Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club held their latest Match at Bulldog Fishery where David Richards secured top spot with three rainbow trout for 9lb 2oz the best a fish of 3lb 9oz.
Dave Mock was runner up with three for 7lb 15oz and Colin Combe third with three for 7lb 13oz. The club are holding their Christmas Competition at the venue on December 17th.
I joined members of South Molton Angling Club at Bulldog Fishery for one of their monthly fishing competitions fishing for the Mac McCarthy Trophy. The trout fishing lake has undergone a significant transformation since my last visit and is now twice the size of the previous lake with the dividing roadway removed to create one large lake. This has been generously stocked with rainbows to 7lb and a mix of spartics and browns.
A good number of club members were in attendance in addition to a few day ticket visitors and it was immediatly apparent that the lake could now host a dozen or more anglers in comfort. A strong South West wind was blowing up the valley with occasional drizzle driven over the lake. Despite the rather gloomy weather it was at least mild and everyone was in good spirits as they tackled up and took up places at the waters edge.
I set up with an intermediate Snowbee line and tied on the ever reliable damsel nymph with a black cormorant on a dropper. I chose to fish close to the lake inlet with the raging and murky River Yeo racing down behind me. The water in the lake was surprisingly clear despite heavy rain over previous days and I could see the occasional rainbow trout cruising in the margins. I put out the line allowed the the flies to sink slowly before beginning a slow irratic retrieve.
After three or for casts the line tightened and I felt the pleasing tug of a trout. A hard fighting rainbow was eventually pulled over the rim of the net. I added two more full tailed rainbows over the next twenty minutes to complete my three fish bag,
I poured a coffee and took a walk around the lake catching a few images of other anglers enjoyed tempting the lakes trout. Several trout to over four pound were caught including some good fish by anglers trying fly fishing for the first time. It was interesting to note how some experienced anglers were struggling to complete their bags whilst others were catching the trout with ease. Subtle differences in presentation can make all the difference to success whilst at other times trout determine that the lucky angler bags up.
The late Autumn and Winter months offer great sport at small Stillwaters with weed growth at a minimum and trout in tip top condition in the Cool water.
Pauline and I enjoyed visiting Dulverton and Lance Nicholsons -Fishing and Guns at the book signing for ‘Song of the Streams’ by Michelle Werrett. Michelle Werrett and Robin Baker have collaborated to produce a beautiful book that is an important milestone in Exmoors Fishing literature. The combination of descriptive evocative writing and atmospheric photography makes it a must have addition to any bookshelf of those who love Exmoor and its streams.
Many thanks to Richard Wilson for allowing me to publish his regulars features full of dry humour and comment on todays fishing world.
For the guides and gillies on the frontline
Hey Mr Dream-Seller, tell me how’s it gonna be. Are the Salmon running? Are there fish you can see? Have you, as the song says, dreams enough to spare?
Comes the answer: ‘Fish are moving and the river’s looking great – and it should hold well for the whole of your week’. All of which sounds very promising. But buyer beware; we hear what we want to hear and nowhere do these words say there are more than a handful of salmon in the river.
The language of guiding has always been creative and bendy, but as the Salmon and Steelhead runs diminish this inventiveness is being tested. Telling anglers what they want to hear without promising the impossible is an art form, although it helps that no audience was ever more willingly misled than we fishing junkies. There is nothing we want to hear more than that we’re arriving at a river full of fish.
Back in the real world, far from any river, deceiving clients is easier. The clerk on the airline check-in desk (if you can still find one) has always promised that your seat has extra legroom and your baggage has been checked all the way through. This is done with impunity because by the time you find out that your seat is in the loo and your baggage in Bahrain, you are a continent away. On a river your guide must sell you a dream that holds you enthralled for the duration of the trip. You’re both in it together and, for added frisson, there’s that tip at the end.
The scale of this challenge cannot be understated. At one of England’s salmon fisheries, a famous hotel, the total salmon catch last year was 1. That’s right: One salmon. Imagine being a guide with that to deal with.
So, let’s go fishing: We’ve arrived. It’s our big week and our hopes are high. The anxious first question we ask is “How’s the fishing?”.
‘Hey!’ the guide smiles broadly. ‘Great to meet you. The river’s in fine condition and we’re gonna have a really good time’. Our pulse quickens in anticipation of the thrills to come. It’s going to be an awesome week!
Later, after all the pleasantries are done, the bags unpacked and the tackle checked, there will be a more serious word in your ear: “The river’s looking terrific and the water levels couldn’t be better, but – I’ll be straight with you – the salmon are running a little late this year”. This should set your alarm bells ringing. The phrase used to mean that the February salmon had arrived in April, presumably in an act of contrarian defiance against the early arrival of spring. Nowadays this trend is taking a desperate turn and the truth would sound something like this: “We don’t know where the fish are. In recent years the redds have been a hot tub, the sea nets are longer and finer, the fish farm’s doubled in size and the town sewage works pumps raw effluent to match the farm slurry.” Apex predators vary from country to country but you can be sure they’re also in trouble. The entire ecosystem is in decline.
Against this fishless backdrop of warm and perhaps excremental water (try fishing in England or Wales) our hapless guide or gillie must keep our spirits up for a whole week. And that takes a very special sort of talent.
If I create the impression that I’m singling out guides and gillies as the reality-benders, it’s because I am. And I have a great deal of sympathy for their plight because, if I were your guide, I’d do the same.
It’s not the guide’s fault. He or she is a decent human being with a job to do and bills to pay. But the unvarnished truth can be brutal and visitors who believe there are fish to catch are easier company than those whose hopes have been dashed before a fly is cast. There’s also a trade-off in this: As less time is spent catching fish so more must go into managing the client. This is compounded by the human weariness that sets in as a dud week unfolds.
Meanwhile, back at our accommodation, the new day is here and it’s time to hit the river. The guide’s rules are simple: Keep smiling and remember that the lack of action can’t be blamed on the visitor, no matter how badly they fish. And no self-respecting guide could ever say it’s down to poor guiding. So, if we can’t blame the angler or the guide and we’ve already agreed the river is looking great, what does that leave? We can’t, at this early stage in the week, blame the fish because the illusion of their presence is why we’re here. In defiance of reality, we must travel hopefully.
For once the world is on the guide’s side. The ubiquitous Global Fishing Mega-Corp has fragmented fishing tackle into so many interchangeable and marketable parts that I doubt anyone has yet explored all the mind-numbing combinations that can now connect a reel to a fly. Mostly they just connect Mega-Corp with your bank account.
Changing tackle combinations looks like rational problem-solving and keeps the client optimistic. For a single Skagit line there can be some 28 mow-tip variations (perhaps doubling by the time you read this) one or two of which might even be appropriate. Thankfully there are cheaper alternatives. Then there’s the leader and, if time drags, we can learn some new knots. And if that doesn’t work there’s always a Scandi or a Spey or just a good old-fashioned WF line on a single-handed rod. Or a single-handed Spey line. How long have you got? (Answer: A week).
Top of this list is the fly, the interminable way to fill time. This works because most people cling to the belief that there is a right fly to deploy right now. So devoting effort to choosing a winning fly seems crucial, even though experience suggests that successful fly selection mostly works only in hindsight. And, of course, all the time you’re making these changes the fly is on the bank. Which is a lot less disappointing than having it in the water.
I was once with a Steelhead guide whose fly wallet was stuffed entirely with bright pink flies. He carried no other colour. From this fanfare of explosive and uniform pinkness he selected a single fly that he thought would catch fish. How it differed from the rest I could not tell, but I was smitten by the concept. You can have any colour you want, provided it’s pink. And it worked. No time was wasted tying knots and 4 Steelhead were caught (there were fish in the river).
So the next time I’m with some austere gillie on a drear Scottish river I’ll have the perfect response when he asks to see my flies. What he wants to say to me is: ‘If only you had a Dour Dreich-Black Doomster Fly you might have been in with a chance. With that lot, all shiny black + a hint of silver thread, nay chance.” I’m going summon up all my courage and flash a wonderland of effervescing pink and then hope it works.
But back to our river: As the fishless week progresses the guide will see our mood disintegrate. Hope flees and life loses all meaning. We persevere because we must. Admitting defeat is not an option.
This is when I get hit with The Great Euphemism of Last Resort – an intervention reserved exclusively for the fishless angler on suicide watch. I’ve heard it on both sides of the Atlantic and it’s the moment when guide euphemisms morph into lies. And it really annoys me, not for the lie, but because I willfully fall for it every time.
The week has reached the point where small mistakes multiply into big ones and my patience with myself is running thin. I just hope the guide is with my fishing partner and not watching my dire performance. My casting is falling apart. And then, suddenly and with a big smile, up pops the guide, as cheerful as a cheerful thing can be … ‘Hey, you’re looking great! There’s nothing wrong with your casting and you’re covering the water really well’.
The effect on me is electric. Oh WOW! A real, live pro-fisherman or woman has just told me my casting is faultless. I’m really good at this! It’s going on my gravestone as proof of a life well-lived: Here Lies Richard – Oh Boy Could He Cast! Confidence is restored, my casting recovers and I’m poised to strike when the inevitable fish takes. Life is great.
But only for a while, because reality is corrosive and this praise is not what it seems. It always comes at that moment when even a passing stranger can see that I need a bottle of wine, a whole cake and a long afternoon nap. It’s an undeniable, self-evident fact that I’m casting very, very badly. And yet I fall for it every time – hook, line and sinker.
Let’s take a step back and look at this dispassionately: The guide said ‘There’s nothing wrong with your casting’. They didn’t say anything much was right with it either. What this says is that my casting’s sort of OK. ‘Sort of OK?’. ‘Yup, it could be worse’. And if I then take another step back this is what the thought bubble over the guide’s head says: ‘What can I say? You’re getting the line out. That’s OK. But a fishless week combined with a lifetime of accumulated bad habits is taking its toll. Even if a fish shows up, the best you’ll do is give it a slapping. It’s day 6 and I’ve run out of ideas.’
Thankfully most guides are much too canny to say anything of the sort.
So that’s it. The week’s heading for a dud, the guide has played their last card and the guest is wilting. Everyone is ready to go home.
This is now happening on too many rivers and to too many people. We all know the reasons – climate change, pollution, commercial exploitation, land use, fish farming, overheated oceans and so on. As a result, guiding is becoming less about catching fish and more about providing emotional support for wilfully gullible clients. The times they are a’changing.
Inevitably, as migratory runs continue their decline, I’ll be falling for The Great Euphemism of Last Resort more often. And, much to my surprise, I really don’t mind. I’ve realised that if I’m out on the water, rod in hand, then the two sweetest little lies you can tell me are that the river is full of fish and that my casting is great. So, please, hit me with it one more time. And sometimes, every once in a while, it will be true: my casting will find that sweet spot and a fish will oblige.
But until that happens, please don’t stop: Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies.
— — — —
This article first appeared in Chasing Silver Magazine and has been republished in Hatch Magazine.
RAINY DAY RAINBOWS
Waterproofs hanging drying beside the Wood-burner reflected the story of the previous day as we sat enjoying coffees and full English in the George Inn at Brompton Regis. I was with Snowbee Ambassador Jeff Pearce, Nigel Evans and Andy Jesson who had fished in a friendly competition at Wimbleball the previous day.
The nine competitors had recorded thirty trout in a close run event that had seen them battling some pretty severe weather as the strong winds and rain of Storm Babet brushed the West Country. On practice day Nigel and Andy had boated 29 trout between them so were slightly baffled at the relatively reduced catches on match day.
Breakfast chat included in depth analysis of match day and then diverged to include the problems of the wider world and the intricacies of drone flying. These included several accounts of expensive drone crash disasters that must have been stressful for their owners at the time yet highly entertaining in the subsequent retelling. Strange how tales of disaster are often recounted and savoured with an ironic humour frequently lurking far longer than successful events. A bit like the memory of a big fish lost at the net that lingers painfully for years.
Feeling fortified we all set off for Wimbleball confident after referring to the latest from the met office inferring that today’s weather would be better.
After five minutes with the bilge pump to empty the boat Jeff and I set off under grey skies to the sheltered waters of the Upton Arm.
Tinges of autumn showed upon the wooded banks with shades of golden brown amongst the still predominantly green canopy. The Upton Arm at Wimbleball is sheltered by steep wooded banks and always seems to have a unique other world atmosphere.
Jeff manoeuvred the boat into position in an area that had proved productive over recent days. I eagerly extended my Snowbee intermediate line and began to retrieve the team of flies. A solid jolt was transmitted down the line to be followed by an acrobatic trout!
The resulting 2lb plus rainbow was a great start to the day and ensured I had at least ensured my ongoing 100% catch rate during the modern Wimbleball era.
The successful fly was the ever reliable gold headed blue flash damsel on the point. I constantly reiterate that it is important to tie on a fly that gives confidence. I probably catch more than 50% of my still-water trout on this pattern and that is undoubtedly due to my confidence in its use. I am not generally one to swap and change flies repeatedly preferring to try different depths and speeds of retrieve before swapping patterns.
We could see fish moving on a regular basis further along the bank and moved towards these fish. Once again my fly was seized, there was a flurry of spray and an angry rainbow erupted from the water.
Over the first hour or so the pattern continued and Jeff also started to hook up with some hard fighting rainbows. All full tailed fish in splendid condition. It soon became obvious that the fish were tightly shoaled as we glimpsed numerous fish in the dark clear water as they followed our flies.
Sport was to be consistent throughout the day with some epic battles with Wimbleball’s finest the best of the trout nudging 4lb and averaging close to 3lb.
It was the weather though that will linger in the memory along with persistently bent rods and purring reels. The dark skies brought some brutal showers on the tail end of storm Babet.
It seems that we are increasingly weathering the storms to go fishing. Fortunately, modern waterproofs are up to the job ensuring that fishing is enjoyable in even the most hostile of conditions. There can be few climate change deniers amongst the angling fraternity.
Sport proved consistent as the day drifted past all too quickly. The high banks of the Upton Valley provided welcome shelter from the wind and we were joined by Nigel and Andy who fished a hundred yards or so behind us. They too enjoyed consistent action and also noticed that most of the fish were patrolling one side of the bay hugging the shoreline.
A red kite soared high above the valley as the rain eased. The calm surface of the lake reflected the dark trees and as the showers passed by wisps of mist lifted from the lake.
By mid-afternoon we had caught 19 rainbows releasing all but a couple at the side of the boat. Barbless hooks and rubber meshed Snowbee nets ensuring minimal damage.
Inevitably sport eased and we decided upon a change of scenery heading back to the yacht club bay for a final hour. We had a quick drift without success and then proceeded to drop the anchor. A small wild brownie brought the days total to twenty.
Another brutal shower descended upon the lake and a rainbow appeared briefly as the late afternoon sun momentarily broke through the clouds. The trout proved elusive probably switched off the feed for we felt sure they would be present in the area that had been productive over recent days.
In truth I wasn’t too upset when Jeff suggested he had had enough, I had too!
It had been a top day on the lake a water that has provided some spectacular sport under the management of Mark Underhill and his family since 2018. Wimbleball is not always an easy water with a vast acreage the trout can sometimes prove elusive but it is always well stocked with pristine conditioned rainbows. There is always the added chance of connecting with one of the lakes wild brownies that have grown large feeding upon the abundant fry.
Winter sport can be enjoyed with plans under consideration to remain open for most of the winter.
It was a peaceful Sunday morning as I negotiated the winding country lanes of the Quantock Hills on my way to Hawkridge Reservoir near the Village of Spaxton a few miles from Bridgewater.
Countryside illuminated by the early morning sunshine seemed to ooze tranquillity and timelessness. This seemed particularly poignant as I listened to the news on Radio 4. The terror of conflict in Israel, death and destruction on the dawn of a new war that will undoubtedly bring much sadness and breed yet more hatred.
I arrived at Hawkridge the mirror calm surface pimpled with rising trout. Herons stood fishing on the far bank.
I was with Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Club on their annual meeting with South West Fishing For Life. https://www.southwestfishingforlife.org.uk
The organisation has been running for over fourteen years and provides free fly fishing sessions for people who have one thing in common – breast cancer.
This friendly meeting always results in plenty of smiles as we share boats and try to tempt a few trout.
Members of the two groups slowly assembled beside the lake all eagerly eyeing the lake and its surface still dimpled with rising trout. On the far bank a couple of roe deer bounded into view disturbed by an angler approaching the far shoreline.
The draw was made at just after 10.00am and participants eagerly set off to various parts of the lake. My boat partner sadly failed to show leaving me soul occupancy of the boat a fate of hand that proved fruitful from a fishing perspective.
Loitering close to the dam end of the lake I drifted about for a while searching the water with a floating line and a team of flies. By now the fish had stopped rising as the unseasonably warm October sunshine illuminated the surroundings. After an hour with just one chance, I decided that the fish must be down in the water. As I wound in to change the lines over I felt a strong pull. A good sized rainbow appeared shaking its head to successfully rid itself of the hook.
I persisted with the change to a sinking line and allowed the boat to drift to rest against the buoys near the dam. A few fish were rising and I cast parallel to the buoys close to where a fish had showed. The line zipped tight and a spirited tussle followed before a pleasing rainbow was netted. An exciting hours sport followed as I hooked several trout some of which came off before I completed my five fish limit shortly after 1.00pm. The fish were all tempted using a blue flash damsel and generally took within seconds of the fly hitting the water. The fish were tightly shoaled and I had been lucky as I feel sure I would have headed to the far end of the lake if my boat partner had showed.
The morning session ended at 2.00pm and we all assembled back at the lodge for the presentation of prizes. I was slightly embarrassed to receive the top boat man’s award for my five fish haul that totalled 13lb. Peter Mullins took the SWFFL prize with a 2lb 12oz rainbow.
Sally Pizii had once again done a splendid job of organising the event.
I headed for home after a great morning’s sport and tuned into Radio 2’ and sounds of the seventies. The rest of the Wistlandpound Club headed back out onto the water. David Eldred completed his five fish bag to win the competition with 14lb.
The club result was : –
1st David Eldred. Five trout – 14lb
2nd – Wayne Thomas – Five trout 13lb
3rd – Colin Combe – three trout
4th – Roy Pink – Two trout
I fished the river yesterday and it was too high and coloured. I return today and its dropped a bit with less colour
Warm September sunshine the river dropping, It feels right If a little high. I select the fly and wade out.
The cast is good I feel I’m doing everything right, each cast the line unfurls and the fly drops in the right place. Swing it around in the current expectation as the fly passes familiar lies.
As I walk the riverside field’s I note the fungi, hazelnuts and the subtle changes that tell of seasons end.
At the top of the beat I look up river to briefly glimpse the graceful roll of an otter. As I climb from the river having fished the pool through a kingfisher brings a flash of electric blue.
Its hard to believe that another season has come to an end. It seems only yesterday that I walked the banks as the wild daffodils bloomed.
Inspired by tales of the past gleaned from old fishing books, the author sets out to fish those same waters, to cast the same flies on the same pools, to explore how fishing the streams of Exmoor might compare with fishing them over a century ago, whether those streams have changed and how they might be faring today. Exmoor rivers and streams appear pristine, barely changed since Claude Wade described them in his 1903 book Exmoor Streams, yet the numbers of trout he and other long-ago writers reported catching seem unbelievable today. Those streams must once have held an astonishing abundance of fish.
Modern problems affect even upland streams, yet many good folk are dedicated to their restoration and there is much we can do to help. River conservation work can be fascinating and rewarding as we develop a deeper understanding of river habitats through, for example, managing a balance of light and shade, monitoring aquatic invertebrates and cleaning riverbed spawning gravels then watching for their use when migratory salmon return home from the sea.
Those nail-booted, greenheart wielding fishermen of the past have gone but the streams still run on their wild ways, singing their endless songs to the moor. This book is for all who share concern for the wellbeing and conservation of our rivers and streams as well as those entranced by the rise of a trout to a well placed fly.
Vellacott’s Pool – East Lyn – Image Roger Baker
The River Test in Hampshire is undoubtedly the worlds most revered Chalk Stream its gin clear waters flowing through country estates whose names are steeped in the history of fly fishing. Its waters fished by the likes of F M Halford who penned the classic tomes Floating Flies and How to Dress Them in 1886 followed by Dry Fly Fishing in Theory and Practice in 1889. Halfords Dry Fly Tactics were controversially questioned when G E M Skues published his books Minor Tactics of the Chalk Stream and The Way of the Trout with the Fly.
A century later Fly Fishing rules on the River Test still reflect the tactics employed by Halford and Skues. In truth these codes of conduct ensure that a degree of sportsmanship and etiquette are practiced on a River that is trout fishing equivalent to Crickets Lords or Tennis’s Wimbledon.
So, what is it like to fish the River Test? I was privileged to be invited for a day’s fishing on a beat a few miles below Stockbridge in the heart of the Test Valley.
We arrived at the River for a 9.00am start assembling our tackle beside the fishing hut. Fishing beats on the Test invariably have well equipped fishing huts where anglers can share tales of fishing forays, discuss tactics and put this ever changing world to rights.
It is early September and I noticed the onset of early autumn colours as I drove the country roads shrouded in trees. It is the end of a record breaking September week of high temperatures with over 30 degrees recorded for an unprecedented seven consecutive days.
It is exceptionally warm and humid with thunder forecast later in the day.
Talk is that the fishing is going to be hard with the trout uninterested in feeding during the heat. We set off to search the water peering into the gin clear flow, lush water weeds swaying in the current. Its not difficult to spot our quarry if you’re tuned into the task.
I cast a small bead headed hares ear nymph up into the first pool I come too. After a couple of casts, I see a fish rise and change over to a grey Wulf dry fly. First cast the fly disappears in a delightful ring of water. I lift the rod and feel the pulsing of a hard fighting River Test brown trout. I am using a 7ft Snowbee 3/4wt Classic, with a 2/5 WT Thistledown Line, the light rod absorbs the lunges of the trout protecting the gossamer 3.7 lb tippet I am using. At a couple of pounds, it’s a delightful start to a glorious day.
The banks of the Rivers are carefully managed to provide a perfect experience for the angler. A strip of mowed grass provides a delectable fishers path, the rivers edge is buffered with a strip of grass reed and wild flowers. This provides a haven for bees, pollinators and brilliant blue and green damsel flies. In parts the river dissects thick lush growth of reeds trees and bush that are a haven for birds and other wildlife.
When the light is right peering into the gin clear waters is like looking into an aquarium, fry are abundant flitting around in the calmer eddies. The focus for the fly angler is of course the trout a mixture on this beat of wild browns and stocked brown and rainbows fish averaging 2lb with good numbers of fish between three and four pounds.
The river here meanders through a maze of carriers criss-crossed by wooden bridges. It is a delight to stroll the banks spotting the trout that haunt the mesmerising waters. The clarity often disguises the true depth of the water and I need a long leader to ensure my tiny weighted nymphs can reach the trout suspended in ever flowing waters.
After a couple of hours exploring the river we meet up in the fishing hut for a welcome coffee. There is no rush in this haven of tranquil riverside retreat.
I catch more than my share of fine brown trout returning several to the river after spirited battles. In the afternoon the sun illuminates the river enriching the colours and exposing the shadows of trout resting between swaying fronds of ranuculus. I cast a nymph above a group of good sized brown trout, The biggest of the trout moves and I glimpse the white of its mouth. I lift the rod and the fish lifts in the clear water shaking its head. The light rod hoops over, the reel screams as the trout dashes into weed beds. I put on as much pressure as I dare with the ultra-light tackle, the trout leaps from the water droplets of spray glisten in the hot afternoon sun. The trout’s image is imprinted forever in my mind’s eye a bar of gold and fiery copper leaping from the Tests revered waters. Eventually the big brown trout is almost beaten as I ready the net, it’s mine I think, but as I coax it to the net it gives a last shake of its head and the light tippet parts. The magnificent trout of perhaps five pounds sinks slowly back into its home and I watch it recover before swimming back to its station in the middle of the river.
I sit back and contemplate my loss for a few minutes. The river flows majestically on its never ending journey. I tie on a new nymph and catch a couple more consolation fish the best a shade over 3lb.
Its mid-afternoon and I have a long drive home. I savour a precious few moments sat absorbing the scene. It’s truly a riverside angling heaven, crystal clear waters, hard fighting trout and total peace. Once in a while it’s good to visit these legendary waters casting in the shadows of those who have created a tranquil stage in which to immerse and gather those piscatorial dreams.
Before driving home, I take a short walk with my camera to try and capture the essence of the river. Its good to visit perfection from time to time but is it any more rewarding than those clear waters that tumble from the moors back home in Devon?
As a child I dangled a worm in the tiny river Umber in Combe Martin a lifetime away from casts on the revered Test. Those butter bellied miniature brown trout were every bit as beautiful as those of the Test so sad that their numbers have been allowed to dwindle.
Rivers are the arteries of the land and it is so vital that we care for them by fighting pollution and over abstraction on every stream and river from the revered Test to babbling brook.
I stayed at an Air B & B near Andover the hosts son runs https://hookafly.com