Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Hope and Inspiration.

I've just returned from a holiday in my old stamping grounds in Norfolk. Apart from once again getting a decent pint of beer, three events gave me great hope for the future for the wonderful, yet hidden chalk streams on the North Sea Coast.

Firstly, I visited a reach of river I helped to restore between 2006-8. The estate in question supported by a team of willing volunteers and the Wild Trout Trust provided advice, funding and many hours of labour to support a programme of narrowing, spawning gravel creation, riparian fencing and placement of large woody debris (LWD). The overall aim was two-fold, to improve the conditions for both resident browns and those that may choose to go on salty excursions. Myself and Tim Jacklin of the Wild Trout Trust were lucky enough to be invited to fish the reach and we were delighted to see what must have been a ten fold increase in brown trout numbers. I was also reliably informed by the keeper that returning sea trout have been observed spawning on newly introduced riffles...The Best News!

Despite a tricky wind I went on to catch what I term a 'Restoration Brownie' of about a 1lb when the wind eventually dropped at dusk. I have caught fish three times as big this season but to me this was my most memorable moment with a rod in 2011. Surely it must be one of the ultimate prizes in fly fishing to catch a fish on a dry fly from a reach that was once on its knees. Many had totally written off this small stream. However, thanks to a small but passionate band of hairy arsed fishers, supported by the Wild Trout Trust, we once again have a viable fishery that can support a thriving population of trout. Most importantly, the river has a much higher profile and others may now think twice before causing damage to this most beautiful and intimate of chalk streams.

That evening we shared a bottle or two with Mark Watson the Manager of the new Norfolk Rivers Trust. This is a very exciting and much needed development in the battle to conserve Norfolk's very special chalk rivers. Mark is a very capable guy and passionate about wild trout and rivers. Having helped to win a few hard fought battles against the authorities in Norfolk I am thrilled to see a new and independent force for good emerging on the scene. Exciting times indeed!

Lastly, I attended a meeting with my old mates at the River Glaven Conservation Group. This bunch of volunteers from the local community have been busy delivering a very exciting and innovative programme of river restoration projects in the sleepy Glaven Valley. I am a huge admirer of the spirit, tenacity and drive of this bunch of 'Good Old Boys' who care so passionately about 'their river'. They remind me of a similar group I am a huge fan of in the North West - The Lune Rivers Trust. The Glaven Group have now completed two major restoration projects involving re-connection of the floodplain, re meandering, LWD and creation of riffles, etc. Amazingly they are now taking on a new challenge to bypass and restore a very old and silted on-line lake plus restoring the relict channel. All this is being led by volunteers with support from experts (like Wild Trout Trust) and various Govt bodies. As an original committee member it was so satisfying to see the group had come of age and now being accepted as a serious conservation partner by The Environment Agency and Natural England.

I cane away feeling re-invigorated and inspired to continue take on the challenges that working on a catchment of 2500 sq km present!

All of this happened on what was supposed to be a family holiday...but once afflicted, this incurable river conservation bug tends to flow through your veins for the rest of your life!

Friday, 19 August 2011

ERT Has Moved

After five very happy years at Skirsgill Business Park we are relocating to a suite offices at the Newton Rigg College Campus, Near Penrith.

We are tremendously excited about the move both in terms of the increased size of our accommodation and the opportunities to develop educational and training partnerships with new owners Askham Bryan College.

The move will take place between 18th August – 21st August.

As of w/b 22nd of August our new address will be:

Eden Rivers Trust

Dunmail Building

Newton Rigg College


CA11 0HA

View Eden Rivers Trust offices in a Google map

We are expecting that there will be some unavoidable but short-term disruption to our telephone and internet / email capabilities.

We hope that our existing office number (01768 866788) will be still be in use, however it may be redirected to an alternative number, again for a short period. We have also set-up a temporary mobile number which will remain in the new office (07864 644943). This phone will be checked regularly and will be able to accept voice mail messages.

Staff mobile telephone numbers and email addresses will remain as normal.

I hope the move and subsequent settling in period will be as smooth as possible but I apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused

Monday, 8 August 2011

Charity Casting Challenge

Eden Rivers Trust will be organising a charity casting challenge at this year’s inaugural Lowther Game and Country Fair at Lowther Park on 13th and 14th August. Proceeds from the challenge will be split equally between Eden Rivers Trust and armed forces charity Combat Stress.

The challenge, known as the Casting Game will see adults and children alike cast ‘against the clock’ on a course designed to test their accuracy and skills with a fly rod. Children and adults, beginners and experts are all welcome to have a go.

Entries are just £1 and there will be prizes for the top 5 times (adult and junior) each day. The competition has been generously sponsored by Orvis who are donating the use of fishing rods during the challenge and prizes each day.

The aim of the challenge is to both inject a little more fun into the world of fly fishing and to raise much needed funds for two worthy, but vastly differing charities.

I have been particularly inspired by the work of Combat Stress, having had the honour of meeting several service personnel returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of these heroes have returned with severe and life changing physical wounds such as triple amputations. However, many of the guys and girls also have to cope with the often concealed and less publicised physiological scares that can be associated with active service. These can involve Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety disorders.

I hope that the exhibitors and good country folk visiting the fair will come along and support this fund-raising initiative and have a lot of fun at the same time!

Aside from the Casting Challenge ERT will have its normal displays and be on hand to answer queries about our conservation work (and the great fishing!) on the River Eden.

So, if you are coming up to the Fair pop over to our stand and say hello and test your skills - it is for a good cause.

After trying the game on my lawn the other evening - I marked myself down as needing some professional help...turns out I'm not the hot shot I thought I was!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Weekender Report

I am relieved to report that the Weekender was a fantastic success. We had over 70 guests on the Friday night to listen to our guest speakers Paul Procter and Jeremy Lucas. The food at the Tufton was excellent as was the ale and the company.

Despite the weather forecast and a wet start the fishing on Saturday was very good indeed. I have received reports from many of the anglers saying what a wonderful time they had in truly stunning surroundings. Two of my friends had very good days indeed. The funniest moment for me was trying to light my Kelly Kettle with virtually no breeze to get a draw. At one point I think we filled the whole of the Eden Valley with our emissions and it was only sheer bloody mindedness that eventually resulted in cups of rather smokey tea (a new Cumbrian delicacy).

Sunday arrived and the river was slowly rising. Despite this, again many fish were caught and one of the rods guided by Glynn Freeman landed a fresh grilse of about 6lbs.

Will we be running this event again?..You Bet!

Our good friends at Wild Trout Trust are planning to hold their Annual Get-together in Appleby, on or around the second weekend in June. If you could not make this years event make sure you come along in will not be disappointed.

I would like to thank all of the owners, fishing clubs, guides and speakers that made this weekend possible. I would also like to thank the Wild Trout Trust for their help in promoting and organising the event.

Lastly 'without the trout' none of this would have been possible!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Last chance......we'd hate you miss this one!

Just a final reminder regarding the Wild Trout Evening at the Tufton Arms in Appleby, tomorrow evening (see earlier blogs). The 60+ guests that have booked thus far are in for what promises to be a great evening of fishing talks, supper and fly tying demos....not to mention much beer induced fishing talk!

Tickets are priced at a very reasonable £19.50 per person. If you would like to come please contact the ERT Office (01768 866788) and book in. We will be able to take payment on the door but we'd like to know your coming to keep the chef sane!

Rainfall over the next 24hrs could raise levels in the river on Saturday and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the worst of it drops outside the catchment. However this is Cumbria!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Excuse me. Are you the Judean People's Front?

I managed to bring an evening meeting forward on Monday to enable me to squeeze in a much needed fix of Eden wild trout.

On arrival at the beat the river looked in superb order. Unlike many other rivers in England the Eden has been blessed with rain, much to the delight of local anglers and gardeners alike!

Although sunny the early evening temperatures were low enough to have me rummaging around in the boot of my car for my trusty Help For Heroes Hoodie - this top has not only been with me when I've raised a few thousand quid for this worthy charity but it has started become a sort of lucky fishing talisman for me to the point where I really don't like to be wetting a line without it.

There were good numbers of upwings airborne including my favourite fly of all time the Yellow May Dun. Spinners were also starting to fall. If the temperature stayed up I thought I may just be in for a good evenings sport.

I quickly took two small trout on an emerger pattern so all was looking good. They both put up spirited fights that reminded me of puppies that will not let go a of a sock...feisty little devils!

At that point, I was joined on banks of the pool by a visiting salmon angler. It transpired that he had come (several hundred miles) for the Salmon but unfortunately for him he should have been on the river a couple of weeks earlier when we had the last push of water. He went on to tell me that he had seen a really good and prolonged hatch of upwinged flies for most of the afternoon and trout had been going crazy. "Ironic really" he said "as I actually do a lot of trout fishing back home". My response almost seemed rude, but I just had to ask...."but why didn't you pack a trout rod too?" He agreed, "Good question, I really don't know why?"

We then discussed why it is that as fisherman we have the tendency to want to ignore the many differing angling opportunities that a quality game river provides. From my point of view I cannot see the logic in flogging a bit of salmon water to death knowing that it's a waste of time, especially when the trout (inc sea trout) are on!

I think as fishermen we tend to ally our selves to a particular clan or tribe - river trout, stillwater trout, sea trout, salmon, etc. Its fine to have a specialism, but I cannot help but feel that this somewhat regimented approach facilitates many a blank day because of some sort of irrational fear of the consequences piscatorial free thinking or perhaps being disloyal to their particular tribe.

We both agreed that Free Spirits in fishing world are rare beasts! At this point the following scene from Monty Pythons 'The Life of Brian' sprang to mind.

Brian: Look, you've got it all wrong! You don't need to follow me. You don't need to follow anybody! You've got to think for yourselves! You're all individuals!

Crowd: [in unison] Yes! We're all individuals!

Brian: You're all different!

Crowd: [in unison] Yes, we are all different!

Man in crowd: I'm not...

Crowd: Shhh

Some owners, ghilles and keepers can also enforce a restrictive and dictatorial approach to fishing. It may be unspoken but anglers are often left in no doubt as to what is the expected 'form' on a beat. On some Scottish Rivers getting a trout rod out would be considered an act of high treason...but why? It should be remembered that its only fairly recently that some of the interests controlling major Scottish Salmon rivers have begun to slowly accept that trout are not actually vermin. There still remains a job of work to do here as some normally intelligent and rational people still pedal this outdated and somewhat Victorian viewpoint. I have actually had these conversations. One proprietor on a famous Northern Scottish river actually told me that I could come and fish for trout if I killed everything I caught as they "eat all of our salmon eggs"......I declined!

On a mixed game fishery like the Eden (where we love our trout) I advise my salmon fishing friends to always bring a trout rod. Some do and some don't...however those that do never regret it and in some cases have had real red letter days that in their words "saved the trip".

So my advice when coming to fish the Eden is to be totally flexible in your approach and your choice of quarry and I guarantee you will 'max' your chances of having a great trip.

To illustrate my point. My fellow (and very nice) salmon angler had a blank and retired to the pub at 9.30pm. Whilst he was standing at the bar, perhaps drowning his sorrows, I had a further eight wild trout to nearly 2lbs, with some bigger fish bumped off too. I was also still catching trout after the landlord announced "time gentlemen please".

Although you should be wary of judging a good day in terms of numbers of fish, (The Flyfishers Club motto springs to mind here PISCATOR NON SOLUM PISCATUR - It is not all of fishing to fish) I will leave you to judge for yourself regarding who you think had the more enjoyable day.

And to finish, I couldn't resist this last quote, again from the Life of Brian. I think this neatly captures some of the self imposed divides that I have witnessed in approach, species elitism and attitude between differing factions of fisherman...I think we would do well to remember that we are actually all one in the same. Brothers of the Angle!

Brian: Excuse me. Are you the Judean People's Front?

Reg: F**k off! We're the People's Front of Judea.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

We still have a number of rod days available on the Wild Trout Weekender. The good news is that on Eden we have good rainfall over the last few weeks and the fishing has been excellent. I have had several reports of fish over the magical 3lb mark. So if youre free over the weekend of 18th and 19th June why not come along and experience some very fine and affordable wild trout fishing in quite stunning surroundings. See