AN APOLOGYIt's been 6 months since I last wrote and posted anything, by far the longest gap ever on this blog. Perhaps some of you thought I'd given up, gone absent or died (yes, I do go on about my age a bit). Some might even have missed J1W. I'm sorry, but I had nothing worthwhile to say. I'm not one of those 'stream of consciousness' folk who inhabit the world of Twitter or the 'blogosphere' who consider their thoughts on breakfast important. Nor do I like repeating myself: I've written before on my spring routine, preparing for the new season and so forth. Rehashing the content of those articles doesn't appear very useful for either you the reader or me the author, so I rely on you using the index if you wish to find something out. I try to be original and interesting, on the assumption that if it doesn't stimulate me, it will surely bore the pants off you.
IT'S THE WEATHER - AGAIN
|Vale of York Rainfall - Spring 2017|
Average - Blue Observed - Red
Cumulative total lines showing shortfall of 60%
I have fished only once in the past 6 months: a very kind friend took me as his guest to Rutherford on the Tweed, where I blanked. But I've written 3 times before about the beauty of Rutherford on a blank day, and saw little merit in repeating myself. Blanking is boring; writing about it is painful; and there are no useful lessons to be had from failure. Without water there has been no point visiting the Ure. The trout in the Rye have remained untroubled by my attentions because the harbinger of the dry spring - a cold north easterly air flow - has offered the prospect of discomfort and meagre results.
viewed from the Sultan Qaboos Knowledge Oasis
|Gaula at 2am|
House Pool looking upstream to Colonel's
Then in October it's Yorkshire and the Ure for the annual father and son bonding trip with HMCX. Last year he caught a fish within 15 minutes of starting, which was the most marvellous morale booster after 2 blank years. We have 2 days on the river and a night at the Bolton Arms in Redmire, a classic Dales village pub with good food, great beer, nice rooms and a super atmosphere. We enjoy the beer, share a bottle of Australian Shiraz with our steaks and treasure the time. HMCX married last spring and no doubt he'll soon have a family of his own, so we're determined to make the most of this special time while we may. He fell under the spell of salmon at Tomatin in his late teens, and once he'd caught his first large salmon he was well and truly hooked. He's also excellent company on the river bank.
THE URE SALMON RUN CHALLENGE
I'm a member and supporter of the Ure Salmon Group, a subordinate charity of the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust. Its aim is to assist the natural return of salmon to the Dales through low-level projects that open up spawning areas, protect the fry and parr nurseries, and reduce pollution risks. The strength of the USG lies in the leverage of 'matched funding': each £1 that they put in will be more than matched by funding from the Environment Agencies, non-public bodies and private sector benefactors, often achieving £5-10 worth of effect. You can find out more about the USG on its website. A good example of its work last year was the re-opening of the River Burn, a tributary that enters the Ure just below Masham, which had been closed to fish movement since 1910 by a weir. The removal of the weir last summer allowed salmon the run up the Burn to spawn in December and January, which they did in significant numbers. All being well, and applying the usual survival rates, this work should deliver an additional 60-100 adult salmon back into the river in 5 years' time.
The Burn experience underlines the point that, contrary to folklore, salmon don't unfailingly return to the point of their birth. If that was true, salmon would have been wiped out in the Ice Ages. Instead they stray as a survival strategy, going wherever the water conditions encourage them. Opening up spawning areas is a very productive approach. If more salmon enter the river but the spawning area remains constant, the higher density of fry and parr will diminish the food available to each juvenile, reduce smolt strength and condition, increase stress and disease risk, and cause the population to reach a premature plateau. Nature is ruthlessly self-regulating. Increasing the spawning area raises survival rates at each life stage and sends stronger, fitter smolts away to sea.
|Cold Spring Training|
Goretex & Lycra at 4C
|Cannondale Synapse Carbon 105|
When riding into the wind with my hands on the drops and my head down, I get a close-up view of the cap on top of the handlebar stem thoughtfully provided by my elder (non-fishing) son as a motivational device. The computer (actually an app on my iPhone) goes on the clip above, showing my speed, distance travelled, heart rate and cadence (pedal rpm). Heart rate is a key determinant in the British Cycling plan to maximise its effectiveness: burst at 175 bpm for aerobic fitness; 145-160 bpm for extended climbs; and 125-135 bpm for churning out the miles. It's all very scientific, but it certainly works: I can now do 50+ miles with ease and am confident that I can complete the ride in good order. There are some ugly hills in the last 20 miles, so I'll need a stock of grit and determination in store at the 6 hour point.
The fundraising is going really well via my Just Giving page, and naturally I should be most grateful if you were to join in and make a donation.
I've got the best imaginable sponsor in Theakston's Brewery. The insignia is of a medieval office holder known as the 'Peculier of Masham', who gives his name to their Old Peculier strong ale. Both Simon Theakston and most of my friends consider my madness in undertaking this ride distinctly peculiar, and they're probably right. Perhaps I'm just guilty of trying to defy the years on a basis of fading memories of exceptional fitness. But whatever the motivation, it's a great cause.
And I'm looking forward to the pint of Theakston's XB on the finish line.