A test you say! 28 Sep 2015

Adam Stafford and I had arranged to go and fish the free stretch of the river Itchen at Winchester. As I had not managed to wet a line on a river for some time I was just pleased to get out. The Friday before I had a message from Adam asking if I would rather go to Broadlands……a bit of a bone question really! Adam had arranged with the river keeper Jon Hall to fish one of the beats that had become available for the Tuesday. Broadland is a place of sheer beauty and I would be as happy to walk its banks with a camera let alone have the opportunity to take a fly rod along! I have fished it quite a bit during the Grayling season in the build up to the Southern qualifiers and have had a real soft spot for the place. The Grayling here can grow to huge proportions and in previous years I had taken fish to 47cm which is good going for Grayling.

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We arrived a little late with traffic being fairly horrific but Jon was on hand and rustled up a welcome brew while we set our kit up. Once we were ready Adam opted to drive us down to the beat….Lumsdon would have made me walk! We got in the van and Adam had a voice message which was played out loud….”There’s an ACTUAL rat in the kitchen” I am glad I was not drinking anything or the van would have been sprayed. We looked at each other shrugged and once I had brought my laughter under control we headed off to the beat. The bottom of our beat was marked by a footbridge over the river (see photo). I wanted a picture with Adam on the bridge but as he approached the bridge he spotted a huge salmon lurking and was keen to have a go at it. I wanted to stay within shouting distance and started fishing about 20 meters above him. First run through with the nymphs and I had what I thought was a tug, but it’s been a while. I recast in the same area and this time there was no mistake my indicator twitched and I was into a good fish. A cracking Grayling that went about 37cm, what a great start! Adam wanted to fish round the bend a little and I moved to an old mark that has proven productive in the past. It did not disappoint and several fish fell to the double nymph. Adam Had moved up and was yet to get into a Grayling so I moved my feet to let him into the spot where he immediately took a really nice Brown trout. This was quickly followed by another. I left Adam to it and moved up beyond the Island, I switched to my duo rod and was creeping up the bank fishing the margins. I was just about to move up again when I nearly stood on a good Grayling I stopped statue still and it seemed I had not spooked it. I gently eased backwards and ran back down the bank to retrieve my double nymph rod. My first cast was a little off but the second one was met with a gratifying tug. The Grayling shot across the river bolting from its deep hole into the shallow water. It was a great fight but in the end the fish came safely to the net.

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Adam had moved up to join me and had had several Brown trout but no Grayling , I was just the opposite plenty Grayling no Brown trout. We were fishing similar rigs and flies so it seemed rather strange. I had got into another good seam of Grayling and called Adam over and six or seven Grayling later his G duck was broken, and I had managed a nice Brownie to boot. We had not realised the time and we decided to walk up to the hut for a brew and a butty. On the way we dipped in here and there Adam managed a few more but I did not take another fish. I did not notice nor did Adam that we had wandered up past the beat we were supposed to be fishing with the hut in sight Adam spotted a big fish at first he thought it was a seatrout but as the dorsal fin lifted in the water as the monster Grayling moved of station gave it away. It would be rude not to and Adam gave it a couple of goes to no avail. We did manage to incur the wrath of fast approaching angler whose beat we had inadvertently had two chucks on. He wasn’t best pleased and Adam was very apologetic and the crisis was averted!

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After lunch Adam was on fire he fished the opposite bank to me and seemed to find sport in every place he plopped his flies. I found weed, sticks and the very occasional Brownie. I persevered for some time without snips until I could bare it no longer and started back to the car to get my spare set. As I traipsed up towards the car something had been bouncing of my backside and when I checked the net low and behold the snips were there, what an arse! The day was drawing to a close and I moved over to the bank Adam had just fished and managed a couple more Grayling. Seeing the indicator in the failing light was becoming difficult and I decided to call time on the fishing and take some more photos. Adam provided the fish for the camera, very kind. Adam still mad for it decided to try another beat that had been vacated by its owner. So we said our goodbyes and I thanked Adam for the day until the next time.

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As I packed up I reflected upon the day great company and superb fishing. Nothing really big on this trip but I am sure something a bit special is lying in wait.  Jon Hall, I think is very proud of his fishery and with good reason the place is kept in tip top condition and is a pleasure to visit. The weather on the day was an obvious bonus and it felt more like fishing in the middle of July than the end of September. I can’t wait to get back there next month and hopefully into some of the big Grayling that I know call Broadlands home!