good news is that we are now closer to the start of the new season that we
are from the end of the last one. I hope these few photos keep you going
until that first chance to cast a line. My thanks for Bo Hermansen and
Ken Takata for the great images; the not so good ones are mine.
Two weeks into January
and the floods were upon us; I must admit in the past twenty odd years I
have seen the rivers this full on two of three occasions, but I have never
seen the meadows flood to such an extent and for such an extended period.
This was Wallop Brook; the flooded sections that extend at right angles to
the river are remnants of the water meadows that fell into decay in the
early 1900's. Nobody alive today has ever seen them full like this.
By this point I felt I
was a victim to the 'be careful what you wish for' syndrome as
my desire for every winter to be a wet one went to new levels in every
sense of the word. Here is the river gauge on the River Test in
Stockbridge. In December 2012 we were in a winter drought; fifteen months
On March 5th 1914 the
P&O liner Morea
edged up the River Thames returning from a winter cruise along the north
coast of Africa. On board was Frederic M Halford, sick from pneumonia, but
before the ship could dock Halford was dead. The father of dry fly fishing
was no more.
"By what is really a life's work,
Halford has raised fly fishing for trout, both as a sport and as a
scientific pursuit, to a higher level that it has ever before attained, and
by so doing has made fly fishing a better and more absorbing recreation for
Dr. A. C. Kent, Journal of the Fly
Fisher's Club, 1914.
Whilst the government
struggled to get a handle on nature Teffont Brook, one of the tiny
Wiltshire tributaries that feed the Hampshire Avon, showed the astonishing
resilience of the geology of the chalkstreams. If you had to find a living
definition of the word pellucid, this translucent water just 100 yards from
the spring head says it all.
There were all sorts of
fanciful theories as to how the once-in-a-hundred-year floods who affect
the mayfly hatch. As it turned out, not at all. Our ephemeral friends
appeared to the day and in great numbers.
A true bit of history came up for sale in
the Fishing Temple on the River Dove in Derbyshire.This is where Charles
Cotton and Izaak Walton collaborated, resulting in Cotton's contribution to
the second edition of The
Every two years I do an
extended photo shoot travelling the chalkstreams to capture 'the shot'.
Each time we try to re-create something famous. This is our appreciation of
John Constable's Salisbury
Cathedral from the Bishop's Grounds. Dawn shoots are something
of a nightmare. We were up at at 3am, waded into position in the pitch dark
to be ready a full hour before sunrise. I stood in the same position for 90
minutes feeling every degree of a chalkstream 50F temperature.
I know the Himalayan
Balsam is a hated invasive species but those pendulous, pink flowers do
frame a photo (!) and the balsam musk hanging over the river on warm, still
evening is simply divine.
Living proof that I do
let Diane out of the office sometimes as she hooks a fish on the River
Kennet at The Wilderness.
Not often trout make
the news pages of a national newspaper but this one did appearing in the
I have been
Years on the Test by river keeper Ernest Pain which was
published in the 1930's. For November he advises 'eradicate grayling by all
means possible'. Ouch!
This perfect photo of a flowering ranunculus is reminder enough
through the gloom of winter that a new season and summer lies ahead.