Wasps. They are something of a menace for us at this time of
year as they have a propensity to nest in river banks which is often
alarming for both a river keeper armed with a strimmer and the unsuspecting
angler kneeling in the fringe for cover. Now, why wasps particularly like
our banks I do not exactly know, so I set out to find out why.
The wasp year starts in April, the low point in the annual
population cycle. Here in the UK there are roughly 7,000 species of Vespula
but the two you most commonly see are the Common and German wasp, the
typical ‘yellowjackets’ which are the bane of picnics and outdoor dining.
The wasp population in Britain would be huge if it were not for winter;
between October and March the population collapses to just a few
females who survive to create small colonies in the spring with the
population increasing exponentially to a peak in September.
For all their apparent menace, wasps are important to the
ecological balance of our nation – without them we would be overrun by
insects, spiders, caterpillars and greenfly. In total, wasps consume
something in the region of 14 million kilos of invertebrates annually,
which also includes their own – wasps are partial to a bit of cannibalism.
Your garden could literally not exist without the intervention of wasps as
Strangely, however, insects and their like are not the
favoured food for wasps. Sugar from flowers or fruit is their basic diet,
making them accidental pollinators or they eat the sugar produced by larvae
in the nests. But once they have young to feed, they switch to the
invertebrates, moving as most dieticians would advise, from carbs to
protein as they rear families in nests which can be as large at 10,000
As we probably have all experienced, wasps have a painful,
but generally non-fatal sting that they deploy, as with most creatures, by
way of defence rather than attack. However, unlike bees that die after
inflicting a single sting, wasps are able to sting multiple times and live
to tell the tale. You may also wonder what is the difference between a
hornet, that has a far more painful sting, and a wasp? There is in fact
none. Hornets are simply large wasps, growing up to 55mm in length compared
to a more normal 20mm. However, if the size does not give it away the
easiest way to differentiate the two is that hornet colourings are brown
where a wasp would be black.
It seems wasps are not particularly fussy about where they
nest: buildings, log piles, hanging from branches (pictured) or in the
hollow of trees …… in fact, just about anywhere dry, safe and sound.
However, nowhere in my research could I find a specific mention
of river banks so my best guess is that as the late summer population
explodes wasps have to seek out new, but secondary nesting sites which sees
them occupying the now-dry-but-vacant homes of voles, moles and other
Of course, I could well be wrong so if anyone has the
definitive explanation, I’d be delighted to hear it. In the meantime, go
carefully along any riverbank!
What is a good
What do you consider a good catch in a day? 2? 5? 10? Or are
you simply grateful if any fish, of any size, troubles your hook? Well,
should you be Jeff Kolodzinski of Illinois, USA you will be counting your
daily catch in not singles, dozens or hundreds, but in thousands. For Jeff
last week set the World Record for the number of fish caught in a single
day at 2,645.
There is no trickery or artifice about this number. This is
a single person, fishing unaided with a single rod and hook. Jeff took up
position on a platform at his local lake last Tuesday at 9am and fished for
24 hours straight. I will save you doing the maths – his haul represents
two fish every minute on a simple $25 graphite pole with 10 foot of line
with a live bait beneath a bounce float.
Now Jeff, as a seven times member of the US National Team,
is no fishing novice and was in fact breaking his own record of 2,172 that
he set last year. The fish were mostly blue gills, crappies, perch and the
occasional largemouth bass. None spent much time on the hook – Jeff reckons
on 4 seconds from strike to release. At the most productive time he was
catching 4-6 fish a minute and the longest blank measured no more than two
One way or another, Jeff has set a remarkable record that
earns him an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. Of course, you might be
tempted to wonder why he does it or even, what kind of guy he is? In truth,
in a fifteen minute interview I heard with his local radio station, he is
clearly a massive enthusiast for fishing with nothing but good intentions
to spread the word that fishing has no bars to entry and is, as we will all
agree, one of the best shared experiences on the planet.
The beauty of fly
The New York Times regularly carries interesting articles on fly fishing and
during the lockdown the paper launched a series called The World Through
a Lens which rook Montana based freelance photographer Janie Osborne to
the workshop of Tom Morgan Rodsmiths in Bozeman.
It is a wonderful photo essay that captures the essence of a
small company that handcrafts fly rods in both cane and graphite. It shows
what a quirky lot us fly fishers are, specifying reel seats in woods as
diverse tiger stripe maple, black ash, briar, thuya, sapele, buckeye, white
briar and box elder. The cork for the handles, in their many different
shapes, comes from Portugal and one client even sent in a photo of his hand
for the perfect fit.
Each graphite rod takes 6 weeks; cane closer to 4 months with
each rod signed by hand in liquid gold leaf before leaving the workshop.
I know it seems hard to believe that having packed them off
to school not so many weeks ago after months at home, that you’ll be
welcoming your children back sooner than maybe seems decent.
This October half term, hosted by instructors Bob Preston
and Angus Campbell, we’ll be hosting One Day Fish Camps here at Nether
Wallop Mill. We intend to pack each day full of casting, catching,
competitions and fly tying as we try to clear out the lake to end the
· 8-11 years Monday 26 October
·12-15 years Tuesday 27 October
·16-17 years Wednesday 28 October
Each day is limited to six children and runs 10am-4pm. All
tackle is provided. To book and for more information click here ….
fishes the River Itchen
As promised, here is part two of Andy Buckley’s chalkstream
adventure as he dons waders with his partner Ieva, to fish the River Itchen
at Kanara. She catches a monster brown. I have rarely seen anyone so
excited and delighted. The film is worth watching for that alone.