I, as probably you, have received a slew of invitations in
recent weeks to sign water related gov.uk petitions from all manner of
subjects from sewage pollution to banning the use of harmful flea
treatments for dogs which eventually end up in rivers.
I’m generally sympathetic to them all, though I flatly
refuse to sign the one that asks us to support the campaign to “Give the
Environment Agency the funds and freedom to protect English rivers.” As
Feargal Sharkey so eloquently said in recent evidence to a House of Commons
Committee, and as I have written elsewhere, the EA has all the powers and
money it could possibly need. The best thing for rivers is to give the EA a
dignified death and replace it with a Pure Water Authority.
A river runs by it ....
But I digress because really what I find slightly depressing
is how little traction the river quality petitions seem to be getting. Now
that could be a manifestation of petition fatigue; there are currently
2,407 petitions open for support at petition.parliament.ukranging from introducing sanctions against Israel (currently
top at 384,342) to making yoga part of the school curriculum (3,127).
As a petitioner you have two benchmarks of sucess. At 10,000
the government will take notice of your proposal – I have no idea what that
means. If your petition reaches 100,000 it will be considered for debate in
parliament. Since Tony Blair began this people’s politics in 2006 that has
happened on 73 occasions, so four or five a year. Not to be sniffed
When BBC Panorama broadcast last month the programme on the
wanton sewage pollution of our rivers by the water companies I thought we
were nailed on for one such debate. The petition to ban water companies
discharging raw sewage into water courses was launched on the back of the
programme. But after an initial surge it is mired around the 35,000 mark
which puts it in the top 50 petitions list – not bad, but it is, for
instance, 5,000 signatures behind the petition for stricter laws governing
the purchase/acquisition/possession of crossbows. Now, however worthy and
justified the crossbow petition might be, how an earth can that be getting
I’m not sure what the answer is but here is a clue: in a
recent survey of household utilities people rated the provision of
broadband as more important that clean water. We really do have a struggle
on our hands.
That was the month
that was: May
Wettest. Coldest. Frostiest. If you are of a certain age you
might just now shout, it’s a record breaker! Maybe it is my fault. After a
dry April I sort of wished for a dampish start to May. Just a little water
will help, I said to myself. To say my wish was granted by the bucketful
slightly understates how wet May was. I see in some places it was three
times the average.
In truth, the rain should not greatly retard the cadence of
the hatch season, but the cold certainly did, aided and abetted by regular
N/NE winds. Just as a for instance the yellow Flag irises which normally
bloom in early May are only this week popping their heads out and even
then, in a half-hearted sort of way.
So, putting all that together it was no great surprise when
the Mayfly didn’t arrive when expected. On the Itchen it was just starting
this year around the time that it ended last year, and I sat here at The
Mill last night looking at a full-on hatch at 8pm which, in terms of sheer
numbers, is unusual for June.
It was truly brutal in those middle two weeks of May.
Miserable weather. Sometimes dirty rivers. Mayfly hatches which at best
were sporadic. It has eventually come good as the weather turned but Mother
Nature, as is her wont, has made fools of us as ever.
Well done to Andrew Probin who wins the May Feedback Draw
having fished The Parsonage in the teeth of the aforementioned appalling weather.
A bottle of Daddy Long-Legs champagne is in the post to ease the pain.
Eventually they arrived
Social media and fishing: good or bad?
I blow hot and cold on social media. On the one hand it has
made possible this newsletter. On the other I do sometimes feel that much
of the output is about as useful as shouting down a well. But for the most
part I just jog along with its existence accepting that, as Lord Leverhulme
once said of advertising, I know half the effort is wasted but nobody can
tell me which half.
Some feel differently however. Trout & Salmon editor
Andrew Flitcroft used his leader column in the July magazine to talk about
the pernicious influence of social media on trophy hunting. Others consider
the proliferation of so-called influencers denigrates our sport. No good,
they argue, can come from a pretty blonde holding a fish up to the camera.
Which, they ask, are you truly looking at?
So, you can guess where this is leading. The next topic for
Hero vs. Villain is to be Social Media: good or bad for fishing? 7pm
Thursday July 1st. Register here
Catch up on Hero vs. Villain. Brown or rainbow trout: which
is the superior fish? In the wholly unscientific poll we had during the
debate you voted 65/35 in favour of browns and 87/13 the same way in a
subsequent Twitter poll. Listen to the podcastWatch on You Tube
No, not mine but a beautiful collection of photos recently
self-published by Dick Hawkes a keen amateur photographer and fly fisher. Chalkstreams
A Unique Environment Worth Conserving is the perfect pictorial
explanation of all things chalkstream from the origins, sources, history,
uses past and current with a look to the future.
The book may ordered direct from Dick at £30 firstname.lastname@example.org or on Amazon I’ll be giving away a signed
copy, kindly donated by Dick, during our next Hero vs. Villain debate.
Dick Hawkes on location
Back to the more normal random
collection of questions inspired by the date, events or topics in the
It is just for fun with answers at the
bottom of the page.
1)Who beat Japan on this day in 1995 to
set the world record winning points tally in an international Rugby
2)It is the Epsom Derby on Saturday.
What age horses is the race restricted to?
3)How many years did Tony Blair serve as