Keith Arthur: I'm so tempted to go back

When I learned that a consortium of local clubs with memberships available had taken over the running of Fishers Green I couldn’t have been happier.

The River Lea on what was then called ‘The Seventy-Acre Fishery’ was where I first encountered running water.

Thanks to Mr Crabtree I knew what to do and where to look for chub and barbel, and I spent a few years catching both species on the stretch of the Lea controlled by the Waverley club.

There were some magnificent fish there in those days, with roach to over 1lb and some very big perch ¬ three-pounders in days when they were very scarce.

Nowadays, both species are present in far lesser numbers but certainly not smaller sizes. I’ve been told of some roach that the teller was embarrassed to estimate!

Barbel and chub were really prolific too, and catches of six or seven of each in a day, usually on a rolling leger baited with cheese, were quite regular. The average size of the barbel was probably 2lb-3lb and the chub 1lb-2lb. I sometimes wonder if the few that are left are those fish. It would make them too old, I guess ¬ I’m talking about nearly 50 years ago ¬ but they were the current stock’s ancestors.

I know there is a saying that ‘you should never go back’ and maybe I shouldn’t, but surely it wouldn’t hurt just to go and have a look ¬ to see if I can remember where those evocative swims were. There was ‘the shallows’, ‘the livebait tree’ (where we caught tiny chublets to trot down for big perch) and especially ‘barbel bend’, where the river made a complete U-shape with an undercut bank.

Getting shoals of roach to ‘boil’ by throwing in a handful of hemp and then watch hooked fish of 12oz or more being harried by bloody great perch? That isn’t going to happen. Maybe I shouldn’t even take a rod, but I feel compelled to have a look. We’ll see...