21 Jun 2019 It’s a Guides life! (River Avon)

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I met Chris through both our youngest daughter being best friends as well as a mutual appreciation of single malt whisky. So, when he asked if I would take his dad Tom on the river for the day I was more than happy to oblige. As a member of Salisbury and District Angling club you can purchase a guest ticket by post. The bad news is that the 21 June is still considered Mayfly season so it’s a whopping £50 for the privilege!

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I have taken other anglers as guests along to the river in the past and we have always faired pretty well. I was content that we would manage a few fish, my only concern was after all the rain we have had recently would we be greeted by a high and dirty river? The truth is it was a little high but obviously dropping away and was carrying a bit of colour. After picking up a hot drink from the drive through Costa on the way I delved into the tackle Tom had brought along unfortunately it was all on the heavy side so I broke out one of my spare rods for him to use.

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We tackled up and headed down to the river keen as mustard. Looking up and downstream from the bridge the view was glorious it was going to be a great day! We wandered downstream to the bottom of the beat. On the way whilst talking shite instead of paying attention to what my feet where doing I slipped and went down like a sack of potatoes. I must have looked an undignified sight lying in the mud but it has been one of those weeks!

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I got myself up and was undamaged and we carried on to my first spot. I was heartened to see several fish rising to take flies from the surface, it was going to be OK. After a little explanation and a quick demonstration, I got Tom into the water. Not used to the light gear he found it difficult to cast the #3 into the wind and extend the dry fly. I swapped rods with him passing him my Wychwood Drift, this was also #3 but was loaded with a weight forward line which did help a little. The wind was playing silly buggers with casting though and after half an hour or so we abandoned the area with nothing to show for our efforts.

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As we moved up the river Chris who had come along as well had a go with the rod but struggled with the casting somewhat. Used to wielding a much bigger sticks on the Stillwater’s they were both finding the light line approach a bit difficult. Its only just occurred to me this morning that other guests I have brought to the river are accomplished internationally capped river anglers that have a wealth of experience to draw on. So, my confidence that we were going to manage a few fish was ill founded. To hamper us even further the river keepers were cutting weed upstream of us and huge rafts of the stuff was floating downstream making the fishing even more of a challenge.

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Having set Tom off up a section of river I bounced up about sixty meters and slipped into the river for a few casts. The first fish of the day was a Grayling, so pleased to see these fish back on the menu they are a delight to fish for and stunning to behold. My next fish was a good Brown trout but that was lost before it could make the net. Another came and went when my line was engulfed by a large raft of weed. A little further upstream though and my perseverance paid off.  Casting in between the huge islands of weed that was now free flowing down the river a nice wild Brownie came and claimed my sedge pattern. There was no time to enjoy the fight less losing another fish to the floating obstacles so his head was brought straight up and into the waiting net.

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Sadly, my guests were not fairing so well, it was time to head back to the car and have some much-needed food and drink. After lunch we headed upstream, it was busy with other anglers though and we had to push well upstream to find some free water. As we came to a large expanse where the river is at its widest there were lots of fish rising surely the boys would get one of these. I set Tom to task with fish in front and I moved up the bank to have a go at some of the other fish. I could tell they were not big fish but I am not size…est ….lol. There were a few fish tempted, wild Brown trout and Grayling and also something a little more unusual a nice dace.

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Tom was struggling so I gave my rod to Chris and for the remainder of the evening was on his shoulder. Working on the casting and getting the fly to extend out and land lightly on the water. When you do it all the time it seems easy but the truth is it’s not it takes a long time to be able to flick a dry fly through a 3’ gap in the drooping canopy. I felt under pressure to make sure Tom got a fish though and was determined that we would not be leaving until it was so. The opportunities were a many but luck thwarted Toms efforts with missed chances and lost fish. Fortune finally smiled though and I slipped my net under Tom’s first wild Brown trout from the river Avon which he promptly juggled and lost before I could get a snap.

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Towards the end of the day the temperature was starting to drop and the rising fish dropped with it and looking up and down the river it was hard to believe there were any fish in it at all. We had a last look from the bridge before heading home. Despite the challenges I thought the day had gone really well Tom had hit a huge learning curve but never gave up Chris thought that the river needed more fish…..lol. It certainly made me think about the lads and lassies that make their living guiding paying clients the pressure to produce must be extraordinary. I take my hats off to you!

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