I have a pet swan; his name is Arthur the Arthritic on account of a gammy leg. He is of indeterminate age, though clearly getting on a bit and lives on the lake here at Nether Wallop Mill. I must admit I never set out to have a swan for a pet – they are not the friendliest of creatures and are, in truth, a bit messy. That said we have reached a sort of amiable compromise over the past four or five years.
This month Orvis celebrates 30 years on the English high street and it is an odd thought but I write this from the very same room from which the Orvis operation was run in 1985, the American firm having acquired Nether Wallop Mill and Dermot Wilson’s famous mail order company four years earlier.
The death was swift. A brief press release from the offices of the CLA (Countryside Landowners Association) consigned the annual Game Fair to history. The biggest event in the rural calendar, at least measured by the number of people that attended, was to be cancelled. No reprieve was offered. Even though dates for the 2016 event at Ragley Hall had been in the diary for two years, it was all over forever. The show, despite being visited by around a 150,000 people, was a loss maker for the CLA and the membership could no longer support the losses.
I’m sitting here at 38,000 feet asking myself why do I fish? Not in any heart searching, godaam I’m an idiot sort of way but in a rather contented I’m glad I do it sort of way. Sky high and with the North American coast ahead and the southernmost tip of Greenland just past, I’m now about 5 hours into a 15 hour trip that ends in Victor, Idaho.
Whatever your views on the Environment Agency, the government arm of the Department of Farming and Rural Affairs tasked with looking after fishing, you can’t ever fault them when it comes to sending out letters guaranteed to scare the living daylights out of you. One such letter arrived last week entitled “Advice note to river and stillwater fisheries – Protect fish and wildlife in dry weather”.
As you might imagine I am not a great one for meetings and especially not ones that bear any close resemblance to a committee. So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I took myself off on Monday to the AGM of the River Allen Association for the first time ever.
I am often asked whether poaching is a big problem for us and the truth is no. Occasionally we will get a bunch of kids dangling over a bridge but trout are mostly a wary bunch who soon outwit them. So, on the rivers do we have any problems of the human kind? Well, of course. I must admit what used to enrage me most was wanton vandalism; breaking down fences, the smashing of cabin windows and low level stuff. But today it is litter that really is the bane of my life.
Jon Hall, the river keeper at Broadlands on the River Test, caused quite a stir Facebooking this monster pike he caught on the fly last week on his home water. It weighed in at a colossal 31lb 4oz. I asked Jon what he caught it on, “A big home made one :)” came the reply. Maybe he is being a bit coy …….
LIFE OF A CHALK STREAM by Simon Cooper
It all depends; if you are looking for great literature, poetic prose, something to impress the intellectual spirit, then Life of a Chalk Stream is not the best place to start. If you are looking for enlightenment, a window into a different world and the passion of one man for his métier, then read this book.
It is clearly written from the heart. The structure is prosaic but you understand completely where he is coming from. It makes no demands other than to enjoy the world the author enjoys and to take you through his delights with an invitation to share.
Introducing the Salmon Rivers of Iceland by Roy Arris.
As a salmon fishing destination Iceland has everything going for it, including having no mosquitoes or biting midges! Sitting in the middle of the North Atlantic, hanging from the Arctic Circle so to speak, it is far enough from the hub-bub of Europe or North America, yet easily accessible by air (under three hours from London, and in less than two hours from Glasgow). Icelandic salmon also benefit from the island’s strategic position as they are relatively close to the ocean feeding grounds and they are allowed to travel back to their home rivers without being molested by any commercial fishing in the surrounding seas or along its coast.