Well, the Loch Style kit has been stowed for the year and my attention has turned to the Lady of the Stream. The Grayling is my favorite fish to catch, they fight well on light tackle and are stunning fish to look at. My preference for catching these fish is Wherewell it is only a short distance from my house and there is plenty of water to go at. I usually do my qualifier on Wherewell so it serves two purposes I get to enjoy the river and I am also well prepared for the qualifier. However, this year’s Wherwell qualifier has fallen on the half term and I will be in Cyprus. So, with the options available the next nearest river is the Lower Itchen and the Southern qualifier was to be fished on the 13th Oct. I arranged a couple of days practice only to find the qualifier was canceled due to lack of numbers. Oh well, the time off had been sorted and it would have been a sin to just go to work so of to the Itchen it was. It is only a 50min drive from the house so not too far. My experience of the Itchen in the past has been a river that runs high and holds a fair bit of colour. I am told by other anglers that this is not usually the case and that the Itchen is a crystal-clear chalk stream fishery.
You can imagine my surprise then when I turned up and it was high and visibility was around 12”. It was raining very heavy and did so for most of the day…..super. I usually fish here with some very good and experienced river anglers, so it was a bit daunting fishing on my own. I knew that it would be tough but there were several course anglers trotting and doing fairly well. Inevitably after I eventually started to fish after several mishaps……. Flies snapped off on the bottom flies stuck in trees, in fact, my flies had been nearly everywhere except the river. While trying to retrieve one cast, in particular, I pinged the flies from the offending tree only to find that the speed in which they returned to my hand help in bed the microring into my little finger. After retrieving the micro ring, I proceeded to bleed for the next ten minutes. Anyways all the cobwebs dusted off and I started to feel like I was fishing. I cast my nymphs into the water just below the weir at Bills Pool and I see the tell tail movement on the leader. As I struck the water exploded and I knew immediately this was no Grayling. As I drew the Brown trout to the net I knew that they had not been briefed that they were no longer in season. The Grayling did start to come, however, but they were mixed in with the Brown trout in the morning I took no less than nine Brown trout. The rain was relentless and did start to dampen my spirits a little, I had booked to come the next day so my fingers were crossed that the weather would improve.
The Grayling at the Itchen is of a good stamp and I did not have many like the one shown in the picture (left). The next day dawned and at least the rain had stopped, however on arriving at the river the water was still quite coloured. I met Baz Reece who had popped down for a day and we had a chinwag. Baz, a regular on the Itchen said the water clarity would improve as the day went on. He was right and after some reasonable mornings fishing, the afternoon was a real treat. The Brown trout seem to be less conspicuous in the afternoon as the day warmed up the Grayling came on the feed. All in all, it was a good day and I will be looking forward to my next trip to this interesting venue.