At the end of November last year, angling writer Dominic Garnett visited the Wandle for the first time, recording his experiences in the urban badlands with typical sidelong humour on his own website… 

… and now he’s expanded on his day on the river for one of his regular features in the Angling Times.

As you’d have every reason to expect from the author of the forthcoming Flyfishing for Coarse Fish (to be published in April 2012 by Merlin Unwin around the same time as my own Trout in Dirty Places), Dominic sized up the Savacentre stretch and was catching good roach within minutes:

Between us, over the course of that cold late-autumn day, we fished a total of 5 different methods (dry fly, nymph, streamer, legering and trotting) for four species of fish (chub, dace, roach and perch), and Dominic was clearly struck by the impact of the environmental work we’ve been doing on the Wandle:

 … It’s the small army of volunteers who are the real heroes, namely the anglers and non-anglers of the Wandle Trust and Wandle Piscators who provide everything from regular litter removal and educating local youngsters to direct habitat improvement. Theo has seen everything from traffic cones to a discarded shotgun removed from the river, while tons of gravel have been placed by hand to provide spawning areas and shelter for fish.

Such recent history makes it an even more humbling experience to be wading in clear water, picking out fish from a glide that wouldn’t look out of place in far greener pastures. It’s also encouraging to find local kids with their eyes also glued to the float tip, excitedly telling us about their own catches in the capital.

Amongst all the horror stories and gloom surrounding Britain’s rivers, the River Wandle is thus a refreshing story of hope. But beneath the headlines this is no fairytale, but the result of local initiative and hard work. Uplifting stuff, absolutely, but the moral here is not just to take heart, but to take action.

Dominic’s article appears in this week’s issue of Angling Times, dated Tuesday 3 January… go get ‘em while they’re hot at your local newsagent!

(All photos: Dominic Garnett)

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