Welcome to Yorkshire - Fishing the River Ure

Reiver Flash

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Excellent Michael. There are good things coming out of the lockdown.

I found that fascinating, both the history and the beat descriptions. I was born in York in 1950 and lived there til I was 18. I fished most of those Yorkshire rivers during my spare time in my teenage years. I thought I knew a lot about the area but still learnt from your history section.

I noted the reference to Naburn. In the mid 60's I used to fish there occasionally in the white water below the tidal weir. We used to scramble on the rocks for the weed which was full of bloodworms. The bigger fish loved it. We had specimen perch and roach. Even then we used to see the occasional salmon leaping on its journey upstream. My father was a skilled joiner and repaired traditional wooden boats along there.

I fished the main River Ouse , Nidd, Swale and Derwent regularly and the Rye less often. But I only ever saw salmon at Naburn. We used to fish on very light tackle. I still remember losing a very big fish on the main river after a long fight. I thought it was a large barbel at the time but now I wonder? But I guess a salmon would have shown at some point?

Its interesting that despite my hobby and networks in the 60's we heard little talk about the history of salmon in the Ouse system.

I remember the Ure from family trips out at that time and always thought it a distinctive landscape. Your images and descriptions fully do it justice.

I hope I get chance to fish it one day. I fear it will not be soon.

Thank you for your sharply observed video and making me feel very nostalgic for my home rivers.

Best wishes
 

Clydebuilt

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Every day is a school day, thoroughly enjoyed learning about a river and system I knew heehaw about.
Nice one MCX:thumb:
 

MCXFisher

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Many thanks for the kind comments. It's a very pretty river and once you get up into Wensleydale the scenery is stunning. The first time I saw it was a revelation, crossing the brow at High Thoresby and looking down on a real salmon river all that way from the sea. The reason it's smaller down at Swinton is the abstraction of water at Kilgram (between Masham and Jervaulx) which is syphoned over the crest into Nidderdale and thence via Wharfe and Aire to supply Leeds.

Being idle I wasn't using a script, so it's got a few pauses. When I find a suitable subject I'll create another one and experiment with atmospheric music and transitions but without going crazy. It was an interesting learning project to occupy a couple of lockdown hours (not that I'm short of things to do).
 
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Reiver Flash

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Does not need much tweaking Michael!

Not many people realise the extent of the Humber catchment. It is covered by three Water Authorities - Yorkshire, Severn Trent and Anglian. Salmon are now back in the Trent of course. Thank you for acknowledging the European Waste Water Directive - not often mentioned on here.

Hope to see you down there some day. Hope it has more water in than the Tyne .
 

offshore

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I have done two enjoyable things this evening, watch this and Dads Army - both very good in their own way.

The Ure is about the only game river I can sensibly travel to (and back), in one day.

I suspect I will not want to stop in overnight accommodation this season (whatever the season amounts to under the rules), so information on the Ure is doubly valuable at the moment.

Thank you.
 

keirstream

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I lived in and worked out of the Redland Gravel Pit at Masham in the late 70s and often looked at the Ure and thought how good that would be as a salmon river. At that time the possibility of a fish up there was nil due to the downstream gross pollution.:(
Fast forward 30 years and you are hauling them out.:thumb:
I'll need to try and get down soon and have a cast with Tyke777 and maybe even yourself. I know what you Tykes are like so I'll pay the permits.:lol: I'll maybe even stay in the White Bear and get a nostalgia fix.
Brilliant, wonderful story. Thanks for taking the time to produce and post.
 
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MCXFisher

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Tom,

if you're prepared to make the journey I should be delighted to take you as my guest.
 

pete

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It’s great to hear a success story when it comes to increasing the number of salmon in a river. Looks a nice bit of water. What is the yearly rod catches on the river? Or even better are the catches for the last 20 years available?
 

charlieH

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Michael, do you know what the status of the Ure's salmon population was in the period between, say, the end of WW2 and 1998, which you identify as the first year since the 1930s that they were detected in numbers?

As with the Tyne, I understand there was a rump population of some sort - Stephen Johnson mentions their existence at some unspecified time after the war (I would guess late 40s/early 50s), and writes of catching a June 17lber somewhere just below Masham. And has anyone tried to investigate to what extent the current fish are 'true' Ure salmon, or the extent to which strays from other rivers have helped in the repopulation of the river? Did the hatchery use fish from elsewhere, or did it rely on stock taken from the Ure?

Incidentally, I'm pleased to say that I have contributed in a very small way to the Ure's rod catch; a young lady I know caught her very first salmon, about 3-4 years ago I think, at Swinnithwaite on a fly I had tied and given to her!
 
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MCXFisher

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Charlie,
personally, I reckon that there was always some kind of skeletal population, even when the EA's predecessor declared them extinct in the Ouse system in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Certainly there were occasional catches by pike anglers in the winter months, especially below the weirs at Naburn, Linton and Boroughbridge, albeit not widely reported. That timing is also a clue: the oxygen block at Selby primarily involved the warmer months, which would have caused any survivors by default to become winter runners. That behaviour is still evident today, with fish running even in December. of course, once a salmon was at York it then had a clear run in clean water all the way up into Wensleydale.
As far as I'm aware no one has done any genetic research: in any event there won't be a DNA baseline to work from. I suspect that the population is primarily derived from the survivors, reinforced by strayers from elsewhere. And the straying still goes on, both within and from beyond the catchment: last year a salmon was caught by a trout angler way up in one of the streams on the North Yorkshire Moors, in water that is heavily observed and scientifically monitored, where none have ever been detected previously.
The micro-hatchery always used Ure brood stock caught in the late autumn and raised the fingerlings and parr to smolting in flowing Ure water. it had no significant effect on the overall population, but did replace the spawning area lost to the Alston reservoir above Masham. Nevertheless, anglers did catch a useful number of fin-clipped fish every year, especially on the beats adjacent to Masham.
One very interesting aspect is the way in which salmon seem to try to get everywhere, almost as if they see obstacles as challenges, not barriers. For many years the Derwent was regarded as impassable at the old Cistercian monastery dam: then around 2000 I started catching sea trout as far up as Helmsley - people took a lot of convincing - and more recently the EA detected salmon parr in several of the rivers flowing off the moors. Then last year we had clear evidence that they had got over another weir in the Derwent system, yet again defeating conventional wisdom. In that regard, it has been accepted wisdom that salmon didn't go over Aysgarth Falls, yet in recent seasons the absence of fish stacked up in the stretch above Thoresby suggests that they've gone somewhere, and that may be upwards. If they have succeeded then that opens up another 250 square miles of spawning area.
Although there is an overall trend of growth we still have wide season to season variations in the numbers of fish caught and counted. Nothing in this business appears to be linear, and we have to be careful not to calibrate our expectations on the crazy year of 2011.
 
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Overmiwaders

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I caught what I am sure was a salmon parr in the Yorkshire Dove and have heard similar things of the Seven . Although never seen any adults or redds in either and have fished them for many years . The you tube presentation is fascinating

O M W
 

keirstream

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Tom,

if you're prepared to make the journey I should be delighted to take you as my guest.

I'll take a rain check just now, but let's see what happens with the restrictions.
It's my guess travel and accommodation will remain a problem for the duration of this season at least.
If I am wrong I will take great delight in joining you and killing some English salmon.
It's in our blood.:lol::lol:
 

ArchieL

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Never knew the size of the catchment was so big. Thanks for taking the time to show us your river with a hanful of interesting facts flung in also. As always Michael keep them coming.
 

KILDONAN

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Thanks so much, such a great video, very informative, looks wonderful.
Good to see something positive just now.
 
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MCXFisher

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Archie,

to put the size of the catchment in context, it:

- spans from south to north from Derbyshire to Cleveland, across 32 junctions on the M1 (that's the same as London to Cardiff on the M4), a total distance of about 120 miles by road
- spans from east to west 115 miles, requiring 3 hours' driving
- has its longest stem in the Swale which at its head is over 175 miles from the North Sea
- occupies 4,100 square miles/10,700 sq km, which is around double the figures for the Tay and Tweed
- requires a bridge with a span of 1 mile to cross it at Howden before it reaches the Humber
 

charlieH

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Thanks for the detailed reply, Michael. I suspect you're right that there was always a skeletal population. I don't have my copy of Stephen Johnson's book to hand, but had mentioned his comments in an old thread here - this is what I quoted back then:

"After the war I lived in Yorkshire for some time...I was a member of a club which had fishing on the Ure, but a salmon was very rarely caught except just below Aysgarth falls, and that in the late autumn."

The desire for a fish to surmount obstacles is an interesting one. I have a couple of thoughts, both probably quite unscientific and so far as I know unproven, but I offer them for your consideration:

First, I suspect there is a natural downstream drift of juvenile fish. I'm not much of trout fisher, but I remember someone pointing out that the reason flies always move upstream before laying their eggs is simply to counteract the current that will tend to carry eggs and nymphs downstream. If the flies didn't travel upstream to lay their eggs, the upper reaches of the river would end up denuded of aquatic fly life. And while juvenile salmon are undoubtedly better swimmers than aquatic nymphs, it would seen reasonable to think that there is a similar downstream drift, so in choosing a place to spawn the adults need to aim off for this.

Secondly, if a fall or weir is difficult to surmount, it stands to reason that many fish will fail to do so. There will therefore be a concentration of fish below the fall, while upstream the spawning beds will be more sparsely populated. Since availability of habitat is one of the prime limiting factors in the survival of juveniles, it makes perfect sense for a fish to try to get up and over any such barrier, where its offspring will face rather less competition.

Incidentally, I don't particularly see this as undermining the notion that salmon return to where they hatched, unless you take a very literal interpretation of it (I remember a regular poster on FFF who used to describe fish that jump at impassable falls as 'defective' :shocked:). Just as it's said that you should never say 'always 'or 'never' when it comes to salmon fishing, so I think that you cannot be too rigid or literal-minded when it comes to the habits of salmon.
 

MCXFisher

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Charlie,

scientific or not, I'm with you all the way on both those points: many thanks for the time you devoted to outlining them.

What is fascinating is the dispersion of the salmon throughout this enormous area. On the Ure it seems they will spawn anywhere that they find suitable gravel, including in the middle of Ripon. But there are clearly some favoured tributaries that attract more spawners than others, presumably on account of the food supply for juveniles. In that respect, any salmon that do get over Aysgarth Falls will be spoilt for choice with tens of miles of river and tributaries, pristine water, lovely gravel and excellent invertebrate life quantities. The only handicap will be the trout population.

In parallel I am watching like a heron a stretch of a Derwent tributary that offers everything a salmon could wish for in spawning. Not that I wish to fish for them up there, but rather for the opportunity for close quarter observation in crystalline water.
 
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MCXFisher

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Mark,
many thanks: by, you had your ears finely tuned! In fact I was being an idle toad in that I was working without a script, which explains all the pauses.
 

charlieH

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Mark,
many thanks: by, you had your ears finely tuned! In fact I was being an idle toad in that I was working without a script, which explains all the pauses.

What's your excuse for the remarkable claim (at 1.10) that the Ure apparently flows uphill?

Sorry, I wasn't going to mention it, but...
 

MCXFisher

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Nice one Charlie, well spotted.:lol::lol:

Yet another illustration of the risks of working unscripted. I was tempted to reference our exceptional magical powers, but I'll save them for another time.
 

SP8

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Excellent post, many thanks. I have access to syndicate water above Ripon which I was hoping to give some attention this year. Hopefully I'll get on there before the season is over. I was interested to hear you say that Slenningford is a decent spring bet in April and May. My beat is not far below there and the word I had was June onward was the time to be on. You have encouraged me to try it earlier but it will have to be next year now (no water this year anyway).
Do you think the Ouse system is a spring/summer system rather than a back end system? The pictures of late season fish I have seen have all been coloured whereas I see some cracking pictures of springers from the lower river. There is a lot of river for those springers to disappear into where they are not really fished for before they turn up in the upper reaches in September and October.

SP8
 
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