Dear Reader…

Across the top of this page are references to my two ‘other’ quests.

Please click on ‘La Belle France” and click on the ‘Follow Blog by email’ in the right hand margin to read my latest adventures across La Manche.

Please click on ‘Land of My Fathers’ and do the same to follow my adventures in Wales, where this week I have added the counties of Bridgend, Newport and Torfaen to my catch list, and also enjoyed some splendid fishing on the exceptional R Monnow.

Tight lines…the Mays will be here very soon!



, , , ,

The Duke of Northumberland owns Albury, through which picturesque village, and in the shadow of the North Downs, runs the diminutive River Tillingbourne, en route to the River Wey, which it joins near Guildford. Toward the western edge of the village is a fishery called Vale End.

Here, the stream offers flow to refresh two man-made lakes which are stocked with rainbow trout for still water preferees.

The shallow stream passes gracefully by the lakes, under the protection of Belmont Wood, and its deciduous heights. It is sandy and gravelly.

The Tillingbourne has a natural stock of small wild brown trout, so there can be no reason to stock the stream, because the more aggressive US ‘arc de ciel’ will likely eliminate the tiny indigenous locals. But escapees, there must be, and so I found there to be.

I have fished it before here, and didn’t (!), and said I would return, and did today on a grey late April morning with the temperature fighting hard to hit double digits, and wrapped up accordingly. There was no fly life or hatch this day, so any residents would be ‘eyes down’ and I set up a duo rig on light tackle for a hoped for, couple of hours entertainment.

When a greedy rainbow realises it is hooked in a seven feet width of stream, it has choices. It can go up and up, or down and further down, or up and down. It can seek refuge in the multitude of tree roots at its disposal, and whichever, on light tackle, the rod holder needs patience. Writers talk about the angler ‘bullying’ the fish into submission, as opposed to the fish bullying the angler. I get that with sailfish in the Indian Ocean, but in a Surrey stream, and a 3-weight…come on!

But I did, and twice.

The first, a solid muscled beaut of about 3lbs,


and the other, a rather pallid and sky blue version of maybe 1 1/2lbs.


….but no browns!

I am still trying, but…

Defensive, negative…me?

Me, he (I) responded indignantly !

Believe me, I have tried.

I have sat in front of my MacBook Air and for hours, searching the internet in hope of a breakthrough find.

Regardless, I have walked the banks of so many streams in that flattest of counties called Bedfordshire, peering amongst weed, along tempting margins, wading occasionally as I like to do, looking for nymphal shucks, imago forms, and begging to see a swirl, a rise, or any evidence at all, of the presence of salmo truta.

I have spoken with countless fishers in said counties asking where and whether. And so many have given me tips, even though most were just over the Herts border!


Merseyside…was once a part of Lancashire, so I should have set my sites on our Counties as established before 1997! But I didn’t. Malcolm Greenhalgh was adamant. There are no trout in Merseyside.

There is no doubt that there are probably brown trout in both counties, somewhere, but now I wish, dear reader, to refer you to the study and detail contained in ‘Freshwater fishes in Britain…the species and their distribution’, a work published by Harley Books, and compiled by several, in conjunction with the EA, and the Joint Nature Conservation Agency.

The distribution map on page 111, clearly shows the indigeneity of our native trout species…but look. Where is distribution of our fario wanting?

My goodness – Bedfordshire and Merseyside!

So now what am I going to do?

Got it! I am heading for the Severn Bridge

Wish me luck




Readers will know that my first experience of fly fishing was at school at Christ College in Brecon, which is probably why, and to this day, the river Usk remains my favourite trout stream. I have fished it on numerous beats from way down in the town of Usk, and all the way upstream to close to Sennybridge. I have been lucky enough to catch many wild trout in Powys.

En route to Cardiff for a board meeting in the ‘noughties’ I stopped off overnight at the Bell in Skenfrith, and landed half a dozen fish in the early evening from their beat on the Monnow, so ‘netted’ Monmouthshire.

And last year, in the then S&TA, Annual Auction, I ‘won’ a season’s membership of the Merthyr Tydfil AA, and fished their lovely waters with Gareth Lewis and Daniel Popp, to capture the county of Merthyr Tydfil, too.

So surely the logical extension of this is to…well, of course it is!!!

There are twenty two (22) counties in Wales, and I have caught wild trout in just three of them, so in 2016, I hope to add to this number.

I will target South Wales, and the plotting and planning begins NOW!

Any help and tips will be more than welcome!!





The Wheelyboat Trust

My friends and contemporaries are lucky, for as young as we think we still are, (I am not prepared to reveal how old we are!) and in spite of the fact that minor injuries and hurts take a little longer to heal, they do. And we can still clamber down rocky banks in Devon, wade in fast flowing Icelandic rivers, behave like mountain goats, although less elegantly, along the banks of Italian Alpine streams, and leap in and out of a drift boat scudding down New York State’s Delaware River. We can. We are lucky.

Some never could.

Some could, but now cannot.

But like to fish, nevertheless.

My friend Elizabeth Buchanan’s father is one such man. And the inspiration for what followed came from the desire of his daughter and his dear friend, Alan Faulkener, that her father/his friend, could resume a personal passion, in spite of…whatever.

And the Wheelyboat Trust was established to facilitate this through the provision of boats with wheelchair access.

This post is made with conviction, but gratitude , too, that I still can. And because WE still can,

I hope that, you, my Reader, might take a second to reflect on how our dexterity and mobility enables our enjoyment of the best pastime known to man, but, also, how a small contribution from my many fishing friends might help some, less dexterous, to be afloat and enjoy the sensation of that splashy rise, take, pull, the netting, the photographing…you know what I mean…and for many more times than might previously have been possible without the support of the Wheelyboat Trust

Please take a look at their website – and make a small donation!