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THE SHOOTING AND FISHING QUARTERLY

WINTER 2012/13

R E LO A D E D

FREE EDITION

PHEASANTS at

FIR LE FREE

FLY FISHING

SHOOTING STYLES

FOR HIGH FLIERS

Golden dorado in the Bolivian jungle

Chris Batha - on front foot or back?

The high bird side-by-side from William Powell

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LET’S GET PHEASTIVE! The winter issue of Fieldsports magazine is out now! And with 45 pages dedicated to the finest pheasant shooting, it’s not to be missed! See page 30 for details.

PHOTOGRAPH: JOHN MACTAVISH

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elcome to the first ever issue of Fieldsports Reloaded. Utilising a rich catalogue of previously published material, Fieldsports Reloaded is a free, quarterly digital publication from the team behind Fieldsports magazine - the UK’s finest shooting and fishing quarterly. Published every April, July, October and December, each 30-page issue will be crammed full of features that are simply too good to relegate to the archives and will include a diverse array of content covering shoots, shooting instruction, fly fishing, gun reviews and game cookery. Invariably, once you’ve had a taste of Fieldsports Reloaded, you will want to upgrade to the premium, 164-page edition of Fieldsports. Fortunately, that’s never been easier - simply click here.

Editor: Mike Barnes Assistant editor: Marcus Janssen Features: Patrick Tillard Editor’s PA: Jackie Pridmore Photographers: John MacTavish, Chris Martin, Henry Gilbey Front Cover: Chris Martin Design: Alex Terry, Marisa Bailey, Anthony Hall

Advertising: Becky Kane, Julie Cousins, Kay Cotterill Production manager: Sally Evans Colour repro: Graham Warren Ad production: Moira Pritchard Managing Director: Alison Queenborough Associate Publisher: Kevin Hughes

Published quarterly on 1st April, July, October and December by: BPG (Stamford) Ltd, 1-6 Buckminster Yard, Main Street, Buckminster, Grantham, Lincs, NG33 5SB, UK Tel. 0044 (0)1476 859840 Email: info@fieldsportsmagazine.com Website: www.fieldsportsmagazine.com

Head of digital strategy: James Buzzel Website developer: Ian Pollard

SPECIALIST MEDIA

Follow us on Twitter @FieldsportsMag and like us at www.facebook.com/fieldsports

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Gavin Gardiner Limited In association with Auctioneers of Modern and Vintage Sporting Guns, Ries and Accessories

Auctions in London & Scotland Regular Free valuation days Forthcoming Auctions: 12th December 2012 London 17th April 2013 London 4th September 2013 Gleneagles

www.gavingardiner.com

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jungle dorado and pacu p 20

Gun review p16

pheasants at firle p6

contents Shoot profile: Pheasants at Firle

6

Alex Brant visits the iconic Sussex shoot

Shooting instruction: One step forward, one step back

12

Chris Batha looks at two distinct shooting styles

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Gun review: For high fliers

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16

The Linhope side-by-side from William Powell

Fishing: Jungle dorado and pacu

20

Henry Gilbey goes deep into the Bolivian jungle and is well rewarded‌

Food and drink: Take 2 Inns

26

A feast of winter game recipes from country chefs W W W. F I E L D S P O R T S M A G A Z I N E . C O M / R E LO A D E D

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SHOOT PROFILE

PHEASANTS

AT FIRLE PHOTOGRAPHY: CHRIS MARTIN

www.ямБeldsportsmagazine.com

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t’s all Dennis Miles’s fault, or at least it started with him. At some point early last year Dennis contacted me about booking days at the Firle shoot. We started corresponding and the next thing I knew I heard from the shoot owner’s PA inviting me to participate on a day. I very much enjoy the South Downs so it did not take too much persuasion. It then occurred to me, as it often does, that if I’m going somewhere new I might as well kill two birds with one stone (actually I kill a lot more than two birds except on days over pointers, and rarely use a stone) and write about it for Fieldsports. When I made that suggestion, Pat Chadwick, John Coldman’s PA, suggested that it was important to John and his syndicate that I emphasize the conservation aspects of the shoot and how they work with the local community. Both aspects sounded good to me, so I invited John and his right-hand man on the shoot, Peter Setterfield, to join me for lunch at Brooks’ club to discuss the project (Dennis Miles acts as shoot manager... there is a lot of co-operation within the shoot). It needs to be pointed out here that Firle is a wonderful Sussex estate about an hour east of Midhurst. It is a very easy commute from London. It is owned by the 8th Viscount Gage who still keeps a few days for his friends. É

AND PARTRIDGES TOO, AS ALEX BRANT ENJOYS SOME CLASSIC SPORT IN SUSSEX www.fieldsportsmagazine.com

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SHOOT PROFILE

Nicola Heron takes on a high cock pheasant

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It was about an hour from Tusmore, where I had shot as the guest of Frank Sekula, back to Holyport where we had been staying with friends (Tusmore is a magnificent estate in Oxfordshire where it looked as if every blade of grass had been individually cut with manicure scissors). After picking up Renata, we made the two-hour drive to Midhurst. Soon we were ensconced at the inn and quickly fell into the arms of Morpheus having had a long day of shooting and fighting the remnants of a cold. While we had almost an hour’s drive in the morning, we decided Midhurst was the right place to stay as we were going to spend the following night there before driving onto Stanage Castle, for my now annual double day pilgrimage, two thirds friends and one third clients. Most of the drive was slow going as there were many roundabouts and small paths to be followed. Driving down from London, one would have been on good roads most of the way. In any case, we arrived in perfect time at the Rams Inn, where John’s syndicate convenes for coffee, bacon, and the most important part - the draw. They had laid on quite a nice breakfast, with excellent coffee, my main food addiction. Introductions were made. My bad back is legendary, and they kindly organized a stuffer for me. Peter Setterfield who

... and I was amazed just how well they flew out of it. Considering it was quite flat they really did sit on their tails. www.fieldsportsmagazine.com

Latching onto a high one

Picking-up

A beautiful day to be out

Well presented pheasants

is also very involved in the shoot, suggested that I switched the peg I drew - number nine - with him so that I wouldn’t have so much walking involved (walking is not a problem as long as I am not carrying a cartridge bag which produces too much mechanical torque on my crippled back). I stupidly suggested we might as well keep the new numbers for the duration. More below..! Our first drive was Black Cap Lane. I wound up on peg 3 near our host and Nicola Heron, who was the Helice European Ladies

Champion. I did not have enough birds over me to really establish a rhythm, which is my excuse for not shooting particularly well! I think part of the problem was that I had shot a ton the day before at Tusmore, a bag of epic, almost Edwardian proportions and the birds here were faster and I was not adjusting for it. The higher peg numbers had the best birds, as many had come off the top of the hill (9, my actual draw as walking gun had the tallest birds that’s the way it goes).The main game crop was in front of us, a reasonable distance (not huge) É

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SHOOT PROFILE

and I was amazed just how well they flew out of it. Considering it was quite flat they really did sit on their tails. Bow Peep Lane was next and here, happily, my own shooting returned to norm. Roger Macey was on my left and we both killed a goodly number of what I would describe as medium but sporting birds. (There were birds taller than shown horizontally in the photographer’s lens (right) - this is proved by the photo of the dead bird falling feet first, above the birds flying.) The following drive was Shepherds, a huge crop of reed canary grass that worked really well. Plenty to chat about over elevenses. The fourth drive and obviously one of their best was the Chalk Pit. Luck of the draw did not get the term for nothing and my draw was unfortunate. Because of the switch, I was a back Gun here with few birds over me but those that did manage to make it through the line and head in my direction were the best birds of the day. The Guns in front had terrific

Bow Peep Lane Drive

At lunch

Right: Head keeper David Moore

shooting. Chalk Pit had a combination of pheasants and partridge which made for very interesting shooting - my best partridge and my best pheasant of the day occurred here. Lunch was next in a hut high up on the Downs. It was a beautiful setting for lunch and they had a caterer bring in food - an enjoyable and convivial affair. Drive five was Blackstone Pits, good for both pheasant and partridge. Renata and I were on the far side of a middle gate with John Coldman to our right, we both killed a fair number of birds here. Finally to Dalgety’s, drive six. This was a partridge drive and again we had a funny peg as, even though I was towards the middle of the line, birds broke left and right. The Guns at the lower numbers here had the best shooting, as the light was fading. It was a very enjoyable day with a particularly interesting group of Guns. Renata and I had both picked up a cold the previous week and while extremely rare for me, I was tempted not to continue after lunch but Renata made me shoot on. I am glad she did. The Guns: John Coldman, Michael Rees,Alex Brant, Dane Douetil, Neil Eckert, John Hecks, Nicola Heron, Roger Macey, Peter Setterfield and Michael Vere-Hodge.

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WEST LONDON SHOOTING SCHOOL LESSONS COURSES

PURDEY LADIES & YOUNG SHOTS

CORPORATE EVENTS WEST LONDON GUN ROOM

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SHOOTING TECHNIQUES

One step back or one Back foot or front foot - which is your style? Chris Batha makes the comparisons.

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aking a high curling pheasant, and by high I mean a minimum of 40 yards over the line, requires a smooth swing, timing and the correct application of technique. The role of technique is to consistently place the muzzles the correct distance in front and on the line of the bird’s flight and should not be confused with style. Tackling the tall ones... we adapt techniques to suit.

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There are several techniques but only two styles of straight shooting and it is style that creates the swing tempo for the consistent application of technique. The two major London shooting schools differ in opinion. Holland & Holland teach a modified Churchill style shooting off the back foot, while West London favour an off the front foot noseover-toes style of the legendary instructor and champion shot Percy Stanbury. But which is the most effective and all importantly consistent for you? For that we need to examine the theory and application of both styles to allow you to make an informed decision for yourself. Colonel Hawker is reputed to have said that: “It is better to miss with good style than to hit with bad form,” though it would be a hard task to convince a client that though they are incapable of hitting the ground with a shovel, their style, however, is impeccable! But I recognize the lesson in the statement. Using cricket as an analogy, every player who reaches a high standard demonstrates good style. Yes, they all have individual subtleties to their game, but the constant is that they have found what allows them maximum coordination of visual acuity and reflexes to sync with their height and physique, all learned and practised around the foundations of classic cricket stroke styles. Cricketers learn to move their feet, in controlled movements not lunging strides, they

www.fieldsportsmagazine.com

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step forward? adjust their body shape to tackle balls off both the front and back foot, and it is this intrinsic balance that allows the hard focus, reading the ball’s pitch, spin and line that creates the split second decision to defensively play a straight bat or hook for a score building boundary shot. This is what the shooting styles are, exactly like other sports evolved over the decades, to offer a framework to adapt to suit you, to learn and practise the smooth controlled swing that is the backbone of straight shooting. Now, unlike the professional cricketer who pays his bills from his years of training, no matter your prowess in game shooting, it is a labour of love and offers little reward bar the congratulations from your fellow Guns when you clatter a late January cock high over the line – most importantly, hit with both the good style and form that would bring a smile to the old Colonel’s face. So I would encourage you to consider discovering for yourself the style that works best for you and work at it. The reward will be paid in spades in the seasons to come. ST E P BAC K

Robert Churchill was a pioneer of both gun making and shooting style; he was an exceptional game and live pigeon shot. The story goes that he was due to be at a live pigeon match in Monte Carlo and on a shoot the day before he somehow blocked the muzzles of his 30 inch gun with snow. On firing, the muzzles split and separated.There was insufficient time for the gun to be re-barrelled so he had the barrels cut off to 25 inches and some choke replaced by retro boring. He went on to win the competition and stated that the shorter gun was faster handling and more instinctive in use. He then went on

to build the 25 inch barrelled guns with which his name is synonymous.There were a few more innovations to the gun, and to make the barrels appear longer it was fitted with the XXV Churchill rib. His advertising stated that the gun handled like a 20 bore but shot like a 10 bore. Churchill was a short rotund man and I believe had trouble shooting traditionally off the front foot, most especially when tackling the very high pheasant. To overcome this he created a new style where the shooter would distribute his weight equally between the feet, with a square-on to the target address. Depending on the shot and angle presented to him during the mount he would transfer his weight onto the appropriate leg by the raising of the heel of the opposite foot. And if the bird was perpendicular overhead then he left taking the shot off the back foot. Which, if you would like to try it yourself, allows the whole body, both upper and lower torso, to work as a unit with no conflicting resistance to check your swing. He was a great advocate of drills for stance, posture and gunmount with particular emphasis on footwork. He also created a debate in his advocating that there was no requirement to see lead or forward allowance, that a well drilled gunmount with the muzzles pointing at the beak of the bird through to completion of the mount, the pulling of the trigger without check or hesitation, the lag in the brain between eyes and hand meant that the barrel had travelled several feet in front of the bird and gave the

Robert Churchill demonstrating his ‘back foot’ style.

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SHOOTING TECHNIQUES

“You need to discover the style that works best for you, and the gun to do it with.”

The illustration of David Olive shows clearly the front foot stance.

required forward allowance. It is my opinion that the combination of enhanced second phase of recoil from the short barrels, a preference for higher comb heights and the Churchill XXV rib created a good amount of the lead generated and that the height of birds of this era were such that the drilled move and gun allowed the impression of shooting at the bird’s head as the trigger was fired. After all these years, arguments continue to rage over the good and bad sides of his guns and methods, yet there is no ignoring the fact that Churchill had great success as a shot, coach and as a businessman. The Churchill Gun Club was located in Kent and Churchill had an understudy in one Norman Clark.With the passing of Robert Churchill and the closing of the club, Norman Clark moved to the Holland & Holland shooting school. He had great respect for Churchill but did not have the same rigid thoughts on the XXV or teaching methods. He introduced several subtle variations to the style, passing on this knowledge to his own understudy, Ken Davies, whose excellent reputation precedes him. Ken has now retired and the modified Churchill style is taught by chief instructor Chris Bird and his team.

WILL GARFIT

S T E P F O R WA R D

Shooting has been taught since the advent of the first shooting schools in the 1800s. Earlier in this period, the most common type of game shooting was walked-up over dogs where the birds would more often climb and rise away from the gun. The shooting schools, as you would expect, taught a style to suit the shooting of the day, which resulted in a stance simply put as a case of best foot forward with the

weight predominantly on that leading leg almost as if you were about to fall over and had planted the leg to stop it happening. Exactly the initial reaction you would make if you were walking and a bird flushed over dogs ie. to step forward into its line to take the shot. With the introduction of a driven game shooting style with more lateral or rotational movement; a good example of the style taught during this period is found in Charles Lancaster’s book on the subject published in 1906. Charles Lancaster was one of many gunmakers who created shooting schools to help their clients to become proficient shots. Most importantly, he clearly advised on judgement of pace, angle and the swing which kept the same walked-up style, and introduced to the Gun footwork to step into the line of the bird’s flight, with the body’s weight being maintained over the forward leg throughout the shot. West London Shooting School needs little introduction and was home to one of the finest shots and instructors ever, Percy Stanbury. Today, Alan Rose (an understudy of Stanbury) and his team of excellent instructors maintain this tradition - the Stanbury style of shooting is taught still. Once again the Stanbury style emphasizes the fundamentals of stance, which is slightly more side-on to the bird than the Churchill approach, posture, gunmount and footwork.The differences are in the maintenance of weight over the leading leg, the muzzles being pointed at the body of the bird throughout the gunmount so that, as the gun mount is completed, the gun is brushed through the bird where the lead or forward allowance is observed but not dwelt upon and the trigger fired without check or measure. Targets to the left and right of the peg are answered with a step into the line of the bird, but the shot is taken off the leading leg. If this step is not made, the rotation of the upper torso is restricted by the lower limbs and the gun swing

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Poised on the front foot.

will slow or stop.The classic Stanbury silhouette, and logo of the WLSS, is a dramatic line drawing of the man, taking a high pheasant off the front foot. The shape created is almost that of a strung long bow.This is because of the need to push the hip into the shot which, combined with lifting the rear heel, gives the smooth swing required for the shot. It should be noted that he was a tall lean man, in contrast to Churchill’s stockiness and more than capable of the flexibility required to make this shot off the front foot. Their choice of gun is interesting, Stanbury preferring his favoured Webley & Scott with 30 inch barrels. If you point with a walking stick at an object you could swing to it quicker to a mark but swing off it equally quickly, whereas the same action with a fishing rod and the swing is slower but holds steady on the mark. With the Churchill style, the XXV would generate more barrel speed and come on to the bird quicker. Only the smallest push of the left hand is needed as the trigger is pulled to generate the required forward allowance. Whereas the

longer barrelled gun with the same style will be marginally slower to the bird, requiring a more deliberate swing through the bird to establish the lead and to time the trigger pull. So my verdict? There is very little to choose between the styles - both work well. You need to discover the style that works best for you, and the gun to do it with. I would give the nod to Stanbury on flair and athleticism - the taking of the bird off the front foot is shooting in good form and properly executed always looks stylish. Regardless of style, you need to lift the heel of one or the other foot to achieve a full range of motion to reach the high birds and it may be you need to be able to shoot both styles to tackle the diversity of shots encountered in a season, from early jinking flaring August grouse, to curling drifting pheasants of late January. It is insightful that they both are in agreement on the fundamentals of stance, posture, gunmount and hard focus on the bird and I do not know a shooting instructor in the country who would disagree with them.

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GUNS

The William Powell Linhope is colour case hardened as standard, but there is an option of a regular finish.

For high fliers William Powell have launched a new side-by-side called the Linhope, designed with high bird shooting in mind.

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ith the popularity of high bird shooting, there are many who are reluctant to switch from side-by-side to an over-under gun. However the classic English shotgun is not built to handle the heavier loads which are now the norm on shoots which concentrate on presenting high fliers. The recoil from a 32 gram or heavier cartridge is too much, certainly on a big day. Bear in mind that 34 and 36 gram cartridges are the first choice for many, some even going up to 40gram and beyond. So recognising a gap in the market Banbury-based gunmakers William Powell have added a new model to their Continental range. The company’s owner Mark Osborne, a keen side-by-side man, explained that he was a perfect

156 FIELDSPORTS

example of the customer they are looking at with this new gun. “The idea came about as a result of making a gun for Lord James Percy, hence it was named after his estate and shoot, Linhope. “It has 30” barrels and is based on an Arrieta 801 action, a good reliable self- opener from a maker which has worked with William Powell for a number of years. They make a very good reliable product.” The gun is built on a best quality sidelock seven pin action with gold cocking indictors. The additional size of the frame makes it a much more comfortable gun for shooting heavier loads and is therefore much more likely to absorb recoil better than a traditional gun. It certainly looks the part with traditional bouquet and scroll engraving, and comes with a

hand made leather gun case. To find out more we took one of the new Linhopes to shooting instructor Simon Ward and Jeff Lupton at the Yorkshire Gunroom. Simon was suitably impressed. “It’s a nice looking gun and from picking it up and mounting it I could see that they have done their homework on

measurements. The comb was offset and measurements were 1 /8” comb, 3/16” at the face, and 1/4” heel, with offset 3/8” toe. Drop measurement was 1 3 /8” and 2” heel. It had a full pistol grip but this was a stock gun, and they tell me that there are options of straight hand or Prince of Wales.

There is a choice of grip.

www.fieldsportsmagazine.com

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“The gun weighed 7lb 12oz and has 3” chambers, so clearly it should handle heavier loads. I shot a few different loads through it, starting with 21, 24 and 28gram and felt no recoil at all. Then I tried 32gram Hull Sterling fibre - not a problem. “The stock was a bit long for me at 15 3/8”, but this was a demo gun, and again a made-tomeasure stock is included in the price (fitting is extra). Bearing in mind that I have not shot a sideby-side since switching to my Perazzis, I got on very well with it, despite its length. It handled well and was nicely balanced. The chokes were full and full and can be altered, but Teagues are extra. “My only suggestions would be to consider a beavertail foreend (barrels can get hot when shooting lots of cartridges on a high bird shoot), and perhaps a slightly raised Churchill-style rib. I would also perhaps look to fitting a Kick-eze or Absorball pad. But other than that this is definitely a gun which a side-byside user will enjoy shooting, and should do well with.” Jeff Lupton, whose Yorkshire Gunroom specialises in side-bysides, thought that it could fill a slot nicely. “Live pigeon guns are getting harder to find, so this is a good option. Like Simon, I

think a semi-pistol grip and beavertail fore-end might be worth exploring, and maybe single trigger. But it is a very nicely made gun with a proven Holland & Holland self-opener mechanism and has to be good value of £7,300 (inc VAT). “There is certainly a market for people who simply do not want to switch to an over-under for high bird shooting and this gun would be a good choice.” We checked with William Powell, and beavertail fore-ends are available as an option. www.william-powell.co.uk www.yorkshiregunroom. co.uk 30” barrels and extra weight absorb recoil. The gun is very well balanced.

Jeff Lupton and Simon Ward.

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GROUSE IN ENGLAND, SCOTLAND AND WALES - ANOTHER RECORD SEASON? GAME COOKERY WITH JAMES MARTIN AND AT THE HARWOOD ARMS PIES OR PILATES? THE ULTIMATE MACNAB COTSWOLD SHOOT REVIVAL

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THE MEMORABLE E ISSUE A feast of great sport ALLAN LAMB’S SHOOTING DAY WHY PROFESSOR BOUGHT A BAZOOKA BUTT OR BEACH? LORD JAMES PERCY ON THE GAME GIRL DILEMMA

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For stockists details and to view the full range visit www.schoffel.co.uk or call 01572 770900

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FISHING IN BOLIVIA

Gordon Richmond playing a fish on the Secure river

A young Tsimane indian

Jungle dorado and pacu Henry Gilbey goes deep into the Bolivian jungle - and is well rewarded... 134 FIELDSPORTS

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On the river

Tsimane lodge

Amazon pacu

S

ome fish just demand serious attention, and although many anglers know little about the mighty and ferocious golden dorado, let me assure you that they are one of the top freshwater species in the world. You need to put them and South America on your radar in a big way. Fishing for dorado usually involves blind casting in coloured water, very much like when targeting their long lost cousins, the tigerfish in southern Africa.They hit hard and they jump a lot. But the more you learn about dorado fishing, the more you begin to hear these rumours of remote locations where it is possible to sight fish for them in clear running rivers. I was sold the first time I ever heard of this.

Golden dorado from the Upper Pluma river

Cue the remote jungles of Bolivia that nestle in the foothills of the mighty Andes mountain range. Is this the dorado fishing paradise that has been searched for as relentlessly as an archaeologist might search for an ancient, rumoured Mayan city? The Argentinean company Untamed Angling seem to think so, and considering that the same people opened up the legendary La Zona to sport fishermen, I am inclined to believe them. The fishing trip out here revolves around two different locations.This first place on the Secure river was a simply sensational setting, with the comfortable lodges built atop a small escarpment overlooking the river. All around us was just about the most impenetrable jungle I have ever come across. We caught a fair few dorado up to around 15lb, but they were resolutely not playing ball with us as the guides said they should be.The actual fishing varied between working pockets of clearer water to swinging big flies across and down relatively coloured runs and pools like we would for Atlantic salmon, albeit on generally

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far smaller sections of river. Very intimate fishing if that makes sense. Anywhere else and it might have been classed as awesome, but it was not how it was meant to be and we knew it. When it came to heading back downstream and catching the little plane to the next location, I suppose it would be fair to say that we were a little deflated. So you can imagine how wide those smiles spread across our faces as the outgoing clients we crossed over with on the runway were reporting lots of hungry fish. Above the next camp lies a fork in the Pluma where two smaller rivers flow into it, and we went right that morning, up the Itirizama. And literally the moment we went right, I saw a frantic commotion as a horde of ravenous dorado smashed into a shoal of sabalo, the local bait species. Pull over, jump out, give the cast to Gordon. A dorado charges him just like a GT on the tropical flats, but I guess that the complete state of adrenaline fuelled overexcitement we felt caused Gordon to forget all about strip-striking and instead he essentially pulled the fly out of the fish’s mouth as it bow-waved towards him. We have all done it, and we’ll all do it again one day. But the fishing was on. Every single thing that I had hoped jungle fishing for dorado might be came true. We left the boats behind and began a criss-cross route upstream, and all the while we were spotting dorado of all sizes nearly everywhere we looked. The further we walked, the more this little river reminded me of some sections of small, boulder-strewn moorland rivers in which we might fish for small wild browns in the south west of England. But one big difference was that there were 30lb plus golden predators lurking in these warm jungle waters. It seemed that as the river narrowed, the more fish we saw, and we even began to see some big, deep black shapes moving around. One of them decided to smash Gordon to pieces for a bit of fun. So these were the legendary Amazon pacu that I had heard a little about. Alejandro spotted a pod of big dorado lying in a very tricky spot and he got Gordon and Joerg to

É

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FISHING IN BOLIVIA Into a dorado

Unhooking an Amazon pacu

25lb plus golden dorado; Alejandro Bianchetti

Fishing with bow and arrow on the Secure river

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come and take a shot. Within a split second the two guys were hooked up to a couple of rampaging 30lb plus fish that simply turned and ran them over the rocks. You know when you have been done good and proper by a fish that you were never destined to land? That was the guys right now, but Alejandro was having none of it. He literally picked Gordon up and frogmarched him up to the next pool. No chance to sit and grieve for lost fish out here. I hung back slightly and watched what happened. The guide points a fish out straight away, the client tenses slightly while he looks for it, and then he spots it as well, relaxes slightly, and makes a cast out across the turbulent pool. Both angler and guide crouch slightly as the fish obviously charges the fly, and then Gordon strip-strikes perfectly into a big dorado. And the moment he strikes, Alejandro is having to help him downriver as this fish goes loopy and charges straight out of the pool. I can recall that beast jumping clear of that little bit of river as easily as I saw it on

Working their way up the river

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Alejandro Bianchetti with an Amazon pacu

the day. “Trout fishing on steroids” is one expression that I remember coming to mind as the two of them worked on subduing this dorado. Alejandro has seen it all before, but I know that Gordon and I stood there for at least five minutes with our mouths open as 25lb plus of fish was eventually released. Bear in mind they have caught and released dorado to just under 40lb out here, and who knows what the potential is. The rumours were true. There really is a place on this earth where you can sight fish in small jungle rivers to a truly world class fish. I guess you could say that we went hell for leather for three days and smacked as many fish as we could. From deftly putting a fly three feet above a bar of gold to dredging a couple of deeper pools and taking fish after fish, we did as much as we could to fill our proverbial boots with all that this remote part of Bolivia has to offer. But now our thoughts turned increasingly to these Amazon pacu (sometimes known as the freshwater permit). I persuaded Joaquin to take us even further up river to a spot that he reckons nobody else but him has ever sport fished. Watching the guy catch dorado on the way was like watching an artist at work, but all the time he was checking his watch and driving us ever onwards. There comes a point where you are going to have to turn back and walk back down the river to make it to the waiting boats with a little daylight left, but when you have a bunch of big pacu milling around in front of you, things like time and fresh jaguar footprints in the mud matter not a damn. Joaquin’s secret pool was loaded with them. I firmly believe that some things are simply meant to be. Joaquin puts his fly down in front of one of the pacu and we both watch as it nonchalantly turns,

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FISHING IN BOLIVIA

Fishing equipment follows it in and then just inhales it. Joaquin sets the hook and the fish is down to the backing in a split second. I call a bigger fish out to Joerg on my right, and he also puts a fly down. This pacu trundles over, nails the fly, and then just bites through the 30lb wire as if was not even there. I guess that some things are also just not meant to be. Poor Joerg just stood there in a state of shock. Dorado fight hard, but pacu leave them for dead. Dorado are a very showy fish that likes to jump a lot, but pacu just use their deep, round body shape to make very powerful, telling runs. The guys at Untamed Angling might well have found some kind of dorado paradise here in the Bolivian jungle, but I have learnt that they also had an ulterior motive when they spent many weeks camping and exploring in this part of the world. From the off they had a hunch that there had to be an area where you could sight fish to both big dorado and pacu in the same vicinity. Having been there, I can understand a bit about the effort it has taken to find this place, and I can also imagine how off the scale exciting it must have been to have followed the twists and turns of these intimate jungle rivers and stumbled upon this fishing for the first time. Wake me up and tell me when I can stop dreaming please.

How to book Fly fishing travel specialists Aardvark Mcleod offer tailor-made packages to a number of top Bolivian destinations and lodges. tel: +44(0)1980 847389 e. mail@aardvarkmcleod.com web: www.aardvarkmcleod.com

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This is fly only fishing, so pack accordingly. It might be a bit of fun to take a bait rod that could handle some of the big catfish that swim in the rivers - sit out at night with a beer and see if you can hook one. As regards the fly fishing tackle, this is what is recommended, and the stuff we took worked just fine: @ 8 or 9 weight single-handed fly rods work fine - make sure to take a spare in case of a breakage. We all know that it can and does happen. @ Fly reels to match - if you are spending serious money on a trip like this, I can see no point in not taking decent gear. The fish tend to run hard, so a good drag that you are comfortable using is essential. @ Lines - tropical floating lines will cover most of the fishing, but it also helps to take an intermediate, and one of our guys successfully “dredged” some deeper pools using fast sinkers. If that is your thing, go prepared for it. I know it’s freshwater fishing, but make sure to take tropical saltwater fly lines. Freshwater lines mess up in the heat. @ Leaders - 30-40lb fluorocarbon is fine, finished off with a short biting trace of 30lb wire that you can tie. The Argentinean guides really like this titanium based wire that can be tied. @ Flies - if you don’t like tying your own flies, or would rather wait, they sell all the best flies out there. If you want to take your own, use 2/0-4/0 high quality hooks and make up various baitfish patterns. Remember that big dorado will attack and eat smaller dorado as well. Flies tend to be fairly heavily dressed, from 6 to 10 inches long. A really popular dorado pattern is the Andino Deceiver, essentially like a regular Deceiver but with chain eyes and a muddler head. Fly fishing for pacu is really being developed as we speak, and the guys have taken a few off the top on flies such as the Chernobyl Ant, as well as on smaller, less-heavily dressed dorado type flies.

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FOOD&DRINK with Jane Pruden

Take2inns A feast of winter game recipes from country chefs. The Inn at Fossebridge, Nr. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire The Inn at Fossebridge is immersed in 300 years of history... as a coaching inn on the Fosseway and as a hostelry named after wealthy landowner Lord Chedworth. Today it is a beautiful Cotswold retreat, with wonderful accommodation, grounds and fine food. The Inn is within an hour from Stratford-upon-Avon, Cheltenham and Cirencester, and close to Burford and Stow-on-the-Wold. Shooting parties, from local shoots, are catered for with several cosy, fire-lit rooms and a well-stocked bar to relax in before dinner. www.fossebridgeinn.co.uk or tel. 01285 720721.

Duck breast and duck leg confit with dauphinois potato, Jerusalem artichoke purée and thyme jus Serves 4

INGREDIENTS 4 duck breasts 4 duck legs 800g goose fat 1 star anise Tsp coriander seeds For the dauphinois potatoes 4 large potatoes 400ml double cream 2 garlic cloves (crushed) Small sprig of thyme Salt and pepper For the Jerusalem artichoke purée 200g Jerusalem artichoke,

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peeled and diced 300ml milk 1 garlic clove Salt and pepper For the thyme jus 1 shot of port 400ml duck or beef stock 60g of butter, diced Salt and pepper A good sprig of thyme

To make the confit: Prepare the confit a day before required. Slow roast the duck legs with the star anise and coriander in the goose fat at 100°C for 3 hours until the meat starts to fall off the bones. Cool and refrigerate for 12 hours.

To make the dauphinois: Prepare the day before. Bring the cream to the boil with the garlic, thyme and seasoning. Allow to cool and pass through a fine sieve. Slice the potatoes thinly and layer in an ovenproof dish and pour the cream over. Bake for one hour at 170°C. Once cooked apply some weight on top of the dish and refrigerate overnight. Cut into squares before reheating. To make the purée: Cook artichoke and garlic in the milk until soft. Pass through a sieve or blender and reduce to a fine purée - if too thick add a dash of cream. Season to taste. Cook the duck breasts, skin side down, in a very hot frying pan without oil and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Place on a tray and roast in the oven at 200°C for 8 to 10 minutes.

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Vanilla Crème Brûlée with Walnut and Maple Syrup Sable Serves 4

INGREDIENTS 250ml milk 250ml double cream 60g caster sugar 6 egg yolks 1 vanilla pod

Split the vanilla pod lengthways and collect the seeds. Bring the cream, milk and vanilla pod to the boil and leave to cool.Whisk the yolks and sugar for 5 minutes until pale. Pass the cream and milk through a fine sieve over the egg mixture, stirring slowly to avoid the formation of froth. Pour into 4 ramekins. Cook in a bain-marie at 170°C for 20 minutes. The middle should be wobbly. Refrigerate until required. Before serving, cover with a generous sprinkling of sugar

and heat with a butane torch (or hot grill) until the sugar bubbles and browns. For the Sable 120g unsalted butter 125g caster sugar 175g plain flour 7g cornflour 2 tbsp maple syrup 225g crushed walnuts

Cream together the butter and sugar until the sugar has dissolved into the fat.Add flour and cornflour and work in to the butter mix with the walnuts and maple syrup. Roll the dough out and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes until hard. Cut the dough into 4mm discs and bake in the oven at 180°C for 10 to 12 minutes. The biscuits are very good when sprinkled with caster sugar while still hot.

Leave to rest for 10 minutes. To make the jus: Remove the excess fat from the pan and put it back on the heat for 1 minute to caramelise the meat juices, then deglaze with the port. Reduce by half before adding the thyme and the stock. Reduce for 6 minutes then whisk in the butter for shine and sweetness. Season to taste. To serve: Pan fry the duck legs (for 2 minutes skin side down), also the squares of dauphinois (only one side until golden) with a little butter, then put into the oven for 10 minutes: 180°C until hot - reheat the purée. Put a spoonful of the purée in the corner of each plate and sit a duck leg on top. Place the potato dauphinois to the side and slice the duck next to it. Drizzle with the jus.

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top instructors including Simon Ward and Chris Batha, the world’s finest fly fishing destinations, gun reviews, gundogs and training, food, travel and much more, it’s an absolute must for all country

sports enthusiasts. Plus, every month you’ll have the opportunity to win a fabulous prize in our exclusive monthly online competitions.Visit www.fieldsportsmagazine.com

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