Rae Borras joins the oldest fly fishing club in England to find out what anglers can achieve if they work together.
Just 20 miles from the centre of London, an enchanting stretch of the River Lea is home to Amwell Magma, believed to be the oldest fly fishing club in England, and established way back in 1831 when the world was a very different place.
Indeed the stretch of the river featured is mentioned by Isaac Walton in the Compleat Angler, when the river was at least 20 yards wide.
The pressure of modern living and the river’s proximity to the capital, coupled with the creation of the Lea Navigation, has seen the river shrink markedly to only a few yards wide today.
But it’s a credit to the club’s dedicated members that this 2.5 mile stretch not only flows and has a future in the 21st century, but is a healthy fly fishery holding a good head of rainbow and brown trout, plus perch and chub that are a little bit too big for the cormorants to snaffle!
Rae joins club members on a lovely September morning to find out about the history of the club and its water, the work done to ensure its future; and to try to fool spooky fish you can see, and that can see you right back!
One of the members we meet is Fergal Sharkey, he of ‘The Undertones’ fame (remember ‘My Perfect Cousin’ anyone?), who is as passionate about his fishing and this fishery as he was about prancing about on the stage in his youth.
“The work never stops,” Fergal tells Rae as he bristles with enthusiasm – and clearly he loves the fact that there’s always work to be done.
There’s plenty of fishing to enjoy (and Rae shows he can fly fish with the best of them), with a fair smattering of ribbing thrown in for good measure. What else would you expect when you get club members out together?
This is a highly enjoyable and refreshing watch that reminds us all what anglers can do if they team up and work together, with a little help from the powers that be.
The Amwell Magma members have created a wonderful little oasis of fishing far from the madding crowd, yet only a few miles from London. They have every right to be proud of their water and their club’s history, and long may it last.
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