Piscatorial Quagswagging

...the diary of a specialist angler in around the Warwickshire Avon and its tributaries.

Saturday 19 September 2020

The Tiny River Alne - Dew Beaters and Dial Plates

Sunday just gone water on the table not wine, in-fact as I type this 19 days without an alcoholic beverage whatsoever. Lockdown and the weeks break to North Devon ones intake had increased to plainly eyebrow rising levels, so the Wife and I decided to take September off the booze to not only give the liver a bit of a rest, but ones bank balance too.

I'm sleeping better, the resting heart rate lower and already I've lost a few pounds. Fishing can help with that though because for this session I was roving a little river 5 mins from ones abode. 13,000 steps in four and a bit hours where with the river, well almost a brook really in places being that low it needs some bank to be covered just to find some fishable deeper areas.

Now the word brook is used to describe a large number of the thousands of streams which are to be found in these islands. They vary enormously in character, the extremes being brooks of the chalk stream district and those of the hill and moorland country which, in many respects, have only their name in common.

The chalk stream brook, with its comparatively quiet waters and better food supply, is able to support larger trout than the brook of the wilder country. This does not mean that large trout are not caught in these more vigorous brooks, glass-case specimens are taken every year but, generally, the emphasis is on numbers, not size.

Food is often difficult to come by and in such places life is a ceaseless fight to get enough to survive. Between these extremes come the rest of the brooks, parts of which may show some of the characteristics of both the chalk and hill brooks and require the appropriate techniques if we are to make the most of the sport they have to offer.

One of the advantages of brook fishing for trout is that, even today, much of it can still be obtained simply for the asking, or the outlay of a very modest fee. This is a great consideration when we realise that the present-day trend in fishing costs is ever upward and that game fishing on many of our rivers is a sport in which only the richer clubs or private owners can indulge.

I stumbled upon this stretch when we were out in the car one day and I noticed a signed nailed to a tree with the syndicate details. I've been a member now for a few years and managed some nice fish mainly in the winter when I target the chub. When it's very low like it was for this session trout and chublets are the target. I've yet to see another fisherman and most of the time it's just me enjoying this area of the Warwickshire countryside.

Now the opening up of new water and the reclaiming and restocking of polluted stretches does not keep pace with the needs of the growing numbers of anglers who find it increasingly difficult to obtain fishing which is not costly and overcrowded.

The solution is to turn to the smaller streams and hill brooks and it is surprising how many hold trout and are worth fishing. The better brooks inevitably cost more to fish but this is only to be expected and the extra cost must be balanced against heavier fish and possibly easier fishing.

One thing is certain, there is fishing to satisfy all tastes and all pockets. The brooks have something to offer which no other kind of fishing is able to reproduce.

Perhaps it is the variety of scenery and endlessly changing character of the water or the fact that they can provide almost every problem a trout fisherman has to learn to overcome.

To consistently catch fish under such conditions you must treat each type of water separately and once you have learned to vary your methods according to the needs of the moment you are well on the way to becoming an all-round trout fisherman.

The reason why brook fishing is still largely uncommercialised is, undoubtedly, that much of it is off the beaten track and it is in these very places that we will get some of our best sport. Also, because of the limitations imposed by their size on the number of rods that can be used at any one time, brook fishing will, fortunately, never be as expensive as the best river fishing.

The size of the fish rarely compares with that of the larger rivers and there is no doubt that many brooks could be greatly 'improved' as fisheries. But it will be a sorry day for brook lovers if the great improvement ever begins. Gone will be that wonderful feeling that you are a privileged visitor in an excitingly unspoilt and natural little world, a feeling which means so much to the people who fish there.

The fascination of the brooks and I suppose small rivers also is a very difficult thing to try and describe but it is always there waiting to soothe or excite you, in whichever mood you happen to be. Men who did their first fishing as children in these tiny waters and have later experienced the thrills of the finest salmon and trout fishing the country has to offer, return to the brooks and still find pleasure in their untouched freshness and vitality.

Sam has taken to them as I have, given the choice of Tunnel Barn or bullheads at the brook, Im lucky that I already know the answer. Now once he has mastered the techniques he will have more time to spare to study the countryside around him and I should like to think that he will eventually feel, as I do, that a day on a good brook is first-class sport and a branch of fishing which will take some beating.

Anyway back to the fishing, fishing a small Salmo Rattlin Hornet I managed 4 brook trout, the last fish a proper scraper launching itself clear of the water and if I was in to that sort of thing almost fit for the pot, probably getting on for a couple of pound. The Chub I lost well over 4lb I'd say, sadly it did me over good and proper. The small weir oddly didn't produce anything, but as I said it'd very low and shallow at the minute.

With the kingfisher keeping my company and birds of prey patrolling the area like drones, what's not to like. I love this sort of fishing especially as it's so convenient. So why not go and have a look at those neglected brooks and small rivers yourself. In these bust times it's a tonic for the mind, it really is. The fish many not be big, but who cares, it you don't get this sort of fishing you never will.


  1. That looks fantastic. Are you allowed to fly fish it?

  2. In the closed season you mean Brian ? nope, I've used a tenkara set-up to catch them in the past.

    1. Anytime. Me and James fish a couple of little brooks like that, but it’s bait fishing only - would like to find a little brook somewhere near here I could chuck a fly about....


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