Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Somebody ask Dave Arch to dance

Hello and welcome to another edition of Mushroom Monthly, or if the ratings are good Fungi Fortnightly, but first an appeal.

If anyone is interested in providing a home for a failing laptop please get in touch. Two documents of several thousand words exiting into the ether and miserable experiments with social media have soured my view of all things IT and I am seriously considering a return to pen and paper,

but that makes my hand ache so one more chance technology, don’t screw up again.

If anyone has received any messages via social media containing pledges of undying love I apologise, evil forces have entered my hard drive and are seemingly convinced that I need a date with someone or something, they may also have eaten my documents to sustain them in their campaign as there are flatulent noises emanating form the depths of my keyboard that would suggest a troubled bowel so the last load of words it gobbled up may not be sitting so easy.

Mushroom picking is currently spectacular, with a couple of pounds of white diamonds plucked from secret sources twice a week, they are making an appearance in most meals but what looks like a fair haul shrinks in the pan with flavours concentrated far more than a shop bought button and a sauce as black as your hat that’s great for dipping. There are many other fungi about, the rump of a senior ash in the garden that when felled was estimated at 170 years old plays host to six different types, and a golden willow stump opposite the fishing hut is ringed by what look like golden chanterelles but I am not brave enough to try, they don’t crop up on my super safe list of things to chuck in the pan so I may need to take advice. This year’s spectacular show of fungi make a strong case for not being too neat and tidy when going bananas with a chainsaw, don’t burn everything and leave some dead wood lying around for the fungi.

Our first grayling fishermen have arrived and sport has been good, most of these guys regularly fish the river at this time of the year and all have remarked at how low the level is. There is some wobbly footage on here of grayling spawning on the shallows opposite the hut, two weeks after that film was taken water preservation measures were put in place. Today the river is even lower; if grayling were spawning on those shallows today a pound fish would have its back out of the water. Water preservation measures don’t achieve much at this time of the year but boy do the chalkstreams need some rain. The grayling are in tip top condition and have provided good sport to those engaged in the opening skirmishes with most rods landing a dozen or more fish.

Somebody ask Dave Arch to dance. He has mooned on from the sidelines in half a headphone every week for a decade a more without the merest whiff of an “excuse me” He's obviously aching to have a go so please somebody ask him to dance,

and why can’t I share power between my iphone and ipad via icloud negating the need for a charger.


Carnage is being caused in the low clear water as heron and little egret stab away at anything that moves on the shallows. Little Egret are not difficult to spot, like a Leeds fan in the middle of The Stretford End, their bright white figure renders them highly visible and I estimate that there are half a dozen or more in the valley at the moment taking advantage of a river that is brim full of fish. A few fish are showing signs of white fluffy saprolegnia infections, which is a worry, any scars incurred during spawning or scrapes from a misplaced stab will soon become infected and there may be a few sick fish about through the winter.

The Autumn colours are slowly coming to a peak and most trees seem to have coped well with a summer where liquid refreshment must have been a bit thin on the ground, as green turns to gold thoughts turn to winter work and this winter will see substantial chainsaw work both on and away from the river but only after fish have finished spawning, any cover from avian predation on the shallows at spawning time is welcome, with his big wings and floppy take off “Jack’ern” doesn’t like taking to the skies through foliage so the more cover the better, although once spawning is complete the one and two year willow whips had better look out.

I was recently invited to an afternoon on a lake in the middle river valley, an annual event attended by a parliament of keepers who feasted well on curry and beer before some chucked fluff on the lake. Conversation over food inevitably turned to work and from all quarters came a despondency about some of the guff currently being peddled in the name of chalkstream management. Breaking popadums in a quorum with a combined time on the river of well over a hundred years, the underlying feeling was that fishing was viewed by some as not the best way forward on this river and sometime within the next ten years we would be required to dress up as “Dickie the Damsel Fly” to conduct tours of a strangled chalkstream. Somebody pondered what people would pay for a guided tour of a chalkstream habitat and even in a condition that most book sellers would term “slightly foxed” fuzzy brains drew the conclusion that jobs would be lost and the river would suffer. There is an anti angling undercurrent in some quarters, a particularly short-sighted view point as it is only angling that can provide the income for the implementation of EU habitat directive. You could make a case for over-zealous practice in the past in the quest to put on some decent dry fly fishing, but the pendulum must not be allowed to swing too far the other way. A sensible comment was made from on high at the start of the year about changing the angler’s expectation as to what he can expect on the day, it may not be the big bags of big fish of old on super short grass, but it is still possible to put on a day where an angler can pay for the privilege of premium dry fly fishing for trout, a brace to take home if required with minimum impact and the enjoyment of a day in a unique environment where biodiversity is on the up. It will provide far more income and keep these rivers in better order than a day out with Dickie the Damsel fly.

Thanks for the invite to the lake, a smashing afternoon with good food and company. I apologise for my clumsy casting those fish were a long way out for one used to fishing little rivers.

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