If I could transport you back 50 years, you would see a river in all its glory. Full of large Trout, living in crystal clear water, free from pollution, farm pesticides and abstraction. Sadly today its a different story.
I have fished this lovely river for four seasons now, and never tire of walking in its cool water. Its a true chalk stream in every sense, rising from a bed of pure chalk in the village of Touvre.
Traveling then through several small villages, ending its short life by joining the River Charente in Angouleme. However all along its journey it has to fight for survival.
First against three large fish farms, that grow grotesque, and malformed rainbow trout for the dinner table.
The high protein diets these fish are feed, is directly responsible for the huge toxic waste that's returned back into the river without any kind of filtration!
No weeds grow directly below the farms, and Mayflies are absent in there parts of the river. Instead large midge populations now populate, the heavily silted areas.
Next it has to compete with a toilet paper factory, that annually pollutes the river, leaving tissue paper trailing in the weed beds.
During the summer months, local farms drain its like blood to water sweet corn crops. Day and night you can hear the pumps going, and still the river hangs on!
Finally after the brave Trout have survived all this, they can meet a swift end at the hands of local fishers, for a simple meal?
No catch and release rules on this river exists!
So it amazes me how this river manages to produce any Trout at all for the fly fisher? But it does, and many of the fly fishers are returning there catch in an effort to support the self sustaining Trout population.
My local fly fishing club, now promotes catch and release, and we are starting to convert many of the dead bait, and spin fishermen to our point of view. But its hard work trying to change old habits, and many of the older fishers still believe is ok to kill, large wild brown trout, for the table?