Editing, Fly-fishing, Flyfishers' Journal, Writing

The Flyfishers’ Journal: Summer 2018

The process of putting together each issue of the Flyfishers’ Journal usually starts soon after the previous number has been signed off to press, but sometimes it goes back much further than that, and the latest issue is surely a case in point…

I think it must have been sometime in late 2016 when I was chatting to Fennel Hudson in the Club about his series of articles for the Journal on the subject of ‘rewilding fly-tying’, and our conversation turned to the River Stour in Kidderminster. As it happened, I’d fished this river too, so we both had another glass of wine, and I issued him with a challenge: to return to those waters of his youth, scavenge the kind of materials that would fit his definition of a ‘rewilded fly’, and go fishing for insights, and maybe trout, in this urban river which had once run every colour of the rainbow.

In due course, he rose magnificently to this test, and submitted an article which I lined up for the Winter 2017 issue. Meanwhile, however, I’d also been out on some less-than-conventionally-pastoral water, guiding Graham Thomas on his first visit to the Wandle, the closest chalkstream to the Flyfishers’ Club, as part of the Wild Trout Trust’s annual charity auction. As we ate our sandwiches on the bank, Graham wondered if I’d like him to write an article for the Journal… and a bigger idea began to take shape.

Thus, thanks to Fennel, Graham, and a touch of editorial synchronicity, this issue has a noticeable urban-fishing flavour – complete with Mike Duddy’s ‘good cause’ feature from the Mersey Rivers Trust, and Duncan Soar’s cover photo of the grayling-filled pool where the Mersey is born, at the confluence of the Tame and Goyt, under the shadow of the M62 motorway. After the Toxteth riots, Home Secretary Michael Heseltine realised that true urban regeneration could never happen while the river through the heart of Liverpool and Manchester was still an open sewer. And now it’s enough to gladden any Flyfisher’s heart that the return of salmon to this mighty river system isn’t just a dream, but a very imminent probability.

Speaking of anadromous fish, it’s said that sea-trout fishers tend to be slightly secretive, and perhaps that’s why we don’t see many articles about this kind of fishing in the Journal. So we can afford to be very grateful to Bob Bradley for his deeply immersive account of one particular sea-trout river, together with a suite of beautiful line drawings dashed off by the truly multi-talented Neil Patterson. As a special bonus, we’ve also persuaded Marcus Janssen to review Steffan Jones’s new sea-trout bible.

Finally, this issue would be incomplete without praising another of the Club’s well-known and generous authors. Andrew Herd has recently co-authored the astonishing Blacker Trilogy, and he has also won the Peter Lapsley Award 2017, for his article ‘A Lot of Old Rubbish’ which appeared in the Winter 2017 issue. Inspiration indeed for all other Members of the Club to follow in his footsteps (and maybe inspire the themes of many future issues of the Flyfishers’ Journal).