08 Dec Frome – Thomas Enderlin
The early Easter sun crawls over the downs to thaw the night’s frost with a pastel sky. Roe deer graze amongst the gently rolling green and golden corn husk covered hills as ring neck pheasants call gallantly in the warming rays to spark desire in the more drably colored hens. We stir from under our down comforters to the sounds and smells of the long awaited euphoria of spring…
Life on the Dorset coast in South West England beats to a much slower rhythm then the chaos of London’s congested roads and gray suite wearing businessmen rushing through crowds to fire countless emails throughout the day. Quaint thatched roofs and church towers are tucked in between hundreds of sheep farms cut into crisscrossed pastures by century old rock walls. Amongst the rolling downs flow small lushly vegetated feeder springs, with every valley merging into finally larger rivers of emerald rununculus and sandy chalk bottoms to fall in an eventual yet civilized fashion towards the sea.
While the Valley Test and others have long drawn tweed-clad gentlemen to their beat restricted waterways in an effort to brave their sportsmanship and wit, we have traveled to explore the least famous and most South Westerly of all the English chalk systems, the River Frome.
We rumble out of bed, tripping over soldiers the previous night’s cold air had inspired, and wash down a brief coffee as the screen door slaps en-route to the morning hatch. Our 4X4 bounces down the estate’s long track to the valley floor to reach our stretch of water, passing several farms and encountering a few road-running partridges. A rising mist hangs patiently over the cold spring fed river as we creep past dreadlocked ewes with their inquisitive lambs to our upstream casting positions.
Suddenly a grannom dun bursts to life from the mirror pool and spirals awkwardly into the warming sky, then another, and with grace and confidence they are joined by the magnificent eruptions of brown trout starting to paint the river with rings of sequenced gorging. The scene brings one back a century to when English gentlemen would stand and caste from similar positions to the ones we have taken, and we hope our attire and presentation can bring about a proper air of sport. The serenity of the scene becomes almost melancholy until the shrill call of a cock pheasant from behind a close thicket brings one back to the reality at hand and the big fish which just rose again on the opposite bank.
Delicate caste, past the rising brown, and as the miniscule fly reaches the lie of this slurping monster the dark head rises causing the water around the fly to bulge as she takes. Momentary chaos erupts as the fish makes a screaming run up through the ring dappled swim and doubles back to use the rivers force as she careens down toward the mouth 15 miles away. I lose my sense of gentlemanliness as I dash like a runaway train down the bank rod at full flex dropping hat and bag en-route. Finally with careful balance between extremes she is brought to the net, and the shimmering red and black spotted fish draws regal admiration. After only a moment at hand the fish gains back strength from the cold clear water to dash through the run back to her opposite bank for cover.
As the scene comes to a close with glorious outcome I make eye contact with a particularly dirt covered ewe who has come to investigate the foreign looking biped yelping and splashing in her pasture.
A few more triumphs in the glimmering light and we meet for a spot of lunch and tea…