I was making a recce of the River Wandle in south London. I wasn’t sure I’d even get to take my Hardy fly rod out of its bag. A few years had passed since my last visit to this river. A combination of a small trout population, limited spots viable for casting and competition with illegal out-of-season bait fishermen had put me off.

I walked along the bank, checking out the fish population in the clear waters, before returning to my favourite swim which had produced all my Wandle fish on previous occasions. True to form, a bait fisherman was also at this location, tossing handfuls of groundbait into the water. The fish – trout, chub and roach or rudd – looked plentiful at least; I set up my rod.

Whichever fly I selected just couldn’t induce the fish to bite. In the clear water I see the fish – including some sizeable trout – follow the fly, but none were bold enough to take it. I’m guessing the easy availability of ground bait means the plump fish can afford to be choosy. I went through a large portion of my flybox trying to find something tempting. I had to get creative, but finally I bagged a fat nine-inch trout.

This trip has revived my interest in the Wandle, I’ll be back if I can before the coarse fishing season starts mid-June, or even after to target the Chub and Dace. This river isn’t the place to fish though if you’re looking for some solitude. A guy who tried to talk to me in Romanian squatted next to me for much longer than I felt comfortable with. Small children would squeal with excitement at seeing someone fishing, for some reason. I can’t begrudge them that.

Total Catch:

  • 1 Brown Trout