Changing Spots

Perhaps I should but I don't keep an organised fishing journal - places, times, dates, weather, catch returns, flies - that kind of thing. It works for some, but my thought process is way too random and such formality just feels like a straight jacket. I've tried to start one a couple of times, but sooner or later I forget where I've put the damn thing.  

But there again, if you keep a blog and post on social media, much of the same function of a journal is fulfilled, albeit in a more visual and fluid way. I love going back through old entries to see how my thinking may have changed and developed as new things have been learned. It's a lovely exercise too to look back and reflect on past success while dreaming up future plans. In this way little personal projects are conceived - those self-set challenges that imbue our time on stream with more fun and deeper meaning

Chalkstream steel (top) Derbyshire Wye butter & bronze (bottom)

I remember seeing a video where Karel Lansky talks about his interest in catching wild tenkara trout from their original ancestral river catchments. You can check out Karel's tenkara blog tenkara on the fly here.

Northern headwater (top) Cornish headwater (bottom)

Trout are incredibly adaptable, and their morphology, or physical characteristics, can differ quite noticeably from river to river, from one genetic population to another. Morphology may also differ within the same genetic population, in response to differing environmental conditions along different stretches of the same river. It's a fascinating subject, and has become something of a sub-hobby for me to compare and contrast photo's of fish I've caught in different locations here at home in England. 

Over the last couple of years I've enjoyed the good fortune to fish tenkara for wild trout across a diverse range of river landscapes. From cityscape trout in London to those of the tiny granite streams of the Cornish peninsula, the clear streams of the southern chalk and the tinted millstone grit headwaters of the high peaks and beyond. Each landscape has its own local distinctiveness which lends itself to the character of its streams. Each river and stream may have its own population of wild trout, often existing with a discrete and separate genetic identity, expressed outwardly by differences in body shape, colouration and markings.

Yorkshire brook (top) Derbyshire Wye (bottom)

It's not uncommon for a local angler to proclaim the trout in their river to be the most beautiful of all. That's a lovely sentiment and it warms my heart to hear it. When I bring to mind the trout in my favourite rivers I see the butter and bronze of the lower Wye and middle Derwent fish, the bright clear steel of my local chalk stream trout and the cosmic camo of the little trout from the wild moorland streams of Cornwall. The high peaks headwater trout are small, lithe and muscular, all head and jaw - little prize fighters that must hustle for their living in the freestone fast lane, and quite unlike the larger, wealthier trout  living  downstream in the middle reaches of the river.

Headwater (top) middle reach of same river (bottom)

Taking time to observe and appreciate such contrasts - this is a great joy of my tenkara and a great motivator to discover new places, new rivers, new fish.   

This is a good place to point to Jonny Grey's 'Spot the difference' project at the Wild Trout Trust here in the UK. Jonny is collecting and charting images of trout spot patterns from any angler kind enough to send them in. If you would like to help you can send yours, together with a note on location via the Wild Trout Trust's link here