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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most