Thursday, 6 November 2014

Itchen grayling

Recently I was away down south and was lucky enough to receive an invite from my friend Peter ( he of walks and fishes blog) to fish a beat of the Itchen with him. Although I am now fishing a chalk stream on a regular basis the Itchen is one of those hallowed southern streams that carry a certain mystique.  So it was an opportunity to be seized  .  I arrived at three minutes past the appointed meeting up time due to the hideous southern traffic,  something  I was not happy about as to quote Norman Maclean " there's three things we're never late for: church, work and fishing" and personally I think fishing is by far the most important.  Being late for fishing is something I regard as pretty bad manners.  Peter however was oblivious to my late arrival. 

After a quick hello it was rig up and of fishing , Autumn days are pretty short affairs and time shouldnt be wasted on over indulgent pleasantries. After a quick demo from Pete on his tried and trusted rigs . I was away and fishing after 3 casts bingo fish number one .  I started with a two hook rig a size 16 bead head on point and a size 18 gammarus pattern on the dropper. It became apparent pretty quickly that I was picking up all the fish on the point fly and as the river obviously carried a very large head of fish I ditched the dropper shortly after starting,  

The top fish was pretty typical of the better fish I caught with perhaps 5 or 6 like that coming to hand the rest were smaller with a couple of tiny rainbows and a couple of very chunky OOS native brownies also throwing themselves in to the mix.  It is astonishing how many fish were in that length of river , some of the grayling were pretty big too with a few that looked around two pound. Sadly none of those decided to play ball. 

The river is very very pretty and even though it is into November the warm Autumn meant the trees still carried more than a hint of green.  The sunshine encouraged a hatch of olives and soon they were been intercepted by fish. So of went the nymph and on with the dry , catching a few on a dry was an unexpected bonus for me .  A short heavy shower killed the hatch and drove me back to the decent fishing hut where I found Peter also heading for cover. After the shower the rise disappeared so it was back on the nymph and another good few fish finished the day until we called it a day a little after three. 

The beat has two small fishing huts . I figure that this one doesnt see a lot of use. Not quite what I would expect from a posh southern chalk stream. I must say the beat did not appear to be over manicured there was plenty of weed and overhanging branches and plenty of stuff growing in the bank sides too. In fact as nice a stretch of river as I have seen for a while. 

One thing i did notice, the grayling seemed to be less steely in appearance than my local spate stream fish.  But they did seem to like the same bugs I use up north.  Personally my thoughts are with grayling they are pretty catholic with their tastes but I do think they get wary of seeing the same things,  I rarely use brass beads for that reason. I reckon i finished the day with about thirty fish . I probably could have caught a few more if I had stuck with the nymph instead of playing with the dry for an hour or so,  but fishing is about more than just catching ,,,

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Grayling Party time but with a gatecrasher.....

This last month I have been out on my local rivers enjoying the start of another Grayling season. Although I have caught a few during the summer and the season for them runs right from June I dont feel as if the party starts till the end of September when the Trout season finishes,  This weekend was typical grayling season weather ,  Windy and very Autumnal with the river surface covered in leaves and even the odd branch floating by.  But at least things got going I  had probably a dozen grayling with nothing bigger than half a pound.  Caught way to many trout , I cant remember a year when the brownies were still as active as they are now . A result of the mild Autumn.  As for the grayling whenever I catch one I am always reminded what a very beautiful fish they are..

One gatecrasher at the partywas this rainbow,  at around 2lbs it certainly gave a good account of itself on the 3wt,  these things cause a mix of opinions on the river in my local club. They are stocked and some members enjoy catching them and enjoy the fact that it technically extends the trout season for an extra month.  Certainly this last month has seen them rising freely but most of the anglers on the river seem to be after grayling so its a bit of a mixed blessing .  As for me well I have my own views and unlike the Grayling this didnt go back in the river...

Incidentally my first grayling trip on the local beck resulted in a totally trout catch with the fish feeding hard , apart from just one fish that as a coarse species was legally captured .  It pleased me in one way that my nymphing skills have been sufficiently improved this season I actually saw the take.  Perhaps not a huge speciman but certainly my biggest of the season.

The recent rains have refreshed my local beck just a shame its done it once the trout season has finished.  The bottom OOS brownie is typical of what the beck holds with wildies to a pound and a half a real possibility. With a smattering of grayling for good measure.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Contemplation of another season " gone fishing"

Friday saw my last river trout fishing trip of the year, although there are a couple of days left I cant see me getting on another river for trout this year . Sadly my local beck is almost completely dry and so I am unable to end the season as I normally do on a trip on my home water.   The season is ending with our local streams and rivers truly down to their bones,  I just hope that we have a proper winter with snow melt to get down into the aquifers.  My last trip was to Foston where although low the springs have kept up a reasonable flow.  I took a guest, after years of enjoying angling as a purely solitary pursuit in the last few years I have increasingly enjoyed the pleasure of sharing a day with a fellow angler. The conversation and crack with the right companion only adds to the day.  As it was the day blessed us with enough fish and the conditions were sufficiently challenging to make it feel as though we earned our victories.

During this strange season I must confess that I can not think of one fish that has come to my hand that was worthy of serious note , not one that would be considered worthy of a being called a trophy or required me to reach into that inside pocket of the waistcoat where the scales were put on season day one . I had my eyes on a couple of big old boys in Foston Beck that I estimated between 3 and 4 lb and it was through gritted teeth that one evening I congratulated a fellow angler for the capture of a fine brownie at 3lb 12oz....Moreover the days themselves have been pretty much without note it has been as if the days themselves served only to seperate me from those aspects of life that we all endure from time to time , I suppose when I look back my heart just hasnt been 100% in it with to many distractions in the rest of my life .  The highlights were a guided day on the Ure that was booked a year ago and the first few trips on a new river as much for the expectation as for the reality. But the stark truth is though that what the fishing has allowed me to do is from time to time to step away from those challenges that life throws at you. It is of course that perpetual sense of the unknown. Will the next cast be the fish of the season or even a lifetime?.  That is what  keeps me coming back .

I suppose looking further back through life the reality is that specimen fish come along very rarely and real blue ribbon days are as scarce as hens teeth, but the highlights are those transient moments, either of victories or enlightenment, those moments of elation when the perfect cast to a rising fish in a difficult lie results in a confident rise. Those penny drop moments when a new technique works. Perhaps even the moment when a kingfisher passes so close to you that you can feel the breath from its wing beats,  To me it is these that determine how we look back on the days and it is that which keep us coming back for more and coming back for more has been what I have been doing for well over 40 years now.  It truly is  "the fishing and not the catching".  It is that stepping away from your normal life in to that totally absorbing existence that the "Gone fishing " sign so eloquently describes , It is not just a place it is a parallel universe of pleasures and challenges.  It is about the sum of all those moments that come together to create our season .  So heres to next year and the next trout season may it offer a few more rewards and perhaps a few less challenges .

As for the Pictures well they are a couple of trout from the last few trips , and a bloke in a river casting to a rising fish. Which just about sums my season up nicely .