Rivers Well Travelled

bobmiddlepoint

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I truly believed RWT might not have been perfect, but those who relish wild fish in natural waters really should pay it heed. If Easker1 were to read more of what I write, he would realise that I constantly defend otters. I do not see them as the prime problem, and if the rivers had the fish stocks of years ago, they would be no problem whatsoever.

It's all well and good saying that you constantly defend otters but when you go on to write an article that contains the captions "A frightening world of otter droppings" and "A very obvious otter kill" along with "The killer cormorant beak" what message does that send to non angling Joe Public to say nothing of the antis. They don't read it and see a nuanced view - they just see kill everything with a sharp beak or claw and sadly in many cases they are right to see that.

There are times and places where wild stocks need protection from predation but we would be far better served concentrating on getting the habitat right rather than appearing to be (or actually are) condoning the old trigger happy mentality of trying to shoot our way to fish abundance.


Andy
 

aenoon

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I only know what I read in the post, and I have no Idea where he lives or any interest either, I replied to the post with my feelings on the matter, if we make comments on how wild life affects our hobby we play into the hands of the Animal rights folk, and we know what they are like, easker1
Well I am a southerner to Easker, central belt of Scotland.
I have, however fished all over our good land. And others
Makes me a bit irritable that we seem to have an aversion to some fish eating birds and mammals, but an overwhelming support of others that do same.
Cormorants v ospreys.?
Mink v Otters?
Mergansers v kingfishers?

Could go on and on.

John Bailey post re same just enforced my thoughts, just like Easkers thoughts.
We have what we have, we made it, live and let live.
 

easker1

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Highlands
I had never even heard of John Bailey until his post, so how would I read more of what he had written? easker1
 

aenoon

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I am, as ever, grateful to those who found Rivers Well Travelled of use. Believe me, it was put together on the back of daily experience built over decades. My degree might be in History and Classics, not Fishery Science, but I don’t honestly think that matters if you keep your eyes open, along with an open mind. Which is why I have to pick up on easker1’s comments.

First, I have just reached an age where anything and everything I write has resonance for me. I realise I just don’t have time to kill, and I’m never going to write again for the sake of it. I truly believed RWT might not have been perfect, but those who relish wild fish in natural waters really should pay it heed. If Easker1 were to read more of what I write, he would realise that I constantly defend otters. I do not see them as the prime problem, and if the rivers had the fish stocks of years ago, they would be no problem whatsoever.

He (presumably?) talks about seals too. I’ve never discussed seals, but I should. Being Norfolk-based for 60 years-plus, I have seen the exponential growth of the seal population there over decades, to the point where they are now a plague. Everyone who knows a thing about them realises totally that there are way too many for their good, as well as the environment’s, but we live in this weird world where everything, no matter what, is to be cherished - providing they are not fish.

As for herons, kingfishers and grebes, Easker1, I love them all, but as for cormorants they are a complete death knell for our natural fisheries. But again, Easker1 shows complete ignorance of his subject. The cataclysmic rise in cormorants this century has nothing much at all to do with stocks of fish in the sea, as many ill-informed like to think. Our indigenous maritime-feeding cormorant population has remained largely static during these years.

The problem comes from European, freshwater-feeding cormorants that have increasingly come to overwinter in the UK. This is the curse that in this country and in Ireland we have done nothing about - largely through indolence, partly though ignorance, and partly because of the Beatrix Potter-type ideas on wildlife that are currently prevailing. If Easker1 wants to spend the rest of his life fishing for F1s and rainbow trout, that have all been delivered by lorry, well, he is going the right way about it.
John, your assassination of a highland fishermans Knowledge, and indeed character is appalling.
He is a man of a certain age, and knowledge, perhaps more than yours, that has never fished for F1's and rainbow trout delivered by lorry.
I am surprised he has not told you so, with more voice.
He is not ignorant of his subject, he has seen the decline in sea fish in his area with a minor increase of cormorants in his inland area, and has stated same.
Easker has never heard of you, so why would he follow your writings?
He is a man of our wild country, not a man of Beatrix Potter-type ideas.
You should, perhaps, reasearch more, but then again, "I am John Bailey"
 

Noodles

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May 15, 2020
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149
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Caithness
Oh the black death, interesting reading the differing views on whether they are good or bad for fresh water fish stocks.

No doubt some places are overloaded while other places not so. Nature generally has a way of balancing these things out. They do seem to like those stocky rainbow fisheries, no big deal (unless you are the fishery owner).

Human impact has not helped with many years of taking everything for ourselves with no thought of the consequences so I get easker1 point, easy for us to blame a creature that can't defend itself.

Personally i see cormorants as smelly ugly things and not a nice addition to a days fishing and I never give them a second glance. As for otters and ospreys, well I could sit and watch them all day.

Should their numbers be controlled, I think in some exceptional circumstances it has to be a definite yes for me, But not before there is 100% scientific proof that any particular river or loch has seen a catastrophic stock collapse.

Imagine the uproar from the antis If every f.e.b was shot on a salmon river and the juvenile population still failed to increase, oh dear that would not be good. Prove the damage is being done and take action if and when required.
 
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PaulD

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South Northants
John, your assassination of a highland fishermans Knowledge, and indeed character is appalling.
He is a man of a certain age, and knowledge,
" . . . but I don’t honestly think that matters if you keep your eyes open, along with an open mind. Which is why I have to pick up on easker1’s comments."

This is an 'appalling assassination'?

Does Mr Bailey say, "Easker 1 Knows F-All about me or where I live. . . .", I think not.

Yes, our easker 1 is a man of a certain age and knowledge, he tells us regularly, but his knowledge is very particular to the remote, wild area within which he lives and he acknowledged he has no knowledge or experience of fishing outside of that area or the effects of huge populations of otters or cormorants.

Being 80 years old is not a guarantee of wisdom.

Warning Poem - Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.
 

ejw

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Feb 2, 2012
Messages
573
Location
Helsby, Cheshire
Everyone has their opinions, but as stated "we" allowed a lot of this to happen. Take the Cormorant, it was not native, it came for food - and stayed - Did we do anything, No - they are protected. Can we do anything - No - they are protected. So what did we do - Put in bigger fish ? That are now Triploids !!! So no breeding fish ? As the cormorants cannot eat the bigger fish, but are here in high numbers, what do they eat ! The smaller breeding fish. Just watch them in a river clear a pool !
You can of course apply for a license to shoot a limited number (closely monitored), if other deterrents (if applicable) don't work, but the removal of an odd bird or two will not make a big difference. Best case is that the birds will move to the next "local" water.
I agree that killing any predator, just because they are is not right, but when numbers threaten the viability of our rivers and lakes, something needs to be done to address the balance. I understand that this problem only affects certain areas of the country - at the moment, but the population of Cormorants is growing and they will expand their territories for food. It may not affect Esker or even myself (a young 66) but it will affect the next generation, what will they fish for - if it is allowed or even if there are any fishable species left in our rivers and lakes.
 

Lewis Chessman

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Mar 16, 2008
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2,456
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Isle of Lewis
Returning to the subject of travelling trout, I am reminded of a day in Lewis when I was walking out to a distant system in very heavy rain. Runnels of water were coming off the hill as I sloshed my way along the track a good 400 yards at least from the nearest burn. As I trudged, head down to avoid the worst of the deluge, something caught my eye and I stopped dead in my tracks to look twice - and in disbelief.
There at my feet was a two inch brown trout, furrowing it's way uphill against the mini-spate of a run-off stream little wider than my boot!
I still marvel at that wee fish and it's near-suicidal desire to find a new home. Within a hour of the rain stopping that fish would be stranded and would die - but doubtless, over the decades and the centuries this kind of behaviour has persisted and successfully so - or that genetic urge would have disappeared from the gene pool long, long ago.

I know we commonly think that remote wee lochans, with no inlet or outlet visible but still with a head of trout, must have seen them seeded by Man in days gone by, but this changed my perception of the matter - and it awakened me to the extraordinary urge these fish have to migrate in the hope (I presume) of finding their own trouty Nirvana where they might flourish.
What a marvellous, wonderous creature the brown trout is!
 

John Bailey

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Nov 19, 2020
Messages
33
Having been a book and newspaper writer all my life, I’m still learning about this new medium of ours, but I like it so far, despite or even because of the fact people heartily agree or disagree. There’s little more disheartening than thinking nobody reads a word, or knowing that your books are remaindered after three months. Looking back, I tend to think that most of my life I have probably been too eager to listen to others, and sit on my own fence. As the years gallop on, I sort of consciously decided to become more forceful, if only to be heard or to provoke some debate. So this is all good.

I re-read my reply to Easker1 and of course, I am sorry if it caused any offence, but on careful analysis I don’t see much malevolence there. There certainly wasn’t meant to be, though I’ll admit to a little impatience when folks never read properly what has been written. I’d never be rude to an 80 year old, though some are happy to be so to me at 70! Perhaps I’ll be a protected species in ten years. Like cormorants!! Forgetting the flippancy, can I say yet again to Easker1 and the like, I am not “after” our indigenous cormorants at all? As I have endlessly explained over many years it is European cormorants that are the issue, and they are here for several reasons this century, none of which have overfishing the seas as a cause.

A thank you to Paul D, JoeOh and benisa who are generally listening to what I say. I agree with JayP that water extraction and chemical run-off from fields and roads frighten the hell out of me too. I have never remotely said habitat is not important. Of course it is, it’s just not everything. I think ejw has it about right and got me nodding in agreement throughout.

Explain this to me if anyone can! European cormorants are not indigenous, but we are in peril if we try to cull them. Signal crayfish, mink and coypus are not indigenous, and society spends a fortune trying to exterminate them. There are recent plans to get rid of non-indigenous grey squirrels by rendering them infertile. As I have said, as Easker1 probably knows, on Uist, hedgehogs were removed to help the corncrakes. So, then, why are Cormorants sacrosanct whereas mink are not? Or pigeons? Or even rats, come to that? Who makes these rules up? And as for proof of the damage European cormorants do, ask any controlling body of a trout reservoir. I adore birds - a pair of nuthatches in my garden have me giddy with excitement - but as all the evidence shows, European cormorants are doing endless, insidious damage, and anyone who loves wild fish should be seriously concerned.

Concern is one thing, action another. I guess our only chance of getting something done (if we accept the need) is to back the Angling Trust, and I would love to know who is and who is not a member. I ask this because the Trust tried very hard a few years back to raise awareness of the cormorant problem and get them put on general licence. They failed, but I don’t think through any fault of their own. They just simply did not get the backing from the anglers that they should have done. It would seem that apathy is endemic, and how else would you explain the fact that the AT has a few thousand members out of an angling body getting on for a million?

Please, anyone, how do we convert debate into decisive action? Are we forever doomed to make no difference whatsoever, and simply to wave our natural fish stocks goodbye with a deep but resigned sigh?
 
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easker1

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Highlands
I was an inshore fisherman for 20+ years , because of the sad state of the Minch Fisheries I packed in and went to work in an oil Rig yard,But I have fished for as long as I remember, much to My late mothers disgust,( and probably the wifes), I have seen what otters can do, I have lost hens to otters. it's part of life , European Cormorants don't fish for fun nor do the "native" Cormorants, they have to live and fishing is their Living, I can't deny them that, cormorants fly that's why they keep moving about,I still haven't( as far as I know) read any thing of John Baileys, I took exception to the otter post, and I remember another post some time back about Cormorants, European and otherwise,it was not resolved then and it will probably not be now, I would prefer not to put my name to anything that would mean problems for wild life. the hedgehog fiasco was a big mistake, and I haven't heard a Crex here for a good number of years, but farming methods had a lot to do with that, early cutting for silage wouldn't have helped, we are the worst enemy of wild life. and I don't wish to make further contributions, easker1
 

bobmiddlepoint

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Where I want to be
Slightly off the main topic but Uist hedgehogs...
When I lived there I asked someone from the RSPB based on North Uist what difference the hedgehog trapping had made to ground nesting birds. The answer was surprisingly honest - "not a lot as there are so many feral cats that do more damage, but we are still getting funding for hedgehog trapping so we'll carry on".


Andy
 

aenoon

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Linlithgow, Scotland and anywhere i can wet a line
Slightly off the main topic but Uist hedgehogs...
When I lived there I asked someone from the RSPB based on North Uist what difference the hedgehog trapping had made to ground nesting birds. The answer was surprisingly honest - "not a lot as there are so many feral cats that do more damage, but we are still getting funding for hedgehog trapping so we'll carry on".


Andy
And they then bought the ammo to shoot the cats!
 

ohanzee

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Joined
May 7, 2010
Messages
43,687
Having been a book and newspaper writer all my life, I’m still learning about this new medium of ours, but I like it so far, despite or even because of the fact people heartily agree or disagree. There’s little more disheartening than thinking nobody reads a word, or knowing that your books are remaindered after three months. Looking back, I tend to think that most of my life I have probably been too eager to listen to others, and sit on my own fence. As the years gallop on, I sort of consciously decided to become more forceful, if only to be heard or to provoke some debate. So this is all good.

I re-read my reply to Easker1 and of course, I am sorry if it caused any offence, but on careful analysis I don’t see much malevolence there. There certainly wasn’t meant to be, though I’ll admit to a little impatience when folks never read properly what has been written. I’d never be rude to an 80 year old, though some are happy to be so to me at 70! Perhaps I’ll be a protected species in ten years. Like cormorants!! Forgetting the flippancy, can I say yet again to Easker1 and the like, I am not “after” our indigenous cormorants at all? As I have endlessly explained over many years it is European cormorants that are the issue, and they are here for several reasons this century, none of which have overfishing the seas as a cause.

A thank you to Paul D, JoeOh and benisa who are generally listening to what I say. I agree with JayP that water extraction and chemical run-off from fields and roads frighten the hell out of me too. I have never remotely said habitat is not important. Of course it is, it’s just not everything. I think ejw has it about right and got me nodding in agreement throughout.

Explain this to me if anyone can! European cormorants are not indigenous, but we are in peril if we try to cull them. Signal crayfish, mink and coypus are not indigenous, and society spends a fortune trying to exterminate them. There are recent plans to get rid of non-indigenous grey squirrels by rendering them infertile. As I have said, as Easker1 probably knows, on Uist, hedgehogs were removed to help the corncrakes. So, then, why are Cormorants sacrosanct whereas mink are not? Or pigeons? Or even rats, come to that? Who makes these rules up? And as for proof of the damage European cormorants do, ask any controlling body of a trout reservoir. I adore birds - a pair of nuthatches in my garden have me giddy with excitement - but as all the evidence shows, European cormorants are doing endless, insidious damage, and anyone who loves wild fish should be seriously concerned.

Concern is one thing, action another. I guess our only chance of getting something done (if we accept the need) is to back the Angling Trust, and I would love to know who is and who is not a member. I ask this because the Trust tried very hard a few years back to raise awareness of the cormorant problem and get them put on general licence. They failed, but I don’t think through any fault of their own. They just simply did not get the backing from the anglers that they should have done. It would seem that apathy is endemic, and how else would you explain the fact that the AT has a few thousand members out of an angling body getting on for a million?

Please, anyone, how do we convert debate into decisive action? Are we forever doomed to make no difference whatsoever, and simply to wave our natural fish stocks goodbye with a deep but resigned sigh?

You stimulate conversation in a refreshingly well written way, that gets my nod, but you will get strong responses, as writing goes this is immediate feedback, a rare and special thing in writing.
 

ohanzee

Well-known member
Joined
May 7, 2010
Messages
43,687
Returning to the subject of travelling trout, I am reminded of a day in Lewis when I was walking out to a distant system in very heavy rain. Runnels of water were coming off the hill as I sloshed my way along the track a good 400 yards at least from the nearest burn. As I trudged, head down to avoid the worst of the deluge, something caught my eye and I stopped dead in my tracks to look twice - and in disbelief.
There at my feet was a two inch brown trout, furrowing it's way uphill against the mini-spate of a run-off stream little wider than my boot!
I still marvel at that wee fish and it's near-suicidal desire to find a new home. Within a hour of the rain stopping that fish would be stranded and would die - but doubtless, over the decades and the centuries this kind of behaviour has persisted and successfully so - or that genetic urge would have disappeared from the gene pool long, long ago.

I know we commonly think that remote wee lochans, with no inlet or outlet visible but still with a head of trout, must have seen them seeded by Man in days gone by, but this changed my perception of the matter - and it awakened me to the extraordinary urge these fish have to migrate in the hope (I presume) of finding their own trouty Nirvana where they might flourish.
What a marvellous, wonderous creature the brown trout is!

A brilliant example rarely if ever seen, I wish I had read it before posting a question on something I came across, the forestry commission had put some roads in and taken a load of trees out, left pretty bare and at the bottom they had put a ditch in to drain the road, this went through a pipe under the road and it had formed a 5' pool, this would be only months old but...it had trout fry in it.
They could only have come downhill from a loch above, and somehow circumnavigated a crisscrossing forestry road, its a fair distance but with rain the ditches flow right to that drain pipe.

Another one is the river Lochy in Killin, its a hydro river that rises and drops on a daily basis, runs into loch Tay, when the river is down a fish of a pound is a big one, but as it rises trout swim up from the lower reaches or loch and the fish size doubles.
 

Paul_B

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Joined
Nov 14, 2008
Messages
4,490
Location
West Riding of Yorkshire
About 4 or 5 years ago we had a couple of cormorants now its going on for 30 a day, its food for thought, as we didn't have mink until someone felt they should have a happy life doing what comes natural.
 

John Bailey

Active member
Feature Writer
Joined
Nov 19, 2020
Messages
33
Thank you indeed to bobmiddlepoint and his contribution on the Uist hedgehog debacle. Whilst I know there are EA/Defra/ Natural England workers of integrity, I have twenty-plus years of observations of projects that have been bonkers, useless, wildly overpriced, and wasteful of money and resources. There are so many examples of these I’d not know where to begin, and if I were to note them all, I’d be writing for a week.

Health and safety is one crazy aspect. Recently a team putting gravels back into a local river spent the first THREE WEEKS erecting cones, posts, plastic tapes and a portable toilet. Projects often seem to be chosen as to how much funding and employment they can provide, rather than whether they are needed and what benefits they will achieve. This attitude towards waste of money and time seems so entrenched that it has become endemic.

I wonder if teams from these bodies are open to any public scrutiny and, as fishing licence payers, do we have any say on how our money is spent?
 

ejw

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Joined
Feb 2, 2012
Messages
573
Location
Helsby, Cheshire
John
Don't knock the Health & Safety ??? On my local river there were areas that the local council / EA / Railtrack had to sample ? In one particular area they cut a lovely track through a wood, then laid a set of galvanised checkerplate steps and metal handrails down a steep bank (over 70m) Beautiful job and gives great access to areas of the river that would take 40 minutes to walk to (now takes 3 minutes). Costs well into the £1000's just for the materials. Never seen any "official" using it. This was only one of 3 done on a 3 mile stretch of river ? Crazy!
 

easker1

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Nov 10, 2010
Messages
7,637
Location
Highlands
still haven't read any thing by John Bailey other than the forum post, I have no Idea where he lives no do I wish to know,easker1
 

benisa

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Jun 6, 2010
Messages
3,436
Location
surrey
still haven't read any thing by John Bailey other than the forum post, I have no Idea where he lives no do I wish to know,easker1
One link for you to Know the Man in Question

 

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