For old grouches like me, who feel that for all our efforts at greenness, we’re inextricably locked in a dance of death with Nature, news that the River Thames is not quite the toilet it was, comes as a welcome slap in the kisser.
Rivers that flow through major cities are supposed to be the playground of police frogmen rather than anglers, yet London’s Evening Standard happily reports that the capital’s principal waterway is not only cleaner than it’s been since Napoleon’s day but is also “teeming” with numerous species of fish, including trout and salmon.
All right, so the gentlemen photographed have a TV documentary to promote and there’s the whiff of re-hashed press release about the story but there is no shortage of corroborating evidence.
I know from my days on Sea Angler magazine that Liverpool’s River Mersey has enjoyed a similar angling renaissance in recent years, while Charles Rangeley-Wilson’s teary-eyed capture of a Thames trout on film three years ago is an iconic moment in British angling history.
The grouch within me, of course, insists that everyone will now think all is well once more in British rivers and will take their foot off the environmental gas, with the whole ruinous cycle starting up afresh, so I’m minded to warn everyone to enjoy it while it lasts.
We had to pass on Below the Weir – Methods and Memories of Thames Trout Angling when it crossed our desks for review recently, as it’s a book about spinning rather than flyfishing (“Your Thames trout proper is not much of a fly eater,” wrote one contributor. “His favourite food is ‘small fry’…” ). If you’d like to learn more about the history of trout fishing on the Thames in general, however, it’s an interesting read.