MY Perthshire loch trout had only just taken off their winter-ice crash helmets and were limbering up with some springtide exercises (incentivised by a few koi-carp pellets) when, in early May, I headed down for the first of several visits to the southern streams.
After an unprecedented two-year interval, the six members of our Bundha Club reconvened on the banks of the Dever. This bonsai paragon of chalk country offers an ideal counterpart to the Highland glens, being deliciously gentle, bucolic and willow-girt; the water is perfect for my favourite pastime of fish-spotting and, indeed, at times, the trout almost seem to be swimming in ether. Lockdown psychic baggage was soon unpacked, together with my lovely new Helios 3 fly rod, which I had just collected from those nice people at Orvis. Time to open the season.
Despite the yobbish weather—water witches, pitchforking rainy squalls—things gradually came together and, although the trout were as leery as bonefish, by lunchtime, I had managed a modest ‘basket’ of brownies (all but the first being returned) and encountered some socking great grayling—Luke ‘Killing Eve’ Jennings grassed one of nigh on 3lb. In the bankside marquee, we toasted our fellowship with a flinty Sauvignon and gave thanks that God made us anglers.
Next day, I drove to the storied Bourne Rivulet, the topmost tributary of the Test, through villages where even the bus shelters are thatched and past the Longparish edifice, former home of that redoubtable Regency sportsman Col Peter Hawker, who once accounted for 243 starlings with a single blast from his punt gun. My host was the engaging William Daniel (of Famous Fishing fame), who has been helping to nurture the fragile Bourne for some 30 years.
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