Letter: Miseries inflicted by trespassers

Sir: In her letter of 1 August, Marion Shoard states that there is a 'long-standing tradition of free access to the countryside'. This is incorrect. There is an assumption on the part of an arrogant and vociferous minority of non- landowners that they have the right to wander at will on land that does not belong to them; not the same thing at all.

Caught in one

A 14 year-old boy had a lucky first cast when he caught a 200 pounds trout weighing 24lb 4oz placed in a fishing lake to lure anglers in Pickering, North Yorkshire.

Fishing Lines: Hooked on the close season

DISASTROUS news from the National Rivers Authority this week: anglers will soon be allowed to go fishing even more. How can I possibly fit another three months into my schedule? Just look at this.

Fishing Lines: Cunning trout in deep water

THE fire that we started in Ireland last week while making a cup of tea was still burning away merrily days later when I packed up my tackle and headed back for England. I found the whole thing hugely embarrassing, and the American eye surgeon who joined me as we drank our tea standing in the lake (it was impossible to do so on solid ground because of the clouds of smoke) speculated nervously on what would have happened if it had been near his Californian home. But John, my gillie, was quite unperturbed.

SCIENCE / Never mind the Loch Ness monster: Deep in Highland waters lurks a species of fish that has survived since the last Ice Age. Colin Tudge on the Arctic char and its exploitation

IMAGINE a fish, a relative of the salmon and trout but more beautiful than either, living since the last Ice Age in splendoured isolation in 200 Scottish lochs. In that time it has evolved into a marvellous variety of forms - a creature as intriguing and instructive, genetically, as Darwin's Galapagos finches. It seems too good to be true. Yet the fish exists, and in abundance: it is scarlet-bellied, purple-backed, with pink spots and white-edged fins. Stunning to look at and succulent to eat, it varies slightly from loch to loch and even from niche to niche within the lochs. It is the Arctic char.

View from City Road: Dropping the line on fishy perks

In fishing parlance this is 'Duffers Week', so called because any old fool can catch trout at this time of year; the trout are so desperate for the Mayfly hatch that you only have to cast your line on the water to make a catch. No skill required. Presumably, then, Portals will right now be entertaining huge numbers of foreign bankers, officials and politicians. As the Independent on Sunday revealed at the weekend, Portals owns Laverstoke House which has some of the best trout fishing in southern England. Its chairman, Julian Sheffield, lives in it (as did his father before him) as if it were his own. The company insists he occupies it on a 'caretaker basis' - a bit like having a 'tied cottage'. Some cottage with its 4,000 acres of prime Hamshire countryside sweeping down to the beautiful River Test. The primary purpose of the estate, the company claims, is for entertaining the clients. Yes, sure.

MUSIC / Gold comes in small quantities: Robert Maycock on Music Theatre London's La Traviata at the Donmar

For collectors of opera's many paradoxes, here is another: the smaller the stage, the less glamorous the voices, the more intense the encounter. The only catch is that the performances must convince you of their integrity at close range. Or so it seemed when this veteran of many Traviatas went to Music Theatre London and experienced the work as though for the first time. The animal pull of love against family, the cruelty of deception, the tragedy of finding your dream too late: there it all was, raw and unmediated, six feet away, with Verdi's searing musical lines heightening the emotion as elementally as the song in a great antique drama.

Farmers to be paid to help revive life on the riverbank: Wildlife 'set-aside' scheme will allow cultivated land alongside water to revert to its natural state. Oliver Gillie reports

Farmers will be paid to leave uncultivated strips of land beside certain lakes and rivers, and to establish salt marshes where sea defences can be realigned, under a new wildlife preservation scheme. Half the cost of the plan, pounds 3m a year, will be paid for by the European Union.

Fishing Lines: Loosing off by the magazine

NEWCOMERS to fishing will soon be able to kit themselves out with all the tackle they need - simply by walking into a newsagent. As the angling magazine market gets ever more competitive, publishers are resorting to the most outrageous gifts to lure readers.

Fishing Lines: Spare the rod, spoil the angler

IF YOU'RE looking to start fly-fishing, I can highly recommend a rather nice graphite rod by Sage that will set you back a mere pounds 544. Balance this with a Swedish Hi-Tec reel (they're almost giving it away at pounds 330), a couple of fly lines, and there's pounds 1,000 gone. You haven't even started on the multi-coloured flies, the flosses, floatants and filleting knives, never mind vital accessories such as leaders, landing nets, line trays and a bag to put it all in.

Fishing Lines: Why big pike feed on greed

A STRANGE episode this week set me thinking about whether fish are really as bright as we anglers like to pretend.

BOOK REVIEW / Screening out small unpardonable crimes: 'Short Cuts' - Raymond Carver: Harvill, 6.99 pounds

THIS slim volume contains the nine stories on which Robert Altman has based his sumptuous new three-hour exploration of American life, so we can hardly avoid seeing it as the book of the film. It is certainly refreshing to see how the late author has turned the crude formulae of movie-making into literature of such an intense and exacting sort.

Fishing Lines: Why the purists are carping about Alien 4

MARK my words, the fat Chinaman who has just arrived over here is going to cause chaos to decades of angling tradition. For the overweight foreigner, a snail-eating carp, will be the first from a shoal of extra-large immigrants that are set to destroy our quaint old record fish lists.

Wars loom in world of J R Hartley: All is not tranquil on the river bank

ROOKSBURY MILL is on a tributary of the river Test in Hampshire. An early-Victorian structure, which replaced a flourmill mentioned in the Domesday Book, it is almost entirely surrounded by water: the chalky stream itself; two lakes, which formerly were gravel pits; and several rectangular ponds turbulent with farm-fed trout.

Trout farmer is hoping for 70lb catch of the day

A FISH farmer from Hampshire who uses computerised heating to produce giant trout claims he will produce a 70-pounder, the weight of a large dog, in next year's crop.
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