Angling: Hydro plan reeled in by river-user ‘collective’

An Atlantic Salmon leaping Topcliffe Weir,  just yards from where the Archimedes screw would have been installed.
An Atlantic Salmon leaping Topcliffe Weir, just yards from where the Archimedes screw would have been installed.
0
Have your say

Anglers, conservation groups and residents of North Yorkshire’s Topcliffe village were celebrating a hard-fought victory last week, saving the iconic mill, weir and river from irreversible changes.

UK Hydro Ltd, heavily subsidised and with government backing for supposed green or sustainable energy projects, withdrew its application for planning just hours before the Tuesday deadline.

The proposed hydro-electric schemes aimed to widen the river Swale, creating an island and a new channel to which an Archimedean screw would be installed which, initially, looked a ‘done deal’.

Reading all points of official objections submitted, UK Hydro, in my opinion, lost most of the arguments and failed to prove what its ecological and fishery impact assessments claimed.

Topcliffe weir – known to be the start of the lower Swale and a top-class mixed fishery famous for its Yorkshire barbel and, more recently, well-publicised runs of salmon – had a hidden ally in a protected species which gave the site extra protection.

Assessments of river and sea lamprey are carried out annually by the Bellflask Ecological Survey Team (BEST) and it is now known that these species do occur within the River Swale.

It is also understood that the area upstream of Topcliffe weir pool, between Morton Bridge (at Morton-on-Swale) and Langton Bridge (Great Langton), provides some of the most important spawning habitat for river lamprey in the area.

The island below the weir was also shown to be ideal spawning habitat and could be lost or altered during the proposed works. Therefore, on the grounds of potential damage to the protected lamprey, Natural England advised Harrogate Borough Council not to grant planning permission.

Acknowledging the win as a joint effort of residents and all forms of river users, I think the expertly written objections and views given by anglers proved that schemes that affect the environment or our sport should not be taken for granted and are never a ‘done deal’!

The River Swale Preservation Society – surprisingly quiet during the weir debate – will be hoping for river levels to be relatively normal for their annual Team Masters event.

Always one of the biggest matches in the Yorkshire calendar and capable of producing massive winter catches, the chub shoals should be hungry after expending energy fighting the floods, and a repeat of last year’s winning 62-7 could easily be on the cards.

Fished Saturday, February 20, using the Morton to Asenby sections, the middle Swale could be the place to be.

Bradford No1 will be running an open match this coming weekend, again on the Swale’s middle reaches, and perfect for those wanting to practice for the masters (details in the match diary).

With single big bream winning and bites hard to come by on the flooded and coffee-coloured Ouse matches last week, weights and backing catches improved dramatically as the river cleared and dropped back to just 3ft above its normal summer level for Saturday’s Winter League. Perch wizard, Noel Speight, fished lobby mid-river to catch five of his favourites and a bonus chub to win with 9-15.

Ricky Bonas took second with a 6-8 Widdington barbel, and Barnsley’s Ian Bowman was third with 5lb of roach falling to the groundbait feeder that has been described as ‘probably the best weight of silvers this winter’.

****

Results

Leeds DASA Winter Series, Hunters/Linton: 1, P Baron, Tackle 2 U 5-15; 2, C Turbitt, Tackle 2 U 3-01; 3, D Armitage, Cleckheaton 1-11; 4, M Highe, Mirfield 1-05; 5, J Jordan, Leeds 0-14.

Leeds Saturday League, Round 4, Hunters Lodge & Widdington: 1, Noel Speight, Leeds 9-15; 2, Ricky Bonas, Mirfield 6-08, 3, Ian Bowman, Barnsley 5-00; 4, Norman Thewliss, Mirfield 4-07; 5, Paul Bennett, Tackle 2 U 2-13; 6, John Smiles, Middlesbrough 2-07.

BSR Winter League, Kippax Park: 1, Paul Clarke 72-08; 2, Tommy Rodgers 42-04; 3, Neil Rymer 33-12; 4, Sean Rodgers 29-12; League to date: 1, N Rymer 28pts; 2, A Rymer 31pts; 3, S Raper 35pts; 4, S Rodgers 36pts.

JT Rodgers Winter League, Moor Monkton Pools: 1, Ollie Hewitt 98-04; 2, Lee Smith 60-12; 3, Tony Hewson 33-10.

JT Rodgers Winter League, Moor Monkton Pools: 1, Dave Wright, Leeds 61-11; 2, Gary Watson, Leeds 49-06; 3, Roy Worsnop, Leeds 46-06.

Toms Winter League, Toms Pond, 7th Round: 1, Mick Hoole, Toms Pond 47-00; 2, Craig Thompson, Bradford 43-15; 3, Andy Barker, Kippax, 41-10; 4, John Mills, Forest Lane 40-10; 5, Bob Rymer, Kippax 34-00; 6, John Clarke, Magnum PI 33-03.

Bradford No1 AA, Raskelf Winter Series: 1, James Vickerman 43-07; 2, Ian Newby 36-10; 3, Graham Jackson 23-12; 4, Ricky Malone 12-12; 5, John Walsh 12-02.

None-Go-By Farm, Winter Series, Middle Lake: 1, S Fotheringham, Leeds 27-09; 2, S Allen, None-Go-By 19-00; 3, C Ellis, Tri-Cast 17-12; 4, G Ogden, None-Go-By 14-09; 5, C Briggs, Saltaire 14-04.

Woodlands Lakes, Silver Fish Series: 1, L Mackintosh 23-10; 2, C Metcalfe 21-06; 3, D Smiddy 19-02; 4, P Kozyra 17-04; 5, P Rambo Snr 16-14.

Woodlands Lakes, Swallow/Mallard: 1, G Webb 37-00; 2, J Kerry 33-00; 3, B Paton 22-00; 4, P Hardstaffe 14-00.

Oaks at Sessay, Silver Fish Rover: 1, R Minikin, Sonu Baits 35-00; 2, T Watson, Mosella 29-14; 3, C Hall, Neo-Baits 20-12.

Messingham Sands, Silver Fish only, Swan Pond: 1, D Mountford 32-02; 2, S Richardson 20-06; 3, S Ellis 16-08.

Wakefield AC, Calder & Hebble Canal: 1, W McLeavy, Tri-Cast 9-01; 2, B Reah, Wakefield 6-03; 3, B Reah, Wakefield 3-11.

Bait-Tech Canal Championships, Stainforth & Keadby: 1, M Godfrey, PFM 23-06; 2, A Higginbottom, Trent Men 15-10; 3, D Scotthorne, Halkon Hunt 12-12; 4, L Kerry, Preston Innovations 12-04.

Angel Lakes, Open Lookout: 1, M Craig 45-15; 2, R Emery 41-12; 3, C Pine 34-02.

Fryston Winter League (Viking Fox): 1, P Moran 25-02; 2, G Gill 23-12; 3, R Evans 17-11.

Rodley Barge (Viking Deer): 1, L Hook 48-03; 2, R Ward 36-08; 3, R Parker 25-04; 4, G Marshall 23-07.

Match Diary

Saturday

Leeds & District: Winter Series Ouse/Ure, contact Stan Haigh 07542700743.

Kippax Park: BSR Winter League, details contact Sean 07814454271.

Poppleton: Saturday Open, pools £15. draw cafe 10am, contact Roger 01904737279.

Aire & Calder Pollington: £15 all in, contact Kelvin 07779991483.

Birkwood Farm Fisheries: Emily’s or Oscars draw 8.30, contact 01924 892251.

Woodlands: 72 Pegs, tickets £18, contact 01845 520110.

Oaks at Sessay: 50 Pegs, tickets £17, contact 01845 501321.

Langwith Lakes: 60 Pegs, tickets £16, contact 01904 431874.

Kippax Park: 27 Pegs, tickets £20, contact 07967000746.

Moorfields Farm: 54 Pegs, tickets £16, contact 07710817150.

Fleets Dam: 50 Pegs, tickets £15, contact 01226 292579.

Birkwood Farm: 60 Pegs, tickets £16, contact 01132 80609.

Viking, Hawk Pond: 30 Pegs, tickets £16, contact 01405 860764.

Tollerton Ponds: Open Match all ages, (Kingfisher 20 pegs, Coot 18 pegs, Heron 32 pegs) contact 01347 838115.

Listerhills AA, Leeds/Liverpool Rodley: £12 all in contact Eddie 07984597328.

Viking Saturday Open: Deer Pond, £16, contact 01405 860764.

Sunday

14th February, Bradford No 1, Open Match: River Swale Maunby, Simon 01274 571175.

Leeds & District: Winter Series Ouse/Ure, contact Stan Haigh 07542700743

Woodlands: 72 Pegs, tickets £18, contact 01845 520110.

Oaks at Sessay: 50 Pegs, tickets £17, contact 01845 501321.

Langwith Lakes: 60 Pegs, tickets £16, contact 01904 431874.

Oak Tree Leisure: 50 Pegs, tickets £15.00, contact 01347 810686.

Leeds DASA: Moor Monkton Pools, contact 07967000746.

Poppleton: Sunday Open 50 Pegs draw 11am Cafe, contact 07425 146677.

Monday

Woodlands over-50s: 30 Pegs, tickets £15, contact 01845 520110.

Langwith Lakes over-60s: 30 Pegs, tickets £10, contact 01904 431874.

Tollerton Ponds over-50s: tickets £16 contact 01347 838115.

Tuesday

Kippax Park: 27 Pegs, tickets £10, contact 07967000746.

Wednesday

Birkwood Farm Fisheries: Emily’s or Oscars draw 8.30, contact 01924 892251

Woodlands: 72 Pegs, tickets £18, contact 01845 520110.

Fleets Dam: 50 Pegs, tickets £15, contact 01226 292579.

Tollerton Ponds: Open match, all ages, contact 01347 838115.

Glen AC Ouse Thrash: contact D Miles 01133 910570.

Thursday

Kippax Park: 27 Pegs, tickets £12, contact 07967000746.

Belle Isles Jason Passy showing one of the largest Wharfe specimens caught at an impressive weight of 12lb 5ozs.

Yorkshire club are ‘best of the best’