The chalkstreams of the south of England may not be the mightiest rivers in the world: they’re not raging torrents, gouging their way through mountains; in places they look almost narrow enough to hop over; they’re not especially long. But they have exerted far more influence on the way that rivers, lakes, seas and oceans worldwide are fished than their size might suggest.
60 million years ago retreating seas left enormous chalk deposits in a great band across the south coast of England. Rising from this rolling landscape are 85% of the world’s chalkstreams, fed from groundwater aquifers and filtered by the porous rock. The alkaline nature of the chalk provides a clarity and nutrient mix of water that, when combined with the rivers’ gravelly beds, make them precious habitats for invertebrates and the animals that feed on them – including the legendary chalkstream brown trout.
It is hardly surprising then, that it was on these waters that the art of fly fishing was perfected. These techniques, the dry fly and the nymph, are used the world over to target a wide range of species, but it was here that Halford developed his theories and that Skues created nymph fishing.
Although many fishermen and women have heard tell of the chalkstreams of southern England – those evocative names like the Test, the Itchen and the Avon - many may not be aware of just how rare these ecosystems are, and the importance that these accidents of geology have played in the history and development of the sport and the art of fly fishing.
CHALK – THE MOVIE aims to change that, as we explore the very streams and rivers that Halford and Skues once fished, learning what makes them so special. We visit grand estates, following in the footsteps of Royalty and heads of state; meet the people working to maintain and preserve these unique ecosystems; witness the fabled mayfly hatch; and fish rivers that flow past picturesque villages and their pubs, cathedrals and monasteries, a 600-year-old school and its cricket fields, pastures and water-meadows, and attract anglers from all over the world.
We have decided to use Kickstarter to create a community around the film that can help in its development not only from a financial point of view but also from an editorial point of view.
With chalkstream fishing, traditionally being seen as an exclusive activity, we want to make dispel some of those myths by also showing some lesser known more accessible chalkstreams. We have also released some rewards that would enable you to be in the film and be involved in the creative process of its production.