Cam, Friends of the River Shep, Mark Owen, Rob Hartley, Rob Mungovan, Salmo Trutta, Tim Jacklin, Wild Trout Trust (WTT)
Tim Jacklin is a stalwart of the Wild Trout Trust, he is on the Executive Council, is Projects Coordinator, a Conservation Officer, and Editor of ‘Salmo Trutta’…..and, the WTT website….that’s all! A complete enthusiast, and a man I would like to meet, both Rob Hartley (see ‘Staffordshire’) and Mark Owen (see ‘Leicestershire’) suggested I contact him for thoughts on ‘where’, in those counties not known for their trout streams…
So I did, and he replied –
“I had heard of your quest from Mark Owen – quite an odyssey you are undertaking!”
and with ideas for several such counties, but as far as Cambridge is concerned, he put me in touch with Rob Mungovan, a conservationist and another ‘stalwart’ of the WTT, whose work has been written up in Salmo Trutta (2010)…
“there’s more of them (trout) than people think (in Cambs)”, Rob wrote.
…how enticing is that?
My day with Rob was exciting, instructive, rewarding, relaxed, warm, and so much more.
He is a cracking chap. Brought up in this county, he returned after graduating, and is now an Ecology Officer with South Cambridgeshire District Council, and has therefore managed to combine his career and his passion, and for that he is grateful to his Grandad who introduced him to the gentle art when a fourteen year old. He is a ‘giver’……a rarity today.
And he told me of secret places, and so they must remain!
Our day together started with a walk along the banks of the Shep, a glorious but tiny chalkstream (rarely more than ten feet wide)
which is faring better thanks to the efforts of the ‘Friends of the River Shep’ who have used conventional techniques to promote spawning grounds, encourage weed anchorage, ensure security from predators (at least from most…there are an alarming number of American Signal crayfish here)
and a habitat for the population of wild fish to flourish. And we saw several fish, but they were so alert that our bush craft approach was insufficient to stop them skidaddling, even when we were downstream and fifteen meters away, they saw us.
Then we drove to the headwaters of the Shep which are contained within the RSPB’s Fowlmere Nature Preserve, and with juvenile trout, well used to bird watching walkers (humanoids), it was lovely to spot the most beautiful of small wild fish, fearlessly holding station, and occasionally, coming up to feed off the surface –
This was/is so special….the Friends of the River Shep should feel truly proud of what they are achieving, in the name of restoration, and their clearance program has produced much weed growth and we identified water crowfoot, starwort, burweed, fool’s water cress, water cress, mint, and lesser water parsnip…and there is probably more!
This river may never be a fishery…but it is testament to all Rob believes in making these ancient streams become again, an essential part of the rural scene for the enjoyment and appreciation by all, of our glorious countryside.
Then we went to fish-
May 2011 – the Cam
The disturbing fact about this river, which rises near Linton in Essex, is that flowing through arable land, in this year of an April of the highest temperatures ever recorded, it is being overly abstracted (raped) of its flows. The potato fields are being sprayed by the eccentric arcs of plumes of river water for hours on end which means that river levels are now unusually low and fish stock is vulnerable to cormorants et al. Weed has not grown to give trout the cover and security they need, and aquatic fly form is insufficient in volume to provide them with the food they need, although I did see my first Mays of the year which are at least two weeks earlier than is normal. We watched two good sized trout which were agitated and not by our presence, and it was the arrival of a large pike which reminded us that these trout have more to worry about than aerial predation.
Not too much fly on the beat we fished near Whittlesford,
but when we spotted some movement, and nymphing using a copper headed bug, tied by Rob, produced my Cantab trout. And shortly afterward, and at about 3 pm., when a hatch got them coming up, another of Rob’s creations, a mosquito yellow klinkhamer, produced another.
It was not easy fishing, though, and accessing the water required slipping down nettle laden banks, which put my felt soled wading boots to test. So much so, that my next purchase will be rubber soled boots, which will, in any case, be needed in July when Fraser and I fish Montana. I predict that felt will disappear (just as have metal studs on golf shoes, albeit, for totally different reasons)
I had to leave Rob for a dinner date in North Norfolk (of which more), but was happy to receive a note from him later that evening, confirming that the fish which eluded us, had been netted by him –
“I went back to “my beat” of the Cam at 8pm. A few fish were rising to hatching sedge by 8:30. I picked up that larger one near the over hanging willow on a grh.ear cdc emerger which about 11inches. Then I manged 2 more at about 8inches in an pale deer hare sedge in the faster run where you were waiting for a rise.”
Thanks, Rob, for an inspiring day….and I hope your trip to New York the next day, was as exciting an experience, as you hoped.