River Wissey Lovell Fuller


October 2008

Another stirring tale from the banks of The Wissey

The advocates of global warming forever spread their doom and gloom and thus it was easy to imagine that summer had given us a miss this year. However we are led to believe it came although very few can remember the day of conception. The remiss sun obviously appeared one day and amid the excitement everything was officially declared. Whether we merely enjoyed an isolated bad summer or something more sinister will no doubt be debated for a while yet but needless to say the river Wissey carried on regardless and underwent its seasonal transformation.

Today is overcast. The sky is grey with even darker clouds threatening in the wings. A light wind comes from all directions but it is far from cold and if it were winter it would be described as quite pleasant. The rumble of thunder sounds in the distance and gives warning of yet another storm. The river is very high and fast. Weed-cutters in their strange looking boats chug up the river. Their job is to keep the waterway open but this year their work is mammoth as the weed growth is greater than has ever been seen before. When the water is becalmed even the widest widths look a solid mass. The margins are seldom completely weed-free but now every imaginable weed has appeared and multiplied making countless mazes and secret channels. The poor resident fish must find their new surroundings a real mystery and any needing to make a long journey are surely confronted with a trauma worse than a London Underground map. It is easy to imagine lots of poor fish just swimming round and round completely lost! Pleasingly large numbers of tiny fry fill all the available spaces and forever dart and then withdraw but travel no distance in their strange state of suspension.

All around is an overpowering quietness confirming mid-summer as the traditionally 'silent months' of nature's calendar. The resident geese and their duck counterparts are strangely missing but they will reappear again at dusk when their honking and squabbling will be the only noise of the day. For whatever reason, large numbers of wildfowl no longer have the calling to migrate as did their forbearers. Perhaps they have become complacent or maybe it is just one more of the many changes we find difficult to understand.

Everywhere is green. The trees and undergrowth and even the river itself together display a full palate of green tints. The exception is a long band of white along the far bank showing thick lush beds of water lily pads with a host of flowers. The waxed white flowers all stand proud and stretch wide open to catch the alien sun but alas they must be without for yet another day. The sky has now changed to black and a strong rogue wind arrives and flattens the reed beds and sends fierce sweeps of waves across the water. Spectacular sheet lightening lights up the field opposite followed immediately by an earth-shaking crack of thunder. A few drops of rain fall and then stop. The heavens must be about to erupt. They look wild and angry but nothing else happens to again demonstrate our very strange weather.

Sadly the state of the river makes any fishing difficult. The fishing brigade must consider alternatives to relieve their passion but already I know that nothing else can compete with the joys of the river Wissey. Its many faces make it all the more intoxicating and the compensation for the dreaded weed is that it will all disappear when winter knocks on the door. Then the water should be in prime condition for the best time of the year - the long awaited pike fishing season!

Ivor Hook

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