That was the season that was
Until I scrolled through the Feedback Form Inbox to randomly stop at the 2018 Simms Pliers winner I didn't realise quite how many of you had taken the time and trouble to report on your fishing day.
This is Britain ..... allegedly
To you all, thank you. I am pleased to report back that nearly all were overwhelmingly positive. The compliments you pay, not just in regard to the fishing but also the river keepers and guides you meet, are deeply appreciated. You also pick up on those little things that we don't notice or know but are easily remedied saving the day for whoever follows. That is a huge help, so do keep the reports coming.
How would I summarise 2018? Confounding. Three months out from the start we were bewailing the lack of rain. Then it, plus snow, arrived in deluges and drifts. Be careful what you wish for. The rain continued, barely without respite until the first week of May when, quite suddenly, it went away. As I write we are awaiting its return.
That absence of rain came as something of a shock to some of our overseas visitors for, Americans especially, are conditioned to believe that it rains in Britain all the time. No, I explain, that is Scotland. We hosted three consecutive weeks of parties flown over from the USA who had, in total, just one half morning of rain. I think the organiser was mildly affronted having included a vast array of all weather clothing on his 'must have gear' list. They are coming back in 2019 so he might turn out to be correct in the end.
The Mayfly hatched on time and in vast clouds; there was no shortage of insects. The only problem, which in truth was a big one, was that the trout paid scant attention. I simply can't recall another season when the Mayfly catches across the piece were so poor. The reason? I have no idea though I'd speculate that the fuller-than-average rivers may have had some impact on the behaviour of the trout and nymphs. There were, of course, still good days when Duffers Fortnight lived up to its name but it was sporadic. We joked, with an element of truth to it, that the real Duffer days came in July - sometimes it was incredible.
Congratulations to Tim Hodges who wins the Simms pliers in the end of season draw and Scott Mulholland the snood in the October draw.
And so to summer. I recall some years ago Capital Radio ran a competition inviting listeners to predict the date and hour when the London temperature, such was the rarity, would top 30c. In 2018 for six weeks from late June to mid-August we laughed in the face of such old-fashioned notions when 30c became the new norm; nine consecutive days were logged at one point.
The chalkstreams and the trout in them, on the other hand, remained blissfully unaware of the temperature gauge. The groundwater statistics, which is basically a measure of natures' underground reservoir, were then, and remain thanks to that beastly spring, at average or above average levels. As to the fishing the weather ground us all down in the end; for a while it was something of a novelty but by August we were all feeling the heat. The autumn, such as it was, could not come too soon.
So another season draws to a close. Today we are packing up the fly fishing school here at Nether Wallop Mill. The trees are fast shedding their leaves. We will start to put the rivers to bed very soon. The last trout has been caught; all they have to fear until April is otters, herons and the deprivations of winter.
It is time to plot and plan for 2019.
Chalk Talk in Trout & Salmon
I am not entirely sure how it came about but I now find myself as a regular columnist in Trout & Salmon magazine with my monthly Chalk Talk page. For someone who campaigned (successfully) that his boarding school library should carry the magazine (1970's cover price 17½p!) it is an enormous honour.
During the fishing season the column is largely topical, featuring what is going on across the chalkstreams plus an interview with a river keeper and his Fly of the Month. However, out of season editor Andrew Flitcroft allows me to range over any topic that takes my fancy. If you'd like to catch up on the most recent "Harsh times for grayling" click here.
If you'd like to subscribe to Trout & Salmon, which is available in print (£32 for 13 issues) or electronically (£26) here is the link. My next piece is on the dramatic decline in Rod Licence sales and the best possible remedy.
Photo of the week
I love great photos - aside from Pop Art it is my favourite form of art so I always enjoy scrolling through the finalists for the Landscape Photographer of the Year. Unusually fishing got a look in this year, though in truth by accident.
Mick Blakey, winner of the Living the View (adult class) takes up the story: 'I hoped to photograph a serene sunset - but was in for a shock. There had been strong winds, which resulted in a big Atlantic swell. Initially disappointed, I started to notice spray around the cliffs as the waves were breaking - backlit by the sun. I sat happily on the rocks photographing the waves but then the magic happened ... a fisherman appeared in frame.'
Does anyone want to admit to being famous by accident? The photo was taken at Porth Nanven, Cornwall. Review all the entries here.
Video of the week
One of our old friends at Fishing Breaks, photographer and film maker Matt Dunkinson, has just released a great video courtesy of Loop Fly Fishing featuring a bunch self-described 'hairy arsed' Hampshire river keepers fishing the Mayfly.
It is a fun six minutes or so as a reminder to what has been and to what will come again as we set off through another winter. All I can add is that it is a good thing the hairy ones fish better than they play the banjo.
Here is the link. Happy watching!
The usual random selection of questions to confirm or deny your personal brilliance. As ever it is just for fun with the answers at the bottom of the page.
1) In what year was the Gunpowder Plot discovered?
2) If you were kovtapyroergasoiphobic what would be scared of?
3) Who is the world's largest consumer (not a country) of fireworks?
Enjoy the weekend.
Simon Cooper email@example.com
Founder & Managing Director
3) Walt Disney Corporation