A Passion For Angling - twenty years on
I guess those of you who have been involved in fishing over the past twenty years or so would have seen or heard of these six films made by Hugh Miles, and starring Chris Yates and Bob James.
They were the first of what I would call proper fishing films, they showed why we fish, and along with Hugh's fantastic photography they showed the beauty of some of the locations we find ourselves in. Up until then my first memory of fishing on television was Out Of Town with Jack Hargreaves. Presented as a diary of a countryman, the program was made by ITV in the south of England, although it showed Jack going off fishing there was never any sound, he would narrate it whilst it was being shown so it never had any real atmosphere.
Passion For Angling changed all of that, the secret ingredient was the relationship between Chris and Bob, the meeting of the old and new brought together by a shared passion for fishing. It also appealed to non-anglers. It was shown on BBC2 and at its peak had 6 million viewers. How times have changed! Then, there were only three main channels to pick from. Today not only are there hundreds of channels, there are even those which cater specifically for the fishing world.
This leads me on to why I mentioned Passion For Angling. Some of the sequences were filmed on the Hampshire Avon, and in particular at Longford estate where I have been a member for a number of years. This was also the location for my first film Four Seasons On The Hampshire Avon, which covers a year on the river following the seasons. The location also features in my last film Magical Waters. Recently I took a look around a few of the swims that featured in some of the sequences. One in particular was the sequence where Bob catches a double figure barbel from the oak tree swim.
The oak tree swim.
Not long after I joined the syndicate, the then keeper Mike Trowbridge told me that since the filming not one barbel has been seen or caught from that swim.
Another sequence started with Chris and Bob meeting on a bridge over the Avon, which is a lead into tench fishing at Frensham pond. Today that bridge still exists.
Sadly not all the bridges survived, the roach sequence at the start shows Chris and Bob walking over a lovely wrought iron footbridge. This was pulled down many years ago, as the estate didn't want to maintain it. All that is left today are the concrete foundations.
Who could forget the catch of many two pound roach made by Bob from the castle stretch at Longford. This will probably go down in angling history. It is still exactly the same today, apart from there being hardly any roach left. I have been fortunate enough to have caught my own two pound roach near this spot, which I will never forget.
The reason for this trip down memory lane is because I have decided it's time to hang my rods up at Longford. I've had a great time and met some great friends (and lost some) but now I feel it's time to move to new challenges in my fishing. Longford is not what it was, the shoals of big roach have gone, and with it the mystery the place once had. I will miss it, but as the saying goes, as one door closes another opens. I leave with the best memories anyone could have; one of many is my capture of a 3lb roach, on a bitter cold day, and the numerous other big two's whilst trotting a float with a centerpin……..
Roach like this are becoming increasingly rare on the Avon.
13th November 2014
Just a quick update Magical Waters is now available at a reduced price of £24.99, please check this site for more info.
I took these photographs recently in the New Forest. These images represents autumn to me; stags getting ready for the rut. These are fallow deer, and the pictures are taken with a 400mm lens, creeping around on my belly with that gear is not easy, but worth it in the end.
A few weeks ago I was invited for a days fly-fishing for grayling on the upper Hampshire Avon. The upper river is what I would term "more exclusive" as far as access to the fishing in concerned, so I jumped at the opportunity to have a day in the beautiful Woodford valley. Autumn is the month for the photographer; the light and colours of our landscapes are transformed. For me it's the best time to be out with the camera.
Today I would be a guest of a very famous society: The Piscatorial Society founded in 1836 who have some of the finest fly fishing in the UK which includes such rivers as the Test, Itchen, Wylye and of course the Avon. Their headquarters are tucked away by a lovely little weir pool. The walls of which are adorned with pictures of famous past and present members, there are also some pretty spectacular cased stuffed fish too, one of which is H. T. Sheringham's biggest ever brown trout. As Peter and I sat there in the room drinking tea before fishing, I couldn't help feel the history of the place.
We decided to head down stream over a small stone bridge where we had to walk through a very famous rock stars back garden and past his very impressive looking boathouse.
Peter was going to fish an upstream weighted nymph size 16. I on the other hand being a lover of the dry fly would fish a small grey body adams.
Peter showing off his fly casting skills
A nice small grayling caught on a nymph.
Autumn is on it's way.
The clouds threatened but the rain stayed away, we had plenty of action from the grayling, I guess we ended the day with over 20 up to 2LB's. Peter tells me that in the summer they get very good hatches of BWO's, something I'm afraid we don't see often see on the middle reaches, the mayfly hatches are very good also.
A hut on the river Test
I've had a busy summer but not a huge amount of fishing, the rivers seemed somehow out of sorts this summer. I'm convinced it's due to the floods we had in the winter. As much as we needed the rain, having such a heavy amount of water for months is bound to have an affect on the river. I was expecting lots of lovely ranunculus weed throughout the Avon come summer. But my local stretch has been devoid of any weed whatsoever, what little there was the swans have eaten. The mayfly hatches were quite poor as well, I put the lack of fly life down to the nymphs being washed away down river in the floods. But nature has it's ways of recovering, and I'm hopeful of more normal weather patterns this winter.
I did however have a day on the Frome and Piddle in late spring with Pat. The river Frome in Dorset is quite simply beautiful, set in some stunning countryside. Cap that off with the chance of some wild trout, you have the perfect days trout fishing. This type of fishing has many challenges, especially the Piddle, very over grown banks so the only way to fish it is wading, in a lot of places you could stretch out your arms and touch both banks. But it is very rewarding fishing, hooking a 16" wild fish is truly exciting stuff. Most of the fish were caught on Pat's home tied mayfly.
A beautiful wild Frome trout
My garden backs on to a lovely meadow, fortunately the owner just leaves it to go it's own way and only cuts it for hay in the summer. This year whilst he was cutting I was excited to see two or three red kites circling round after the grass had been cut. They were obviously looking for anything to eat exposed by the tractor and it's whirling machinery. I managed to get a very quick shot of one of the kites before they disappeared over the hill. These are truly fantastic birds, I was talking to a bird watcher in the village, and he believes they are young birds that are checking out the area before hopefully moving in and perhaps nesting.
Jason and I had our annual trip to the Wye in July, although I say annual in the last couple of years we have let it slip a bit, hopefully we will be a little more organised in the future. We both love the Wye valley, it's so different from our local waters, you fell like you are a little dot in a very large landscape. As the American's would say Jason "whooped my ass" between us for a days and a half fishing we had 12 barbel, my tally was 0 need I say more.
Umm... shall I use a single maggot or a boilie?
Jason playing his first barbel, after that it all got a little boring..........
J does seem to be making a meal of it
It turned out pretty ugly really.... but the fish was quite pretty... sorry just couldn't resist
August saw me loitering around Southampton docks at night, with my camera gear taking time- lapses of the containers being off loaded from large ships and loaded on to lorry's and trains. Fascinating place, it's a 24x7 operation so there is always something happening. This is quite a change for me after the last few years of filming fishing and wildlife. I also had a few trips to London to capture the London eye on time-lapse as well. I do enjoy diversifing, it makes you think in a different way, and is good for your creative balance. At some point I will post the time-lapse's up on Vimeo.