water to lay and the interests of no fewer than two fish were aroused by the spent females laying crippled on the surface. The cranked spinner pattern did the job on them; good fish the pair and neither successfully landed, the hook pulling out well into proceedings in both cases.

So a big, fat midsummer blank for me I'm afraid. But that's not the point of this post really. My mood is soured by the news of the fish kill, by the fact that a cormorant was preparing to roost in the trees at the edge of the wood, by the fact that our keeper had nailed a total of 15 mink tails to the gable of the hut, by the fact that apart from the few spinners mentioned above and a few athripsodes albifrons caddis (see mating pair below), there was precious little fly life - or fish -to be seen. My local river appears to be very much under pressure......

My black mood has been deepened by rumours I hear that one of the north's most precious wild brown trout fisheries may be about to become the subject of unwanted national media coverage which could feasibly lead to significant harm to its fragile stocks. We're all going to hell in a handcart, I tell you.

1 comment:

Tony said...

Yes very sad. It's not the only river that's suffering.
We had a harsh winter, so my poor fishing over that period was put down in the end mainly to that fact.
On reflection I'm not so sure. Every visit to the Ribble, Hodder and Dane was small on fish but large on feathery foes! if you add to this the heavy floods of the last few springs,
the odd bit of pollution, mink, otters, abstraction, the odd visit from our eastern European residents
and even though not popular with some I think Barbel do a lot of damage re fish eggs. The welfare of the rivers is a constant worry.
I fish a few little urban rivers the fish are about in much greater numbers even though the overall water condition is poorer. I asked my mate who pays good money for upper Ribble and Hodder why can you catch 20+ brown trout off a urban brook and at times not see a natural fish in prime water?
It's the same on the Dane, Roach IN Autumn was always a feature that I loved, my best chance now is a short drive away in water that is more like a dirty drain than a river(you even get the smell of washing powder and suds to prove it)
In conclusion I think the cold winter caused the birds to feed on rivers, all lakes frozen? The mix of all the other things on top is more than the rivers can take? The water authority's may be to blame they want low clear running rivers to take from, they move the fallen trees and so on . We seem to be blind!! Don't control the predators and the knock on effects can be seen the odd good fish but no recruitment to replace it. Sorry fr the life story!!