Hogweed On The Irwell

Giant Hogweed is now endemic on the Irwell. Its bloody everywhere – and none of our local authorities or agencies really know how to tackle the issue.

As we all know – the sap from this plant can cause serious burns to the skin, which can last for up to 6 years. Hogweed is a serious public health issue which is festering away on the river banks, out of sight and out of mind from the local authorities – just waiting for some clever no win no fee solicitor to take them all to the cleaners.

I was walking around the racecourse area of the river a couple of weeks ago, and noticed with great pleasure, that someone was tackling the Giant Hogweed which grows in large stands on Salford University land.

See pic below

So I crossed the river to take a closer look.

Its seems as though someone has had the bright idea of cutting off all the seed heads, and piling them up in big heaps.

What a crackpot idea, to cut off the seed heads without wrapping them up first to stop them shedding the seeds.

Instead of only the riverbank being seeded with Hogweed, the whole of the footpath and the land on each side of the footpath is now coated with a thick layer of seeds, ready to sprout up in the spring and make the problem 10 times worse.

Its not often that you see such inept work.

Take a look at these pictures to see what I mean.

Irwell Sewage Pollution Jan 13 013 Irwell Sewage Pollution Jan 13 014 Irwell Sewage Pollution Jan 13 016

Irwell Sewage Pollution Jan 13 015

What a mess !


Kick Sampling and Pollution Hunting 30 January 14

Went to my usual spot at Ewood Bridge on the Irwell and did a kick sample. 12 Cased Caddis and 12 Olives(Baetidae) Nymphs. Up on Caddis but as expected for this time of year, down on nymphs.

Didn’t do a sample at beginning of January as the river was to high.


I have been finding and photographing, along with Mike Duddy at Salford Friendly Anglers and others, sewage and industrial outflows into the Irwell.

Also Eagley and Bradshaw Brooks, the rivers Croal, Tonge, Ogden and Roch  which all end up in the Irwell, as do quite a few others.

Mike is going to set up a group in SFA, to chart  the pollution problems in the Irwell catchment and with the help of United Utilities and the Environment Agency, hopefully reduce, if not stop it.


It is not always certain what it is that is coming out of pipes and culverts. By the spot that I kick sample is this.

It runs almost all the time, could be a stream that comes off he golf course, a spring, or it could be road run off mixed with the other two. Looks clean but who knows.

A few yards down stream is this dribbling pipe.

Just above the bridge is a different type of outlet.

Never seen much coming out of it, most likely was connected to the old mill that used to be above it.

As were possibly, these smaller ones a few yards up stream.

Is it road run off or something from the new units where the old mill used to be. Mind you road run off is bad enough.

A little further up stream.

Could be a stream, it runs all the time, but  again could be from the new units where the old mill used to be.

Up thirty forty yards on this bank we have.

I have always thought it was a stream or a spring but who knows what’s in there.



Hard to tell what is going into the river without taking samples , all these are in a 150 yard stretch of the river.

It’s not uncommon to find places that have as many and at times many more than this short stretch.


River Irwell Above Rawtenstall 14 Jan 14.

When I got down to where the Limey joined the Irwell I started on up the Irwell. A bigger river than the Limey, but with the same problem. THE WALLS.


What can I say, its a river , but not as it should be, and its not going to change. At least it cleaner than it used to be and there are trout in there. But how do you get to them.

Under the road and more walls.


At least there is a bit of grass here, but its still eight foot down to the river.

Industrial Lancashire.

Not getting any better.

Just to make sure the trout can not move up river to spawn, a nasty weir.and then into a tunnel.

Quite a bit up it comes into the light again.

The walls continue.

On and On.

Under another bridge and still no access to the water

Looks like we may be able to get to the water at last.


Yep access at last, might be able to cast with a 7 foot rod.

Look quite open might even get in with a 8 foot, mind when the leaves are on the trees it will not look so open.

Didn’t last for long back to the walls.

Really inviting, NOT.

What is it about DOG owners that makes them think that this is acceptable.

Benjamin Franklin said the two certainty’s of life where “Death and Taxes” I think it should be change to three. Death Taxes and DOG SHIT. the curse of anybody who walks in grass, in fact any body who walks any where.

Looking back down river. Still no chance.


Concrete river bed no fish here.

Decide to call it a day. Just noticed the time on my camera is wrong there’s no way it was half pas five when I took this one. Must be on Cyprus time from my holiday.


Well I found one bit of river that I might be able to catch fish come the season, only two months to go.



River Limey Rawtenstall to Crawshawbooth 14 Jan 14

In my blog “Walking from Rawtenstall to Burrs Country Park” in November I started down river from where the Limey and the Irwell met.


Today I walked up the Limey, which like the Irwell, is not easy to get into above Rawtenstall. A little above where it meets the Irwell  it goes under ground, under the road and emerges by the ASDA superstore,

 There are fish there but getting to them is another matter. At the top end it goes into another tunnel before emerging and going under the road.




 Looking back at ASDA.

Now on the other side of the road. Still no way to get into the river, unless you bring a step ladder.


A little further up the walls are even higher.

Then its off under ground again.

When it next reappears there is no access at all.




 A walk up the main road and we meet the river again as it comes under the road.


This is looking down river from the road bridge.(This is the bridge where I later found the sewage)


Across the road and its looking more like a river should.

Not perfect but a lot better than down river.

The white building in the middle of the picture is a pub, the river runs under it.


And then the walls start again. Then its under ground again.

And on go the walls.

Whom ever had the contract for the walls must have made some money.

On and on.

And then a weir, for what I am not sure.

And then still more wall.


A bridge that has stood the test of time, they don’t build them like that anymore.

Its going where I can not follow, will walk up the road. see if it comes back to me.

 Further up the road it came out of a tunnel, across the road and of we go again


Still the walls but we are away from the road for a while.



Back to the road and on again.

The walls the walls will they ever end.

 Arrived at Crawshawbooth and started back.


I know that there are trout in the river but how to get at them is going to be a problem. Also, at the moment there is of plenty of water, but in the summer it will be a lot less.


On my way back, as I cross one of the bridges over the river there was this god awful stink from the river.

At first I thought it was coming from the pipe in the picture. But on further inspection  I found it was coming from under the road. The water on the other side of the road was clear and clean.

United Utilities must have sewerage plant nearby, which would appear to be in the need of a up grade, as what was going into the river was disgusting.

 The river changed colour and so did the Irwell when this muck got to it.


A good clear river turned into a sewer, will we ever be able to stop this pollution.

Join Salford Friendly Anglers and help us try, it cost nowt so do it..


Sewage Litter On The Irwell

Tempers have been running high on our facebook page over the last couple of days about the increasing amount of sewage litter being washed up on the river banks.

Irwell Sewage Litter

This has been an ongoing problem on the Irwell now for many years – the legacy of a sewage system designed by the Victorians and ignored by successive generations until efforts were first made to clean up the river system in the mid 1970s.

Since then, there has been a long slow steady series of improvements. Started off by North West Water and the National Rivers Authority, now continued by United Utilities and the Environment Agency.

As water quality has improved, invertebrates and fish have returned to the river, followed by anglers and other naturalists. Our expectations are high, as we compare our River Irwell to other rivers in the North West such as the Dee,Dane, the Ribble and the Lune.

In the 1950s the Irwell was described in Parliament as the dirtiest river in Europe – so we have a rock bottom base on which to build the success story that the Irwell is becoming.

Huge improvements in the way our waste water and sewage is processed, and the virtual elimination of industrial discharges have transformed the Irwell.


The legacy of this old Victorian system is the large number of Combined Sewage Overflows (CSOs) which act as a safety valve for the system of old pipes, allowing them to overflow into the river during periods of peak capacity through the sewage system.

United Utilities (under the European Waste Water Treatment Directive) are required by law to screen all outflows into a river.

Back in the day – screening was non existent on the Irwell – but has slowly been adopted by UU on their water treatment works, and on the pipes which they adjudge to be the most frequent dischargers.

In 2010 under a freedom of information act request we found out from the EA that there were 108 CSOs on the Irwell between Rawtenstall and Manchester City Centre. Of these 108 CSOs only a 20 had any sort of screening, leaving 88 of them to pollute our river and decorate our river banks with sanitary products and condoms each time there is a significant rainfall event. No wonder the riverbanks are in such a disgusting state.

Over the last couple of months, we have endured extended periods of heavy rain, resulting in the river levels being high, and the local sewage system running at peak and above peak capacity.

Now as water levels are dropping, anglers are finding that once again the river banks, and river side trees are covered in unsightly sewage litter. Sewage litter that should be filtered out by the 6mm mesh mechanical screens of UU.

Look at the state of this tree, all the “leaves” on the lower branches are bits of wet wipes and tampons from a sewage overflow.

Irwell Sewage Tree

We know that there are not enough screens in place in the system – and that UU are adding more.

But are the existing screens being cleaned often enough, or being monitored for efficiency ?

I’ve asked the EA if they monitor this – the answer is no.

Once a screen is full it gets bypassed.

I wonder how many CSO screens (which only have an efficiency rate of 60% !) have been bypassed recently.

Here is a photo of an outfall where the screen isnt working properly (near Cemetry Rd Farnworth)

Shit pipe

If you see any grills that are coated like this or any part of the river bank that has significant amounts of sewage litter, please take a photo if possible and report it to us via admin@salfordfriendlyanglers.co.uk

In July 2013 we asked members to report the worst grot spots that they knew of on the Irwell – 6 of these spots have been taken up on our behalf by the EA with United Utilities and we hope that they are going to be included in the next capital projects plan by UU.

People do take notice of us. So if you want a cleaner river, please get out on the river over the next 7 days and take photos of any evidence you might find and send them in


Restocking The Irwell

The EA have restocked another 12,000 roach, dace and chub into the Irwell this week.

Irwell Restocking 2013 010

The fish have gone in above and below Bury, and at Littleton Rd in Salford.

This is the third year on the trot that the EA have restocked the river – but it doesn’t seem to be making any difference to the quality of fishing.

In fact – if anything, fishing for silvers is slowly getting worse.

Why is this ?

Water quality issues, lack of habitat, periodic pollution incidents, mink, cormorants, goosanders, the fact that fish get washed downstream but cant make it back upstream over all the weirs ?

Probably a combination of all these factors.

We have pointed out to the EA that there are vast numbers of silver fish, which have been washed downstream into the lower Irwell / Manchester Ship Canal which are stuck there where we cant fish for them, because they can’t get back up over the weir at Adelphi. These fish, which are Irwell genetic stock would survive/breed much better in the Upper River than the fish from the EAs fish farm near Nottingham. Why cant they be netted or trapped and moved back upstream?

These fish the EA are stocking, have been bred and grown on in beautiful clean spring water in a Nottinghamshire fish farm  – and all of a sudden they’re released into the lovely sparking clean waters of the Irwell – no wonder they don’t seem to thrive.

So… what are the causes and solution to the disappearing Irwell roach and dace population?

Improving spawning habitat ?

Transporting fish eggs on spawning boards from the MSC / lower Irwell up to Bury?

Re-locating fish that can’t migrate upstream of their own accord ?

Everyone immediately points to cormorants as the main threat to our stocks of silver fish – but while they are undoubtedly a major factor – they aren’t the only issue. If they were the main issue, why are there so many roach in the Ship Canal where cormorants find it easier to feed, while roach are virtually non existent in the shallower streamier waters of the Irwell ?

What can we do ?

There’s something going very wrong somewhere.

Irwell Restocking 2013 001


Irwell silvers come a thousand at a time

Irwell Restocking 2013 002




Bradshaw Brook Pollution

Bradshaw Brook – the jewel in the Irwell crown has been polluted.

Local walkers found 100s of dead trout in the river last weekend and called the EA.

The worrying thing is that this stretch of river is directly beneath Jumbles Reservoir –  a drinking water rezzer managed by United Utilities !!!

(update 11.12.2013 – its the stretch between Wayoh and Jumbles thats been affected, NOT the section downstream of Jumbles).

Take a look at this article in the Manchester Evening News


Bradshaw Brook Pollution

Bradshaw Brook Pollution

UU say in the article that they have now stopped finding dead fish in Bradshaw Brook – thats because it looks as though they’ve already killed them all.

If there is anyone reading this from Bradshaw Anglers please keep us updated via the comments box below.


The Irwell Roach Project

Back in the late 90s and early 2000’s some massive bags of roach were taken from all over the lower Irwell system.

I myself had two bags of over 50lb (all roach), one from a peg in the Ordsall area, the other slightly downstream of Adelphi.


However, in recent years the ever increasing cormorant population has decimated the rivers roach population.

On the Hampshire Avon a group of committed anglers have got together to do something about it.

Avon Roach Project Video

Avon Roach Project Website

A few people connected to Salford Friendly have expressed an interest in replicating this project on the River Irwell.

If you think you might be interested in helping get a project like this off the ground, please leave a comment in the box below this post.

Some peoples view is that this type of project is futile as the cormorants will eat whatever fish we can grow. Others have the view that our roach fry are being swept downstream every time the river floods and cant get back upstream because of all the weirs. Or that periodic pollution incidents have wiped out whole breeding year classes of fish, and that the roach just havent been able to survive.

Again – if you have a view on why there are less roach in the river, and what can be done about it, please leave your comments below………




Places for Coarse Fishing The Irwell Bury Ground to Close Park.

As promised though not as quick as I said.

I will just mention Burrs Country Park. The river and two lakes at Burrs are controlled by Ramsbottom Angling Association.



I start at Bury Bridge looking up river. On the left of the river is Lower Woodhill Road, by the side of Evans Halshaws Car Sales, from which you can fish the pool above the first weir. You can park down there it’s not all double yellows.

 There is a good long pool above the weir and some good access to the water.

 Here you can get down to the water level.

 Also here where Kirklees Brook joins the river.


 It is possible to get to the river on the other bank, even in the summer, there is Balsam, Knot Weed and Brambles but no Giant Hog Weed.


Next I went up stream on the other side of the river on to Bury Ground. You drive in by the Police HQ  and then go left in front of the LGC Standards Building to the car park which belongs to LGC. Evenings and weekends park where you like, working hours there is still a piece of broken ground that you can use.

LGC Car Park  The gap in the line of cars on the left is always free.

A bit of a drop to the water, a long handled landing net comes in handy. There are places you can fish from down in the trees at the far end of the picture, it does get overgrown in the summer..

Looking up stream, not easy to get to the water here.

If you walk up the tarmac path on the right you come to a large weir.

Fishing the bottom of the weir requires wading.

Top of the weir plenty of water and places to fish.




Passed here the bank get to high and then there is another weir.

 No pool to speak of below the weir.

 Not much access on this side to the top pool.

This is the only decent bit.

If you go over the old rail bridge you can get down to the bank on the other side but I am told the farmer does not like people fishing on his land.


From Bury Bridge.

This picture is from Bury Bridge looking down river the wall on the right goes down to the old rail bridge at the bottom of Wellington Street. The left bank is steep and treed with lots of Giant Hog Weed, I have not found any way to get to the river on either side.


Any way this is the bottom of Wellington Street.

Through the trees you can get to the river or go over a foot bridge to the other bank then  go right,  along the fence by the school sports fields.

Looking down river from the foot bridge, there is another weir further down. Its not possible to fish the left bank until you get nearer to the weir.

 Getting near the weir.


There are a few places to fish from near the weir but getting close to the top of the weir you would need to cut a path through the brambles.

The bottom of the weir should hold some fish.

 Follow the path down from the weir keeping close to the river and you get here.

You can get to the river now and in the spring, different story when the Hog Weed is up.

There are a couple of places down by the trees on the left, but after that there is nothing until you get to the Monkey Bridge at Warth.


There is another way to get here by going down Warth Road and right along Openshaw Fold Road behind Derby School. You can park by a arch under the Metro and walk up to the weir or over the hill to the place above.


The Monkey Bridge carries the Metro over the river further down the best way to get there is from Bury Road take Warth Fold Road to the level crossing over the Metro, don’t cross go straight on down the rough track to the river.

You can park here. The rivers behind me. Level crossing at the top of the track.

Under the Monkey Bridge.

The sign says Bury Angling if it is they are not doing anything about it.

Looking up river, how you fish here I don’t know. If you go through the foot bridge you can get to the other bank not much better. The Canal is up  the top of the left bank.

If you can get through this there maybe a place by the bank.

This is on the side of the Metro where you park with the big weir in the distance.

Looks OK but its not very deep even by the weir, over the years it has silted up.

Bottom of the weir is quite deep but it’s getting down there that’s the problem.

Bit of a scramble but this gets you to the water, waders come in handy. Or you can go down stream of the road bridge and wade back up, that’s what I do in the trout season, but that’s not easy either.

The river below the road bridge is only a couple of feet deep until you get further down.

As you can see the Hog Weed is a massive problem in the summer.





But at least you can get to the river now and in the spring.





Looking up river from Dumers Lane Bridge.

Looking down from Dumers Lane Bridge at what we are told will be a Salford Friendly water once the building site is completed.



Next I went to Close Park which is along Dumers Lane towards Radcliffe. Plenty of parking as you drive into the park. You can not miss the entrance to the park

A path round the park takes you to the river.

Some good spots to fish from but the river is not that deep so you need to be careful how you approach the river.


This is looking up at the Bury Sewage Farm outlet.

As you can see as you go down river it gets much harder to get to the water.

That’s Springwater Park across the Irwell and the Roch

You can get to the water here but not in the summer unless you want to chop down the Hog Weed.

Looking back at the Roch.



Old River Fishing Well !

I’ve been getting lots of reports from anglers recently telling me that the Old River in Irlam has been fishing well.
Heres one the the latest messages I’ve had from Jack – one of the venues regulars
Fishing the Old River regularly.Catching plenty of Roach and Perch,mostly small stuff although the Roach run to about 14oz.Pike are a nuisance!
taking fish off the hook.I’ve had two big ones on,didn’t manage to land them.Caught two nice Eels and also a couple of nice Skimmers although they don’t seem to show up very often.Saw three Kingfishers on one occasion made my day.Cheers Jack.”

If you go down to the Old River, please make sure that you leave your peg clean and tidy.

We will be holding a work party on the Old River sometime during the Xmas break – a few of the pegs need re-boarding and have become a little over grown.
There are plans for another Pike match – details to come soon

The Old River has been fishing really well for Silvers and Pike recently

Here is a picture of Michael Morton Snr with a beautifully coloured jackie


Michael Morton Snr with a nice Old River jack