I’m halfway through reading a wonderful book called Edgelands. It’s a charming read that explores the overlooked and undervalued spaces that exist between urban and rural areas – spaces authors’ Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts argue represent Britain’s true wilderness.
A lot of my favourite fishing places past and present are located on the Edgelands. I find it thrilling to find signs of life in these disparate and often neglected areas of the UK, and as Farley and Roberts note, many species of bird, fish and plant prosper in such places.
The majestic river Avon that flows around the edges of the Cathedral city of Salisbury is one of my favourite spots to fish and while the Avon’s lauded angling history mark it out as a more special place than the average suburban stream or pool, its location alongside busy roads and under graffitied bridges make it a venue on the Edgelands.
I travelled down to Salisbury to meet a friend, Mike, at the end of last week. At the beginning of the week the freezing weather had us in two minds whether to make the trip, but as the temperature slowly began to creep up and with the river at a good level, we opted to head down to the Avon.
The river was cold but things felt positive and after half an hour of priming my swim with maggots I trotted my float through a pool towards a narrower, reed-lined area that I’ve taken many good chub from in the past.
It took a while for the first bite to materialise, from a nice dace, then another and then a nice roach. My fourth fish was a special one – a dace of 12ozs and a new personal best.
Before long the swim really came to life, and for a while a big dace or chunky roach (and the odd missed bite) came on nearly every cast.
I’d recently replaced the missing eyes and whipped on some new ones to my favourite Shimano Hyperloop match rod. It’s a smashing tool for trotting using light tackle and I’d soon got into that mesmerising routine of feeding, flicking out the float and then working it downstream and my DIY repairs were working well.
By the early afternoon things had slowed down. I had a cup of coffee and a cheese roll and rested the swim, keeping the bait going in.
Upon resuming, I took a lovely roach just over pound followed on the next run through by a wonderful grayling of a pound and a quarter, which twisted and turned in the water.
After that, things really slowed and while I continued to pick off the odd, nice roach, they’d dropped right back and were obviously a lot more cautious.
Holding the float back hard worked for a while and it felt like I was almost easing the bait into the fish’s mouths. A fat, bristling perch of a pound or so gave a good account in the flow and a couple of six inch salmon parr also put in an appearance.
But eventually the swim died completely and I really wanted to try and get a chub, having not had one since October. I decided to rove around for a couple of hours, but even the swims I’ve taken good chub from in the past were quiet and I didn’t manage to tempt one in the end.
It was a great session though, and putting together a really mixed bag of wild, river fish that are living and prospering on the Edgelands was immensely enjoyable.