We’ve had a bit of rain, and a lot of it has gone into the ground, not much is taking a drink at the moment and rain today should help the springs push a bit more water over the shallows at spawning time. We seem to have quite a few Herons up and down the valley at the moment that would cause carnage at spawning time if the river were too low. An egret has also turned up, a little earlier than usual.
We are into the final week of the season, and the fishing has picked up with fish rising to small Olives and Spurwings throughout the middle of the day, presentation is key, a clumsy cast spooking many fish. The Grayling are also in prime condition and are also feeding on the surface; there are also some large shoals of fingerling Grayling. As has happened on a few previous occasions the biggest fish of the season was taken in the final month, one of our regulars landed a five and a half pound cockfish that had been on the bottom bends for at least two seasons. It was not sporting spawning duds and was tempted to take a lightly fished Klinkhammer.
The Pheasants are in a routine of breakfasting in the wood, before taking coffee and lunch in the Maize, returning to the wood for tea. They are not wandering as much as previous seasons, due in no small part to the excellent strip of Maize. It must be some of the best in the area, which is just as well, as the Iron Age defence ditch that used to provide shelter for much of the parish’s wildlife is now a barren bank. Trees gone under decree by English Heritage and vegetation sprayed off so all can see the Iron Age bank that the Badgers have dug up.
We seem to have been invaded by Muntjac, two years ago we saw two or three on each shooting day, last year we didn’t see any. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see quite a few on our first beat through the bushes in December. A friend, who turned up to fish earlier in the year, gave me several chunks of Muntjac; we had the saddle a few weekends ago and it was fantastic.
Our small fish rearing operation is on the fish farm register, when the two main on-growing ponds were dug, hoops of Olympic proportions had to be jumped through before we were granted permission to go ahead. The Local Council, English Nature, English Heritage, Various departments of the environment agency, the man digging the ponds, all had input into the digging of what seventy years ago the Luftwaffe could have created with a push of a button. To use water from a river to grow a few hundred fish, you must first apply and pay to take the water from the river, you must then apply and pay to put it back; the former is called a “licence to abstract”, the latter a “consent to discharge”; both are dealt with by different departments of the environment agency. Unbeknown to us our licence to abstract had a ten-year shelf life, the consent to discharge doesn’t. This week an amiable cove. soon to leave the agency (unfortunately) arrived to inform us that our abstraction licence had lapsed two years ago we had been taking a quarter of a million gallons a day through a fixed pipe into our ponds, an oversight on someone’s part (the finger was pointed at me) but could we reapply, Oh and can we have another cheque for the application process. At no point during the two year period did the legions of office wallahs at the agency pick up on the fact that we were paying to put water back into the river but not paying to take it out. Where did they think we were getting a quarter of a million gallons a day of water? , I know the bottled water industry has taken off in recent years but we would require a cast of thousands, buying bottles and emptying Evian and Eau into the brook on a daily basis to get up to a quarter of a million gallons a day.