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Field Notes

Fishing the big smoke - Damon Valentine

HACKLEMOOR

We are pleased to announce a guest entry to our Field Notes in this edition. London-based Damon Valentine talks us through his fly fishing background, including how he now fits fly fishing into his weekly schedule by exploring and making the most of the urban environment around him. His adventures are tracked by his very popular (and growing) following on Instagram under the name of @londonflyfisher - check it out!

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Damon Valentine

It wasn’t until my early twenties at University in Manchester, that I realised how fortunate I was to have grown up in the Yorkshire Dales, learning to fly-fish for wild Trout on some of it’s most picturesque rivers, but no matter how deep my obsession ran, the pull of opportunity was too much and I’ve been a city dweller since my student days some twelve years ago.

For many, including myself, this spells an end to getting down to the water for a cast after work or a little trip out on a Sunday afternoon with friends, so away go the rods until its time to leave the city on the odd weekend trip or holiday. Or does it?

A wild brownie pulled from the River Wandle

A wild brownie pulled from the River Wandle

In late 2009 after four years of hardly wetting a line, the urge to find some fishing close to home became too much to bear so I began to trawl the internet in search of somewhere close enough to escape to on a summer evening. What I found was a small river thirty minutes on the train west of Manchester City Centre full of wild Brown Trout and Grayling. I only fished said stream for one season but it provided me with some unforgettable moments, including a 3lb wild trout on a size eighteen Grey Duster and a total of seventeen Grayling in one hour whilst nymphing through a pool. It was that season that made me realise the potential in urban fly-fishing, and I began to feel huge excitement at the prospect of being able live in a city and still pursue my main passion.

For the last three years I’ve been lucky enough to call the Wandle in South London my home river, a place to escape to, to chase wild Trout and Coarse fish on the fly, all whilst living and working in one of the world’s busiest cities!

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As it turns out there are many urban streams and rivers across the U.K that have seemingly come back to life in recent decades, producing some exceptional Trout and Coarse fish, nearly all of them cost very little to fish and are accessible to everyone from novice to the more experienced. This means there's huge scope for those city dwellers to down tools and escape to the water with minimal effort, and we're seeing it happen! In recent years with the help of social media, there's a new breed of fly-fisher emerging from our towns and cities, armed with nothing more than a rod, reel, line and a few flies, and they catch fish! You only have to look to the popular platform of Instagram to see things in action, from Cardiff to Manchester, and Glasgow to London, and it seems the hangover of the industrial revolution is finally starting to wear off with some amazing results!

A PB for Damon with a Wandle Brown caught on a size 14 shrimp, weighing in at 5lb

A PB for Damon with a Wandle Brown caught on a size 14 shrimp, weighing in at 5lb