Photograph by Steve Barnett

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Amazing New World Order addendum...

Some of you will already be aware that your faithful blogger is working on a series of photographs about Derbyshire's river Wye.  These are being made with a variety of cameras using film rather than megapixels.  By the confluence of the Wye with the Derwent there is an ancient willow, the last on the true right bank before the Wye ends and the Derwent takes over.  This  once fine tree has been split right down to the soil line by this month's storms. 

This dramatically weather-hewn willow caught the eye so comprehensively that all the sheets of film were quickly used up in a frenzy of setting up the camera and tripod making an exposure then moving the whole lot to another location near this astonishing sight and another and another and so on and then, as if by magic, all the film was gone. 

Henry was relieved as all was repacked away and we could move on.  Naturally we had to go and have a little look down at the Derwent.  Here was what must be destined to be a popular pool for the lucky new members of the Rowsley section of the Peacock Fly Fishing Club, the length immediately down river of the Junction Pool.  The ground had some very healthy looking clumps of snowdrops dotted about it.  River silts from the regular floods must be exactly what snowdrops like because these specimens were perfect in every respect and looked simply lovely.

You will all know the old saying, "The things you see when you don't have your gun!"

Oh why had all the film gone?  Why not even one sheet left (preferably colour)?  Never mind.  The little Olympus was in the trouser pocket and a couple of digital snaps were made.  Here's one of them.

Snowdrops 'neath the Junction Pool

Then on a piece of weathered wood what was that crawling along?  By Gum!  A February Red making the most of the sunshine after all the rain we have had in recent weeks.  A quick snap and here it is.

February Red
Then it flew up and over the water, whereupon a gust of wind knocked it to the surface.  It righted itself and seemed ready to take to the air once more then - BAM!  A brown trout made a noisy meal of it. 

Guess who has made a note of its whereabouts... 

Maybe trout and blogger will get acquainted some time early in the season? 

I'd say there was a very good chance, if some tardy February Reds are still around come All Fool's Day.

Regular Rod

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Amazing New World Order!

You will have noticed that this is not a commercialised blog.  That is so that if anything is recommended on here, you can be sure there is no ulterior motive and that what is being recommended has, in your blogger’s opinion, great merit.  This (rather long) post is all about one such thing, a new fly fishing club with astonishingly good fishing for its lucky new members.

Not so very long ago it was just about impossible for the ordinary angler to gain access to some of the World’s finest dry fly fishing.  There was, however, one little chink of encouraging light in the darkness of despair at ever being allowed on such hallowed waters.  This was the day ticket water on the Haddon Estate’s length of the Derbyshire Wye, the famous “Peacock Water” so named because the Peacock Hotel at Rowsley was where we went to buy our tickets.  It is where anglers still congregate, where visitors can still have a day ticket to treat themselves to what is usually a special day after the wild brown trout and grayling, with the added bonus of the Wye’s wild rainbow trout, this being the only river in England with a self-sustaining head of rainbow trout whose first encounter with Homo sapiens sapiens is when they meet a lucky angler!

A Day Ticket Angler Stoops Low to Net a Grayling Watched by A Contented Looking Cow - circa 1975

In 1969 your faithful correspondent fished the “Peacock Water” on a day ticket for the first time and soon after became a regular rod.  The Derbyshire Wye was once more the Mother river to yet another of her keen tyros.  She taught this one everything he now thinks he knows about dry fly fishing, lessons learnt that have been applied with not a little success on waters North, South, East and West, near and far.

A Secretive Little Corner On the Lower Lathkill

Over time, as spending power increased and the distance of my name from the top of the waiting list shortened, it became possible to join the syndicate to fish an additional river, a tributary of the Wye.  This was the Lathkill, made famous by Charles Cotton in the fifth edition of the Complete Angler, when he described the waters as the clearest he had ever seen and that the trouts were said to be “the reddest in all England”.  The Lathkill, for observant and thinking anglers, imposes more advanced lessons on the subjects of concealment from the fish and of fly presentation.  Clumsiness on here is not quickly forgiven by the fish.

Looking down towards a short piece of the Bradford known as "The Coach Road"

There was another syndicate further up the catchment on the little river Bradford, which is a miniature version of the Lathkill and tributary to it.  Here there are even more of those amazing red coloured wild brown trout.  The red pigmentation is unique for this gene pool .  If you painted a picture of one accurately folks would think you insane.  Here the fishing was again a test of stealth but somehow the Sport was a little easier.  Visits to the Bradford for your blogger were only made as a privileged guest and nicely added to the variety which is supposed to be the spice of life.
When you fish the Derwent do make sure you miss nothing that looks like this!
It was also as an occasional and very privileged guest, of the owner, that the delights of the Haddon Estate’s four miles of the Derbyshire Derwent were sampled.  These delights are different from those of the Wye and her tributaries, in that wading is the order of the day here.  The banks of the Derwent are steep and high, typical of a spate river that is mainly rain-fed, so it is on with the waders and in you go.  Here the wet fly is permitted as well as the dry fly, which makes it a much desired water by anglers who like to practise the submerged and semi-submerged disciplines in the art of fly fishing.  There is something to suit everyone.  Access to these waters was exclusively available only to members of a club, which leased the waters from the Estate.  The quality of the fishing here meant that membership was keenly sought no matter the cost or the several years in Limbo with your name on the lengthy list of other anglers’ names all waiting for dead men’s shoes.  If your name came up you had to be ready with a hefty, non-returnable, joining fee plus your subscription money for your first year.

True to the famous quote from Heraclitus, an Ancient Greek philosopher, “Change is the only constant in life”, things have changed and changed for the better as far as we ordinary anglers are concerned.


The "Junction Pool" - Coming in from the left is the Derbyshire Wye to join the Derwent near Rowsley
The Haddon Estate has brought its four miles or so of the Derbyshire Derwent back in-hand.  These are now added to the eight miles of the Derbyshire Wye, two miles plus of the Lathkill and all of the river Bradford under the gentle management of the fisheries department of the Estate.  In recent years, as well as fantastic fishing, thanks to its husbandry policy of habitat creation, restoration, and preservation, it has also meant more and easier access for anglers to the Estate’s excellent fishing via membership of the Peacock Fly Fishing Club based at the Peacock Hotel  in Rowsley.  Now, with the addition of the Derwent fishing, the club is further enhanced with the Rowsley Fly Fishing section.  Subscriptions for the various memberships available are very competitive and there is no joining fee!   Waters, which when your faithful blogger started fly fishing were exclusively available to the wealthy and well connected, are now available to all of us to enjoy simply by joining this new club.  You can get all the details, if you fancy a rod here, by contacting the Peacock at Rowsley.  or call 01629 733518.

The Record Book in the Lounge at the Peacock the "Finest Fishing Hut that Ever There Was!"

Yes it’s an Amazing New World Order, but one thing hasn’t changed... 


You can still buy a day ticket from the Peacock Hotel and fish the Derbyshire Wye!



Regular Rod

Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Best Badger Capes I have seen... the last twenty years.  I fact I think they might be the best I've seen ever!

From left to right, Grade One, Grade Two, Grade Three!
Thank Heavens that the British Fly Fair International event has at last reverted to the close season.  Many of us have missed these excellent occasions recently because they were during one of the nicest parts of the Trout Season.  Fishing takes priority over shows for your faithful blogger and dry fly fishing takes priority over just about anything so the shows were a long way off the agenda.  Now we are back to the happy state of being able to engage in retail therapy to keep us from depression as we wait for the trout season to start again.  Thanks to "being there" today a fantastic opportunity was not missed...

Six or seven years ago at the Game Fair, your correspondent was engaged in an educational conversation with Christina Tooley of Chevron Hackles.  She explained that she was engaged in a programme of breeding cockerels with badger marked capes.  She had some success but at that time was stuck in the paradox of what to do with the best birds.  Kill them and sell their skins?  Or keep them in the programme to benefit from the input of their genes?  She chose wisely if the experience today was anything to go by.

Imagine the disappointment earlier today when schlepping around the show, searching every sales point for good quality badger cock capes, but finding nothing anywhere near what was desired.  It looked like it was going to be another failed attempt to find these very important capes.  Imagine the slight lift in optimism on arriving at, then scanning the Chevron Hackles stand and spying what looked like a properly marked badger cock cape up on the rack.  Consider the further elevation in spirits when realising that there were actually 10 or more of these capes on the rack...

Trying to look calm and unflustered the whole rack was taken down and one-by-one, each cape was carefully removed from its clip-lock bag, examined carefully, returned to the bag and either returned to the rack or retained in the grip of the third and fourth fingers of the right hand whilst the inspection continued.

"You've cracked it!  You've definitely cracked it!  These are perfect!  I'll have these three please..."

The rest were returned to the display for the next lucky fly tier to find.  Frankly. if the money was available, none would have gone back on display.  They are all that good!

Normally I wouldn't recommend buying capes unseen and unexamined, but if you cannot get to the BFFI Fly Fair tomorrow, (Sunday 9th February) then you could do a lot worse than to contact Christina via and ask her to supply you with badger cock capes like the ones bought today by Regular Rod...

Regular Rod