Friday, 29 January 2021

New 2021 Mayfly dates


Life on a Chalkstream




29th January 2021


·     New 2021 Mayfly dates

·     Now that's what I call multi-tasking

·     Living that dream

·     Groundwater, groundwater everywhere ......

·     Hero or villain? Join at 11am

·     Quiz




It seems an eternity ago, but right at the start of the Covid crisis I was talking with an old friend of mine who is high up in the horse racing industry. At the time racing was suspended and the authorities were in talks with the government to recommence racing BCD – behind closed doors. My friend said at the time, remember this was April last year, racing had a contingency for BCD to go through to 2022. I was flabbergasted but right now that forward planning seems prescient.


Last week I found myself in a similar situation as we talked to our overseas clients who were hoping to fish in the spring and summer of 2021 as the prospects for inbound travel to the UK unravelled faster than any of us had anticipated. Should they still try for this year or plan on 2022? In the end discretion beat out valour, which in that typical good/news way of things at the moment at least releases a whole batch of Mayfly dates.


Trout & Mayfly


Mayfly dreamin'


These are some of our most sought after beats where a whole new batch of prime Mayfly dates are now available: 


·     Bullington Manor (Upper Test)

·     Compton Chamberlayne (River Nadder)

·     Kanara (Itchen)

·     Mottisfont Abbey (Test)

·     Qing Ya Xi (Itchen)

·     Shawford Park (Itchen)

·     Wrackleford (Frome)


To check out dates click on the links to the beats above or use the date search facility for a particular date or range of dates.



Now that's what I call multi-tasking


Fine magazine though it is I am not a great reader of The Cricketer but I did notice an article last week that recorded its history, 2021 marking the centenary of its publication. I read the article out of idle name-spotting curiosity; as a student I had a job as a contract gardener for a succession of summers which had included mowing the lawn of the then editor.


Scanning down the list of past editors I did indeed spot the name of my long gone employer but another name leapt out at me: 1972-73 Tony Pawson. Not the Tony Pawson? The Tony Pawson who won the World Fly Fishing Championships in 1984, winning a trophy the size of a small house, a regular at Avington Fishery, one of my teenage haunts and a noted visitor to Nether Wallop Mill in Dermot Wilson’s day.


It is strange, and it is something I have noticed over the years, but great sportsmen are often good at a multiplicity of sports. I’m currently reading the autobiography of golfer John Daly (yes, the one who drank a lot) a two time Major winner who equally had a chance to be a professional baseball pitcher and American football goal kicker. Pawson was one such man.



Tony Pawson 1947


Whilst still at Winchester College, aged 16, he scored 237 runs in his debut match at Lord’s. He went on to join Kent as a batsman 1947-53 playing in 69 first class matches, scoring 3,807 runs at an average of just over 37. Now that is pretty good but he didn’t confine himself to the cricket pitch; he was a talented footballer playing in the cricket off season to win two FA Amateur Cups at Wembley Stadium and playing briefly for Charlton Athletic, then in Division One, before passing on a professional football career due to the poor pay.


How did he come to fly fishing? Well, inevitably, Winchester College with its extensive fishing on the River Itchen which is reserved for pupils and alumni. He followed in many a famous footstep. Viscount Grey of Fallodon (he of ‘The lamps are going out all over Europe’ fame), GEM Skues and Pawson was a contemporary of Dermot Wilson. During the 1980’s Pawson made the World Fly Fishing Championships, still in its first decade, his own. As I mentioned he won in Spain in 1984, led the English team to win in England in 1987 and in Australia in 1988. Along the way he wrote four books on fly fishing and set up the Commonwealth Fly Fishing Championship which continues to thrive to this day.


He died in 2012 aged 91 years having spent his final years living in Chilcomb village on the outskirts of Winchester within shouting distance of the waters on which he cast his first ever fly.



Living that dream


Some of you might remember a fishing guide called David Coppock. He wasn’t your average guide, coming to our profession late in life having retired from the Royal Navy as an Admiral.


David helped me out in the early days of Fishing Breaks. He was a great raconteur and truly enjoyed the craic of fishing. At end of the day he’d hold the table in the palm of his hand, with a drink in the other. He was also a great instructor, especially with that age that probably typified new recruits to the Navy. One day he was with a young guy who was vastly academically overqualified to be a guide but wanted to discard his books to dedicate his life to fly fishing.


‘Look’, said David, ‘here’s a better plan. Finish your studies. Get a great job. Work your balls off. Earn a fortune. Then jack it all in and buy whatever sodding river takes your fancy.’ 



Anders Povlsen


I have no idea what happened to that guy but I wonder if Anders Povlsen, founder of ASOS and probable buyer of TopShop, ever came across David for he has truly lived that dream. From a teenage fly fishing trip to Scotland in the 1980’s he has used his fortune earnt from clothing to become the largest landowner in Scotland in the space of 15 years. He now owns 220,000 acres. That is a lot of sodding rivers!



The 11 Scottish estates bought by Anders Povlsen by since 2006



Groundwater, groundwater everywhere ....


The Guardian carried a slightly curious piece on chalkstreams on Saturday (23/January) prompted, I guess, by recent Environment Agency (EA) data that shows winter groundwater levels at normal to high with some areas experiencing record levels. The EA, along with those of us who live or die by winter rain, pay a lot of attention to groundwater data because it is an indicator of things to come; at a basic level of analysis high in winter makes for happy in summer.


Groundwater sounds pretty dull but is a vital natural resource, an indicator of the amount of water in aquifers and shallower water tables that has originated as surface water (rain, snow etc.) that percolates through layers of soil and rock, or in our case chalk, and is stored beneath the earth’s surface. It is this groundwater that contributes to streams, rivers and wetlands to play a crucial role in maintaining surface water quantity, quality and temperature, all vital to support healthy aquatic ecosystems. Groundwater is, in the absence of reservoirs, the source of drinking water for our nation.


The Guardian article was not long (you can read it here) and I say it was curious because it seemed strangely out of context; a brief news item that was essentially a cri de coeur by the unnamed journalist, the closing paragraph reading,


“... it is also a reminder of the loss of so many of our beautiful chalk streams once populated by may flies, trout and water voles that have disappeared because of over-abstraction by water companies and farmers. It is another example of the long-running struggle between human priorities and the needs of the natural world.”


Hey, I could not have put it better myself so thank you, unnamed journalist person. Sad though our plight is, seeing it written about in the mainstream press in such stark terms is an indication of how river issues are rising up the national consciousness. I’d bet you a pound to a penny no article of this nature would have been seen in The Guardian or it’s like 10-20 years ago.


The reaction it garnered in The Guardian’s online forum was also heartening; 140 comments within the first 24 hours. Clearly people care. For the most part they bash the water companies; well, it is The Guardian after all but you won’t get any argument from me on that score. They rail against pollution but are mostly realistic enough to accept that, as a population, we have bought this upon ourselves, selfishly exploiting a scarce natural resource.


What remedies do people suggest? Well, grey water is often cited. Better sewage treatment. Higher water charges. Rigorous enforcement of current legislation. More legislation. Higher fines. Less water use. Build more reservoirs. Nationalise the water industry. Whether all these are right, wrong or practical you can judge for yourself but at least it is good to know people are talking about the issues.



Hero or villian? The stock fish


If you would like to join Charles and I at 11am today for our vlogcast here are the Zoom login details:


Simon Cooper is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.


Topic: Hero or villain? The stock fish

Time: Jan 29, 2021 11:00 AM London


Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 851 0637 4111

Passcode: 265157


If you can't make it I will make the video and audio recording avalaible on Saturday.




This week questions loosely based on topics mentioned in the Newsletter to confound, dismay or delight.


1)     What does the name ASOS stand for?


2)     Which military honour to acknowledge valour in the face of the enemy (United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries) was established on this day in 1856?


3)     Is rainwater acidic or alkaline?



Have a good weekend.



Best wishes,



Simon Cooper

Founder & Managing




Quiz answers:


1)     As Seen On Screen

2)     Victoria Cross

3)     Slightly acidic and devoid of alkalinity


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