Blattling the elements at Hitcham Ponds pays off with roach

March 28, 2024 at 5:47 pm

We all have days when we wished that we hadn’t bothered with something, but we still go ahead with it. My day this week began the night before, when leaving my Old Windsor fishing club meeting in the pouring rain. One of the other members had used an exchange ticket to fish another club’s water Hitcham Ponds recently and had not caught much, but had enjoyed his fishing, so seeing our club secretary under his umbrella, I asked if the exchange ticket was still valid, the reply was positive and he rummaged in the his bag, then produced the ticket with it’s key, reminding me that it ran on March 31st.

I had been warned and feeling a bit like Cinderella, decided to fish the Ponds the next day. Checking the weather, it was showing chances of varying amounts of rain from 10 am until 2 pm, topping out at 11 am with 90% chance, with high winds. Chances, right? How accurate had the forecast been lately. I had made my mind up by 9 am. It was sunny with a blue sky. I put a rain proof jacket in the van just in case.

The first bad omen appeared a mile from home. At the crossroad, the lane ahead was closed. I had driven home from the club that way; it was flooded then, but now had a large tree fallen across the road. A fifteen minute diversion put me to the rear of a queue for the Legoland Easter traffic. Soon clear of Windsor, I passed over a flooded River Thames, onto the M4, then north, up hill into the country and the Pond. A good mixed fishery, I remembered my last visit

There was a tench in there too.

I unloaded my gear from the van and started the trek to the locked gate, which eventually opened. I was then faced by another obstacle. Mud. This is the shallow route, to the right it was too steep to climb with a trolley. I got up as high as I could, then forced my way through the wooded area to my left. Not far to go now, but it was raining already and the wind was howling through the trees.

 

Having reached the pond, my way was blocked by more mud and an over flowing pond. The wind was lashing the surface with heavy rain an a hour ahead of schedule. I turned round and headed up a path that joins the pond at the far end, where thankfully the bushes gave some relief from the wind. Many of the permanant pegs were under water, but peg 12 was higher than most and made my tackle box safe on the slippery decking.

I hate setting up in the rain, you try to keep everything dry, but the rain wins in the end. Having plumbed the depth and fixed on a 4 x 14 antenna float with a size 16 barbless hook to a 3 lb link, I fed a line 6 metres out, where the pond drops to about 1.2 metres and another at 8 metres. I once won a winter match from this peg with over 200 roach on the pole with the bread punch, it being so cold that the bank was white with frost all day and the carp did not feed. I kept trying for them too, going over to the island on the waggler on running line, but with roach in front of me, I kept going and won a nice bit of pocket money, plus a pretty rose bowl. Today was warmer, but still in single figures.

That was many years ago and today I hunkered down, hood up, while the rain lashed my back. After ten minutes I got my first bite 6 metres out. I missed it and the next, just slight hold downs, that popped up again with the bread gone. I was keeping my punch bread in my waterproof apron and punching into a small bait bowl, also kept out of the rain in the same pouch. At the first sign of the next bite, I induced it with a steady sideways pull and waited, the float pulling back under immediately. I was elated to feel a fish on the hook, but it was a tiny three inch roach, which I threw back. More followed. I missed some and lost some. It wasted a wet half hour.

This was not a match, I was hoping for a few decent fish, skimmer bream, crucians, or roach, I didn’t mind. Swinging the float out to 8 metres, it just sat there, while the ground bait was now soggy and broke up in a cloud on the surface. It would find its way to the bottom eventually. I had a few steady lift bites, which got me excited, but again proved to be small roach. I missed a proper bite, a slow sink, that held under. I struck, but the bait was gone. After a quick rebait with the 6 mm punch, I cast over the same spot and the float went down out of sight. The elastic came out and a nice roach was being drawn back to the landing net

The hook came out in the net, these fish were just sucking at the bait. The groundbait was having an effect, another roach following a few minutes later. I had the bulk shot just past midway down the line and a pair of droppers spaced to the hooklink

I tried out inducing the bites again, hooking four, but netting only one. It was quick, but they were barely hooked, dropping off if I tried to lift them in. If I waited long enough the float would eventually hold down, even then it was only a 50/50 chance of landing a fish.

The rain was now easing off, but the wind was swirling around the pond, dragging the foat and I was constantly mending the bow in the line to the float. A bonus roach got my hopes up, a fat hard fighter, but as the sun came out, the fish got smaller and more spread out

I was disappointed that no skimmer bream had shown up, even a few blades. I usually fish at the other end, where they out compete the roach for the bread. There were four inch waves piling into the bank during the rainstorm. Mind you I had not seen, or heard any carp crashing about around the island either.

Grey clouds were forming again and the temperture dropping a degree or two, when I missed my last bite and decided, that I needed plenty of time to dry out everything, ready for the obstacle course that waited in the woods.

Providing that Intertype issue exchange tickets next season, I’ll be back as Arnie would say!

UK Government poised to give green light for fieldsports?

May 5, 2020 at 2:19 pm

This weekend the UK government is due to lay out it’s Road Map to easing the Covid-19 Lockdown. While concentrating on getting the population back to work and opening schools, it is expected that limited social activity, including sports, that naturally enjoy social distancing, such as pleasure angling and certain forms of shooting, will be permitted from the middle of May.

Citing several European countries such as Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Ireland, that did not ban fishing, with no measurable increase in transmission of Covid-19, the UK’s Angling Trust has submitted a 15 page consultative document to the Government on the benefits of angling. Apart from the social and mental well being benefits to anglers, the angling industry is worth £4 billion to the UK economy, which the Government would find hard to ignore, as it attempts to regenerate income to the Chancellor’s rapidly emptying coffers.

The Angling Trust expects an upsurge in interest in the sport, as did Holland with a 30% increase in permit sales during it’s Covid-19 restrictions. This will not be a case of carry on regardless. Fishing matches will remain banned, along with all other large gatherings, it being difficult to maintain social distancing at the draw and weigh in, while many matchmen share transport to and from venues. With one angler per vehicle, travel is likely to be limited to a radius local to an angler’s home, say 5 miles, which will also restrict fishing for many. For myself, both of my fly fishing rivers are over 10 miles away, as are several good lakes, which will mean missing the Mayfly hatch and the best of the early tench fishing, but beggars can’t be choosers.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has advised it’s members not to take part in any form of shooting during the Lockdown, apart from those involved in essential pest control to protect crops and livestock. Their advice is to obtain a letter from farmers and landowners requesting their presence, to avoid any difficulties if stopped by the authorities with guns in their vehicle. Again social distancing must be maintained, not difficult in a 100 acre field. For my own safety, I prefer to shoot alone, while all my permissions are for me only. BASC advise pest controllers to inform the local police of when and where they will be working, obtaining a reference number. This does not always work though, a few years ago, when working with a couple of ferreters in a local park before dawn, a dog walker reported us, resulting in a visit from the local constabulary, despite a reference number. I had my Firearms License and permission from the council with me and they were soon on their way.

As we come out of this pandemic, it is hoped that personal freedoms will return, while responsible sportsmen will continue keep within the rules, to prevent an upsurge in Covid-19 infections until a safe vaccine is proven.

 

 

Shin Sung Career 707 .22 Carbine PCP Air Rifle Lockdown maintenance

April 14, 2020 at 2:01 pm

Unable to go shooting due to the UK Government Covid-19 Lockdown rules, I continued my maintenance program with a stipdown of my Career 707 .22 PCP carbine. This rifle requires a Firearms Certificate, being rated at 28 ftlbs, and is the most powerful air rifle that I own and has given good service for 15 years, accounting for hundreds of rabbits in that time. All the seals were replaced, when I bought the rifle, the only one to fail being at the pressure gauge, which was easily accessed and replaced.

Firing H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme 19 grain pellets it has proved itself in situations where a .22 rimfire rifle would be dangerous to use, such as public parks and gardens. Being extremely accurate, it has a safe rabbit killing range beyond 40 yards, allowing for pellet drop.

My first check was to see if the Career was still holding air. It had been ok in September, when I had shot a rabbit in my brother in law’s vegetable garden, only needing a top up from the diving bottle. This time the pressure gauge on the under side of the lower air cylinder was showing empty, ideal for safety when working on any precharged  pneumatic weapon. Removing the magazine, I cocked and fired the rifle into the ground, there being only the sound the hammer striking the air valve and a weak puff of air from the muzzle.

A quick inspection of the rifle highlighted that three small screws were missing from the sight cover at the muzzle end of the barrel, being held on by the one remaining screw. This a classic example of regular use, taking the rifle out, only topping up the air, then putting it away again without checking it over. I have never needed to use the rifle over open sights anyway, it having an excellent Walther telescopic sight, which has a 3 x 9 magnification range through a 40 mm coated lens. The scope also benefits from an illuminated reticle for low light conditions and an adjustable paralax ideal for setting zero at extended ranges. A check of the illuminated reticule showed that a new battery was needed. I used the Career a lot in low light conditions after dusk in a public park and had forgotten to return the setting back to zero the last time that I had used it. Not for the first time I must add. A new CR2032 battery was fitted.

A recurring  problem that I had been living with, when using the Career, was the loosening of the butt section, due to the fixing nut unwinding due to the vibration on firing. During one evening session, when I shot about a dozen rabbits, the butt section had detached completely, forcing me to return home. It was obvious from my last tightening of the butt fixing nut, was that something had stripped. This was a prolem that I now intended to look at.

To undo the butt, the rubber bung at the rear has to be prised out with fine bladed screwdriver. To remove the fixing nut, which is deep inside the butt, a special tool is needed for this. I machined up a 20 mm diameter boss with two lugs, that locate in the fixing nut, which I attached to a length of 19 mm tubing. With a tommy bar at the other end, this works perfectly, but I am sure that the 19 mm tube with the lugs cut, or filed into end would work ok. I have a lathe and a small milling machine in my workshop, so it was just as easy to do a proper job.

With the nut and spring washer removed, the butt slides off the fixing tube. In my case the tube was only a tight finger fit, due to the end of the rifle end of the tube being partially stripped.

The start of the thread in the rifle was also worn, so chased down the worn thread on the fixing tube with an M15 x 1.0 mm pitch die, extending the thread by 6 mm, then turned off 6 mm of the worn thread, the above image before reducing the overall length. On reassembly I applied a spot of red Loctite to the end of the thread and tightened it back into the rifle with the tube gripped in a vice. It is now fixed solidly in place.

The next job was to check out the cocking and loading mechanism. First removing the two scope rail M4 csk srews, then the long M4 csk screw behind the rail. Using a hide mallet, the cover was tapped off upwards from the trigger end.

With the cover off, the full working of the mechanism is exposed, pivoting the under lever down pulls back the hammer and cocks the rifle. At the same time the lever in the above image draws back the pellet probe and the cam that controls the movement of the pellet feed block to the magazine.

The magazine is spring assisted, pushing the pellet forward into the hole exposed in the feed block, as it slides across from the firing position.

On the other side of the feed is the pellet stop, which has to be adjusted to suit the length of pellet used. The rifle was designed to be used with a 40 grain air bullet, now banned from sale in the UK, which took the maximum length setting. My original choice of pellet was the 21 grain Bisley Magnum pellet, which needed an adjustment for it’s shorter length, then going down to the shorter 19 grain H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme, another adjustment was necessary. Once set, only that pellet can be used. I once had   pellets in my pocket with an odd Bisley Magnum, being longer than the H&M, the Magnum stuck out of the feed block and was crushed, when the feed block was drawn back to the firing position, jamming the mechanism. Impossible to correct in the field, that was the end of my shooting session, needing to return home to strip and clear the mechanism of the crushed pellet.

This a top view of the cam plate pulled back in the feed position, the block has received the pellet from the spring loaded magazine and the rifle is cocked.

This the view from the other side, with the cam plate pushed for ward and the rifle ready to fire. The feed block has been drawn across by the cam into line with the barrel.

 

This is a view of the pellet probe and the feed block in position for firing with the cam plate removed.

With the feed block held in position by the cam, the final part of the loading operation pushes the pellet probe forward, through the feed block, then pushing the pellet ahead of the transfer port into the barrel.

The spring loaded hammer slides in a tube under the rigger mechanism, which is released, when the trigger is squeezed, speeding the hammer forward to make contact with the end of the air release valve, which in turn is pushed off its seat, releasing a measured blast of air, up through the transfer port behind the pellet, double O ring seals preventing loss of air back along the pellet probe, the pellet with nowhere to go, but down the barrel toward its target.

You will agree that it is an ingenious method for feeding pellets from a magazine, but it works every time.

After a generous spraying of the working parts with Bisley gun oil, the rifle was reassembled and the Walther telescopic sight refitted. An initial slow charging of the air cylinders from the diving bottle, produced a slight hiss of escaping air, but a quick turn of the bottle control valve, forced air in at pressure and the seals bedded down. All that was needed was to reset the sight zero at 30 yards on my garden range and the Career 707 was ready for use again, once the Lockdown is over.

CZ Relum Z 2 .177 springer air rifle Lockdown maintenence

April 10, 2020 at 10:07 am

The UK Goverment’s Lockdown came just as the warm spring weather arrived, giving me no chance of a spring clean up of rabbits on my permissions. With travel restricted and exercise limited to an hour a day away from my home, it has been a busy time sorting out my garden for the coming growing season and doing those “get round to it one day” jobs around the house.

Unable to go shooting, I have decided to start a maintenance program, by first checking out and oiling my air rifles, while giving the woodwork a going over with boiled linseed oil.

My first rifle on the list was the CZ Relum Z-2 .177 break barrel springer, that I have owned since brand new. It is over 50 years old, yet the barrel feels as smooth to lock into position as when new, with no sign of play anywhere. Some years later manufacture of an identical Relum, renamed the Telly, was switched to Hungary, where one hopes that the quality was maintained.

It still lives in an equally old gunslip, that I made at the time. Test firing the rifle to hand, put five pellets in a target board within a 20 mm circle at 15 yards. Not bad for an old springer. Ten years ago, I overhauled the mechanism, replacing the spring with a similar diameter OX spring and replacing the leather compression washer with a PTFE item. The result was transforming, with a test over a chronograph at well over the legal 12 ftlb limit, able to punch through 3/8 ply, well up on it’s previous life, but not legal in the UK.

My remedy was to put a steel mandrel through the centre of the New OX spring and grind the outside diameter against a grinding wheel, the friction of the wheel keeping the spring rotating, reducing the the diameter evenly along its length. I had to keep rebuilding the rifle and testing the speed of the pellet over the chronograph, the foot pound measurement being a calculation of the weight of the pellet against it’s speed over the chronograph as it leaves the muzzle when fired. The speed reduced as more of the spring was ground away, becoming a dab hand at removing the rifle end cap to release the spring each time, eventually stopping when a consistent figure of 11.6 ftlb was reached. Legal and powerful.

A VIEW OF THE REGROUND SPRING

In the past I had used the rifle on rats and squirrels at very close range, but it has come into its own again in recent years for popping off feral pigeons in a couple of barns. It is light weight, being easy to keep aloft, while being quick to cock and load. A shot anywhere in the upper breast brings the pigeons spinning to the floor.

The stripdown was just a case of removing three slotted screws and sliding out the rifle action from the wood work, which was treated with a light covering of boiled linseed oil applied with a muslin cloth, the oil thinned by placing the bottle in a saucepan of hot water for ten minutes. Hung on a hook in the workshop, it was touch dry the following day.

Removing the 6 mm main fixing bolt, I saw that it had sheered, probably due to the increased shock load on firing.

Rooting through my many metric screws in the various boxes on my workshop shelves, I found a 50 mm long x 6 mm countersunk allen screw, which I cut down in a vice to the original 40 mm length, making sure to screw a 6 mm nut onto the remaining length of thread before sawing. Being hardened, it knocked out a new blade, but after a quick grind of the cut end, then unscrewing the nut to reform the end of the screw, I was back in business. Being an allen headed CSK screw, I was able to tighten the main screw harder than the original slot head.

With the action exposed, it was easy to reach all the moving parts with my preferred Bisley Gun Oil aerosol spray and reassemble, ready for more accurate years of use.

 

Surviving Lockdown.

March 30, 2020 at 1:32 pm

My worst fears were realised this week, when the UK Government imposed a lockdown on the population, with a very basic message, STAY AT HOME.

With advice to only go out for essentials like food and medication, plus one exercise session a day, the question being asked is can I go fishing, or shooting? As we know both of these are very good exercise. Government advice is not totally clear on either aspect, but what is clear is that unessential travel is now restricted to two miles, with the police able to impose fines, so a short drive with fishing tackle, or rifles in the back of the car could take some explaining. The minimum, if stopped by the police will be a request to turn round and go home, a repeat offence will attract a fine, or possibly the confiscation of any firearms, or withdrawal of your firearms license?

Ok, what if I can walk to my shooting permission, is that an offence? All of my shooting permissions are a solitary affair on many acres of open land, one of them a scenic walk from home down green lanes and public footpaths to reach on foot. Living in an urban environment, more people than ever will be seeking out new places to walk and most country paths are too narrow to allow social distancing when passing, so for safety’s sake we have to assume that every body is carrying the Corvid-19 virus. For this reason I will not take the chance of getting infected and stay put. Following such a wet winter, when my rifles remained in the gun safe, I had been counting the days to the dryer weather, but unless I get a callout from one of my landowners to deal with rabbits, or a fox, they will stay in the safe, until boredom drives me yet again to strip and oil them ready for use.

The river fishing season is over in the UK, but not on ponds and lakes, but as with the above, more people are out taking walks and with two public lakes only minutes walk away from my home, I will resist the temptation to load up the fishing trolley. Being a successful angler, I often attract curious onlookers, even the occasional gallery of the “caught anything” brigade and the thought of someone coughing the virus over my shoulder does not bare thinking about. So thinking of sneaking out for a few hours fishing? Forget about it. Stay home and safe.

Trout fishing season begins next week and a lone wolf expedition with the fly rod appeals, but fly fishermen are a very sociable bunch, eager to compare flies and talk of that big trout lying beneath a tree, so once again, the easiest way to avoid contact and possible infection is not to go.

The latest information on the coronavirus is that Government measures to restrict movement and infection will last for at least six months, so that’s the the trout season finished for this year. Good job that I was too busy to sit down at the fly tying vice before the season started. A friend had secured a half rod on the river Test this year and I was feeling guilty about not having fulfilled his request for a few of my deadly Black Devil nymphs for the early season. Sorry Peter, next year.

With many World Wide followers of this blog, these UK restrictions my sound severe, or not severe enough, depending where your country, or state is in the cycle of infection, but no one is yet immune to this potentially killer bug. I will keep posting, delving into the archive and putting up points of interest and maybe strip a rifle or two. In the meantime Stay Safe.

New host for The Urban Fieldsportsman

June 20, 2017 at 11:31 am

Regular visitors to The Urban Fieldsportsman will have, over recent months, often found this site unavailable, due to a suspension by the previous hosting package, caused by an unresolved software problem, too techi to go into on this page.

Upgrading to a more expensive hosting with that hosting company was a promised fix, but have now changed to a different, WordPress friendly host, who assure reliable availability of the Blog.

While only a minor annoyance to those unable to log onto The Urban Fieldsportsman, this has been a stressful time for myself, finding the site suspended at random periods, unable to post fresh blogs each time, while watching the worldwide viewing figures decline.

For all those loyal viewers out there, thanks for your support.

Ken

 

Wild brown trout fishing among the rocks in Wales

June 21, 2013 at 11:54 pm

In one of my other lives as the owner of a classic MGB sports car, a long weekend had been booked by my club at a remote Bed and Breakfast on a farm in mid Wales, from where motoring tours were arranged. Not wishing to miss out on the chance to fish one of the wild streams in the area, I squeezed my brook  rod and a bag of bits into the small boot, before heading west on the 200 mile journey.

The farm had a small river along it’s border and with a couple of hours to spare on the last day, I went down the valley to investigate, rod in hand, wearing borrowed wellies.

This was a typical mountain stream, a complete contrast to the lazy south of  England chalk streams I usually fish these days, but I cut my fly fishing teeth on the streams of Devon, the Isle of Man, Wales and Scotland and I knew that any deep pocket, or pool would have small brown trout in residence. Walking up the valley bluebells were still in full bloom, testament to the hard Welsh winter this year.

The fun of these rivers is discovering the holding spots and wading up amongst the rocks, the best way to find them. Traditionally two flies are used, a buoyant “bob” fly as an indicator and a small down winged, wet fly on the point, fished downstream, but I opted for a small Hares Ear nymph fished upstream to start. With any new water, there is always that feeling of doubt, “are there fish here, or not?” I had just moved up to a run below a fall of water, when I got my answer. Flicked into the boil, the line drifted back, then shot forward as a bundle of energy made off with the nymph and came off seconds later. My appetite whetted, I tried again and missed another take. Another pool and a deep run with an eddy hard against the rocks.  The nymph bounced off  the bank, the nymph sank in the eddy, with the line going in the opposite direction, then moved upstream, a lift and a 7 inch trout was zooming among the rocks.

I’d picked my way upstream, in and out of the river for maybe a quarter of a mile before I saw THE pool. It was formed above a series of small waterfalls, the river forcing through two large rocks, scouring out a channel four feet deep and opening out to a pool twenty feet long, which was up to three feet deep in places. The surface was covered in clouds of small flies, while large crane flies bobbed up and down in a courtship dance. Small trout were splashing on the top and I changed flies to a tiny buoyant Klinkhammer, but could not get it onto the pool due to overhanging trees and a gusting wind blowing down the valley. After several position changes, I backtracked down the river to a stony beach, then made my way through the virgin undergrowth, up to one of the rocks at the head of the pool and made myself comfortable. From here I had a view down the pool and could see, against another rock, an eddy with a half pound trout sitting above it’s outlet. For this river, he was probably the king of the pool, occasionally rising in a swirl, to suck in flies trapped in the surface of the eddy.

Several attempts to land the Klinhammer within range of this fish failed miserably, the trees and wind adding to the complication, but now another problem raised it’s head. Without warning I was engulfed by a cloud of minute midges, swarming over my hands and face. I could feel them before I could see them, semi transparent dots, like oil clinging to my skin, which I wiped away with my hands. My hood was pulled over my cap and my sleeves over my wrists, but still they swarmed. I changed my fly to a heavy nymph to get down to the fish at the tail of the pool, but my concentration was going fast and my first take raised a trout to the surface to be lost. At this point I was spending more time thinking about the midges, than fishing, when the rod top rattled, bent over and I was playing a better trout, which took refuge beneath the rock I was sitting on. Bringing this beautiful wild trout through the foaming river to the net, made me briefly forget my agony and once unhooked and released, I had one thought, get out of there quick.

Once on the move again, the swarm was gone, but my hands were covered in red dots and once I returned to the farm, could see that my eyes were ringed with red. The farmer, who had lent me the boots, now held up a bottle of midge repellent with a knowing look that said “fancy going out fishing without putting on midge repellent” We do not get midges like it in southern England, my only other experience being when fishing a similar stream in Michigan, but they were full blown mosquitos and looked dangerous, not these micro blood suckers. The post script to this tale, is that five days after being bitten, my hands, arms and face are still covered in raised welts, which itched to the point of burning for days and resisted every remedy known to science.

 

Recreation ground trout.

April 3, 2013 at 6:41 pm

A hard frost gave way to bright sunshine today, but a gusting wind from the North East kept temperatures down, while out of that wind, the sun was warm enough to think that spring had finally arrived in early April. With the afternoon free, I had a dilemma, shooting, or fishing? No problem, do both. My 7 ft flyrod was already set up in the van and decided to do a drive by of my urban trout stream, on the way to one of my rabbit infested permissions. If the river was too high and coloured I would continue on my way, if not I’d give it an hour. Along the roadside the river looked perfect, clear and bright, with just enough weed cover.

I prefer to wade this river, but today’s fleeting visit meant wellies, so chose to fish the recreation ground, where I could get down into some shallow water from one of the many gullies worn into the banks by stick retrieving  dogs. Even through my boots, the water was cold and with the biting downstream wind making casting difficult, I felt self conscious, as I searched out the water with my heavy bead head nymph, getting more than a sideways glance from the walkers enjoying the bright sunshine. Under tall trees, an obstruction was forcing the river over to my bank and this could have had a sign over it saying “holding spot” and my second cast along the riffle brought a golden flash against the gravel, the drag of the line hooking and turning a weighty trout.

I had too much slack line out and the brownie rolled slowly in the shallows, with me rod raised, stripping  line until contact was made and battle commenced. It bee-lined like a torpedo into the heart of the snag, taking me by surprise, my rod was pulled down to the water and I should have been broken, but it turned and zig zagged down the far bank searching for cover, before halting it’s run in the deep pool below, where it brooded, hugging the bottom. I had now recovered my composure and met every run with pressure, until it made it’s way back upstream just below the surface, not as big as I first thought, about a pound, but a worthy opponent all the same. Once in the net, the barbless size 14 hares ear nymph dropped from it’s jaw, the heavily spotted brown, grown fat no doubt on a winter diet of bread thrown to the ducks.

Ten minutes recovery time later, he swam off  to fight another day, hopefully to my rod and not to any of the fishmongering worm and maggot fishermen of the summer months. I had been on the water for less than 30 minutes and could have been on my way, but the river upstream looked promising and was worth a few casts while it’s banks were deserted. In summer the shallow water attracts wading dogs and children, while a tree offers a rope swing for the more adventurous pleasure seekers.

Keeping to the shallows, I made short line casts up and across towards the opposite bank, or to any deeper pockets mid stream, missing a short stabbing take, then surfacing and losing a small brown of a few ounces. Keeping a tighter line was the answer and a 4 oz brown was dashing all over the shallows, before dropping back to be dwarfed by my net. Another small one lost and another netted, these trout certainly work for their living, or is it that I’ve got too used to catching roach. My hands now were very cold and I’d proved a point to myself, that there were plenty of wild trout to be had from this gem of a river.