My 9′ 4-weight Hardy is a great rod, but has always been a bit unwieldy in the cramped conditions on the upper Wandle. Tackle shopping is the next best thing to fishing for many, so during lockdown I bought a 6′ 2-weight rod from Maxcatch for a very reasonable price (the deal also included the reel, two fly-lines, four leaders and a fly-box!)
There is a section of the River Wandle in south London, that I’d fancied trying for a while. Hemmed in between developed banks, it is very much a case of ‘waders on’ fishing. I waded 30 yards through thigh-high water plants before a I found a patch of open water. Small fish were plentiful, and maybe I glimpsed the odd trout in the murk.
Initially, I imagined I was the first person to fish this stretch. Seeing a large lure snagged on a branch right in front of me, soon rid me of that illusion.
The six-foot rod took a little getting used to. I definitely couldn’t ‘force’ a cast and had to use the lightest touch. I might try it with a 3-weight line, to see if it loads better.
The tiny fish were very interested in the pink of my ‘sacrificial’ Czech nymph; completely ignoring the 18# hare’s ear tied to the bend of the larger fly. All of the tiddlers – sticklebacks? minnows? young trout/chub? – found either fly too much of a mouthful. (I must buy some tiny pink shrimps).
I let the flies slide under a natural dam formed by a tree branch. Under this unappetising collection of plastic and other detritus, a silver fish took a fly, held on for five seconds and was off. I’m unclear as to which of the flies it took. It wasn’t a trout at any rate.
I cast my way up as close as I dared to the weir at the top of this stretch. No fish came my way. I decided to move on.
I made a few flicks in a pool near a stretch where I usually see some big trout. Not a single fish to be seen, so I moved onto another nearby section. This part of the river has been straightened into a channel. It contains the odd trout. With nymphs and a speculative Parachute Adams, I cast my way up the weedy stream. I detoured around a few sunbathers escaping lockdown by sunbathing on the banks.
A man’s voice shouted from the council flats opposite. “I’m calling the police”. I’m unsure if this was directed at me. It could have been from a busybody who hadn’t understood the new regulations, or maybe that’s just a common sound in this part of south London.
I persisted, trying out a selection of bead-headed flies. A #12 pheasant tail eventually found a fish. Not a trout as hoped for but a small (out-of-season) chub. First fish of the year.
- 1 Chub (Pheasant Tail (gold nugget))