Thursday, 24 April 2008
Yes i know its been a while since I added to the chronicle of my journey but life, as they say, keeps getting in the way. First i crashed my scooter (painful but no lasting damage), then came the stag do (joint second in the clay pigeon shooting - 14 pairs and 4 singles smashed after a two year hiatus - yeah yeah, kids stuff, you can do better, write yer own blog) the wedding itself (THE social event of the year - congratulations to Sir Hiss and the newly crowned Mrs Sir Hiss) and then a family holiday to the coast (an evil conspiracy of childcare time and tide banjaxed any fishing, there was a little bit of gathering but no hunting).
Now that i can get back into it I'm very happy to tell you that I'm due to take my first fly fishing lesson early next week.In class bound Blighty 'on-the-fly' is still seen as the way toffs fish, this is mainly due to the massive cost of fishing on the classic 'beats'.
North of the boarder, where our Caledonian cousins have perfected the art of marketing their waterways and fieldsports heritage, there is one Scottish fly fishing blogger, Alistair, who is starting to redress the balance with his tales of low-cost fly fishing on the Kelvin just outside Glasgow. Through reading his blog I found out that down south a blogger called Jeremiah Quinn has taken on the mantle and is chronicling his exploration of England's (mainly urban) low-cost Trout waters. Not for him the stocked lakes around London where bloated rainbows rise, secure in the knowledge that if they have bitten a man made fly they'll soon be back home in the water.He turns the traditionally costly country pursuit of fly fishing in to a low cost urban adventure.
During our email conversations it became apparent we're both fans of a writer (and later TV presenter) called Charles Rangeley-Wilson and his book (and TV series of the same name) 'The Accidental Angler'. For the most part C R-W travels the world to visit some of the most amazing destination fishing, then the story moves closer to his home as he investigates London's disappeared rivers, and takes on the challenge of catching a trout within the M25 (the orbital ring road that encircles London). He dismisses my local river, the Ravensbourne, and heads west to the Wandle a chalkstream transformed by the intervention of fishing enthusiasts calling themselves the Jet Set Club and local school children. C R-W wasn't successful on the Wandle, but did later do the business on the Chess. Also fished by Jeremiah
In the 18th century the Wandle was regarded as the premier trout stream within easy reach of london. In 1828 Humphry Davy wrote in his classic Salmonia:
"...of the blue dun, there is a succession of different tints, or species, or varieties, which appear in the middle of the day all the summer and autumn long. These are the principal flies on the Wandle - the best and clearest stream near London.
In early spring these flies have dark olive bodies; in the end of April and the beginning of May they are found yellow; and in the summer they become cinnamon coloured; and again, as winter approaches, gain a darker hue. I do not, however, mean to say that they are the same flies, but more probably successive generations of Ephemerae of the same species."
For navel and fly fishing history buffs it's also worth noting that Admiral Lord Nelson liked the Wandle so much he commissioned a house there, and with the cunning that made him such a great leader - he wisely told Lady Hamilton it was a present for her!
Those halcyon days were followed by 200 years of using the river as a convenient way to dump rubbish, but thanks to the efforts made the river is now one of the cleanest in europe, and as Jeremiah's picture testifies fish are thriving.
Thanks for reading
your pal the Bushwacker.
If you want to know more about fishing the Wandle i found this blog
If you want to get involved in a clear up later this year the dates are:
May 11 Sutton
June 8 Merton
July 13 Wandsworth
August 10 Sutton
September 14 Merton
October 12 Wandsworth
November 9 Sutton
December 14 Merton