Where to start, Alan Ward a former Captain of the Soldier Palmers and a long-time friend had asked me to come along to the Avon so that he could take some photographs. I had fished the Avon once before as a guest of another previous Captain Tony Hoggart and had enjoyed a great afternoons sport. Al wanted me there bright and early to get the morning light and that mist lifting from the river shot. The bank holiday weekend had been exceptional with some beautiful weather, it was sure to be great. The alarm duly woke me from my slumber at 0400hrs and a quick rinse in the shower to wake me up and I was good to go. I stopped at the golden arches (McDonald's) for some breakfast, unfortunately, the breakfast menu does not start until 0500hrs. It will not have been the first time I have had a quarter pounder with cheese for breakfast! As I was driving along the M3 the weather had taken a turn for the worst and I could see no respite on the horizon.
I arrived at Charlie Crossing around 0550hrs, it was miserable the rain was a constant drizzle a quick look at the river showed it to be well up and not that clear. I felt a bit for Alan who was not going to get the early morning light that he was after, I was hoping that the day would not be a complete loss to him. We spent ten minutes catching up and Al explained what he wanted from the day, some shots of Mayfly where high on the list. The day was cold however and the constant rain may limit the usually magnificent Mayfly hatch. I had a couple of casts at the bridge but managed to trash my leader. A quick repair and we wandered up the bank looking for likely fishing spots. It did not take long to get into some sport from an obliging Grayling that fell to a small nymph under a balloon caddis. The sport did not stop there and a decent looking Brown trout came next unfortunately and much to Al’s disappointment the fish did not make it to the net. The next fish was a stonking Grayling which was well over 30cm. A little further up the river, I found a large shoal of small fish that were more than happy to give their services, the sport was fast and furious with fish coming to every other cast. Not big fish but great fun none the less. We decided on a move to a different stretch of the river, after nearly driving into the range safety area we arrived at a big pool by an old church. I fished the pool for nothing and we decided to walk up the bank a little to see if there were any promising spots. On the way, Al decided to try a spot of free swimming which under normal circumstances would have had me in fits of laughter, but on this occasion, Al had around seven grand worth of camera kit when he went in. The cameras came out of the water quicker than a brownie hooked of the surface. Al took the whole incident rather well and assured me the camera would be fine. He went back to the car to dry the lens off and I proceeded up stream to find some fish.
Find fish I did, now joined again by Al and dry cameras sport again was outstanding. A mix of Brown trout and Grayling were giving us a great day. Still no sign of any Mayfly but a hatch of spinners were bringing the fish to the surface to feed. We were both getting a little hungry when another angler made his way up the bank. He reported that he had not managed a fish yet which was not surprising as he had just fished the water I had been through. I explained that the fishing had been exceptional and his lack of success was most likely down to not fishing fresh water. Al and I were going to lunch so I advised him to fish on upstream. Al and I made our way back to the cars to tuck into some sandwiches and in Al’s case a cow pie that desperate dan would have toiled with! Al used to fish the Avon a lot when he served here in years gone by and he wanted to fish a section where there would be a good opportunity to catch some bigger fish. So we drove around most of Wiltshire until we happened along Al’s stretch of river.
As I looked down from the high bank I was not convinced it was deep and very slow, I had taken most of my fish in shallower quicker water. Even if I managed a fish I was unsure where I would be able to land it. First cast and I was playing my best Grayling this year, I had to walk upstream to find an area to land the fish and was relieved when it slipped into the net, a cracking fish close to 40cm. I went back to the same spot Grayling often shoal up together, I was more than a little surprised when my next cast produced another fish of a similar stamp to the one before. The sport did not stop there another five or six fish all over 35cm came to the net, mixed in with the Grayling was a couple of very nice Brown trout. It was around 1600hrs when we decided to call a halt to the day, the rain and cold was beginning to take its toll. Al assured me that he had captured some good images throughout the day and my thanks to him for allowing me to use them on my site. A sample of the images can be viewed in this gallery. Al sells images commercially and has enjoyed success with front covers on a number of shooting and gundog magazines. You can view more of Al’s work at his website country field images.