Chub, Coarse fish on the fly, Dace, Fly-fishing,, Invasive non-native species, London, River restoration, Urban rivers, Urbantrout, Wandle, Writing

Bashing balsam

Superfine and balsam

Several evenings in the past two months, I’ve followed the track of one of our previous volunteer balsam-pulling days, sniping late stragglers that pop their heads above the parapet of rusting brambles and bindweed. Absent overshading and other competition from its fellows, it’s amazing how the most inconspicuous seedling will snatch its chance to shoot skywards: these are the late-germinating plants that can scatter enough of their own seeds to cause problems next year, so it’s well worth taking an hour or two to make sure as few as possible get through. 

I’ve carried a rod on most of these trips, not so much planning to fish as being prepared for the places where good fish sometimes happen. One of those was a hefty dace (you won’t often hear those words in close conjunction), another was a three-pound chub that suddenly wandered down-river towards me, slurping negligently from the surface, ripe for interception with a favourite midge pattern…

Documenting some of my personal efforts to get on top of the scourge of invasive non-native species on the Wandle, the latest episode of The Urbantrout Diaries was recently published on

If you haven’t found it yet via other sources, please do click through and enjoy!