Sunday, 27 November 2011
Wandering the Wandle
With so many current stories of rivers being threatened, it's always nice to find a positive angle. The River Wandle, which topped this year's list of most improved river habitats, isn't so much a tale of recovery as a minor miracle. I met up with fellow angling scribe and Wandle conservationist Theo Pike to witness the surprising beauty of this former chalkstream for myself. It was to be a mission which neatly combined areas that each of us have focussed on lately- coarse fish on fly gear and urban angling.
Surrounded by supermarkets and fast food joints, it's a curious buzz to cast a line here. We felt a bit like naughty schoolboys as we were ticked off by a lady in a Marks and Sparks outfit for fishing on a bridge. A little further on though, we found plenty of good looking water to try with both nymphs and dry flies. I began on Czech Nymphs, but a pink shrimp was the stand out pattern- a mixed shoal of chub and roach darting out from a raft of debris to grab the thing. At the back of the shoal was a gold fish! Here's a chunky chub:
There are now so many kinds of fish in this once dead river, you could try any one of several methods- which we did. Further downstream Theo pointed out where barbel and trout can be found. Legering was a pain with all the drifting leaves, so I decided to trot a nice, deeper pool with a pin and stick float. Lovely fishing- with chub, dace, roach and even a rare Wandle perch. A day of plenty of action, as well as some fascinating info on this great little London river, rescued thanks to the work of those like Theo and groups such as the Wandle Piscators. It's also very democratic- free fishing for much of its length.