Opening Day

The Avon at Durnsford looked glorious in the mid morning sunshine, today. The water was coloured and flies, few. I only saw one rise which I think was a small grayling. I fished for a couple of hours before the showers came, and blanked. Me! An April Fool ? Nah!! It was lovely to be in the water, if only for some casting practice.

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100,000 !

My sites, now, and just this week, have been visited over 100000 times…thank you!

Please keep visiting, and keep reading.
Still ten Welsh Counties to ‘net’, and so many departments in France, too.

I am planning furiously….our season is about to begin, and like all trouters, I am excited and optimistic.

 

Izaak Walton

I have posted about Izaak Walton before, and after visiting his resting place in Winchester Cathedral.

This week, I was privileged to be invited to lunch at Ironmongers Hall close to the Barbican in the City of London. At the pre meal reception I noted with surprise this

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and also a portrait, of the Father of Modern Angling –

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Eager to connect Izaak with the Worshipful Company, Wikipedia helped me do so –

“Izaak Walton was born at Stafford c. 1594; the traditional ‘9 August 1593’ date is based on a misinterpretation of his will, which he began on 9 August 1683.[2] The register of his baptism gives his father’s name as Gervase. His father, who was an innkeeper as well as a landlord of a tavern, died before Izaak was three. His mother then married another innkeeper by the name of Bourne, who later ran the Swan in Stafford.[3]

He is believed to have been educated in Stafford before moving to London in his teens. He is often described as an ironmonger, but he trained as a linen draper, a trade which came under the Ironmongers’ Company.[4] He had a small shop in the upper storey of Thomas Gresham‘s Royal Burse or Exchange in Cornhill. In 1614 he had a shop in Fleet Street, two doors west of Chancery Lane in the parish of St Dunstan’s.[5] He became verger and churchwarden of the church, and a friend of the vicar, John Donne.[2] He joined the Ironmongers’ Company in November 1618.[2] Walton’s first wife was Rachel Floud (married December 1626), a great-great-niece of Archbishop Cranmer. She died in 1640. He soon remarried, to Anne Ken (1646–1662), who appears as the pastoral Kenna of The Angler’s Wish; she was a stepsister of Thomas Ken, afterwards bishop of Bath and Wells.[3]

After the Royalist defeat at Marston Moor in 1644, Walton retired from his trade. He went to live just north of his birthplace, at a spot between the town of Stafford and the town of Stone, where he had bought some land edged by a small river. His new land at Shallowford included a farm, and a parcel of land; however by 1650 he was living in Clerkenwell, London. The first edition of his book The Compleat Angler was published in 1653. His second wife died in 1662, and was buried in Worcester Cathedral, where there is a monument to her memory. One of his daughters married Dr Hawkins, a prebendary of Winchester.[3]

The last forty years of his life were spent visiting eminent clergymen and others who enjoyed fishing, compiling the biographies of people he liked, and collecting information for the Compleat Angler. After 1662 he found a home at Farnham Castle with George Morley, bishop of Winchester, to whom he dedicated his Life of George Herbert and his biography of Richard Hooker. He sometimes visited Charles Cotton in his fishing house on the Dove.[3]

Walton died in his daughter’s house at Winchester, and was buried in Winchester Cathedral.[6]

Note that the spelling of his name then, was Isaak…

Also, there is no reference to his birthdate in the stained glass, but several to his preferences of life!

La saison est terminee…

I have now fished 11 of the 22 Regions ‘de France’ and caught trout in nine of them, and I have caught trout in 12 of the 16 Departments I have fished, and from sixteen rivers. This season, I added Pas de Calais and Haute Marne to my list of Departments…I must try harder!

So for this year, and to my French guiding friends, thank you for showing me your special ‘places’ and advising, teaching and helping me enjoy our wonderful past time on your beautiful streams…so thank you, Marc, Michael, Thierry (I have to fish the Sioule again), and Christophe.

Voyez vous en 2017…merci encore.

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The Ginger Beer Beat

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If you are a fisherman you will get this.

If you are not, you may not.

But when a fisherman, the most generous of species ‘homo sapiens’, invites someone who is not a fisherman, to try…

Then links him with someone of patience who wishes to share, to impart…

Some magic can happen.

Such was my day with Satts (Chris Satterthwaite) and novitiate, Ed Pickard, Satts’ running chum, who has never fished before, therefore. Which is why Chris organised Orvis guide/instructor, Brian Robinson (surely one of the best guides in Hampshire) to assist Ed’s entry to our lovely world.

Coffee and early day exchanges done, it was to the riverbank, for some explanation from Brian, of the history of the English chalk stream, and on this bridge

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from where we all wondered at the streaming weed, the clear water and the odd fish, holding quite deep. A Mayfly excited, but there were not many, which led to a discourse on what worries so many – the state of our chalk streams and the impacts of man’s actions on them. (The S&TC UK deserve all our support for raising the profile of this problem)

Kitted up, Chris and I walked the beat, leaving Brian to get Ed casting, and before long, Brian declared that Ed was “getting it”. So many listen to his casting technique suggestions, he said, and then put them into practice, but then just as quickly, forget to. But Ed, an eager listener (and hearer!) quickly understood the 10pm to 1pm orthodox, and whilst once or twice the rod dropped to below the horizontal on the back cast (and whose doesn’t some times) and Brian already knew that Ed, who was already throwing the line sufficiently well to go to the river bank, was ready for lesson two…fish spotting!”

And there were quite a few, on view.

There was little fly life though, just a May or two and a few small olives, and the fish were lying well down in the water, so, in due course, Brian opted for a weighted nymph for Ed’s first cast to the flow.

Many forget that for a beginner, hooking is one thing, but playing, netting and landing, is yet another skill which has to be learnt. But how do you learn to do this before you have learned to hook something. Well Brian’s answer to this was cunning. Both went into serious spotting mode and it was Brian who cast to a targeted fish, and with his considerable experience, he secured an induced take quite quickly, whereupon he handed the rod to Ed, and calmly talked him through the process of getting the fish to net and bank, which he did!

So now it was Ed’s turn, solo! And under Brian’s tutelage, and either side of a delicious picnic, he landed four fish on his own.

hope he will by now be kitted up and ready for another day on the water, for I have rarely seen someone casting as well as he, and so quickly, and his joy from a successful first ever fly fishing experience was palpable., and we were all pleased for him.

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Where next for him? Frensham Flyfishers…and the Wey, will be my bet, for round two! Wonder whether Brian is available!

Happily, Satts and I caught ten fish, or so, an assortment of browns and grayling, and at least two of the browns were wild fish. (But this day was not about us!)

The Ginger Beer Beat is picturesque and is kept (keepered) beautifully as I hope these pictures show:

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Post script: I regret, I am not a fan of the River Test, because it seems to me just daft to have interfered with its natural stock of brown trout by introducing overgrown, aggressive feeding, non breeding rainbows on many, if not all the beats downstream of the A303, in an astonishing trashing of such noble heritage, simply for commercial gain. If those of these beats’/businesses’ clients, for whom catching is so important, still need to, I commend them to the many ‘put and take’ ponds, where they can fish and catch to their heart’s content. For they are not anglers.

Will the owners of these famous beats relent? For it is they who are responsible for this ‘trashing’. Now there’s a challenge…!

So why was I there, then? A hypocrite? No! I was there at the invitation of Chris Satts, who I like enormously and with whom I have fished before and hope to again, and, because of the reputation of a beat, lovingly cherished by Orvis – even if it is slightly overfished.