Wednesday 30 October 2013

Friday 30 August 2013

SFAS - Fly Tipping Success

There are a couple of sections of the Irwell between Bury and Radlciffe which have been blighted by fly tipping over the last few years.
One of our members Eric Owen has done a tremendous job, chivvying, nagging, harrassing, councilors, environmental health officers, housing associations etc into getting things cleaned up.
At long last the Bury Times have recognised that Erics been instrumental in improving things on the Irwell - something we at SFAS have known for ages
Well done Eric.
The full article can be read here.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

An Awesome Trout

The bar has been raised yet again by Irwell fisherman Andy Boyne - with the capture of this tremendous Brown Trout which weighed in at 12lb 2oz.
What an amazing fish !

Please don't expect me to give up the location - I value my kneecaps. However, I can tell you that this spotted beast had a taste for boillies.

Over the last few years, I've seen numerous brown trout to 5lbs, I've had a couple grace my net in the 7lb bracket, seen photos of fish in the 9lb bracket - but Andys fish just blows all of these out of the water.

Has the Irwell become the Mecca for big wild browns in England ? Who knows.
Congratulations Andy on the fish of a lifetime

Monday 6 May 2013

River Gardening

One of the legacies of 250 years of pollution in the Irwell is the lack of complex plant structure in the river channel. Apart from the rocky headwaters, the water in most of the river has been too toxic to allow it to grow. However as we all know - things are changing.
Phosphate output from sewage works used to be abnormally high, which had the effect of covering the river bed in a thick layer of life clogging algae smothering anything which tried to grow, and in the lower river,  a form of ribbon weed had established itself - neither of which support large amounts of river life.

However - in 2009 United Utilities started to install ammonia and phosphate removal facilities at their waste water treatment works. The effect of this is much better water quality, and previously unrecorded species of aquatic plants are now beginning to appear in the lower river.
We are now - for the first time ever beginning to find the occasional stand of starwort and ranunculus (water crowsfoot) - these more complex plants offer great spawning material for fish, provide cover for fry, provide habitat to support huge numbers of aquatic invertebrates (fish food) and provide shading and cover for both coarse fish and trout.

All in all - a very desirable thing to have in our river.

Sadly - the re-colonisation of these plants is a long and slow process - and though the sight of a couple of stands of these plants below the footbridge at Kersal Dale is a positive indicator of things to come - we have long thought that these plants need a little encouragement to speed up their re-colonisation of the river.

Our original intention was to speed this re-colonisation process during the summer of 2013 by transplanting small root balls of both speicies from up river but the Environment  Agency are undertaking significant flood defence upgrades in the lower river this summer, involving lots of earth moving and heavy machinery in the river - so we have decided to delay this work until 2014.

The EA flood defence team - who wont allow us to make any in-channel improvements or plant river side trees to provide shading (which would be a great improvement fishing wise - are allowing us to transplant plants from upstream, and have offered to work with us next summer - which will be a great assistance.

So - with this in mind - when i was invited over to the River Don in Sheffield (another post industrial river which suffers many similar issues to the Irwell)  by Paul Gaskell of the Wild Trout Trust, and the guys from S.P.R.I.T.E. to take part in a rannunculus transplanting session I jumped at the opportunity.

Armed with my passport so i could cross the border, and some barmcakes so that I'd have something to eat when i got there - I took a trip to Yorkshire - the darkside of the Pennines.

The lads from S.P.R.I.T.E. had already transplanted some root balls of Ranunculus using ladies stockings to hold their balls together - this had me worried - but was apparently quite an effective method of protecting their assets- but to my relief on this occaision they were going to use hessian sacking to do the job - a but coarse - but as hessian quickly rots down in water - a much more environmentally friendly way of doing the job.

Take a look at these pictures of the mornings work

Transporting the lifted plants
A pool on the Don - not an aquatic plant in sight

work in progress

And how it looked after an hours work - these three foot long stands will be 20ft+ by the end of the summer, and will be covered in beautiful white flowers every spring.

Many thanks for a great day on your river - it looking good.
It will be a great project to replicate on the Irwell

Sunday 28 April 2013

What A Cracker

What a cracking fish from Drinkwater Park Lake - well done Ian Goodwin - a strong contender for our fish of the year competition 2013.

Ians had some great fish from Drinkies over the last 12 months - Pike to 16lb, Bream and Tench to 6lb and now this lovely carp at 21lb10oz.
Not a bad list of fish for a lake which supposedly has no fish in it !

Thursday 18 April 2013

Floating Islands For The Old River

On a wild and windy day - 16 of our members generously gave us their time, to help construct 12 more cormorant cages and 4 floating islands.

We now have a total of 17 cormorant cages in the Old River, each one will be topped with a floating island.

The cages look like this
 If you take a walk around the Old River - you can see the location of each of these cages as there is a small bright marker float.
Over the next few weeks - each cage will be marked by a floating island - we made 4 yesterday - three have been left in the pub beer garden so that the plants can get established without the attention of water birds - we have put one in place so that people can have an idea of what we are trying to achieve.

1 down 16 to go !
Many many thanks to those members who gave their time - very much appreciated.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Anti Cormorant Cages For The Old River

Over the last few months, the Old River has been plagued by cormorants munching down on our newly stocked fish.

So as were not allowed to shoot them, or trap them, the only thing we can do is create fish refuges - to enable our fish stocks to hide from the black death.

(if your not a fisherman - please don't think us anglers don't like water birds - WE DO ! we love to see the herons, grebes, kingfishers etc which are natural predators on our waterways - we are just the first people who suffer from the new version of the black death - the invasion of sea birds which can eat up to 3lbs of fish per day- and wipe out whole fish populations - which in turn sustain the kingfishers, herons grebes etc. Once the fish have been wiped out from a lake, a lot of water birds also move on).

So - if we allow cormorants free reign on our lakes and rivers - we might as well pack it all in and take up knitting.

The only solution open to us it to construct fish protection refuges - in which our fish stocks can swim into in order to escape the unwelcome attentions of this alien predator.

16 people attended our work party today, and in 2 hours we constructed 5 fish refuges which we hope will help to effectively shelter our silver fish populations from cormorant predation.

With alot of help from our local environment agency officers - and using sheep/stock fencing and silage netting - we created our refuges and placed them at the Boathouse pub end of the Old River in mid channel between pegs.

 We also took the opportunity to put up the first of our new club signs - in addition to this blue sign, we also have put up a new wooden notice board at the Boathouse end of the Old River, so that we can keep people up to date with match dates, work partys and other events.

In the near future (9th April) we are going to hold another work party where we will cover these fish refuges with floating islands - to act as further habitat improvement for our fish stocks and also to act as markers where the cormorant cages are located.
At present, the location of the fish refuges is given away by small red and white marker floats.

The 5 refuges we created this morning - are only the start of the project.
We anticipate creating up to 25 refuges and floating islands along the entire length of the Old River.
Which will be a massive habitat improvement - resulting in better fishing over the coming years.

If you can lend a hand - your more than welcome to join us on the 9th April.