In the clear water I can see that a few Chub have turned up, nothing huge but half a dozen between one and two pound. A few years ago we had one of around four pound that moved around quite a bit. The Chub has a reputation for finding a tree root to sit under and being a sucker for slugs, but the fish that we have had here have always been reasonably nomadic and tricky to catch. The four pounder stuck out like a sort thumb and would move between the top and bottom of our stretch, once dropping right down the beat to come up the bottom of the mill stream and sit in the mill pool by the house for a few days before returning to the main river. I don’t know where this current influx of Chublets have come from, it may be pre spawning behaviour and there are plenty a few miles down in the middle river, although our friendly four pounder moved around regularly throughout the year.
The Grayling are looking to spawn and there are some very black fish currently on the shallows, no signs of any fungus but a few of the bigger ones will inevitably wash up white nosed and dead on the screens post spawning. The warm weather has also led to an increase in mid day hatches of fly, mostly medium Olives but more than enough to get the Browns excited, and the majority appear to be in good knick. The reed beds that I burned off a few weeks ago are now turning from black to green and the first blackthorn blossom has just put in an appearance. It will be interesting to see how the Hawthorn fishing is this year. The winter has been relatively dry which is good news for a fly based on terra firma, however we did experience some extreme and prolonged falls of snow and cold weather which may have done for a few.
My bionic loins saw a return to action this week and once again gave battle with Crack Willow. To date, I have rotated the areas with which I have slain the beast, trying to tackle each section around every five years. This year, under heavy fire, I have resorted to chemical weapons. Some of the stuff I cut down five years ago on the top shallows had grown to the thickness of Chris Hoy’s thigh. I have once again felled the f****** things and have administered a lethal injection to a few defiant stumps.
It’s chaos around here at the moment. Eight weeks of problems parking and heightened security as the roof on the Mill House is being replaced. A quirky roofline that has developed over five hundred years, it is more like five roofs of differing shapes shoved together. Grade II listing requires all of the tiles to be hand made from clay and come with a fifty-year guarantee. The logistics alone of getting twenty-six tonnes of tiles down from a higgledy-piggledy roof three storey high are mind-boggling. There is no room for skips and the only place a vehicle can draw alongside the scaffolding is at one end of the building. All twenty six tonnes of tiles were thrown five at a time along a chain of ten men lining the top of the scaffolding and dropped into a truck that whizzed up and down the road to a landfill site. depositing the broken pegs. The new tiles took the same return route with two roofers ripped with muscles and the shoulders of Atlas throwing new tiles, five at a time, to the third storey where a nimble cove in Hermes’ winged boots plucks them from the air and sets them on their way back along the chain; a “technology free” solution to a problem that would have set most heads scratching.
It has been warm this week and on the roof shirts have been shed. It’s a bit like "at home" with the Chippendales, and feelings of inadequacy are never far from the surface although the gloom is lifted by my wife, who has surprised me with her interest in roofing projects and normally has various extra curricular duties in her special needs role at the local school, promptly returning home when the school bell sounds.