Monitoring and assessing catches to prove the health of our region’s rivers can be so hit and miss for those collecting the data, huge hauls are taken every season by pleasure anglers prepared to walk past whole lengths of barren water to a secret or prime peg that’s full of obliging fish.
These big catches of specimen size fish usually taken on the upper reaches of our rivers – though satisfying for the captor and looking good in photographs – usually show an imbalance of year classes and species.
Though not a science, match results offer much more to clubs and the Environment Agency regarding the quality of our fisheries.
Two rivers’ results last week proved that planning, dedication and hard work do make a difference.
The season’s first joint Mirfield and Bradford no 1 Calder League fished from the Gravels section upstream of Brighouse, downstream to Sands Lane below Mirfield, really showed a river consistent throughout its length, with most of the country’s indigenous species being caught on the day and one or two specimens thrown in for good measure.
Calder star Martin Highe drawing first peg below Lillands weir made no mistakes, using a 20ft rod with a 7no 4 stick for control in the white water of the weir.
Martin put together a mixed bag of 51 fish on double caster bait for a winning weight of just over 30lb including chub to 4lb a number of grayling to over 2lb with dace, roach, perch, trout and gudgeon making up the balance of his weight.
Nick Chaffer pushed the winner all the way with another mixed catch of nearly 28lb.
Steve Newns came in third with 21-8. The top weights though, as good or better than most river matches around the country, were only icing on the cake with the true measure of a river in top form showing through another 17 double figure weights hitting the scales and Craig Turbett’s 6lb 2oz chub from the Ship Weir being overshadowed by Steve Raper’s even more impressive Wild Brown Trout also weighing 6lb 2oz from the Pear Tree section.
In total contrast to the impressive weed filled and clear waters of the Calder, Leeds & District’s Walt Leary Memorial Open fished on the Wharfe at Ulleskelf showed a river in urgent need of help.
Mick Rapier did everything right to win the contest with a single barbel a small perch and a flattie for just over 4lb from the top of Fielding’s, but the two 3lb weights taking second and third place showed a river section in freefall and sparked thoughts that making the river into a flood relief channel all those years ago was the start of a decline that will take a lot of expertise and money to reverse.
Anglers moving to the rivers at the start of every new season relieve pressure on our natural still waters.
Allerton’s Lowther Lake a near 30-acre local gem and scene of some spectacular long range bream and tench catches is again throwing up some nice fish obviously benefitting from the extra space.
I recently met up on the bank with old pal Darren Starkey who as RSPB site manager at Fairburn Ings knows all the lakes through this part of the Aire Valley as well or better than most.
Darren’s presence on the bank speaks volumes for the lake’s potential and as to prove the point, within minutes of me arriving his left hand Delkim burst into life and he banked a pristine 6lb 8oz tench.
Allerton Victoria AC has an open membership with adult books at £16 with juniors just £8.