Sunday, 28 July 2013

An uncertain future!

Photo 01 - Litter louts, an embarrassment to anglers everywhere!
An uncertain future!

This year will see the commencement of the works to be carried out regarding the new level of the loch to comply with the Selkirk Flood Protection Scheme. This will bring with it a new “norm” for the level of the loch probably somewhere around the current levels we are experiencing. There are some implications for us as custodians of the fishing and below we will present a brief outline of the challenges that confront us with this development.

Throughout the history of the lochs there has been enormous variation in the levels, some through natural occurrences and some through human intervention. There will have been natural dips and spikes in the angling fortunes caused by these events and we will now face a possible change in the fishing. Lowering the level of the loch is not without implications for us as anglers. Our littoral zones which harbour countless organisms are a vital part of the food chain with our fish species at the top. Seasonal variation has always been with us with autumn/winter generally seeing higher water levels whilst spring and summer lower levels.

Most of our littoral zones are in areas of water less than 6 metres deep as beyond this insufficient sunlight penetration means that vital plant life cannot flourish. The equation is therefore if zones lost are equal to zones re colonised then all will be well with a temporary blip to allow for the recolonisation process.  This process to some extent is dependent on the loch bottom where areas before the drop off into significantly deeper water are able to be re colonised the deeper areas will however be relatively barren!

The subject has been extensively researched with regard to the great lakes in Canada. The first thing to note is that change can be relatively slow and changes have to be measured in generational terms rather than years. Loch levels are dropping naturally up to six feet per sixty years due to the effects of global warming and temperatures are rising by one to two degrees in the same time period so the environment is never static it is constantly changing!

If the net result is that we lose littoral zones then without question our population of fish will be affected the extent being in relation to zones lost. The adaptability of species to environmental change will see some species flourish and others decline. The loch has of course been through this change many times examples being the extinction of Arctic Charr and the introduction of Pike and Perch to increase and vary sport fishing in the early seventeen hundreds. All these events would have had dramatic effects in the marine environment leading to loss of biodiversity and altered balance between the species of fish resident in the loch! Eutrophication is seen as a common accompaniment to reduction in water levels drastically altering the environment and would adversely affect our population of Brown Trout. We will however avoid this problem due to the huge areas of deep water restricting the growth of flora.

 The permanent drop in water levels will affect all living organisms in the loch whether it be to decreased amounts of food or lack of habitat for spawning. Birds, reptiles and amphibians are also affected by hydrologic changes but these do not concern us here. Pike which are wetland spawners are often affected badly by lowering of water levels after spawning as the fertilised spawn is dried out leading to the reduction or obliteration of that year class! Lower water levels in summer can overheat plants and dry out roots and cause death, similarly low waters in winter can expose vulnerable plants to freezing also with death as a consequence! The full effects of such a change are however enormous and we have only scratched the surface here as time is not on our side. We must however be vigilant when fishing noting the changes in shallow areas as new areas are colonised and old ones become terrestrial. With this potential for loss of wetland habitat we could expect some species to be compromised at best finding new habitat on the loch and at worst being forced to other areas! Social feedback in reporting such changes will be hugely important in years to come as catches or the lack of will provide us with important information.  We can and will as part of our habitat improvement programme replant willow whips close to the water’s edge to lend a helping hand to the natural recolonisation process hopefully maintaining the degree of nourishment available from insects that live on such plants above and below the water level.

We are entering into the unknown with regard to specifics, we have a good idea of what to expect, but the exact nature of these changes will only become apparent as time progresses. We are facing a severe example of change; however the custodians of all waters will also see great change though in their case it will be a much more gradual change over a longer period of time. It is not however all doom and gloom; the new fish pass to be constructed will ease the way for the passage of migratory fish and assist our Brown Trout population in moving in and out of the loch as we suspect they do annually at spawning time. Yes the future is uncertain; it was always going to be so! That uncertainty will however take place much sooner than we expected!

Photo 02 - Time effort and money wasted!
Loch keeper update!

We are still unfortunately without a loch keeper. I have received numerous phone calls this week bemoaning the fact that our agents cannot on some occasions act decisively. The problem is that all who are involved in trying to help out are so doing on an ad hoc basis! Please be patient we are doing the best we can in a difficult situation! If Ian and Alastair were not assisting us the level of service would be nil!

On a brighter note we have two people very interested in the position and both are keen anglers! They are both suited to the position and we have given them both the relevant information regarding the position and will be in touch with them soon. We hope to have appointed a new loch keeper by the end of the week. Stay tuned for the updated situation!

All for nothing!

You will see from the photos (photo 02,03) of the Riskinhope burn that before we have even commenced our tree planting programme the degradation of the stream line has commenced and looks to be progressing rapidly! Three posts in the new fence are completely unsecured with a heavyweight straining post soon to give way! In the words of the contractor who erected the fence “a complete waste of time. There are three areas of concern which will collapse after the winter floods take their toll and the planting of trees in this area looks to be a futile gesture!

Bank stabilisation work to stop this erosion would be futile as a couple of years worth of erosion has to be allowed for to give the root network time to form! We are however obliged to plant some trees as a significant amount of public money was injected into this project with the specific aim of increasing the number of trees in the area! We will carry out this work, though with heavy hearts and little expectation! Health and safety with regard to operator safety will dictate what and where we plant in September but what we viewed as a significant step towards improving the habitat of this burn now looks like a neglected disaster area which has consumed large amounts of public money, not the outcome we would have hoped for! This also jeopardises our bank stabilisation works the basis of which is having significant bank sides to allow our planting to take place. Compared to our work at Kirkstead it increasingly looks like it has been all for nothing, how depressing!

Photo 03 - Winter will see this one out!
Rodent eradication!

We examined the baited areas yesterday morning and a couple of piles were missing but perhaps significantly a couple of piles of poisoned bait were left untouched. There is a combination of reasons as to why this was the case and we have again heavily baited the area. After evaluating next week’s results we are proposing to set a couple of traps to see what turns up! My gut feeling is that the under floor population has been wiped out and that outsiders on seeing the premises vacant are moving in to the luxury accommodation. It remains to be seen if this is a correct assumption!

 Recent catches!

This week saw the continuation of the Pike bonanza with numerous specimens caught and safely returned. The top fish for the week was a lithe thirteen pounder caught by an angler from Broxburn. The Brown Trout however have proved elusive with only small fish being recorded mostly on sinking lines and attractor fly’s. Numerous Perch have been caught many on the fly in relatively shallow water whilst Eels continue to dement Pike anglers by stripping baits and giving abject lessons in knot tying using the anglers wire trace. One half of the “likely lads” Scotty landed a super two pounder which was safely returned Eels of course are a protected species and may not be taken. Minnows abound in the shallows; a trap made and set by Les returned dozens of them!


Yes, yet again the amount of litter left by anglers is causing us concern, have a look at the photo above (photo 01) and you will see the problem clearly emanates from Pike anglers! Bait packets strewn all over the shop for someone else to pick up, in this case me! It’s a simple matter to take your rubbish away and that does not mean putting it in a larger bag and leaving it lying! Our new loch keeper will be initiating our new policy rigidly on litter which simply put means, if you are caught leaving litter you will be barred from angling at our lochs sine die! We need to stamp this kind of behaviour out and taking this line is the only way to achieve this. If you want to fish on our lochs do not leave litter!

Fishing instructors

We are pleased to report that on concluding our investigations into this group we have found no areas of concern. All the instructors advertising were found to be amply qualified for the job they undertake covering areas of practical competence theory and health and safety! This being the case our new advisory site on how to select a fishing guide will only include a passing reference to this group of people. For those wishing to follow our advice (and you are free to do as you wish) the same criteria however should be used when contemplating paying for one of these fellows.  Instructors should note that the rules applying to fishing guides also apply to instructors. If your intention is to operate commercially on our lochs you must contact a member of the club committee before embarking on to our waters!


The wider world in my view!

Coverage of the birth of George Cambridge

I only caught the prolonged coverage on the ten o clock news and that was much too much for me! Without exception I would imagine everyone is pleased to hear of the safe birth of a baby and the start of what one would hope would be a useful and fulfilling life! I heard that the main TV channels disrupted the normal viewing schedules to come up with mind numbing programmes relating to this birth. A newsflash would have been enough with these pointless programmes being aired on BBC 4 and ITV 2 for those desperate for news!

Women have babies every day without ceremony; Dod Cambridge should be no different! Problem is however he is different in that the taxpayer will have to for the most part fund his existence! This child will enjoy privilege and wealth far beyond what any normal child could expect! The BBC received countless complaints over their coverage of the events and this is only right and proper. The royal loving nation they try and portray does not exist, I cannot recall a single street party during the diamond jubilee, these are sentiments of the past now confined to upper class England and under the hatchet of the clueless Con – Dems it is arrogant and inappropriate to highlight such excesses!

Families are on the breadline with the usage of food banks up by a fivefold figure. People “employed” on 20 hr per week contracts on the minimum wage struggling to make ends meet whilst being force fed this royal tosh! Lord Snooty was overjoyed as yet another was born into privilege his view however is not the view of the majority of the British public!

Theresa May and diabetes!

I was genuinely sorry to hear of this development as in spite of many medical advances this is a significant life shortening illness! Oh yes there is insulin therapy without which all insulin diabetics would be dead including me! There is more to the secretions of the pancreas than insulin which is clearly shown by the fact that even with rigorous control of blood sugar levels diabetic complications occur! Nerve damage leading to neuralgia, limb amputation and parathesia, loss of balance, poor circulation and cardiovascular problems leading to heart attack and stroke are all much more common among diabetics! All that on top of low and high blood sugar events! This is a serious chronic disease that can be managed to minimise complications of which there are many, cure however is not on the horizon and many years away!

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