Ribblesdale Angling Assocation

Chairman’s Report – June

Low water levels make for tricky spring fishing – but encouraging news from further downstream

WHERE HAD OUR spring salmon gone? This is what we were all asking following the heavy waters in March. They seemed to have disappeared – or most had.

Could they have dropped back down into the estuary, or had they moved up through Waddow and were now spread out well up the river? Not according to the Waddow counter figures for March as given to me in early April by the Agency.

Only 34 fish were counted up and 5 fish down. The up count was 25 fish under 4lbs and only nine fish over 4lbs giving us a total of just 11 salmon counted up the river since the beginning of January.

Not a very encouraging start to the season for most then, but for two more anglers it was better. John Whitham, spinning a number 1 gold bladed Mepps in coloured water over a well known lie close to Calder foot, hooked and landed a very lively fresh 16 lb’er which took a liking to this Mepps.

This spinner seems to have gone out of fashion these days, but it used to hook a lot of fish back when it was more popular – especially if cast upstream and brought back fast.

The second fish was a real beauty measuring at 39 inches long and estimated at approx 25 lbs. It took a small boar bristled tube which Steve Burgess had tied up himself over winter and it’s the first springer Steve has ever landed from the Ribble and his biggest salmon so far. After a quick photo, the fish was released and swam off strongly. Both of these fish are well deserved through perseverance.

After the very big floods in March the weather dried up and by the beginning of April the Ribble had fallen away to under the six inch marker on Grindleton bridge. Sunny but bitterly cold days took the edge off good trout fishing, but, not to be put off a few determined members of Ribblesdale AA landed some nice trout.

Neil Dowds had one of 3 lbs on a sunken pheasant tailed nymph and Pete Solomon also one at 3.5lbs – his biggest river trout landed in what was described as a blizzard of grannom. John Wilkinson fishing Low Moor one April day landed fourteen nice trout and grayling on wet Snipe and Purples and Waterhen Bloas then, after lunch the fish began to rise to a small black gnat.

On a more positive note for our migratory fish, I received a report from the very bottom of the river, in fact the estuary part, that one angler down there had seen some very big shoals of sea trout moving into the river and at the same time as some large early smolts were seen dropping back in the Calder foot area.

The sea trout report is positive for later in the season when, given the right conditions these lovely fish will bend a few rods during the hours of darkness in both of our rivers, and the smolt report we all hope positive for the future.

As Easter approached, the unpredictable weather patterns which play such a vital part in our sport began to change again and the temperatures shot up to the middle 20s. Over the Easter period, the sun shone and the river levels continued to drop away.

I watched the trees come into leaf and if we believe the old countryman’s proverb: “Oak before ash” etc. etc. As the oak trees came into leaf, the ash leaves were not even showing; only time will tell as we go through the season if this really is a true prediction as it was last year. 

Both rivers continued to fall away with the Ribble showing more stones and rocks on the web camera at Waddow than running water and salmon anglers above the middle reaches were chomping at the bit to take up their rods again, but most of April remained dry and the rivers had dropped to the levels we associate with a dry summer drought. 

The worst possible thing that can happen when the river is so low and short of oxygen is a report of pollution. This is what occurred on April 23 when a report from the Edisford Hall waters of many dead fish including grayling, trout, parr and three salmon. This was reported to the EA but, due to some unknown reason, their response was not what we had hoped for.

In fact, although they responded, they were unable to find any dead fish. When anglers report anything like this please make sure you ring the emergency number 0800 80 70 60 and take photos as evidence. Only by doing this can we hold the Agency responsible for non-compliance to our expected standard of care.

At last we had some rain thanks to storm Hannah – a late one in the season. It moved the Hodder up a few inches but hardly touched the Ribble at Waddow. The total rainfall for April according to my gauge was just 36.mm

I have still time to remind all anglers of Prince Albert’s open day down at Ribchester on Sunday June 9– come along and enjoy it. A lot of work goes into this event for all our enjoyment so it’s well worth supporting.        

Fred Higham, RAA Chairman