Film night: Fishing the Battenkill

OK, so maybe it’s mostly a commercial for the latest generation in the classic Orvis family of Battenkill reels

… but this is so much our kind of angle on a famous fishery on the north-eastern seaboard of the USA – relevantly linking a big brand’s manufacturing heritage with the whole very funky, very now story of recovering post-industrial rivers.

As Tom Rosenbauer recalls in his voiceover, Vermont’s Battenkill

… has always been always a working person’s river. Back in the 19th century it was covered up in mills that made everything from clothing to clothespins to chisels…

People say that Charles Orvis’s business was bolstered by the Battenkill – in actuality the Battenkill was almost fishless in the 19th century when he started the business, so the river probably never fished well in Charles Orvis’s lifetime.

Eventually the sheep farming went out west, the mills closed down and the water quality got better. Today the water quality is probably as good as it’s been in 150 years: the river runs cold, clear and clean, and the brook trout are always there…and now we’re seeing both large and small brown trout in the Battenkill, so it’s a really encouraging sign.

The Battenkill is still an honest, hard-working river – the trout are some of the toughest to catch anywhere, but they’re all wild, and the river hasn’t been stocked since 1973.

Damn, we’ve just had to add another river to our bucket list. And we may need to take a look at that new Battenkill disc drag reel too…

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