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Saturday, 18 February 2012 16:26

A Fisherman's Journey .. to catch a trout from a river in every county

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When the mighty crack appeared to create what is now Monsal Dale, it must have frightened the living daylights out of the residents. It was so long ago they were not two-legged, but even the four have feelings. Have you seen its scale and glory? I have...and the limestone fed clear waters, alive with insects, of the beautiful River Wye runs through it en route to join the Derwent, then the Trent, and out via the Humber to the North Sea

I have seen and learned to appreciate that there is beauty in flatlands and that the Cambridgeshire and the Lincolnshire Fens, with their ‘big skies’ have an attraction all of their own; that there is nowhere on the planet matching the colour of the wild flower filled banks of the narrowest  lanes you must use to reach the streams tumbling off the Devon moors; and that urban trout are to be cherished.

Life today is pacey, and in my Executive life, moving around Britain, involved either the cramp of the  Shuttle, or of flying landside at subsonic speeds on our motorways slowing only for police cameras. The idea that there was something down there, was often masked at the window seat by cloud; or impossible to consider in the need to preserve one’s own skin amongst the millions of wheels on similar missions on an M-something.

But there is, and so much, and only the era of semi-retirement (for we must never STOP!) yields some time to find it and marvel at it. And fish!!

I have always kept a record of my fishing days. I presume that the hope of an increase in my catch rate would suggest that my angling skills were improving, and that was the motivation for doing this. But I think it was more than that, and symptomatic of a personality which thrives in variety, and enjoys the challenge of the same.

Also, I have always insisted that there is more to fishing than catching fish, and over time, that has consisted of buying fishing books, both contemporary, quite a few, and a small number of older editions; the odd bit of old tackle, mainly wooden reels; religiously reading my monthly  subscriptions to Trout & Salmon, and Fly Fishing & Fly Tying; planning our  annual overseas trip with great pal, David Fraser; plotting and planning my next season...and searching out new waters!

So the latter evolved naturally into my ‘quest’.


Establishing at the outset, that I had already fished in a number of counties, the attack on the remainder began in earnest. This entailed use of the internet in the main, and also Fish & Fly’s outstanding, ‘Where to fish’ directory. Fly Fishing Forum was another great source of information, once one has learned to filter out the nonsense banter which some correspondents seem obsessed by.

I soon learned that, having established a Blog, this served as a point of reference to those who may, initially, have been undecided by the unexpected request for permission, or information!
It is February 2012, and I have ‘netted’ thirty seven [37] of the forty six English counties.

I have a contacts book of dozens, without whom, I would be floundering. It is a testament to the extraordinary fraternity (and sorority) of anglers that so many have expressed interest and encouragement, passed on their knowledge, and offered invitations and given their time to my ‘mission’. I have to thank the Conservation Officers (Tim, Paul, and Andy) of the Wild Trout Trust, Fisheries Officers of the Environment  Agency, for much helpful advice....they, and the chaps I have fished with, are all acknowledged in my Blog.

Which are my favourite rivers?

I think urban streams are special, for these are in need of constant care, and thanks to the efforts of such organisations as the Wandle Trust in South London, and Greenstreams (and Sprite) in Yorkshire,  it is now possible to fish what were distressed waters, such as the Wandle, the Colne and Holme.

The care of privately owned water such as Paul Jenning’s beat on the Chess has produced a small fishery of real class; the Shep in Cambridge is a triumph of regeneration, as is Andrew Flitcroft’s stretch on the Gwash in Rutland.

So I guess my preference is for those intimate streams, as opposed to the pristine or the wide spate!

As season 2012 approaches, I am plotting.

I expect the three counties of the North East to be conquered. I have identified accessible waters in Cheshire, West Midlands (surprisingly) and the Isle of Wight. I will struggle with Merseyside and Bedfordshire, but Essex will be difficult, but achievable.

Author: Tony Mair

Keep reading www.afishermansjourney.com to see how Tony get's on.


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