Friday, 7 June 2019
Friday, 24 May 2019
Friday, 10 May 2019
Going to the dark side
I didn't think that my appearance on Countryfile Diaries could cause anyone any upset but, according to one email, I have apparently crossed a line to take the side of the anti brigade. Heavens, I was only talking about otters ........
|The Guardian's 1986 'Points of view' advert|
Years ago, The Guardian newspaper ran a marketing campaign that had the strap line 'Points of view'. In the most memorable of the adverts you saw two images. In the first a middle aged man walking along a pavement beneath some scaffolding was clearly terrified as a running skinhead bore down upon him. The inference was clear. Robbery. But in the second image, shot from the reverse angle, bags of cement were falling from a scaffolding above. The skinhead was trying to save the man. What you see or read is all about perspective.
The fact is that the way we see the countryside from our sporting perspective, be we shooters, fishers or hunters, is very different to those whose involvement is as ramblers, hikers, bird watchers, bikers or any of the many other myriad of ways in which the countryside is enjoyed. Most of us don't own large chunks of land so we can't really claim ownership to say that the right to pursue our pastime trumps that of all others. Ultimately use of the countryside is a collaborative thing whether our view of it is from a car window or a riverbank.
We shouldn't fight Countryfile. We should embrace it. It's a show that encourages people to love the British countryside. These are the people who we will need to rally to our support in the years to come as pollution, urbanisation and the other manifest dangers to rivers and wildlife loom ever larger.
No longer turning Japanese
You know I have often bragged about my favourite toy, the Toyota Hi Lux. Well, the love affair is over. Mercedes Benz have lured me across the aisle with their first ever pickup truck.
I must confess there was some logic in my decision, though you might caveat that by saying there is little logic to buying any car. The latest iteration of the Hi Lux lacks power and is 50% more expensive that the equivalent model in 2010.
The Benz on the other hand has borrowed much from the USA truck market - high suspension, grunty engine, tweaked exhaust pipes and generally all-round bigger than its European competitors. Which is somewhat ironic as currently the Germans don't have any plans to release it in the USA.
Anyway, it is rather fun to drive and the number on the roads are still so few that us owners exchange smug waves of recognition. However, I'm still to work out the purpose of the little glass panel in the back window, not much larger than an A4 sheet of paper, that slides open at the flip of a switch.
Steeple Langford - River Wylye
It has been a bit of a last-minute rush but I am delighted to welcome into the Fishing Breaks fold a lovely section of the River Wylye at Steeple Langford that lies upstream of Salisbury and south of the A303.
For those of you with long memories you might recall this as part of the Steeple Langford Fishery run by Paul Knight (now at Salmon & Trout Conservation) which had two large trout lakes in addition to the river. Things have changed a bit since then with the ownership now in the hands of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. Known as the Langford Lakes Nature Reserve the lakes are now fished by a coarse syndicate but the lakes primary purpose is as a breeding and resting ground for wild fowl; it is something of a bird watchers paradise with paths, hides and viewing platforms.
As for the river, which is separate and private from the rest of the reserve, it has undergone a radical change as the Trust have their own river restoration team who undertake contract work so the half mile section has become something of a test ground for many innovative techniques that are now commonplace.
Make no mistake this is a beat that is managed to be as natural as possible without erring on the side of jungle warfare. In broad terms you can divide the fishing into two sections: above and below the weir pool. The lower section is shallower, faster and more gravelly. The upper slower and deeper. This is an all wading beat; there are few opportunities for bank fishing and all the fish are wild. There is no stocking so as a consequence this is all catch and release.
For more details and booking click here. The river opens today.
April feedback winner
New season, new monthly draw for the feedback forms that many of you so kindly return.
You do have the rather fine Hardy Marquis reel to look forward to at the season-end draw but month-by-month I am going to be rather random. This time around the very good book by Jon Day I reviewed last month.
Well done to Mark Gomm who came out of the April hat, unusually for a draw winner a Nether Wallop Mill private tuition guest.
Mark: the book is in tonight's post.
This is the time of year for baby birds, so a test of knowledge of who grows into what. As ever, it is just for fun with answers of the page.
|Answer no. 4|
Have a good weekend.
Friday, 26 April 2019
My unlikely love affair
We are first up for the new series of the BBC Countryfile Spring Diaries, the show going out at 9.15am on Monday 29 April on BBC One. You know the story but you might like the BBC's take on the show:
"Paul Martin (the presenter who interviews me) is discovering that our back gardens can be a convenient snack stop for cheeky creatures who are always on the lookout for a free meal. Otter numbers in particular are on the rise in the UK, and Paul has been meeting a man whose battle to save his fish stocks turned into an unlikely love affair."
The show will be available shortly after broadcast on BBC iPlayer.
A Twitch Upon The Thread
Over my fishing lifetime I have come across plenty of fishing anthologies but I can't recall one that captured my imagination quite as much as Jon Day's
A Twitch Upon The Thread.
The difference with Day's book lies in his chosen subtitle - Writers on Fishing. He has scoured the library of King's College London where he teaches English for not just great fishing literature but that written by our greatest writers. Who would have known George Orwell, who I always assumed to be a dour sort of fellow, defined his childhood through fishing? That John Donne took against fly fishers, for little good reason as far as I can tell, in his 1633 poem The Bait calling us 'curious traitors'. That Charles Dickens wrote of sturgeon in the River Thames.
If you ever sought a paragraph to define why we fish, then the words Izaak Walton quotes in The Compleat Angler from his friend and fishing companion Sir Henry Wotton still resonate four and a half centuries later,
"An imployment for his idle time, which was then not idly spent: for angling was after tedious Study, a rest to his mind, a chearer of his spirits, a diverter of sadness, a calmer of unquiet thoughts, a moderator of passions, a procurer of contentedness: and that it begat habits of peace and patience in those that profess'd and practis'd it. Indeed, my friend, you will find angling to be like the vertue of Humility, which has a calmness of spirit, and a world of other blessings attending upon it."
However, before we all get carried away with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside Lord Byron was less impressed by The Compleat Angler, railing against the cruelties of angling saying of us all, "No angler can be a good man."
Ranging across five centuries its hard not to be impressed by Jon Day's deft collection which was published last week by Notting Hill Editions and is available through Amazon at £14.99.
PS In case you think A Twitch Upon The Thread sounds familar it is indeed the name of Book II in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited which in turn takes the quote from a G K Chesterton Father Brown story. It is a fair old bit of literary upcycling.
No more trouble at t' mill
The River Test at Whitchurch Fulling Mill is one of my longest standing beats; the connection goes back nearly twenty years through three different owners, though it is only the most recent who have any interest in fly fishing.
Richard and Lucy are passionate about the river and it shows; all sorts of improvements are completed, in progress or planned. Over the winter a combined team from the Wild Trout Trust and fishery students from Sparsholt College did great work on the wading section above the mill. The canopy was trimmed back, bank repaired and the felled trees used to create deflectors. Since then Mark Burns the river keeper has planted more than fifty heads of ranunculus weed.
For those of you who have fished Fulling Mill in the past you might recall the footpath than ran along part of the beat. Most of the time the intrusion was limited to walkers enquiring as to whether you had caught anything (I perfected about 20 various answers to alleviate the tedium) but on a sunny day dogs, children and bread thrown to the ducks could be a nuisance. However, the new fencing and a cunningly designed splash for dogs, duck feeding and even children (!) seems to have done the trick for trouble free fishing in the future.
The season opens at Whitchurch Fulling Mill on 1/May. More details here .....
New places for 2019
As you know I always like to find something or somewhere new for each season and 2019 is no exception. Here's a brief summary:
Ideal for groups of 2-4 Rods on a combination of the Tanyard and House beats, the former being great if you like to wade.
In addition to the carrier ticket we are now offering the lake tickets online, which includes the recently added Catch & Release lake. You can combine river and lake tickets to switch at will during the day.
Located downstream of Upavon Farm and upstream of Avon Springs this is right in the heart on Frank Sawyer country.
Castle Howard the setting for Brideshead Revisited starring (l-r) Anthony Andrews, Diana Quick and Jeremy Irons.
More questions to hopefully entertain and enlighten. As ever it is just for fun with the answers at the bottom of the Newsletter.
1) The Greek messenger Philippides was running from Marathon to where, establishing the legend responsible for the marathon road race?
2) In what year was the ITV series Brideshead Revisited first broadcast?
3) What does a podiatrist study?
Have a good weekend.
Founder & Managing Director
3) Disorders of the foot, ankle and lower extremity