Saturday, 10 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Can you believe it’s already December? With Christmas and the New Year looming large I would like to wish all the followers of The River Beat a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Thank you for all your comments in what has been the first full calendar year of The River Beat – it’s always nice to receive feedback.

Invariably we spend a little of December looking back at the year that has been and looking ahead at the year to come.  2011 has been my first full season of river fishing, a learning curve which has been steep and no doubt will continue until the day I kick the bucket. There is a saying that when you start fishing, you’re only interested in catching “a fish”. Soon you want to catch as many as you can, then the biggest fish before, finally, attaining a state of fishing nirvana, the fish don’t matter and it’s about “the experience”. In a river sense, my skill and experience have improved sufficiently for me to have progressed this year from the state of simply wanting to “catch a fish” (any old fish no matter how big or small) to wanting to catch as many as possible.

I don’t belong to any club, partly due to my location and partly down to not owning my own car, but I do feel as though I have had a fly fishing home this year - the Wye and Usk Foundation’s Roving Voucher scheme. The beats are relatively cheap, publicly accessible and do not require any advance booking and embody the type of fishing to which I have become increasingly drawn: small, wild, remote and relatively unfished. The WUF appears not to be without criticism from some quarters for the declining number of salmon stocks in the system, but from a purely trout and grayling fishing point of view, the fishing has been excellent (despite the drought this year). Thank you, WUF.

I’ve taken on 13 rivers this year, from the sizable Lima in Tuscany and the Usk in Wales to the tiny Bideford Brook in the historic Forest of Dean region of England. I’ve enjoyed fishing them all, but one stands out head and shoulders above the rest, the Clettwr in Wales. This little river oozes character in terms of its setting and the beauty of its little spotted inhabitants. The Pilleth beat of the Lugg and the Aberedw beat of the Edw are excellent too.

The Clettwr

The year started with a grayling on the Upper Severn and ended with my biggest fish of the year, fittingly another grayling, of 18” on the Irfon. Perhaps next year will see me catching a wild 20”+ fish...

For 2012 I’ve already secured fishing access to some prime private sections of a few renowned English rivers. The River Monnow in Herefordshire has a devoted following, and for very good reason I’m told; the Dovedale beat of the River Dove in Derbyshire, made famous by Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton; and a dry fly only section of the Derbyshire Wye, home to one of England’s very few self-sustaining rainbow trout populations. As always, I’ll also be looking at options in Europe and perhaps further afield. I can’t wait for the season to open in March next year.

Finally, to spread a bit of Christmas cheer, I’m offering one lucky blog follower the chance to win a new and unused Cortland 444 floating line (#5WF). The first person to correctly answer the following question wins it! What is the name of the only river I fished in 2011 without catching a fish?

Enjoy the holidays and all the best for 2012!