The blog has been a little thin these last few months, but the truth is I have just not been able to get out fishing. Even when I have the river has been in a bit of a state. To be fair the anglers that turned up to fish the Broadlands Grayling Classic did not see the river at its best. Ian Pinder and I have been keeping an eye on the weather for a couple of weeks. After a brief recce to the Avon it took but minutes to ascertain that this was a nonstarter. A short respite in the appalling weather and a quick message to Jon Hall saw Ian and I meet up on the banks of the Test. The river was a stark contrast from the last time I visited. It was much clearer and considerably drier underfoot. The morning was a cold one and a crisp frost greeted us on arrival. Double nymph was the name of the game and we both tackled up keen to get cracking.
A big walk to the bottom of the beat to get a little heat built up and the chance to catch up since our last meeting. I opted to fish at the very bottom and put Ian into some promising looking runs with plenty of gravel that should have held a few fish. I started to fish the edges first before getting into the water and worked my way towards the deeper holes. I was fishing two fairly heavy nymphs and they seemed to be getting down in the flow quite well. As my line came in line with me there was the faintest twitch in the French leader, and I struck. There was a healthy bend in the rod and the fish bolted for the faster water and headed down stream. I backed out of the water and got myself onto the bank better to chase the fish if it kept going. I did think it was a trout initially, but my smile broadened as I got my first glimpse of cracking Grayling. Its dorsal fin on full display as it fought the hook hold. I was fishing 4lb Ghost Mode tippet which I have huge faith in, so I risked a little more pressure to bring the fish within netting distance. What a start, it was a perfect specimen unfortunately I had forgotten my camera, so the photos are all from my phone today.
After quickly returning the fish I chanced my arm and put my bugs through the same area again and was rewarded with a second fish. Not quite as big but still high 30s, I fished on in the area for twenty minutes or so but failed to add to my tally. I wandered back upstream to see how Ian was fairing but I was greeted by a glum look, not even an offer. We strolled upstream a bit dipping in here and there. I had worked my way across the river and was almost on the far side I had missed a couple of quick takes and was trying to concentrate even harder. My patience and concentration levels were rewarded when I reacted to a slight change in the line. As soon as I bent the rod into the fish, I knew it was big, a trout perhaps? It fought deep and doggedly refusing to come to the surface I was in up to well past my waist and gingerly retreated to safer ground to try and fight the fish. It took some doing in the fast current. When I finally coaxed the fish to the surface my heart was in my mouth, it was big, really big. As it lay on the surface seemingly spent, I was convinced it was going to turn and the hook would peel away. Luck was with me though and I slipped the net under the fish.
I gave a whoop of elation it was certainly the biggest Grayling I had caught this year. I don’t believe these photographs do the fish justice it was in absolutely pristine condition. The dorsal fin was like a giant sail and the colours were stunning. Ian kindly came to take the pictures, a fantastic Test Grayling that I won’t soon forget. Still buzzing from the big fish, we worked our way up towards the island. This is one of my favourite bits of the river packed with features and usually good for a fish or two. We shook out and began fishing and the spots that I would consider bankers failed to produce even a small fish. As I worked my way upstream prospecting as I was going, my flies had barely hit the water when the line shot from my fingers and kept going ….. a trout? It was indeed a trout but unusually for the Test it was a well-presented Rainbow Trout. It had obviously been in the river for some time and looked fantastic in its autumnal colours.
As I moved up a little further, I could see Ian on the opposite bank he had managed a few fish and was looking much happier. I hit a little purple patch and managed four fish one after the other, a little on the small side considering some of the fish I had hooked that morning. The day had warmed up slightly, but it was still cold. Ian and I decided to have a break for lunch, I had been told not to bring any as Ian had it in hand. This boy doesn’t mess about, out came the grill, sausage, onion and some bread rolls. We had a chat about the fishing and Ian’s recent trip to fish for Salmon in America. I am reliably informed that I was eating lunch with the current World Record holder for a King Salmon caught on light line! The hot rolls were just what the doctor ordered and after packing up we headed back out.
Rain had threatened during lunch but never quite got going the fishing proved to be much tougher in the afternoon. We scraped around for some sport but were mostly left wanting only managing a few of the smaller Grayling. There does seem to be a lot less fish around than in previous years, whether this is down to the life cycle or the Grayling or the increase in predation I can’t tell. I know Jon Hall runs a tight ship though and the fishery is well looked after with great facilities. On the cold days you can always find a hot brew in the fisherman’s hut. If you fancy the chance at a new PB Grayling, then you could do much worse than get a day on the Broadlands stretch of the Test.