Photograph by Steve Barnett

Friday, 8 May 2015

Proper Keepering...

A fishing friend, Glen Pointon, has the legend "Living the Dream" running through his entire being.  Just like the legend "BLACKPOOL" is to be found all the way through pink sticks of rock from that famous seaside place, noted for fresh air and fun.  

Look at his blog and you will see that he pursues his dream proactively...

Your faithful blogger's dream is pursued in a more leisurely fashion.  It is a simple dream, that where the river and its inhabitants come first, we all win.  Duck Holds Wood and the short length of the Derbyshire Wye that it straddles, is a place where that dream has been lived for some years now.  On assuming the tenancy, long sessions of wandering with Warren, the Head River Keeper, by the water and through the land, at the same time incorporating hours of serious thought and intense conversation, led to various decisions about the management of this very special place.

Hawthorn a year away from laying perhaps?
Duck Holds Wood was to be a gently exploited fishery, with light fishing pressure and an even lighter hand on the management side.  An early piece of major work was the planting of Hawthorn and Blackthorn to grow into hedges.  These would provide habitat and make corridors for small birds, mammals and reptiles to move around under cover.  Today these are healthy avenues of bushes, rather than hedgerows, that in a year or so can be "laid" to create the hedgerows.  They are already contributing, on a grand scale, to the increase in life within Duck Holds Wood.  The Hawthorn flies today were making the most of early pollen supplies in the tiny hawthorn flowers.  The numbers of Hawthorn flies in, on, around and over the Hawthorn bushes were beyond any ever experienced by either Warren or yours truly.  These flies will of course be important to the fish (and fly fishers) but their bounteous presence will also be much exploited by the swallows and other insectivorous birds.  Have a peep at these snaps to get an idea of how prolific the Hawthorn flies have been...

Not the Luftwaffe over London but Hawthorn Flies over Hawthorn in Duck Holds Wood
A thriving Hawthorn Fly complete with a patch of pollen on the top of the thorax
Another policy for Duck Holds Wood is that woody debris (both large and small) usually belongs in the river and not on a bonfire.  This has led to more and more places for fish to escape to when the Cormorants and Goosanders raid and to more places where individual fish can hold station, in relative safety, to feed on the dainty victuals the Mother river brings to them by day and by night.  Here are some snaps showing the potential of small and large woody debris.  Imagine the cover created once the leaves are out!

Small Woody Debris left by winter floods already sprouting leaves that will provide cover for fish
Large Woody Debris - An entire Willow Tree laid across the whole of this photograph

The upstream end of that Large Woody Debris in the photograph above this one...
Over the years the old poplar plantation, which formed Duck Holds Wood initially, is being felled by the winter and spring gales.  This has opened up a new opportunity to add another type of habitat to this dream place.  We can create meadows in the cleared spaces.  Maybe in a few more years it will be possible to report on them and their contribution, if any, to the life in and around Duck Holds Wood.

Guess who will be deploying Charles Cotton's Black Fly shortly...

Regular Rod


  1. Beautiful photos RR. Since coming upon your blog some years ago [and after meeting the 'man' himself] by the banks of the river in Bakewell, I can recommend Charles Cottons little black fly. It has served me well. Thank you RR [ and you Charles!]. tight lines on Proper Keepering... Peter at 16:34

  2. I'll second what Mr. Anonymous said, beautiful photos. And I do believe that Mr. Cotton's Black Fly is a winner.