was exhausted; spent in all senses of the word. The winter floods had come
early, this her third spawning year. It should, by rights, be becoming
easier with each passing season. Surely age, experience and instinctive
expectation should count for something? But the efforts and battles of time
past take their toll. As Trutta entered her sixth year at the tail of Ash
Tree Corner she doubted whether she would be able summon the bodily
strength to attain another summer. Not that her life chances lay entirely
within her own gift; there is much happenchance to the life of the brown
exhausting moment of the past few weeks had expressed the very purpose of
her existence. To procreate. To maintain the species. To sow thousands of
fertilised eggs that tumble on the current, relying on a sort of riverine
pinball to lodge within the loose gravel bed from which, given the caress
of clean, clear water the tiny alevins should emerge in a few months.
future generation were no longer of any concern to Trutta. She had done her
part. And pretty well done it all alone. The males were of little help. It
fell to her to find the choicest gravel upon which she thrashed the side of
her body time and time again until a shallow indentation appeared. The
redd. That would-be nest for her eggs that she had to guard until a
suitable suitor paid her court. And plenty came. And plenty were driven
away. Until an old cock of her generation sidled by.
then the two, in the grey light of the ever-shortening days of a fading
December, slipstreamed each other passing over, under, behind and ahead in
ritualistic contortions. Before ultimately reaching some sort of contented
accommodation as they paused side-by-side in preparation for the
came it was quickly over. Half a minute maybe. A minute a most. Two bodies
quivering in unison in a common purpose, soon joined by the young bucks who
mill and twirl in the downstream melee of eggs and milt eager to randomly
add their gene pool to the next generation. But as the water clears and the
eggs settle to the riverbed it is just Trutta left, once again thrashing
her body on the gravel but this time to fill the redd.
that is it. Creation has sapped Trutta of her summer reserves. Today she
lies between the roots of the ash tree in a pocket of water that barely
moves. Which suits her mood. For she will barely move in the months to
come. Food is scare. The effort not worth the reward. In her hidey hole,
hopefully safe from otters, herons, pike and the attendant dangers of life
in the river she will eke out each day from her dwindling body.
human world Christmas is a moment of hope; that time when expectation trumps
the privations of winter, the lengthening days some evidence that better
times lay ahead. But for Trutta hope is not a construct in her life. The
worst is still yet to come. The chances of another Mayfly simply an
aggregation of dogged determination and a measure of good fortune.
us wish her luck. She deserves another summer in the shade of Ash Tree
Ash Tree Corner
Sports Personality of the Year
to confess I can't bring myself to watch the BBC Sports Personality of the
Year these days. It somehow seems overly long and overly contrived but all
the hoopla surrounding Ben Stokes' eventual victory reminded me of the year
an angler won. Or rather didn't.
Croston with a Tasmainian rainbow
back in 1991, long before the days of telephone or internet polls, the BBC
Personality was selected by a postal vote. Anyone could write in nominating
the man or woman of their choice. How reliable this process was is anyone's
guess. You really have to wonder whether track and field athletes with most
the wins (18) in the past 66 years have really captured our hearts more often
than say footballers (5) or jockeys, snooker players or rugby players (1
the early 1990's Bob Nudd was an international angling superstar. He had
just won the World Freshwater Angling Championships for the second time and
would eventually win it four times. In recognition of this the Angling
Times, a newspaper with a bigger readership than the Daily Telegraph,
organised a write-in campaign helpfully providing a form for readers to
complete and mail. It worked. Bob garnered over 100,000 votes winning the
award by a country mile.
wasn't to be. For reasons best known to the BBC apparatchiks Bob was
disqualified by virtue of his votes being sent in on the form. For the
record the decent, but hardly stellar middle-distance runner Liz McColgan
won the award with rugby's Will Carling second and soccer player Garry
better things are in store for England's Howard Croston who last week
became the 39th World Fly Fishing Champion, contested this year
in Tasmania. Huge congratulations to both Howard for his individual success
and the England team who came eighth.
slightly ironical that neither the brown nor rainbow trout caught in the
competition are indigenous to Australasia. Brown trout were first
introduced to the continent on 4 May 1864 when 2,700 live brown trout ova,
which had been packed in ice since leaving England, were hatched into the
Plenty river near Hobart, Tasmania. If memory serves me correctly the eggs
were reared on the River Itchen at Brambridge, a few miles downstream of
Winchester, at the place Fishing Breaks regulars will know now as Qing Ya
case of fishing coming home.
fishing attracts all sorts, having an impact on our lives in all sorts of
ways. Ex US Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul Volcker who died last week
aged 92, was one such person.
the man, who when appointed to the role by President Carter in 1979, was
tasked with taming inflation. In this he abandoned Keynesian principles
preferring the writings of the economist Friedrich Hayek (a favourite of
Margaret Thatcher) as his guide to use monetary policy as his weapon of
choice. It was painful, hard and unpopular on both sides of the Atlantic.
He didn't say it as a British minister saved him the trouble - the
recession was a price worth paying.
fisher since childhood Volcker used rivers as his retreat from his work. As
an influential Treasury official he had a hand in persuading President
Nixon to suspend the Bretton Woods agreement in 1971 by closing the
"gold window," meaning the United States would no longer
guarantee the value of the dollar. When offered the post as chairman of the
New York Reserve three years later (the job he held before the Fed but at
twice the salary) he took a fishing vacation to ponder, famously calling in
from a roadside payphone to accept.
when asked much later in life, what of your failures, he said to the New
York Times, "The greatest strategic error of my adult life was to
take my wife to Maine on our honeymoon on a fly-fishing trip," he
said, referring to his first marriage. Volcker was a passionate Atlantic
salmon fisher, in his retirement becoming an influential member of the
Atlantic Salmon Trust.
second marriage they honeymooned in the Virgin Islands.
opening & 2020 bookings
not going to be closed for long over Christmas and the New Year. Kris and I
will be beside the phone on Monday (23/Dec), we'll be closed 24-26/Dec,
open on the Friday (27/Dec) and then back to normal hours apart from New
Year's Day when we will be closed.
need a last-minute
voucher, we'll certainly be able to get something in the post
today and at worst we can still email you a version to print out at home.
2020 bookings all the diaries go live on Monday for online bookings. I'll send you a quick update
on Monday with an update of what's new and what's hot.
theme this week other than tangentially the Newsletter topics. As ever
the quiz is just for fun, with answers at the bottom of the page.
1)When did England last record a white Christmas?
2)In which country did the term 'dollar' originate?
3)When was the first King's Christmas Message broadcast and who