Monday, 2 May 2016

a river runs through it

It is hard to imagine, driving through London Borough of Merton, that anything exists behind the concrete jungle other than.. well more concrete. This is one major drawback of motorised transport - often all you get to see are your immediate environs.  But get out on foot and you may stumble across a hidden gem as I did while attending a business meeting at Morden Hall Park earlier last year. This gem, threading its way through the urban sprawl of south London, turned out to be the wonderful little chalkstream that is the River Wandle. 

Unfamiliar to me at that time, and not having a rod with me I made a mental note to do a bit of back ground research and revisit sometime, suitably equipped. The Wandle, I learned has an illustrious past as a prime chalkstream for wild brown trout but has suffered in more recent years from low flow and pollution. The current health of the river is thanks in no small part to to the sterling efforts of the Wandle Trust and its volunteers who work tirelessly to clean up the river and improve biodiversity through habitat management. 
The trout season is now four weeks old and I have yet to wet a Tenkara line (or any other for that matter) in their pursuit. In fact I haven't yet had the chance to  fish tenkara on running water at all. So a circle is closed fortuitously when I learn that my old fishing buddy Paul Williams of Cannibal Flies has moved to live nearby to the Wandle. 
We hatch a plot to meet up in two weeks time to get out on the river, and who knows perhaps for me a first tenkara salmo?  

Paul tells me that with the cool conditions there isn't much fly life coming off the water right now, so nymphs are likely to be the order of the day, at least in the morning. Old faithfuls like pheasant tail nymph, scud and gold head hairs ear all score, and we will take some dry options too. I am keen to test out my sakasa kebari patterns on the trout though and I am fairly sure the local salmo have seen few if any of these.     

Paul will be the local 'knowledge' which takes the heat off me this time. Last year I ghillied for Paul on another chalkstream elsewhere, having promised him his first fly caught pike. That mission accomplished,  I think a nice little brownie or two will be a fair swap. Cheers  Paul for your great images in this post and diligence this weekend in fish spotting in preparation for our trip!
Time now I think to get tying..



  1. Looks like a diamond in the rough. I have to admit, I don't know a lot about fishing in the UK, but from what I've read a lot of water is private and requires permits? Is that true, and is this body of water under the same restriction? In any event, looking forward to seeing a future post about your return.

    1. Fishing in the UK is a real mixed bag with a massive variety of water. Wild trout fishing on chalk streams like this one can cost as much or as little as you like.. this river is completely free of any charge for miles, you just need a rod license. Others you can pay $500 per day! But if you get out into the wilds there is mile upon mile of upland freestone streams and hill tarns (small glacial lakes)and it's all free fishing or at least just a few dollars. Problem is finding the time to get around it all!