I had arranged an afternoon session on the river Avon with Adam Sinclair so after work I hot footed it down to the Avon. That should read I crawled along the M3 mostly in 2ndgear probably the same as every other poor sod unfortunate enough to be traveling anywhere on a Friday afternoon! Anyway, travel issues aside work has been pretty taxing lately and I couldn’t wait to get out on the river. After a quick discussion with Adam we headed to Check Point Charlie to be greeted by the greater population of the local community swimming in the river! It was not to be a problem as we intended to fish further upstream.
Adam had rigged up a nymphing outfit keen to get his eye in for the national final on the Eden. I took a much more civilised approach and rigged with a dry fly that I had whittled up that morning. There was certainly enough fish showing to warrant the choice. Adam and I took turns fishing while chatting about life, the Army but mostly fishing. A passionate angler Adam is a brand ambassador for Hunts Original and a member of the Costa team, he has also recently completed some tackle reviews. Hopefully, I can feature some of his writings in a guest blog spot, Adam hint, hint ;-)
We are so spoilt with the river Avon it is an absolute gem regarding habitat for both brown trout and grayling. Personally, I would like to see the stocking of fish in these rivers stopped. There is a good head of wild trout that would come on in leaps and bounds with more and more anglers employing catch and release. The head of grayling in the river cannot be understated it is huge especially on the Services water which is largely unpressured. We were having a great session with both methods accounting for good numbers of fish. The dry seemed to be picking up the wild brownies and the nymph was accounting for good numbers of grayling.
It was nice to see Ben Worely who had popped down to take a couple of fish for a BBQ, funnily enough I will be in a boat with him on Rutland tomorrow blanking our tits off no doubt! Anyway, I digress, Adam and I had a bumper session and called it a day around 1900hrs. We shouldn’t leave it too long before our next day out together.
My old pal Graham Lumsdon had been down on the Dart for the last few days enjoying some great sport with the little spotted bullets that populate the Dart system. The storm from the previous weekend had brought the river up to near perfect levels. Unfortunately, I arrived after a somewhat emotional journey to find the campervan in darkness. If I knew Graham, and I do he would be in the local pub so I tootled on up to the East Dart for last orders. Graham a little worse for wear after half a dozen pints of Jail Ale he had already consumed sat happily on a bar stool chatting to one of the locals.
"Graham has often complained of my snoring ability (It’s a gift) but armed with a belly full of Jail and a wee dram to boot Graham was putting a bloated warthog to shame on the snoring front!"
Graham has often complained of my snoring ability (It’s a gift) but armed with a belly full of Jail and a wee dram to boot Graham was putting a bloated warthog to shame on the snoring front! We were up a bit later than we should have been but did well to secure a parking spot ready to tackle the river. The fish on this system are small and very wary of any movement, line or rod flash and they seem to have an ability to spot an angler from thirty feet. In short, if you fart in the direction of these fish they are gone! That’s with the normal run of things but in water levels I have never seen as low it was going to be hard graft. Grahams intimate knowledge of this system gleamed over weeks and weeks of practice for national finals was going to be the difference between catching fish or not.
We started on the main river dismissing the usual tributaries that can produce good numbers of fish. The depth of water being crucial to success. I won’t dress this up it was grueling fishing, the sun was high in the sky and it was hot, damn hot! Hiding behind rocks and undergrowth often on our knees and sometimes on our belt buckles trying to make casts to rising fish. If you got it wrong there were no second chances and slightest mistake often resulted in the entire pool being knackered. We did manage to winkle out a few but they were hard fought for but worth the effort. A change of location in the afternoon didn’t help matters and I was grateful for the small fish that saved the blank for me. Graham had faired slightly better with a few more. It was back to HQ for a scrub up and another visit to the East Dart for a pint and a meal. Back to the van for a dram and an early night with it all to do again the next day.
We decided to fish below the Two Bridges Hotel and relocated both van and car to their car park. Again, it was hot and the sun was yet to get up in the sky. I decided to put my wet shorts back on having trashed my waders the previous day there was not much point getting another set of clothes wet. I was unaware that Graham was taking such an interest in my undergarments and will be discussing this with him the next time we meet. Sorry pal I am just not that way inclined!
There is a bit of walking to be done from this location and as we barely got a couple of hundred meters and we could see a red flag flying. For those unversed in these things a red flag signifies a live firing range. I stopped in my tracks Graham kept going saying he just wanted to speak to them. Targets will fall when hit….lol. Luckily, they were yet to start and they hurried us on our way, we were content that by the time we had fished back up towards the hotel they would be finished.
I would like to tell you it was a much better day but that would be a lie, the moor is as dry a big dry thing that’s just been in the tumble dryer. The theme for the day was hooking fish and dropping them. The Dart fish predominantly feed on terrestrials blown onto the river and are generally always looking up for their next meal. When hooked they often go airborne and shed the hook. When I caught up with Graham I had managed to hook four fish none of them making the net. Graham was in the same boat he had managed a couple of fish but lost many more.
It was late in the afternoon and Graham being the good pal that he is was determined that I didn’t finish the weekend on a blank he took me to a part of the river that he had enjoyed some great sport a few days previous. There were a few fish rising and I was feeling confident that I could get one providing I could keep my fly out of the surrounding vegetation and not spook all the fish! A slightly misplaced cast while targeting a rise and a fish came from nowhere smashing my small caddis imitation. A great way to finish the weekend up. It was back to the Two Bridges for a shandy then the long drive back home.
If you want to challenge yourself get down to the Dart in low water it will sort the men from the boys and no mistake.