Friday, 26 December 2014

2014 in Photos

Saturday December 27th 2014

2014 in photos

Dear Simon,
The good news is that we are now closer to the start of the new season that we are from the end of the last one. I hope these few photos keep you going until that first chance to cast a line. My thanks for Bo Hermansen and Ken Takata for the great images; the not so good ones are mine.

Two weeks into January and the floods were upon us; I must admit in the past twenty odd years I have seen the rivers this full on two of three occasions, but I have never seen the meadows flood to such an extent and for such an extended period. This was Wallop Brook; the flooded sections that extend at right angles to the river are remnants of the water meadows that fell into decay in the early 1900's. Nobody alive today has ever seen them full like this.

Wallop water meadows

By this point I felt I was a  victim to the 'be careful what you wish for'  syndrome as my desire for every winter to be a wet one went to new levels in every sense of the word. Here is the river gauge on the River Test in Stockbridge. In December 2012 we were in a winter drought; fifteen months on .........

Stockbridge gauge 

On March 5th 1914 the P&O liner Morea edged up the River Thames returning from a winter cruise along the north coast of Africa. On board was Frederic M Halford, sick from pneumonia, but before the ship could dock Halford was dead. The father of dry fly fishing was no more. 

"By what is really a life's work, Halford has raised fly fishing for trout, both as a sport and as a scientific pursuit, to a higher level that it has ever before attained, and by so doing has made fly fishing a better and more absorbing recreation for us all." 
Dr. A. C. Kent, Journal of the Fly Fisher's Club, 1914.

Whilst the government struggled to get a handle on nature Teffont Brook, one of the tiny Wiltshire tributaries that feed the Hampshire Avon, showed the astonishing resilience of the geology of the chalkstreams. If you had to find a living definition of the word pellucid, this translucent water just 100 yards from the spring head says it all.

Teffont Stream March 2014 

There were all sorts of fanciful theories as to how the once-in-a-hundred-year floods who affect the mayfly hatch. As it turned out, not at all. Our ephemeral friends appeared to the day and in great numbers. 


A true bit of history came up for sale in the Fishing Temple on the River Dove in Derbyshire.This is where Charles Cotton and Izaak Walton collaborated, resulting in Cotton's contribution to the second edition of The Compleat Angler.   

Every two years I do an extended photo shoot travelling the chalkstreams to capture 'the shot'. Each time we try to re-create something famous. This is our appreciation of John Constable's Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Grounds. Dawn shoots are something of a nightmare. We were up at at 3am, waded into position in the pitch dark to be ready a full hour before sunrise. I stood in the same position for 90 minutes feeling every degree of a chalkstream 50F temperature.

Salisbury Cathedral at dawn no. 1 

I know the Himalayan Balsam is a hated invasive species but those pendulous, pink flowers do frame a photo (!) and the balsam musk hanging over the river on warm, still evening is simply divine.

Ilsington River Frome 

Living proof that I do let Diane out of the office sometimes as she hooks a fish on the River Kennet at The Wilderness.

Not often trout make the news pages of a national newspaper but this one did appearing in the Daily Telegraph.


I have been  reading Fifty Years on the Test by river keeper Ernest Pain which was published in the 1930's. For November he advises 'eradicate grayling by all means possible'. Ouch!

This perfect photo of a flowering ranunculus is reminder enough through the gloom of winter that a new season and summer lies ahead.

Here's to a great 2015! 

Best wishes,
Simon Signature 

Founder & Managing Director