Call of wild Dartmoor brownie beckons the best back to the Meavy

It was one of those impromptu afternoons we can only dream about in the centre of London; a couple of hours to kill and fishing a 10 minute drive away.

It was one of those impromptu afternoons we can only dream about in the centre of London; a couple of hours to kill and fishing a 10 minute drive away.

As we also knew exactly the spot we were going to fish we could also bring minimal equipment with us; no need for all that just-in-case stuff, or picnics the size of going-to-boarding-school trunks.

We headed to a lovely little stretch on the Meavy, where I had, some summers ago, raised dozens of wild brown trout only to miss each one of their nips. I'd left the water fizzy with frustration and with several fingers numb due to horse fly bites. It's also a beat in which we sometimes, tantalisingly, see sea-trout, but hold no hope of ever catching them.

The end of the beat is marked by a bridge and the really big (relatively speaking) brownies lie just the other side of it, where you can't fish and even the most expert cast can't reach them. So fishing this beat calls for patience, and an acceptance of nature that can test beginners. We walked through a field full of lilac Mare's Tail, which made everything look pretty. The horses in the next field galloped as close to us as their electric fence would let them.

As the beat is small it's not suitable for two people to fish it at once so my boyfriend and I fished in turns, side by side, which I think is really romantic.

It may be a small river, but there is plenty to test you. The fish rise, safe under branches that are almost impossible to cast under and there has been no cutting trees to make life easier. We waded, gently, through the middle to a fairly wide stretch of water in which we could see fish rising.

"I've never raised a fish here," said my boyfriend.

"Go on, though," I urged, never one for biding by the laws of probability.

He did a few times and hooked the most magnificent baby trout which I unhooked for him. It'd been ages since I'd seen a proper wild fish and it was so beautiful that I shuddered to look upon him.

"I'd rather catch one of those than 100 overgrown fish any day," said my boyfriend, and I nodded in agreement.

Before coming to Devon, my boyfriend had asked me if I'd wanted to go sea-bass fishing again like last year - an experience which had proved exhilarating but utterly exhausting.

At the time, with just the very beginnings of a belly, I'd thought it'd be no problem being six months pregnant and walking out across sinking sands to greet the coming tide and fishing my way back, wading as deep as I'd dare in the sea. Ha! I hadn't accounted for my shifting sense of gravity which now made even just scrambling up or down rocky terrain for a short distance a feat of concentration, deep breathing and prayer.

This bit of the Meavy is home to a kingfisher. I hadn't realised that even some bird-watchers have never seen a kingfisher because as a fisherman, especially one who is want to just sit still and contemplate the water, I had seen one at least twice; which makes me very fortunate as these birds are fast and shy.

As we made our way up to the bridge and the car to fish another river, we stood and stared down river for a moment. The water breaking over the rocks lulled me into a stupor, so much so that when my boyfriend said, "The kingfisher, look!" I was too slow to see it swoop up river, under the bridge, and beyond.

We then drove to the Walkham and walked through woodland to a particularly secluded bit of water, a process that involved lots of navigating of terrain that would have caused me no problem a few months ago, but now I had to pigeon step it along certain steep bits, a process that made me sulk a little in frustration. We reached an open, gravely bend in the river and I sat on a tree-trunk and looked at the water.

There wasn't much happening, and the air was cool as it was now early evening. It was my turn to fish so I cast my dry fly out under a branch, just as the water curved round. Within a few casts another lovely Dartmoor brownie took the fly. He got off so I never got to see him, but I know that he'd have been small but perfectly formed and just as wild as can be.

a.barbieri@independent.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
ESPN footage showed a split-screen Murray’s partner Kim Sears and Berdych’s partner Ester Satorova 'sporting' their jewellery
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee