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I am on a tight turnaround for this blog entry as I will be up to Grafham tomorrow for the AMFC. I did not want to rush this entry though as it is arguably one of the best sessions I have ever had on a river! Although I am a member of the Salisbury & District club and a regular visitor to the Avon it’s always nice to be invited along to fish the services water. It is largely un-pressured and usually teeming with fish. So, when I met up with Ian at the Solstice services I was a little dismayed when he told me I was going to be disappointed with the river as it was choked with weed.
Ian had travelled up from his home in Brighton the day before and had made the time to put in a recce. The heat of the weekend had dissipated somewhat and it was very comfortable fishing in a shirt. Ian elected to start at a large run that filled out into a large pool, it was weed free and looked really deep. After the 01 July nymphs are allowed to be used on the river and I wasted no time in setting up my rod accordingly. The flow at the tail was very slow so I started with a light nymph #16 to see what may be lurking in the edges. Ian opted for dry fly tactics and scored early first an enthusiastic trout that led him a merry dance and then some small Grayling.
I was beginning to think I had gotten it wrong when the first fish hit me like a steam train. It was a fin perfect Brown trout just shy of two pounds. I slipped it back and moved further into the run picking up some small Grayling along the way. It was not long before I hit the sweet spot and it was a task to make a cast without some interest from a fish. The best method seemed to be animating the nymph by lifting it a little then allowing it to sink again. Using this technique, the sport was blistering. Ian now convinced that the nymph maybe the way to go changed over. And was soon getting some sport on the other side of the run.
I had reached the limit of my wading and had to get out to move to the head of the pool. This was coming through at a fair rate and I had to compromise between the size of my nymph and the weight required to get the fly down. I put on #14 jig superb with a 4mm tungsten bead that I was sure would do a job for me. It was like fishing in a fish tank, fish after fish came to the net a mix of Grayling and Trout. It was during this session that I hooked something a little more substantial. I was unphased as I was fishing with 4lb Wychwood Ghost mode fluorocarbon, it had already proved itself on other trips and I was fairly sure it could handle anything without teeth in this river.
It felt like a good fish fighting deep and when I eventually managed to wrestle it to the surface and got a glimpse of its flank I knew it was going to be a note worthy fish. It was well hooked and despite the thrashing about in the surface I eventually managed to get its head into the net. I was buzzing it was an absolute lump around the 4lb – 5lb mark. Ian did offer to come around and take a photo but it was a long way and I was keen to get the fish back so just the photos you see here. I fished on for a few more but it was time for a walk upstream. I wandered back and crossed the bridge to meet up with Ian.
As we wandered up there were a few deep holes and I commented to Ian that there would be a few trout in there. He slipped into the water and in no time was fighting a feisty Trout, I was going to get a picture of him with the fish and slipped in at the edge. As I raised the camera the fish shot from Ian’s grasp and shot straight back to the hole. I did not have to wait long for another chance though and Ian was soon playing another. I decided to move up stream a little and the amazing day continued. I don’t like saying that it was easy but it was quite literally like shooting fish in a barrel. Grinning like a Cheshire cat I heard an excited shout from Ian, I threw my rod up the bank and clambered out of the river.
As I ran up the bank I could see Ian’s rod bent double, the tip angrily bouncing up and down. I got into the water with the intention of netting the fish, it looked like it was going to behave. When I reached out with what now seemed an incredibly inadequate net the fish got site of it. It bolted first under the bank then back to the hole, it took some time but Ian held his nerve. I eventually managed to fit the huge head into my net, what a fish! We got a couple of snaps before Ian carefully recovered the fish and watched it swim away to fight another day.
To be honest I could have gone home a happy man, but that would have been a waste! We fished on for a bit catching really well, before we knew it was time for a bit of lunch. After lunch we moved up to the Sawyers bench stretch and of course I had to get the usual photo on the bench! The afternoon was a little tougher and switching tactics back to the dry scored dividends for Ian I managed a few more with the nymph but nothing was ever going to top the morning session. As we wandered back upstream chatting and fishing here and there It dawned on me how lucky I was to have access to such fishing and natural beauty.
As we walked up Ian spotted a couple of fish in the river and beckoned for me to have a go for them. As I made my first cast it was a ways of and Ian talked me back onto the target which smashed the fly on the second time of asking. Again, the next fish that had been sitting a little further up was next and I could hear Ian giving cast correction instructions and again I was soon playing the Trout to my waiting net. We were going to fish into the evening but were both pretty tired and still buzzing from the capture of Ian’s PB that morning, it was time to call it a day.
Thanks very much to Ian for the kind invite onto the services water, it is a day that will live long in my memory. I can’t wait to get back to the river but as I write this I need to get my head back into the Stillwater’s as it's Grafham water tomorrow, if I can find some tackle!