13 May 2020 First trip to the river after Lockdown!

There is no doubt the last seven week have been tough for the majority of folks. I count myself lucky that my family still have two wages coming in and we have managed not to kill each other during the close confinement. After the governments announcement that the lock down would be eased to allow angling I was quick to have the car packed in anticipation. Salisbury and District (My rivers club) were quick to act and they had an email out on the 12th with which beats would be open. I noted that my favourite stretch at Stonehenge was only partially open...... good enough I would start there.


The night before was worse than usual and I found myself staring at the ceiling at 0300hrs and my gaze flicked from the ceiling to the clock wishing the minutes away. By 0400hrs I could wait no longer and got up, a cup of coffee and a bit of toast and I was on my way. Traffic was light and I was there in no time, disturbing a couple of deer by the gate. I spent a little time looking at the river it was not at its best high and fairly dirty. The last few years the river Avon has not been right, I have heard various theories as to why this is but I couldn’t say for sure. 


I set up two rods a dry fly rod and a nymphing rod, there was nothing rising but I was keen to try out the new 9' RS2 #4. I flicked the dry fly about for fifteen minutes or so despite nothing showing or hatching. I was mightily impressed with the new wand. I knew that I was not going to catch anything with this so switched to the nymphing rod and started working my way upstream. I was taking my time I had all day. So, when I reached what I would consider to be the best bit I was more than a little disappointed to see that it had been taped off. This left about 300 meters of water to go at, rather than pack up immediately I set myself a little challenge. I would not move until I had caught at least one Brown trout.


Inevitably the first couple of fish were small Grayling, no good at this time of year. I was starting to think the river was devoid of fish. I had returned to more or less the start of the beat when I spotted a rise from a small fish, probably a Grayling but worth a look. The dry fly rod was back in hand and I managed to get my fly across its nose. The fish took confidently but the little emerger I had tied on was quickly spat out as the fish cartwheeled through the air.......bugger. Another dimple on the surface a little further up, it looked like I would get another chance. Another not too shabby cast and I had my first trout of the day, only small but most welcome.


Another angler had just pulled up as I was getting my kit in the car for a move. We had a quick chat and I mentioned that there was not much water to fish, he was understandably keen to crack on and I left him to it. I was off to pastures new about 20 minutes away is the river Wylye and a tiny stretch of the river Till. This is the Stapleford & Druid fishery, I have fished here before and it is a very picturesque place. The water clarity was so much better here it was like night and day, unfortunately the glorious start to the day was starting to leave and the cloud and wind had arrived in spades. 


There is no wading and it is upstream dry only until the 01 July so with a fierce downstream wind it was going to be tough. I tried in vain to cast my flies and I don't mind admitting that several found their way into trees and bankside vegetation. It was becoming very frustrating and then it dawned on me to stop trying to cast and just dap my large dry fly in at the edges. This tactic was to change my fortune for the better and several trout and the odd grayling started to join in.


Nothing huge but they were great fun on the light tackle.


Invariably the best fish of the day was a huge Grayling that would have been around 45cm, through incompetence on my part the fish spilled over the side of the net and swam off before I could get a pic. There are some really deep runs to this beat and I can’t wait to get back in July with a nymph rod which will get the best from this water. 


I did try for a good half hour at some fish that were resting where the Till meets the Wylye, they were tough and despite several fly changes I only had one chance and I blew it! It was around 1400hrs and the early start combined with not eating nor drinking had left me with a splitting headache. I decided to call it a day and head back to the car, it was a shame as the wind seemed to be calming. Not to worry the river will be there another day ;-)