It's a funny life i live, i defend my fort where i work from retail theft, preventing drug users from obtaining goods to fund their fix yet when i fish my urban rivers i put myself in the heart of drug dens, the multi colored needles littering the 100 year old cobbles. But what brings me back here? Yes there are big fish that lurk in these waters but i equally enjoy catching the small trout there. So it isn't a size thing, don't get me wrong i love a big old trout as much as the next person. If anything i'd say it was the sport that made it worth while. If you have ever caught a 3lb trout that wants to steam roll down river then you know just how well they fight, oz for oz trout are the best fighting fish i personally have caught. Now put that trout in pool with concrete pillars and overhangs, rusted iron pipes it can swim inside, cobbled gulleys and metal grids. Then you can start adding the fly tipped rubbish from the classic rusty trolley to the bin bags of household rubbish, the numerous bikes and scooters and the odd pram.
You can catch a trout of 2- 3lb in these rivers and they know every little hole they can hide in. Team work is often essential. With Graeme i had to lift a bicycle off the top of one before it snagged onto a log. Unsnagging it twice it raced 30m downstream before he put a stop to the train. With JT a tangle of the fly line around the reel saw it head into a grated pipe before swimming under a concrete overhanging and line wrapping a concrete pillar. After unsnagging that JT still had a fight on his hands with a feisty fish.
I have sat in the middle of Manchester in the early mornings, a thick blanket of smoke covered the river from the fires on the moors watching wild brown trout eating terrestrials off the surface. Graffitied walls of old buildings, the mix of red brick and large stone blocks lining the walls of the river. There are fish here, some would say plenty of them, but in reality there isn't. 100 fish in a 100m stretch sounds good at first but then they are all visible and vulnerable in these harsh summer conditions. Often catching the same fish a couple of times over a year or sometimes in the same season. Each earning a name by their distinguishable features. The constant pollution entering the river from misplaced drains and 3rd world citizens, treating the river as a tip.
It is impossible for me to protect them, these Greater Manchester trout, as hard as their native citizens. Through thick and thin their daily lives are a struggle. But they perservere and they feed and they grow. They spook at the sight of any human like figure, the sound of a 2mm tungsten bead sends panic into the waters. Pollution, poaching & persecution. Killed because they are 'food' to those to lazy to buy from a store. There is no pride to be found in killing a soldier of a trout, the true pride is to see it slap your hand with its tail as it slips into the foul smelling waters whence it came. To have looked it straight in the eye as you captured it's image in digital history, these fish will no longer be forgotten regardless of their future fate. And all i ask for those who take on these urban adventures whether it be the concrete jungle or the green space just outside of town or in the local park. Bow your head and respect the creature you hold as it won't be there forever and it has lived a harder life than you & me, and boy did i have a hard life.