Sunday, 11 November 2018

Should we stop talking down rivers?

I remember about 20 years ago reading John Wilsons Book 50 years a fisherman. In the book he charts his career as an angler. In his young years he would travel up from Enfield to fish the river Waveney around Bungay in the 1960’s. He talks of the glorious deep river where there were roach to over two pounds and the flow allowed long trotting to be the most used method for catching these wonderful fish. Even the side streams were full of water and full of roach to specimen sizes. Along with the roach were pike willing to be caught. He talks, in the book, about how changes to the river caused by water abstraction and the appearance of cormorants and other predators totally denuded the river of its roach. The river was now little more than a trickle and unsuitable for fishing. The message I got from the book that its not worth fishing the river. 

This year I moved to Beccles near Bungay and joined the Bungay Cherry tree angling club, the same club that John Wilson joined all those years ago. It is true that it is not as deep and as fast flowing as described in John’s book.  Many side streams are only ankle deep. During the long hot summer of 2018 I noticed that it was getting very low and clear. However, I spotted many large chub among the fronds of reed and even caught the odd one late on in the summer. 

As autumn kicked in I started to target the river around Bungay and to my joy and surprise I found large numbers of roach and dace along with perch chub and pike. Of course the roach are not specimen size the largest being only 8 ounces but there are lots of them. After autumn rains the river is now carrying a tinge of colour and decent flow. While it’s true that rivers and their fish populations are under pressure is there an issue that angling writers are talking down rivers and that adds to their decline as people don’t bother fishing them?  With participation in angling now in decline I think that it’s a mistake to just talk about catching carp in gravel pits. We should be encouraging people to give rivers more of a try. For me the more people that care about river fishing the more likely it is that we can help protect them. So my message is rivers are great, yes they are under pressure but they are still worth it. Carp fishing takes up time and in our busy, on demand world, we often don’t have much time for our leisure. Yet a few snatched hours on a river in the morning or evening can be very rewarding. Give it a go you know it makes sense.

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