Tuesday, 29 September 2009

End of Season Reflections

Almost at the end of my first trout season on the Eden. It's difficult to draw any specific conclusions as I only got going in June and missed three months of early season trouting. To keep my enthusiasm going a good fishing friend of mine sent me this picture of a large wild trout he caught from a tributary of the Eden...although he won't tell me where...some friend?!

I have really enjoyed my season and have experienced some very absorbing and challenging fishing. Many times I have been left scratching my head. Having moved from lowland rivers that consistently perform throughout the season. The rivers in this neck of the woods are fickle beasts and it often boils down to being on the river at the right time. My best sessions have come when the river is finning down after a flood and during those last few minutes of fading light before darkness.

My last visit to the Upper Eden a few days back produced a brief flurry of late evening activity of about 15 minuets with hatch of olives that put the grayling in the mood. One of thse fish which fell to a dry was a stunning fish of nearly 2lbs.....and it doesn't come much better than that!

Next season I hope to explore more of the lower river to try for a 'big mamma' of a wild brown(4lb+)and I've also set my heart on making contact with an elusive Eden Sea Trout....they are there!

I've seen many wonderful sights on the river this year, but my most precious memory is standing in the river on a June evening with Ian Gregg watching Sea Lampreys spawn at Warwick Hall..it's moments like this that make you pause for thought and reflect on what an unbelievably special catachment the Eden is.

I feel an incredible sense of responsibility to ensure that ERT continues it's vital conservation work. It is a great river and I feel we can show that populations of wild trout and salmon can not just co-exist, but thrive, alongside development, agriculture and significant human populations. We still have a fantastic chance to improve things even more and we have new opportunities through the Water Framework Directive. To quote American Conservationist 'Boots Allen' "This is a place where hope and faith lives or dies"

......now I do believe it's Grayling time!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Wild Thing!

I have just returned from one of my favorite rivers in the UK, The Derbyshire Wye. I was lucky enough to be invited to fish on a tributary the Lathkill which runs through the Haddon Estate, by kind permission of Lord Edward Manners. I have been involved with this stretch of river for a number of years and have watched with admiration how the river keeper, Warren Slaney has transormed this water from put and take fishery into a wild trout utopia!

Warren and his team have undertaken a widespread programme of habiat restoration and stopped stocking the river some years ago. The results have been spectacular and the production of wild fish has been nothing short astounding. The river has been narrowed, had weirs removed, woody debris has been installed, spawning gravels re-introduced and bankside vegetaion allowed to flourish. The river is a shinning example of what can be achieved when everthing falls just right. Lord Edward Manners deserves special mention, for he has embraced this project with great gusto and has also supported changes in land management to benefit the river.

Many might say Haddon and the Lathkill are a one off and are on a scale small enough where all the variables can be controlled. However if we take a look around this isn't quite the case and many clubs and associations are also Going Wild.

The River Derwent Angling Association (Co Durham) took the decision a couple of seasons back to go wild. The results have been very encouraging an increase in catch returns and members.

Closer to home Kirby Stephen AA also undertook a similar approach in 1995. Recognising the increased interest in wild fishing and the savings to be made by not stocking, the KSA committee agreed to 'Go Wild'. Catch returns have been very encouraging showning that the club do not need to stock with adult fish. Catches have also increased per hour of effort as have number of juveille fish. Membership remains healthy aswell as have day ticket sales.

I will be the first to admit that this approach may not always be suitable due to habitat and water quality problems. However if there are no bottle-necks to wild fish production, surely going wild is worthy of some serious consideration?

The picture above is of a stunning Lathkill wild fish and is very much the product of the hard work of Warren Slaney and the Haddon Estate. Keep up the good work Warren!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

We did it!

After 220 miles of calf busting effort we managed to complete the gruelling Coast to Coast Mountain Bike Challenge. The weather conditions were absolutely dreadful and I'm truly amazed I managed to complete the ride. It was simply the toughest thing I've ever had a go at. We made 14 seperate ascents over 1000ft in five days whilst pushing a bike up of most of them. In many cases we had to carry them, which is termed 'hand-bagging'.

Rather than go into too much detail here you can read all about it on our ride blog

We are still looking for donations and these can be made through Just Giving at http://www.justgiving.com/c2cmtb/

Money raised will be used to develop an new and exciting education initiative (Mayfly in the Classroom) But more of that on my next blog.

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