Rupert has recently discovered a stretch of the river Windrush near his home which is just about as perfect a stretch of river anywhere. Itâ€™s narrow, fast-flowing with lovely unkempt wild banks filled with reeds, grasses, flowers, overhanging willows and rafts of vegetation, alive with birds, insects and fish.
It’s also alive with these hideous monsters:
â€¦American signal crayfish, one hundred and thirty of which he and two of his friends extracted from a 15 metre section of the river earlier today. They are a pest and a menace, decimating our native species of river-dwellers. Thankfully they are edible and his mates took them home to cook up into a feast.
I wanted to see if we could catch a brown trout, an endemic species. To me, if the salmon is the king of fish, then the brownie is the crown prince. So this evening, we took to the riverbank among the reeds, wrens and kingfishers and dropped in a few maggotsâ€¦
Almost immediately we got a bite! A chublet, and another, and another, then a slightly bigger oneâ€¦
Then the line screamed and Rupes hooked a fighter! A rainbow trout! Ok they’re not endemic, but the rainbows in this river are wild and not artificially fattened. We admired its gorgeous colours and gently released it.
It was wonderful to catch a wild Windrush rainbow, but it wasnâ€™t what I wanted – a brownie.
And then it happened! We were jumping up and down on the bank before weâ€™d even landed it. We thrilled at its red and black spots and beautiful iridescent sulphur-coloured belly before letting it go: