Peat Stain!

Rennie

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One of my club fishings on Ribble can be affected often quite heavily by peat stain.Just wondering what level of Peat stain, or Ph reading or indeed acidity level begins to switch Salar off, and then to the point why?.
Is it down to a change in the water quality, or Salar just needing time to adapt to water conditions changing?
Just that every time we get a good height of water after a spate or lift, the peat stain seems to blight the fishing.
Just wondering about testing the water on the day of fishing and what I should be looking for thats all?.
Pedro.
 

jimmythefish

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To be honest with you Mr rennie,I’ve been used to peat stain for longer than I would have liked.Every time it rained heavy over in north and Southern Ireland the water peat stain was guaranteed,it did leave the trout a lovely deep golden color,especially Ireland ,has a huge mammoth of peat bogs , and it doesn’t bother trout or salar one jot,but in saying that,it does bother me that it totally changes the water clarity and fly’s become invisible after a foot down. It sort of became the norm after a while as that’s how it fished every single time,and still does,and anglers still wait for the start off the season to get a flight ✈ over the water each year as it is exceptionally good angling. But at the end of the day,I’d always go for a clear water over a peat run off one,but in my years of angling especially over the water,I didn’t see any difference,as I say,it’s only my humble opinion and I’m not a biologist but I’d no problem.....good blog though,tight lines...... jimmy. PS. Now if was a peat landslide into the main river THAT would be something completely different.
 

charlieH

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One of my club fishings on Ribble can be affected often quite heavily by peat stain.Just wondering what level of Peat stain, or Ph reading or indeed acidity level begins to switch Salar off, and then to the point why?.
Is it down to a change in the water quality, or Salar just needing time to adapt to water conditions changing?
Just that every time we get a good height of water after a spate or lift, the peat stain seems to blight the fishing.
Just wondering about testing the water on the day of fishing and what I should be looking for thats all?.
Pedro.

The Spey's fish are well known for suffering from "peat sickness", often as a result of water from the Dulnain which enters the main river at Grantown. The first flush of water, particularly after a long dry spell, can be very acidic and it does seem that it may be this that puts them off, rather than just the colour.

A friend of mine tried monitoring the pH of the water with one of those devices intended for checking garden soil. As I recall he found that, as you might expect, the pH gradually rose as the spate ran away, but it needed to get back up to about 6.5 before the fish came back on the take. But as he said to me, like the barometric pressure theory this is ultimately a fairly useless piece of information because there's nothing much you can do about it - apart from not go fishing!

As to why acidity should switch fish off, I think that probably has to join the many other salmon-related questions in the 'don't know' file!
 

HOWKEMOOT

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Much of my fishing is in rivers affected by peat stain and spate. In my opinion it is suspended matter that affects fish most, the colour probably makes fish run slower perhaps, but does not stop them taking. I usually go up a size or two, and fish a little deeper and ensure I use a gold bodied (WG) tube fly. I know the issue with the Dulnain as I fish mid Spey, it's a black water more than a peat stain I believe which does put the fish off.

M
 

SP8

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Many rivers carry peat stain all the time. I fished the Tyne for a good few years and it's notorious for being so brown that you can't see your feet when wading. It doesn't appear to affect the fish from taking. The Ribble is like a chalkstream by comparison! I wonder if there is indeed an adverse affect of peat stain if it is the change of pH that is the problem? Fish in the Tyne will be used to the level of pH prevailing as will the fish in the Ribble. If that changes drastically suddenly then would this put the fish off? Other changes to their environment seem to upset the fish so why not change in pH?


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Salarspeycaster

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One of my club fishings on Ribble can be affected often quite heavily by peat stain.Just wondering what level of Peat stain, or Ph reading or indeed acidity level begins to switch Salar off, and then to the point why?.
Is it down to a change in the water quality, or Salar just needing time to adapt to water conditions changing?
Just that every time we get a good height of water after a spate or lift, the peat stain seems to blight the fishing.
Just wondering about testing the water on the day of fishing and what I should be looking for thats all?.
Pedro.
In my experience I think it’s he acidity rather than the part stain that puts the fish off, let’s face it, we’ve probably all have caught fish in really ‘thick’ water of one kind of another.
When I was a seasonal Ghillie at Dryburgh South, as it was known back then, I learnt pretty quickly that the water that came down the River Ettrick was often dark and peaty and it used to put the fish right off the take, even at good water heights and temperatures, to the point we couldn’t catch any fish at all, and it could stay like that for ages. As that water progressed downstream and was diluted by other tributaries and burns it did not have such a negative effect on beats a lot further downstream. As has already been pointed out, the River Dulnain can have a similar effect on the Spey, which I noticed fishing on the Association beats below.
 

FaughanPurple

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All my fishing is on peat stained rivers after a good down pour.. It's what we pray for.. 2 to 3ft falling and clearing. You know you've a good day ahead of you..

I'd say there's a difference between stain and sediment though. Sediment can put the fish off and they'll not be as responsive to it clears out of the water but it doesn't mean it's hopeless.

I know some of your spring rivers over in Scotland don't like to see it and prefer the cool clear water from snow melt to keep the river up. That being said a peaty flood from the Feugh saved our Dee trip one year when it brought fish from the tide mid week. It had been a warm winter with no snow melt so the river was low to it rained Tuesday/Wed and gave us good levels Thursday/Friday and a couple of fish as well.

Orange or Sunburst with copper or Gold is my choice for a peaty spate
 

tony considine

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Acidity to fish is pretty bad news. I know this to my cost and embarassment.
I once thought it would be a good idea to stock a small 4acre feeder reservoir to our main water with brown trout only. It was.......until there were a few days of heavy rain and serious run-off from the moors. They all died! I can't remember the P.H. number but I think it was just short of 5.
If there is a point at which acidity might kill them, there must be a point at which they are seriously unhappy and inclined not to take or look at anything. Loxie might be best placed to comment.
t.c.
 

Rrrr

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Acidity to fish is pretty bad news. I know this to my cost and embarassment.
I once thought it would be a good idea to stock a small 4acre feeder reservoir to our main water with brown trout only. It was.......until there were a few days of heavy rain and serious run-off from the moors. They all died! I can't remember the P.H. number but I think it was just short of 5.
If there is a point at which acidity might kill them, there must be a point at which they are seriously unhappy and inclined not to take or look at anything. Loxie might be best placed to comment.
t.c.
Out of intrest, did you notice dissolved oxygen levels dropping as the peat stain/ph level changed ?

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budge

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I was always led to believe that heavy peat stain was a no-no on the Ribble but not anymore. I had a day this season when the river was almost black with stain and running a good 18 inches high. After trying the usual patterns that disappeared six inches under the surface I tied on a bright orange and yellow tube that had sat in my box unused. First run through and a fresh ten pounder was the result.
I tied up a few more versions in various sizes and weights when I got home. I had a further 3 fish on these and lost a couple more in similar conditions throughout the season.
The conditions that do seem to be a struggle as previously mentioned are when there is sediment in suspension irrespective of water height.

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Rrrr

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We wouldn't have thought or known how to check that. We just put the loss down to the rapid drop in P.H
Cheers, the reason i asked was that when the tyne has a keilder release some rekon the ph change puts the fish on the bottom and ive heard others say that it drops the oxygen levels putting the fish down.

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Andrew B

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Most of the rivers I’ve fished in Wales and the West Country are only worth fishing on a falling, coloured water.
It’s often hard to explain to someone the timing needed to get it right where the fish seem to pop up everywhere?
Sea trout seem to be the first to turn off and Salmon later on.
I’m sure rather than just colour though, it’s the acidic nature that puts the fish off the take? For this reason I’m reminded of how compensation water on the Fowey from off Bodmin moor, even with a nice colour was seen as pointless for fishing.
 

NEbody

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Cheers, the reason i asked was that when the tyne has a keilder release some rekon the ph change puts the fish on the bottom and ive heard others say that it drops the oxygen levels putting the fish down.

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The water that comes out of Kielder isn’t acidic. Some of the burns that flow into it can be at times but that water gets mixed in the reservoir with a much bigger volume of water that isn’t. Because of that the pH is about neutral and doesn’t vary as much as it would if the reservoir wasn’t there.

And the water in the releases is drawn from as near the surface as possible, above the bottom layer where dissolved oxygen (and temperature) can be lower in the summer.
 

Rrrr

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The water that comes out of Kielder isn’t acidic. Some of the burns that flow into it can be at times but that water gets mixed in the reservoir with a much bigger volume of water that isn’t. Because of that the pH is about neutral and doesn’t vary as much as it would if the reservoir wasn’t there.

And the water in the releases is drawn from as near the surface as possible, above the bottom layer where dissolved oxygen (and temperature) can be lower in the summer.
Old wives tails then maybe ?

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NEbody

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Old wives tails then maybe ?

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Probably: there’s a lot of bo!!ocks talked about Kielder.

It does affect water quality and it obviously affects the flow regime but some of the changes are positive and the acidity thing is one.

Another is that the North Tyne never gets as low as it did in dry summers: before the reservoir was built, the flow was lower than the current minimum compensation flow for 20% of the time. Now, the flow from Kielder is increased in really dry weather because there are minimum flows required at Barrasford and Bywell below which Northumbrian Water can’t take water out to supply Tyneside. They were doing that in April and May this year.

One that I wonder about the effect on fishing of is that the water released usually has little suspended sediment (because it’s been through a big settlement basin) so it’s clear but still peat-coloured, which I suspect doesn’t help on a sunny day. I still think I’d rather have that than fine peat particles in suspension.
 

FaughanPurple

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Most of the rivers I’ve fished in Wales and the West Country are only worth fishing on a falling, coloured water.
It’s often hard to explain to someone the timing needed to get it right where the fish seem to pop up everywhere?
Sea trout seem to be the first to turn off and Salmon later on.
I’m sure rather than just colour though, it’s the acidic nature that puts the fish off the take? For this reason I’m reminded of how compensation water on the Fowey from off Bodmin moor, even with a nice colour was seen as pointless for fishing.

I would find the opposite here tbh. The Trout switch on first in brown water after the flood peaks and debris stops, then the fish as it starts to go black. The sediment would still be in the water giving it a good "grumble" as we say
 

BMiller

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Probably: there’s a lot of bo!!ocks talked about Kielder.

It does affect water quality and it obviously affects the flow regime but some of the changes are positive and the acidity thing is one.

Another is that the North Tyne never gets as low as it did in dry summers: before the reservoir was built, the flow was lower than the current minimum compensation flow for 20% of the time. Now, the flow from Kielder is increased in really dry weather because there are minimum flows required at Barrasford and Bywell below which Northumbrian Water can’t take water out to supply Tyneside. They were doing that in April and May this year.

One that I wonder about the effect on fishing of is that the water released usually has little suspended sediment (because it’s been through a big settlement basin) so it’s clear but still peat-coloured, which I suspect doesn’t help on a sunny day. I still think I’d rather have that than fine peat particles in suspension.

When the announcement was made that no rivers in England passed the water framework directive quality standards I spent some time ferreting about in water sampling data. I had always assumed that, because the Tynes were nearly always carrying some level of peat stain, the water would be slightly acidic. The sample I looked at were mainly between 7 and 8, neutral to slightly alkaline.
 

MCXFisher

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There may be two elements in play here:

1. If there is particulate peat in the water its biological degradation will deplete oxygen.
2. Changes in pH might impact levels of dissolved oxygen, or more importantly, the salmon's ability to exploit the dissolved oxygen.

I don't know the answer to (2) and would suggest that NEBody is probably best qualified to comment.
 

Horsbrugh

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As others have already stated, the acidity level is more likely to have an adverse effect on fish, rather than the actual stain or colour. Although, in many cases the two might go hand in hand. Someone mentioned the case of fish being stocked into acidic water dying. I know of someone that happened to as well. The were introduced to a small peaty loch and the whole lot were dead by the next day. Any sudden changes in water quality or temp can have adverse effects to fish. Therefore I would expect that any sudden change in Ph induced by run off into a river that is normally fairly neutral ph, is highly likely to put fish off the take. On rivers that are normally slightly acidic and run off from peat headlands is normal, then it is far more likely that the fish will be more used to it and still catchable.
 
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Andrew B

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I would find the opposite here tbh. The Trout switch on first in brown water after the flood peaks and debris stops, then the fish as it starts to go black. The sediment would still be in the water giving it a good "grumble" as we say
Yes I think that’s what I was trying to say. Once had a great two weeks on the Dwyfor in early June 2012 for sea trout.
First three days was mired by torrential rain and even on day four I remember the locals saying I had more chance of winning the lottery than finding a fish, but they were all worming. On a rainbow trout rapala I had 15 Sewin to 9lb and the smallest 3lb. After that I ditched the spinning rod just to see if I could catch on daytime fly and on a waddington Peter Ross I got an immediate take from a 6lb sea trout that will live on forever in my memory.
There’s times though when you can feel em switch off, from taking in coloured water to it clearing just a little and it’s very hard to explain to someone not used to fishing spate rivers what it is?
 

Andrew B

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Hardly surprising given the senses these fish have to navigate in river? I suppose any dam releases are gonna be contrary to the rivers imprint or maybe I’m going off on one?
 

FaughanPurple

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There’s times though when you can feel em switch off, from taking in coloured water to it clearing just a little and it’s very hard to explain to someone not used to fishing spate rivers what it is?
That's some some awesome fishing, our trout aren't that big unfortunately but when they start rattling the worm or big flies in the tails of pools you know it's going the right way

I'd agree with that. There's a point at which you know to fish and know to go home. There's maybe no real difference visible in the water, it's just something you feel.
 
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Dunbar

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It’s maybe just me but I’ve noticed that the upper Tweed now runs a bit more of a beery/peaty colour than it used to. Not sure if the pH is affected or whether it affects the fish. It certainly takes a bit longer to clear. I wonder if timber harvesting has anything to do with it?


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