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This was initiated via a web search in the New Year (plotting season!) and I found Warwickshire Flyfishers who in addition to five still waters, offered one stream. An email to the Secretary, yielded this response from Chris Skuse –

“Having discussed with members of the committee the opinion is that yes you can fish the river if you buy a guest ticket at £15 and are accompanied”

…a ‘no-brainer’! And I was soon to fish   –

June 2011 – the Swift

 A couple of calls to Bailiff, John Burton,

and arrangements were fixed.

Warwickshire….cars, football, industry, Coventry, motorways, Shakespear, the Belfry…a bit of a mixed bag.  John asked me how I liked to fish?  “ For a couple of hours, then maybe a pub snack, and then a couple more” I responded. “There are no pubs where we are going” was his concerning reply! To the countryside is where we went, even if the river ran under and alongside the A5 trunk road, but just for a little while.

Diving off the main road, and through a padlocked gate reminded me of accessing Fortress Trossley, in Kent, where I spent many a happy hour in the late nineties and early noughties with Fraser and Pick. And the river is a typical lowland stream, running over clay, and with a just little colour, and low, as all waters have been this season.

John determined that our best plan was to walk to the bottom of the beat, at least to where this most diligent of membership had done the most improvement work, and whilst we chatted and he imparted much of what has and is being achieved, he had continually to drag an inquisitive me back from the waterside so we could complete our 45 minute walk.

John’s is a narrow river, and even narrower in those places where reeds have still to be cleared,

but elsewhere, a continuum of bends and pools, and enticing lies under overhanging bushes, interspersed by riffles caused by the introduction of many, many deflectors, and the odd etched pool below where rocks have been placed to create mini weirs. There are places where clearance makes casting easier, and many where, and always above and behind where one saw a fish rise, that the nettles are dense, and I will have to make another visit to Farlows, or Orvis, or Grangers, to replenish my stock of Adams and Klinkhamers, as well as my 6x tippet material.

It was passing such a mini weir that I was convinced my first trout would be taken, but it was not, and nor was it below the second. I noted that John has developed a style of fishing which clearly works for him on this river….more of a stalker hunter approach,

crawling and hunching down to approach the bankside where he favoured to run a dry down as close to the overgrowth as possible to tempt trout out and from under those roots and grasses….and did, and missed, frustratingly. But also, did!

Mine was a more conventional approach, seeking fish from familiar lies in the safety of rippled waters alongside feed lanes, and cast with a longer line than John’s Dart like flicks.

We happily leapfrogged each other, and my first came to a parachute Adams where I thought one might be lying in quick water, above the site of an ancient mill.

And then so did a second, along a stretch which John described as unfishable a year ago, but with considerable clearance work is now, and members have been rewarded, for along its one hundred yards or so, more fish have been caught there this year than elsewhere on the water. And it was the only stretch where fish rose constantly, and we both hooked and missed a couple.

I learned that only a few years ago, the club was close to going under when falling membership reduced subscription income to a total, barely higher than rents payable; and that a growing interest in the Midlands for conservation, is credited with rebuilding numbers. Maybe ‘word’ of what is being undertaken by this noble band is getting about…I hope so! Conservation and preservation of what is so special to us, must not be limited to the eforts of the few…the countryside, and all that is stands for and provides, is unique. HRH The Prince of Wales thinks so, too…we must all support his vision.

Back to the fishing!….I watched John teasing chub with a sinking nymph; and he was impressed to see my third come to another trout which was lurking where I knew one might, below a stony outcrop; and then, ‘piece de resistance’ he hailed me to reveal another fish caught on a weighted nymph…a twelve inch pike, which was quite rightly, dispatched!!

Many thanks, John, and thank you to, Warwickshire Flyfishers for indulging me.

Now….John knows and loves his water, and I must share his recent note to me which testifies how effort and result blend so beautifully. I hope you agree  –

“On the Friday after your visit I landed 7 trout and on the Saturday 11. On both    occasions it was at the end of the day. They mostly came from the tightest lies and narrowest channels so it was a real challenge. Until this Monday I had only taken fish from this year’s stocking, but at the top end of our beat I landed a trout of one and a half pounds. I have just ordered 20 tonnes of gravel for enhancing one of the sections, which will, hopefully, encourage some trout breeding in the Autumn. It would be an absolute delight to hear that a member had landed a young trout next year. We have tried the egg boxes and provided a number of gravel beds, but we have yet to see any results. The stockist believes it will be hard because of the large number of chub and perch which love fry. We live in hope.”