Sunday 15 June 2014
A second film titled “Brown Trout feeding frenzy II” portrayed our hero laid dormant under a bed of weed stuffed and sated and was panned by the critics.
This weekend, the beginning and end of the ides of June a significant number of Mayfly continue to crash and die on the river. There were concerns from some quarters over this year’s mayfly hatch following the floods of last winter but these have proved groundless and this has been one of the heaviest mayfly hatches in recent memory.
We have several juvenile grass snakes in our garden pond which sits six feet from the kitchen window, and they currently slurp their way through a surfeit of tadpoles, and a visiting angler caught sight of a thirty inch adult on the river bank last weekend. This valley is riddled with snakes, harmless I know, but the briefest glimpse never fails to give me a start. There is something shifty about a snake that both man and animals detect (see Walt Disney’s interpretation of Kipling’s Jungle Book, “Trust In me, trust in me, close your eyes and trust in me”) although the best dog I ever had didn’t bat an eye at a basilisk, his nemesis was Mrs Tiggywinkle who would send this puritanical black hound doolally as he bayed mournfully for many minutes at the curled up spikey form laid before him.
An incident that sent me reaching for a mongoose occurred several years ago while grading some trout in a tin bath. With the pond netted up and the selection process of which Trout goes where well under way (Think Elle McPherson in The UK’s next top model with a bath full of fish) I leaned over the tin bath and hand sorted my way through their flapping only for a large grass snake to rear from the bath and flip over the side of the bath causing me to squeal like Yvette Fielding on a Ghost Train.
Although the event is highly unlikely to be repeated, each time I kneel to grade fish in a tin bath a small voice at the back of my head cries “see the snakes”
If you are in the south of England and are fortunate enough to be able to walk alongside a chalk stream, do so this summer, because they are currently in particularly good shape, as a direct result of good groundwater flow. Warnings are writ large in the travails of the rivers Chess, Beane and Misbourne, three groundwater rivers that have suffered greatly through depleted groundwater flow. Those consulting on how we in the south satisfy an increasing requirement for water should keep that at the front of their minds when deciding on a course of action for supplying the next generation with water.
I could now bang on about cricket and match fixing in the IPL and County game, but I won't, it's a tad depressing, but in both sports money corrupts,
which is why I'm glad this pure soul employed in this industry doesn't have any,
No, hang on, that's not quite right, let me re-word that last sentence and get back to you,
Currently there are two tomes available at bookshops throughout the land regarding life on the chalk streams.
A collection of his published pieces over the past few years it covers many aspects of chalkstream life, from funny fishing stories to serious pieces on the challenges that these precious rivers face. The whole thing bounces along nicely and is well worth a read.
The second is penned by a fishing agent who claims to have discovered a chalkstream then set about righting a hundred years of neglect,
Which is quite a claim
But then again that is what Fishing agents do.
Tuesday 10 June 2014
still chasing my tail a tad,
but a few weeks ago I was kindly invited North to fish the Carron an hour north of Inverness, a repeat of a trip made last year in which a triumph for drunken blundering delivered a salmon to the bank on only my fourth cast with a fly. This year I had put in several hours of spey casting practise on the outfield of the cricket pitch, purchased a new rod having broken a rather good one last year, and hopped on the same orange aeroplane for a fare whose rail equivalent would have delivered me six miles past York.
This is the age of the train - further falsehoods from Savile in the `1970’s
Few fish had been caught the week before, but relentless rain on landing and a highland capital bearing puddles across every roundabout raised hopes for the coming days.
My chariot, Europcar’s finest Vauxhall Corsa replete with two tone trim, bucket seats and baseball cap to be worn in reverse (backwards on the bonce, not while reversing the car) transported me across the Black Isle and an hour over a hill where, had it been clearer, I would have made out Dornach Firth the body of water that receives the waters of The Oykel, Shin, Carron and Cassley and hopefully full of salmon eager to run up rivers.
I trod my plotted course as inconspicuously as a Jayzee Wanabee can up a nine mile single track road that wound its way up the stunning Strathcarron, where a rising river sent many rods to chuck their chotapegs and make for the riverbank in anticipation of a pre prandial tug on a line.
The Carron is a beautiful river and a la Miss Minogue is shorter than most, but with a reasonable rise in water salmon can run a long way up its course, hence the requirement to be on the bank when fish are running as fish can quickly pass through your beat.
With a quick “Dr Livingstone I presume” the formalities were done with, a beer chucked in my hand, a rod erected and I was bustled to the riverbank. Four casts in and my fly was grabbed by a gorse bush from behind. The spey casting practise had not paid the dividends anticipated, and then the mental bomb dropped that I had left my pyjamas at home.
I was to share a room in the house in which we were staying with a fellow rod, and having missed the last series of Gok’s “How to look good naked” I decided to resort to my childhood practise of going to bed in my fishing clothes for an early start the next day, bar the buoyancy aid.
The next day we first fished the spectacular Glencalvie Falls and the beats below, which are engaged from a series of precipitous platforms attached to the rock walls of the gorge that many estates in the South of England would instantly dismiss as unsafe or unfishable. Unforgettable for me and very exciting fishing, We're too soft in the south when it comes to walking the riverbank.
My first fish on the new rod was a Brown Trout of over two pounds which was probably quite a senior fish, a few salmon were sighted but none caught and sage Ghillie - Ronnie Ross expressed concern over the numbers of fish that were currently running the river.
Last year, pre breakfast bumbles uncovered a Bar Tailed Godwit that probed for dainties in a splash in a neighbouring field. this year Cuckoos were quite the thing. There haven't been many in Hampshire this year but in this corner of Scotland there were plenty.
The next day proved fruitful, a few welcome tips on spey casting from one of my hosts saw me chucking a fly most of the way across the river with the biggest bush at my back, Ronnie advised us at to where to concentrate our efforts and emboldened by Margaret's superb cooking, fish duly followed. Six to be exact, with two somehow attaching themselves to my rod.
A fantastic place to fish in a superb sporting valley, if you are ever invited to fish a river in the Kyle of Sutherland do not turn the opportunity down, it is well worth the trip.
Thank you very much for the invitation.