THE Environment Agency is inviting angling clubs to put forward ideas or projects to qualify for grants to help improve fisheries in the Yorkshire Region.

A total of £49,000 has been allocated for the first round from the income received from the sale of coarse, trout and eel rod licences and it is likely that further rounds of funding will be allocated later in the year.

The Fisheries Improvement Programme aims to support habitat improvement projects such as:

Desilting angling ponds

Installing reed rafts and or underwater fish refuges

Woody debris installation.

Fish pass or easement construction or feasibility/design work for fish passage improvements.

Funding cannot cover the full cost of a project and angling clubs will need to find match funding which can be either financial or “in-kind” which includes volunteer time, materials or equipment donated free of charge to a project from which a cash equivalent can be calculated.

The local stretches of the river Aire already have benefitted from the installation of wood deflector boards in several locations and other possible projects could include modifying weirs on Eller Beck to facilitate the upstream passage of fish to improve spawning.

Applications for the first round of grants need to be sent to the EA by March 16 and advice can be obtained from Gail Hammond (gail.hammond@ who will put you in touch with the local Fisheries Officer to discuss your ideas.

Recent spells of rain, sleet or snow together with freezing temperatures have continued to hamper angling and only the occasional angler has been seen in action on the local length of the River Aire.

The river level has never been the same two days in succession but some grayling have been brought to the net along with brown trout. The Heslaker Lane stretch at Carleton-in-Craven seems to be the favourite location.

Repair work at Whinnygill Reservoir appears to keeping anglers away and even the canal is deserted when popular spots such as the basin at Skipton, should be producing specimen perch at this time of the year.

A change to more settled and milder weather would soon bring about a general improvement, but at the moment the forecast is more of the same monotonously poor conditions.