Lord Nelson’s River Reborn

May 19, 2010

River Wandle Trail::Duntshill Road

Image by den99 via Flickr

We’re relatively big anglophiles at Spinoza Rods, due largely to an infatuation with naval history and the fact that Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels are almost on a continuous audio loop at the shop (it also helps that there are twenty of them in all — for the uninitiated, do yourself a favor and go get them as soon as you can).

Needless to say, when I saw this national geographic article about the rebirth of angling on Britain’s River Wandle, the former fishing grounds of arguably the greatest naval hero of all time, I read on with some interest:

Once one of England’s finest trout streams, its fans included Battle of Trafalgar hero Lord Nelson, who—despite the loss of an arm and the sight in one eye—would fish there on shore leave during his ultimately victorious campaign against Napoleon’s fleets.

Apparently the Wandle isn’t alone in it’s rebirth. In the article, National Geographic cites this as evidence of improved fishing conditions all across Europe, as environmental efforts and a decline in heavy industry have created healthier rivers systems across much of the continent. In many places the fish are coming back, and so too it seems, are the fisherman:

A similar scene unfolds in central Stockholm. Outside the Swedish Royal Palace, an angler carrying his heavily bent rod weaves between tourists and waterside hot dog sellers. He straddles the wrought iron railings, goes down a ladder, and later emerges with a large, silver trout.

Across Europe, fish are returning to city waterways thanks to major cleanup efforts in recent decades. And with them, a rare species of recreationist: the urban angler.

With so much terrible news out there on the environmental front (see: Mexico, Gulf of), this comes as a small, but much-needed reprieve. When it comes to this growing group of European fisherman and the rivers they frequent, we’re pretty sure that Lord Nelson would expect every angler to do his duty.

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