Happy Birthday Adam Stafford! 22 Nov 2015

I have to first say I was over the moon to be asked along to Adam’s birthday bash. It was kinda short notice for me but my very understanding wife lets me out to play. We have had quite a significant fall of rain in the last few weeks and I was a little worried what state the river would be in. As it was the fishing gods had been kind and with little to no rain on the Friday and Saturday, the water was getting back to near normal levels. The colour was also starting to run out of the usually very clear Avon.

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We were all to meet at the costa packet on the Solstice services I had overestimated the travel time and even after stopping to get a snap of the sun rising I was there very early. I grabbed a brew and waited patiently for folks to arrive. It was not long before everyone turned up and the greetings and banter began. As we stood outside chewing the fat I asked if anyone had seen the recent Big Fish show that had been aired. It was a bit strange when all the conversation stopped and people were looking at me a little strange. I had not seen the show I was just asking for people’s opinions. Then Sean pointed out to me that Sam had actually been in the show and made it all the way to the final….who knew? Everyone accepts me apparently…lol. We were all driving to Charlie crossing where we would get a brief from the day's architect Adam Sinclair. Adam had pretty much jacked up the river, the cake and the plan for the day. In true military fashion, there was a short brief and we were broken into little groups. Many of us had fished the river before and I think the experience was shared out throughout the groups. It was all very sensible some groups moved by vehicle to other parts of the river and considering the numbers involved it all worked out rather well. Jon Hall and Richard Burbidge must have committed grievous sins in another life and be saddled with me. I plumbed to take them downstream by foot and on the way pointed out various hot spots from trips gone by. I dropped Richard of first who had set up with a double nymph rig and then Jon who had also set up with a double nymph. I plodded on to the very bottom of the beat with my duo rod, I had lent my other rods to members of the group. I would normally set two rods up but decided to go with the short 8’ 6”. I had dressed for the cold but as the day was warming up the walk downstream left me far too warm and my glasses took an age to clear from the fogging caused by my body heat.

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The fishing was secondary to the event of Adam’s birthday I suppose but it was not half good to get into large shoals of
Grayling. I was pretty quickly into fish; they started pretty small with the odd better fish amongst them. My first run through produced seventeen ladies, I changed through some patterns and managed another seven…happy days. I moved up to the next decent looking run and the fish kept coming, it really was outstanding sport. I moved up to a run just below where I had dropped Jon off and was in the water when Richard strolled up the bank. He reported a little slower start but had still managed a few. I told him to switch to Duo and head down to the bottom of the beat. It was time to go and see how Jon was fairing, he was less than 100m away from me and I arrived just as he took his best fish of his morning. He had been having bumper sport and while I was sorting out my camera he caught another. Well into the thirties Jon did not need any advice from me so I made my way back towards the checkpoint. I dipped in at likely looking spots and sure enough, everywhere you thought there would be a grayling there it was. As I neared the checkpoint I bumped into Lewis who had not long arrived (but had still managed to knock a few fish out) we chatted as we made our way back to the car park. Sean had brought his barbeque, Charles had brought soup and Adam had been busy laying out a fantastic spread. Everyone had drifted back with stories of good numbers of fish. Some had caught decent sized fish to boot, not many OOS Brownies had been taken which is always a good thing.

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As we all stood around chatting and laughing it struck me that this was the true reason for going fishing, catching up with friends and like-minded individuals that just love fishing. It was really nice to chat to folks that I had not met before today and instantly be on the same page. There was just a really good buzz about the whole day! The multi-talented Adam Sinclair produced a fantastic cake that he and his daughter had made for Adam it was fantastic with a large Grayling perched on its top. After the singing was done folks started to drift off to make the most of the light. In the afternoon I decided to walk upstream a little way to fish one of my favourite bits a swooping S bend that’s always good for a few fish. I had fished the shallower water in front of me making my way to the good bit and was just about to hit the prime spot. That’s when a large group of swans decided to swim right through the run pulling at weed as they went. Not a bad thing I thought if I give it five minutes the food they had disturbed might get the Grayling on the feed. I was patient and waited a short time retreating a good distance to fish some skinny water. When I thought the time was right I moved back into position and after my second cast, the swans returned right through it again, BASTARDS! I strode away and decided to move up the bank. On the way, I was caught up by Adam and Sam who had only just returned to the fishing. They were heading to the big pool with their minds set on pike. As we reached the large pool the small island was home to as many swans as I have ever seen in one place. I wanted nothing to do with them so left Adam and Sam and moved just above the bridge. It was a really promising start with Grayling coming straight away as I was releasing the sixth of the small fish I was catching the whole flock of swans came swimming up the river. There were so many I thought I might get pushed out the way. Again I waited for their passing and once again they came back through right in front of me….bugger, bugger, and bugger! I got out and moved back down to chat to Sam and Adam they were starting to get into a few fish but were intent on moving upstream. I bid them farewell and moved down to try various other bits with not much joy. I decided to scrap the duo rig and set up my rather short rod for double nymph. Back up to the big pool and several small Grayling started to play ball. I had to compete with the swans for the water but the fish seemed not to mind.

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The light was starting to get very poor and I made my way back up towards the crossing. I dipped in here and there but
only managed the odd tiddler. When I got back Adam who had stayed by the cars all day made me a hot brew which was most welcome as the temperature began to drop. We discussed Slovenia at length as Adam had not long returned from a trip there. The others started to drift back as the light was almost gone. Again reports of good numbers in the afternoon and fantastic sport. The river Avon had done us proud, as had Adam fantastic effort on jacking up the event. I gathered up the kit I had lent out and said my goodbyes, this seemed to take much longer than it should have to exchange chat with each angler it took nearly twenty minutes to peel myself away. I feel very privileged to have spent the day with such a fine group of gentlemen and look forward to catching up with many at the upcoming Grayling Festival.