I don’t know if you have fished for asp, but if the chance arises, take it for sure. You ‘Aspers’ look away while I try to describe the species to those not in the know… asp are rather like very large, very predatorial chub that hammer shoals of small fish, and can be caught on lures pulled back fast through the resulting surface commotion. The fight is dramatic and the fish look wonderful, and I envy those countries in Eastern and Northern Europe that host them.
The point of all this is that we invited neighbours Rudi and Olivia around for a drink last evening. They hail from Hungary, where Rudi used to fish for asp with a dragon/bream fly, and he tied up an example for me as a gift. Asp out there are partial for a mouthful of dragonflies and small bream, hence Rudi’s pattern encompassing both, sort of. In his past, he has used the fly attached to a spoon to give casting weight, but I guess normal fly gear would present it well enough.
I say “in his past” because both he and Olivia are now vegan, and fishing doesn’t fit into their life pattern. Nonetheless, he had wonderful stories of a boyhood fishing the great rivers of the Eastern European plains with an angling-crazed family. There wasn’t much he didn’t catch, from catfish larger than him then, right through to that massive marauding member of the salmon family, the huchen. But now they live in tame little Herefordshire, where they are safe from dictatorships and the never-ending battle between communism and fascism that has ruined so many lives.
Rudi is a vegan gardener, and that makes him as organically-minded as it is possible to be. On the estate that he tends, he has phased out insecticides, pesticides and “cides” of every sort, but he sees abuses everywhere around. The surrounding orchards have been sprayed seven times already this summer. Chicken shit is dumped in tons on all the fields around, and after rain, ends up in the river systems, turning them rusty red in even low water. Our little, local Honeylake Brook runs every shade of brown on a regular basis, and the smells coming from it are stomach-churning. Where does the Brook lead? Into the Arrow, then the Wye, and thence to the sea.
They leave, our new friends, and we switch on the ITV News and what is Julie Etchingham talking about? Rivers, of course, and the pollution that’s killing all of them. There is brave, wonderful Feargal banging the drum for all of us, yet again. Ms Etchingham looks genteelly concerned and moves on to the next item, pretty much like the general public as a whole. Pretty much like the statutory authorities that we pay to look after our rivers and which do such a lamentable job of it. I go to bed wondering how many years Feargal Sharkey will have to campaign, and how worn out will he be before there is even a nod towards concerted action? I fall asleep wondering if anyone at the laughably-entitled Environment Agency has even heard of the Honeylake Brook. And, of course, wishing I hadn’t had that last gin and tonic.