beginning to think we are going to have to call in Jeremy
Wade of River Monsters fame to Nether Wallop Mill as
we have a monster rainbow all of our own.
frankly, I have no idea where this ferox trout has come from.
The lake at The Mill, as you probably well know, is used for
teaching so we don’t put in fish of much more than three
pounds for all the obvious reasons. But there is clearly a
fish of many times that size. Its existence only became
apparent last week.
guide, Mark Bedford- Russell was teaching on Thursday. A
pretty normal day but from time to time he noticed the mother
moorhen getting very agitated at sporadic intervals around
her sole remaining chick, herding it to the safety of the
reeds with much high-pitched, agitated conversation between
you feeling lucky, Mickey?
Mark’s elderly Labrador Eva, who we have sort of adopted as
the fishing school mascot, disturbed a field mouse in the
lake margin which chose to escape by throwing itself in the
water. Eva is too long in the tooth to follow such an escape
but oblivious to this the mouse swam for the safety of the
opposite bank, a good 30 or 40 yards.
across, what we now call The Wallop Gulper appeared from
beneath to swallow the mouse but missed the take. Clearly our
mouse suspected something bad was happening, even if he knew
not what, so as soon as he righted himself amongst the
foaming ripples, he headed with yet more haste for the
opposite bank. With Mark cheering our little guy on, and Eva
looking on, he wound in the yards little by little. But to no
avail. Back came The Gulper and the mouse was to disappear
a mouse alone was not going to satisfy The Gulper for, by the
end of the day, mother moorhen was chickless. Which might go
to explain our year. We have had, I don’t exaggerate,
hundreds of duck and moorhen chicks but hardly any have got
beyond the first week of life. We’ve blamed the otters. We’ve
blamed the kites. We haven’t blamed the fish as we don’t have
any pike and didn’t imagine a trout might be taking them. But
clearly, we were wrong.
not quite sure ‘ferox’ is the right term for our trout as it
usually refers to ones that live on a diet of other fish, but
it will suffice as a descriptor for now. The next question is
how (or should) we catch The Gulper? River Test history
already records a monster trout, probably the largest wild
chalkstream brown ever caught which was captured on a mouse.
is sometime back in the 1800’s when Houghton Mill was still a
working flour mill. At the tail of the mill race lived this
monster trout that existed entirely on a diet of mice that
fell into the race as they scurried backwards and forwards
across the mill beams. Eventually it became too much for the
lads at the mill who found a mouse, impaled it on a large
hook and trotted it down the mill race. I believe the fish,
somewhere around 15 lbs, is on display in a cabinet in the
Houghton Club rooms.
we going to go after The Gulper? I suspect not though I’m
sure the ducks and moorhens will he lobbying hard for its
for The Telegraph Best Sports Writing Award 2021
months ago, I received an email from my publishers William
Collins. It was brief: You’ve been shortlisted for the 2021
Telegraph Sports Book Awards. Can you make the awards dinner
in September? And PS Don’t tell anyone. Other than the fact
I’ll have to cut short a fishing trip to Jackson Hole,
Wyoming, well, yes.
course, the one thing the email failed to say, and frankly
since as further news was embargoed until 28/July nobody
seemed inclined to tell, what award was I up for or who
the opposition were. I must admit I rather assumed I was in
the running for either the biography award (frankly I deserve
an award simply on the basis that the subject has never said
or written anything …..) or a horse racing category. But Frankel
is up for neither but I’ll take a Best Sports Writing
nomination ahead of any of those.
this point I feel I should, with a nod to my bookmaking past,
compile a list of the titles, authors and odds of the six
shortlisted books in the Best Sports Writing category.
Thinking of this I was reminded of my old friend Ron Pollard,
now long dead, who was the first real PR man for betting. It
was he who invented the novelty bet: snow on Christmas Day.
Name of the Royal baby. Odds for the Booker Prize.
let me let you into two secrets. Firstly, novelty bets were
(and still are) always PR stunts. Nobody cares about Royal
baby names to the extent of risking good money. Bookies take
more money on the first race at Crayford on a wet Tuesday
morning than they ever do on festive snow. But it garners
column inches and free TV time.
for the Booker Prize I am not sure Ron, who made the odds
himself, was ever guilty of reading book. He was an East
End boy who scrapped his way up the Ladbrokes hierarchy when
it was in its pomp, the largest betting corporation in the
world. How did he rate the Booker shortlist? He read the
first and last pages of each making the book he disliked
least the favourite. I have a feeling he’d have disliked Frankel
Telegraph Sports Books Awards take place at the Kia Oval on
Monday September the 20th. Click here for
more details and tickets.
Video of the Week
video from California is at least some comfort that we are
not alone in having problems in sunny weather which creates a
chemical reaction in lakes and rivers that brings on algal
bloom or unpleasant scum that breaks off from the bed to
float to the surface.
sometimes have solutions but none quite like that of the Los
Angeles Water Department who have covered the reservoir that
supplies most of water to the city with 96 million black
balls, each the size of a grapefruit.
idea is that shading the water prevented the sunshine induced
chemical reaction that was polluting the drinking water. Watch how the
solution evolved. Not sure it would quite
work on a fishing lake (!) but ingenious, nonetheless.
delighted to be able to bring you a selection of special
offers from now through August that might work whether you
are fishing alone, with a friend or want to get a group
normal random collection of questions inspired by the
date, events or topics in the Newsletter.
is just for fun with answers at the bottom of the page.
what year was the Booker Prize first awarded?
beat who and where on this day in 1966?
is the UK’s smallest native mouse?
case you are wondering where the July Hero vs. Villain
debate has gone you'd be right to wonder. Charles and I
are taking a brief summer break but will be back on
Thursday August 26th at 6.30pm live from Nether Wallop
Mill when we'll test our Zoom skills broadcasting from
beside the lake as Charles brings you his 5 TOP TIPS
FOR BETTER CASTING and we'll explore the best catch
and release techniques.
to take part. Click on Newsletter/Subscribe/Hero vs.