Some may disagree, but my concept of life is that it is a collection of memories; some wonderful, some painful, and some best forgotten. That is why I think that life gets faster as one ages, for when one is young a year is full of hundreds of recollections. New people, new experiences, and relived experiences that are still so pleasurable that they are retained within the mind to be oft recalled. But when one is old, much of life has been so often repeated that it is no longer of sufficient interest to be kept within the memory, and so, when looking back over the previous year, there are but few things remembered and those few memories are the whole year. Every year the memories decrease and thus the year has passed quicker.

I was thinking along these lines the other day when recalling how I used to look forward to the new fishing seasons. Always wishing to fish for the whole year, and not hang up the rods for three months, once I owned transport, and before the coarse season finished, I would be already into salmon. fishing, and in this area of Hampshire also trout fishing, which started March 1st. Also, as a matter of interest, there wasn't a close season for coarse fish on several Hampshire rivers. Now however, I don't think I have as much enthusiasm for the start of trout fishing as I used to have. If the various authorities had not allowed our salmon stocks to deteriorate to be almost non existent in the South of England, I think I would have retained far greater enthusiasm for the start of salmon fishing because they are still a wild species generally. I could clarify that statement more but it wou1d take too much space in a trout article. Older anglers will know what I mean as so much of modern trout fishing is not for wild fish.

Life is a collection of memories I said. One of mine is reading of trout angling in the 'Fishing Gazette' back in the '40s, when anglers enthused of taking trout averaging, "Four to the pound", from becks and streams in lovely countryside, and "Occasionally a real monster of half-a-pound would come to net". One would also read of rivers where wild fish could be taken to 21b, 'And even 31b has been known". What dreams those articles would conjure up. Of course, there were also tales of the chalk streams where 2 and 3 pounders were fairly common, but they were not wild fisheries, and were not available to all.

One of my earliest visits to a little river for trout was at the age of 12 or 13 when an angling friend, (a man over 30) persuaded my aunt to allow me to accompany him to visit his father in North Wales. His retired father lived close to the River Ceiriog, which flowed into the Dee. What a wonderful river to my youthful eyes. Clear water full of salmon parr, and plenty of trout which were eager enough to take a dry fly, cast with our greenheart rods and silk lines. Yes, I had acquired fly fishing tackle by then, and had taught myself to fly fish by catching bleak and dace on the tidal reaches of the Thames. After the speed of rise of a bleak or dace, the trout seemed to be easy, but I was so impressed by the power, and the acrobatics of those little trout, most of which were less than 6 ounces, that after 60 years I can still remember the trip as if it was yesterday. It was a marvellous adventure for a lad of those days. Now I suppose, youngsters by the age of 12 have been half way round the world and to exotic places, and a stream in North Wales would not excite them much.

In my early years, during the close season for coarse fish, the reservoirs would also lure me to their shores. Chew Valley and Blagdon were exciting places to be and were my first introduction to rainbows. They were marvellous fisheries and the rainbows, stocked small I was told and allowed to grow within the reservoirs, were as agile and lively as seatrout. My friends and I never caught them much above 41b but they were just as memorable as the 8, 9, or 10lb rainbows that I occasionally put on the bank these days. It was a good time, and trout fishing that I will always remember.

Another river I reminisce about fondly when recalling trout fishing, is the Dorset Stour. Many a good trout have I taken from the Wimborne area of the river on both fly and spinner. I also had a fair number of salmon, but what sticks in my memory about casting the fly in the faster, shallower areas of the Stour, was how alive those shallows were. As well as the thousands of minnows and fry of coarse fish, there were so many salmon parr that at times it was difficult to fish dry fly as they would continually drown it. And when fishing with a wet fly or nymph, salmon parr would be continually giving little pulls and plucks. There were thousands and thousands of them. It breaks my heart that the authorities have now written off the Dorset Stour as a salmon river.

I also recall to mind some marvellous days on the Stour with the Mayfly. Now, I appreciate that age interferes with one's recollections of events, but I do know that there was often a very early Mayfly hatch on the Stour - like a mini-hatch. This would occur in April, and I remember astonishing my old friend John Goddard, back in those days, by producing a live mayfly from a matchbox in early April. The main hatch, and often unbelievably prolific, was the first couple of weeks of June, and as well as pulling up some great trout, I could be mesmerised watching numbers of chub making great wakes in the waters as they chased the wind blown insects, and later, as they became satiated, simply sucking down the myriad of spent insects with hardly a movement to the surface. Those were great days, and great memories for me too that will always be there when I think of trout fishing.

Friends and I also helped propagate the Mayfly. As we wandered the river with our flyrods during the evening, we would pass thousands of females resting in the vegetation. We would gently cast one up among the dancing males to watch the instant reaction of all the male group in trying to be the first to attend her, but only one would be lucky. I wonder whether males and females breed in roughly equal numbers to give them all a chance to pass on their genes? Nature is not usually that fair!

A fly fishing partnership that are good friends of my wife and I, is Tom Saville (before retirement Tom C. Saville of Nottingham) and his wife Pat. They are both excellent trout fishers, but I mention them not to be name dropping, but because the only time I have been to Dever Springs was with them. Tom and Pat were staying with us, and as Dever is not far, they wanted to see the place and give it a try, as it holds such huge fish. It may be artificial, but if one wants a huge fish that has got to be one of the places to go. There were monsters swimming around but they weren't exactly a pushover. The Savilles got a couple of fish in excess of 81b, and as far as I could see that was as good as any other angler despite plenty of people fishing, and in spite of it being a first for them to that type of fishery.

What really intrigued me though, was the size and apparent quality of fish in the holding pens. There were huge rainbows, and some browns, some of which must have bettered 201b. One can easily understand the attraction of such small waters when there is a chance of catching such a brute. As in most of the stocked stillwaters though, there is more chance of getting a big rainbow than a brown, so if it is a big brown you have set your sights on, you may have to spend plenty of time, and money, at such places.

As for me, I didn't fish. I only went to take pictures, but if I did, it would be to try for a brown. As it is, my best brown stands at 9.5lb from my own bit of river, but I would like to get a 10 pounder. I lost one that I am sure was over that last season, and this season I have spotted one that I am sure is 10lb or more, and as the season is already open, and I am sure I could get it to take a nymph, I really ought to give it a try. But it is not so important to me anymore I guess, as I look at it every day, think about it, and then

Leave it alone.


This morning while I was lying in bed, about 7.30am., I was thinking about fly fishing in the Tidal when I was a boy - I mentioned it in my copy. I remembered that the greenheart rod that I used was bought from a fishing tackle shop that used to be on Richmond Bridge, called 'Rawlings.' What was interesting to remember was that I bought the rod on my 11th. or 12th. birthday in 1940 0r 1941, and that I actually woke Mr. Rawlings up from his slumbers early in the morning to serve me. He used to live above the shop, and having seen this second hand, beautifully close whipped greenheart rod, in the shop window for some weeks, I was terrified that it would be sold, and so, having saved up and added to some birthday monies, I cycled to Richmond before school with the money burning a hole in my pocket. Mr. Rawlings was not pleased when he saw me banging on his door, but was happy enough when I produced the 2.50 or 3.50, I cannot remember which, for the rod. Of course it was 2. ten shillings or 3. ten shillings.

Mr. Rawlings knew me well enough as a regular young customer. He was on a winner anyway as I then had to save for a reel and line and other bits.