River Wissey Lovell Fuller


April 2007

Anothe tale from the banks of the River Wissey, courtesy of the Northwold Times

It was raining hard and then got harder. The day was dark and overcast. It had been pretty miserable right from the start and with hindsight it was never going to improve. I should have been sensible and stayed at home. However I was alongside the river Wissey under the remains of my fishing umbrella!

The umbrella was torn a week or so before and my half-hearted repair had quickly proved pathetic. As a result I had water down my neck but it hardly mattered as the rain was coming in the front anyway! Everything including me was soaking wet. The wind kept changing direction and several times I had been forced to leave the comfort of my shelter to reposition it. The initial satisfaction of being out on such a rough day was fading and a long morning of confined inaction in a strong wind and driving rain was just about my limit. Not surprisingly there was no one else on the riverbank. The only reason I continued to stay was to delay packing up in the wet and the dread of the long walk back to the car. I therefore waited a little longer.

Ironically the previous day had been unseasonably bright and my weekly fishing partner had fished the same spot and had enjoyed a catch of several large pike. I was hoping for similar fortune but the plan was not working.

Outside my confines the wind rattled the bushes. The long dangling branches of a willow tree alongside me lashed about in anger. The surroundings were dark and seasonally dormant and at that moment the thought of also sleeping until spring seemed like a good idea! The river level was unusually high and the banks were almost awash. Pathways had long turned to sticky mud. All ditches were full to brimming and nearby meadows resembled lakes. Earlier there had been the familiar bright blue flash of a kingfisher but the only other sighting of life was a flight of noisy geese passing low over ahead. The water was chocolate brown and the rough surface had white crests. Large volumes of weed floated past showing that weed-cutters had been working upstream. It was difficult to imagine any fish out there - let alone them feeding. Non-stop rain hammered into the river and the gusting wind swept it in sheets across the entire width making strange patterns in the water. The cold was now beginning to penetrate and it was difficult to imagine conditions any worse. (My entire survival now relied upon a flask of coffee and a packet of damp digestive biscuits.)

For a few brief moments the sky brightened and the rain abated. In the distance rays of bright sunlight beamed down through the clouds but still no wildlife appeared. They obviously realised that it was somewhat false and soon the gap in the clouds closed and the dark sky returned followed again by the inevitable heavy rain.

I was eventually rewarded with a beautiful fish but the day was also a reminder that rain is essential to the precarious balance of nature. During the summer the flow of the river was unusually lacking - at times it had seemed non-existent and almost stagnant. Now the current has returned with gusto and its strong movement is sweeping the riverbed and clearing away the all debris and decay of the previous seasons. A full recovery has taken place and good old Mother Nature has prevailed again!

By Ivor Hook

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