Coun­try Mouse

The trout are ris­ing

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

WITH the shoot­ing sea­son long gone and hunt­ing wind­ing up in most parts of the coun­try, my thoughts turn to the de­lights of fish­ing. As I walked along the Itchen near Al­res­ford in Hamp­shire in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the forth­com­ing sea­son, there was a hive of ac­tiv­ity both on and off the wa­ter. I didn’t no­tice the in­sects at first, but the con­stant loop­ing flight of a pair of fly­catch­ers told me some­thing was about. Wrens bus­ied them­selves in the reeds be­side the wa­ter’s mar­gins and sang from the alders like lusty an­gels; a king­fisher flash­ing past left a streak of azure in its wake; a pa­tient white egret stood like a ghost in the shal­lows.

The emerg­ing in­sects were be­yond my scope of en­to­mol­ogy, but of a size to make a sig­nif­i­cant meal. The wa­ter tem­per­a­ture had reached a crit­i­cal point and their ap­pear­ance trig­gered the trout. A trout’s ta­ble man­ners de­pend on the size of the por­tion: small in­sects are del­i­cately sipped from the sur­face, leav­ing an ephemeral halo in the wa­ter, but larger morsels, like th­ese, are slashed at greed­ily with a char­ac­ter­is­tic plop and splash.

Our chalk­streams are as pre­cious as any of the world’s rain­forests; it was good to see one come alive for an­other year. MH

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