Wandle Piscator and a true friend of the river, Theo Pike, has a book published this week. “Trout in Dirty Places’ is a guide to fly-fishing for trout and grayling in the towns and cities of the United Kingdom. Theo speaks with anglers and conservationists to gather useful local knowledge and sound advice for the more adventurous among us. The book works not only as a fishing guide, but as further testament to the important river restoration work that’s being done across the country.
Here’s the foreword by Charles Rangeley-Wilson:
I’ve thought a lot about why fishing for wild trout in a city should be so compelling. On one level there is the simple thrill of casting a line within sight of office blocks, planes overhead, trains rattling by: all that clatter and rush and you, the still point at its centre, tuning in to a slower, deeper rhythm of water and wild spaces.
Fishing brings you to a different place in more ways than one and if you can get there on the way home or in the lunch hour, then the pleasure, for being stolen or endlessly surprising – and the sight of a brown trout rising to mayflies in a city stream really is endlessly surprising – will be so much the richer. But underlying and resonating with this thrill is the wonder of finding something emblematic of wildness in the midst of its very opposite. There is Romance in that, in the thought that Nature can overcome, or at the very least co-exist. And if one way of accessing that Romance and the sense of hope that springs from it is with a fishing rod in hand, wet waders sploshing along a busy High Street, then why not?
As Theo’s fascinating, celebratory book reveals, rivers and fish lost to generations of anglers – the once-wild rivers on the fringes of cities that have now grown to engulf them and the stunning, fabled trout that held on in spite of that encroachment until finally they gave in to tides of filthy water – are there again, for the first time in a century or more. Clean rivers and wild trout in the city!
City fishing for wild trout is – as well as being left-field, exotic on the doorstep, adventurous in the best sense, cheap and very cheerful – a wonderful affirmation of hope, a declaration that Nature can overcome and that we can build a world where there is room for both people and the wild.
Go to it.