, , , , ,

My business life took me to Initial Services’ owned Latimer Mews Conference Centre, several times in the nineties, and a busy bee, I could only look and lust at the tiny chalk stream within a couple of well struck four-irons at the bottom of the hill. I could never resist stopping next to the road bridge on its approach to look over its walls and wonder.

The web reveals so much but not without endeavour. The fishery nearby offered no access; a Google Map search (satellite page) showed Chenies Manor House whose gardens are open to the public, but were not when I emailed them asking whether they knew how I might access the river which was at least adjacent to their property if not a part of it.

Joy on joy…Susan Brock put me in touch with a certain Paul Jennings who “would help me”, and how !?

May 2010 – the CHESS

Paul, clearly most generous by nature, quickly grasped where I was going, and our first conversation by phone (me in the car park of the famous pub, the Talbot in Ripley) suggested kindred spirits, and he also seeks to fish as much of the UK as I wish to, and is actively seeking new but chosen clubs to join. There was no hesitation, rather, “come quickly…the hawthorns drive our trout mad!”

I was in Lincoln (where I had just added the Great Eau to my list) when a text message came through asking whether “tomorrow could work?” Well, it was to be on my way home, so the dye was cast, and at 3pm the next day I arrived and parked next to a Volvo where our companion fisher was waiting, too – William Tall, a founder of the Wandle Piscators ! (strike two, maybe….an expert on a greater London legendary stream which has known better times, but who better to advise me where chances are best!)

When Paul arrived, he did so at the same time as his chum, Steve Webster, who I now know is one of the three “owners” of one mile of this pristine chalk stream. Steve “guided” me before grandchild-sitting responsibility took him away. In that interim, I must have failed to impress Steve with my casting ability, losing several of his flies…they were, he claimed “infallibles”, but when I did land them on the water they were ignored by every fish I was casting to, and I had to remind myself that fishing is a pastime and not a competitive sport, but this was hard for a competitive animal when I saw William upstream and already into good fish !

But it must have been Steve’s (negative) influence, for when he had to leave for his ‘baby sitting’ duties, and Paul came back downstream for a chat, that things changed. A rise, a cast, and a missed fish, albeit to the ‘infallible’, and then my first fish, and a second…and just above a groin we both saw a fish move. Casting to him was obviously going to be difficult, because the rush of water through the middle of the construction left little chance for a reasonable presentation. But…the ‘fella’ was feeding, and in the short moment before the drag would kill any prospect of a take…he did. WW3 broke out…he went angrily upstream, then turned and rushed downstream through the middle of the angled groin and into flowing water which made the tussle more interesting. But net him we did, and he turned out to be a super fish of 2lb+ and whilst there were several more that evening, to catch a wild fish of that beauty was so memorable, and in such a special river *.

But in fact, I think some seven came to the net that day, and William, a marvellous angler probably had more…but who’s counting? But this is one…

Our session finished, as all should, with a canter to the Red Lion in Chenies, and a couple of pints of good ale….and a promise that we would meet again, and probably on the banks of the Wandle. I will make sure that happens.

* it is claimed that rainbows breed in only two rivers in Britain….the Derbyshire’ Wye, and the Chess.   Some  say, it is more. We saw none in the Chess that day!

I have corresponded with Paul since, because I established, that he had planned to visit Slovenia, just a week or so before me, and with Kevin Smith, too, so I asked for his thoughts, and tips, to help our attempts to find some marble trout. He is an  Oil Man, and in the post BP’ Gulf disaster period, rumours abound about consolidation opportunities on BP’s collapsed share price. Added to that, his own company has a serious stake in a North Sea investment with Premier Oil, another holder, and a new find has propelled their business into territory where his presence as Commercial Director, required that he ‘do some work’.

I will let him know how to catch marble trout, in due course!!

Post script [1]

Paul is, and I repeat, “most generous”. He invited me to fish again before the end of the season. I met an industry pal of his, Philip Fleming, and was able to describe to him what to expect with all the knowledge of one visit!

His river in September is a different place, though. In-river weed growth had narrowed the fishable stream to less than 2/3rds what it was in May, and less than half in some runs. Where were the fish? The weather on that day was changeable, and the clouds built and drizzle descended for a short time, and afterwards temperatures fell, and winds increased.

The only rising fish were grayling, and we both caught some. The more self respecting browns were keeping to themselves under the expansive trailing fronds, and thinking procreation, probably.

Post script [2]

Conservationists, Paul and Steve are striving to improve what they respect.

This site is important.