Lower Itchen, England Qualifier 13 Oct 2013

With the introduction of multi-entry qualifiers for the rivers, it would be rude not to have a go at a few of them. I usually do the qualifier at Wherewell, it being my local an all, but this year I added the South East Feds Itchen qualifier and I planned to fish the Southern Feds Broadlands qualifier on the Test. Graham and I could only manage one day practice for the match due to various commitments we opted for the Tuesday before. After a complete **ck up by the sat nav and more likely the village idiot operating it we arrived in the middle of Southampton great! By this time the morning commute and school run is in full flow. So, after two and a half hours after leaving the house we eventually arrive at the fishery. 

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It was a beautiful day in stark contrast to last year’s miserable weather. Keen to get cracking we exchanged pleasantries with Andrew Green who had also sneaked in an extra practice day and set off to catch some Grayling. I got off to a blinding start with several fish falling to the double nymph. We had started at the bottom of the beat and were working our way to the top, fish were coming steadily away and Graham was getting more than his fair share to be honest. We had worked our way up to the extent of the course fishing section when we decided to stop for a spot of lunch. On the way back to the car we bumped into Andrew who we invited to join us. We chatted on about the new format multi qualifiers and the various pitfalls, but the river called again and we answered. Graham and I fished upstream of the hut for the afternoon and a few fish started to come, twice I heard shouts from Graham that had me running to see him playing really good fish. Twice as I reached for my camera I watched the rod ping back slack and fishless. I trudged back to my spot and picked up my rod where I had dropped it and carried on. We finished our day of around 1730hrs and made our way back locations and patterns identified we had both had a good day but Graham had fished exceptionally well doubling my number. I would like to say that the journey home was uneventful and for me this was true, but for Graham, the adventure was only begun. I have his kind permission copied his email to our fishing buddy in Norway bellow.

A grand day on the Itchen yesterday took a turn for the Funnier once Lindsay dropped me off !!

At 0630 yesterday i couldn't find my keys, so i took K's side porch key to get back in, as she was working a late.

Lindsay dropped me off about 1830, KEYCHECK, yep got it ok pal - cheers for a grand day, Lindsay drives off.

'Bugger' i've parked the van too close to the fence - i cant squeeze my fat body through the gap to the porch door . . 

A fence climb later i'm in the bit of the drive hidden by the van - key - lock -  great i'm in . . . . . . 

'Bugger and Bloody Bugger'  K has locked the internal door from the porch to the kitchen - from the kitchen side - 'Shite'

A climb back over the fence leads to the conclusion that i cant break into any other windows or doors - 'Shite'

NO - by this time i need a shite - i'm bustin. There's a loo in the van - the keys are in the locked kitchen.

Luckily i have in my 'survival kit'  a) handiwipes,  b) a lidl carrier bag,   c) the shade of a large van for privacy.

Drama one over - all bagged and ready for the doggy bin (i suppose some pampered pooches have their bums wiped).

Right i can either call Karin and get her stressed for the last 3 hours of lifesaving on shift or . . . . 

I can go to the Swan . . mmmm . . good idea but I do smell a wee bit after we sweated our nads off on a balmy Itchen Day. 

Luckily there's  a bottle of sparkling water in the porch AND i think there's some shampoo in the garage.

The water n me back over the fence into the back garden and a strip dhobi later - i can wholeheartedly endorse Nigrin Car Shampoo.

Drama two nearly over; all sorted after a swift rummage through K's Car Boot clothes pile - i'm suited for the Pub.

Back over the fence and after a sneaky bag drop in the doggy bin at the top of K's street . . . .

"I'll have a pint of Stella please . . . . . . . lovely thanks"

"Sorry we don't take cards Sir" says the new barmaid - this is only our second day running the Swan 

and the machine is coming tommorrow"

"Err . .  i don't have enough cash to pay for the beer"

Bugger

"Put that on my tab Netty"   says Studdsy a large ex Matelot, Falklands Vet with severe anger issues

and so it went . . a lengthy chat about how a drop of bergamot oil on the back of your hand can be used as a smell trigger 

to bring you back from the precipice of being about to smash someones skull in because they've knocked your pint 

( i moved very cautiously after that) and 4 pints of free stella later . . 

a sorry looking but very shiny tramp makes his way down to K's at quarter to Ten.

Cars there - she's back . . great. . but all the lights are off . . . the front door is locked . . . 'Bugger' . . 

she's gone to bed and locked me out, ring .. ring .. ring .. ring ..  THUMP THUMP THUMP on the door.

"Oh i thought you must have gone to Lindsays for the night . . . . . . "

An evening to remember . . guess i'll be making the kedgeree tonight then . .

Aye a day with Graham is never boring! The match day arrived and timings were tight so it was an early start to get to the

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river for the 0730hrs registration.  I knew it would still be dark when we arrived and thought setting the rods up the night before would be wise. Volvo make lovely estate cars but they are about a foot short, the 11’ rod would not fit. I broke mine in half and place the rod in the car nearly ready to go. As I am sure some of you are aware this was a stupid idea as I struggled to retrieve both parts of my rod with flies from one of Graham's rods, I resisted the urge to rip the leader off and with a head torch and some patience disentangled myself. I was fortunate to get a morning draw which I was very pleased about, heavy rain was inbound and memories of the Willy Wonka chocolate river was vivid in my mind. I also had Graham in my flight so we de-conflicted start points and stepped off. I was very pleased to arrive at my start point to find no other anglers in my spot. I had a slow start with lots of admin, did manage one on the double nymph and was broken twice. I eventually settled down and got into the flow of the match, I spent a lot of time on my knees fishing at a few Grayling that were remarkably tolerant of my poor casting. By the three hour point, Dave Drake had passed me and built a good card of 13 I had managed 11 and Graham was on 9. An hour to go and what to do my target had been 12 so I thought if I prospected up the stream I would easily pick up another fish. As I made my way up however fish were not forthcoming. I knew there was a hole a bit further up that I had taken three fish in short order, but with the possibility that it had been fished or worse an angler standing on the spot would it be worth the walk? I was starting to second guess myself, never a good thing so up I walked twenty minutes left first drift through I was surprised by a take so surprised I forgot to strike! Next pass through and there was no mistake a flick of the wrist and a very good fish of 38cm came grudgingly to the net. Next cast 41cm Grayling landed. Now a little more relaxed I continued to fish for another three in short order all decent fish over 30cm. With five minutes left I knew one more hidey hole close by and have now trashed my double nymph rig I was forced use the Duo rod first chuck nothing. I flicked my flies back out and commented to my controller that no one was home as I looked round to the water my dry had gone and I could see the flash of a Grayling twisting in the water. By the time I had got the line on it though it was gone, ah well never mind 16 was a decent total and I was pleased with my effort. As I got back to the car I had heard that Cameron Craigs had managed 19 a superb performance Graham had managed 15 and Dave Drake 14 which will probably be enough to make the cut.

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The Afternoon session was only half an hour after the morning session ends so the turnaround time was tight. I was controlling Joel Beaney and we set off in the torrential rain towards the bottom of the beat. There were several anglers in front and Joel opted to let them crack on and he dropped into the swim I had finished my morning session on. After around ten minutes Joel landed a decent fish that easily made the measure. A few more fruitless casts and we were on the hoof heading down stream, we passed Baz Reece landing his first fish. Joel elected to fish just down from Baz and very quickly had two more to the bank. To cut a long and miserable three hours short, the rain did not relent the water took on even more colour and it was getting pretty parky! Joel managed a few half-hearted offers and did lose a couple of fish but there were no more for the card. He did, however, manage two very nice sea trout that after speaking with other anglers were fairly prolific, Lewis Hendry had no less than six. The afternoon had certainly been a bit tougher but Tony Fox managed a healthy 10 and Billy Rankin put 8 on the card so the fish were there to be caught. I think I speak on behalf of all the anglers when I say a big thankyou to Andrew Green the organiser of this event. It takes a lot of time and effort to put these events together and without the efforts of the various Federations, we would have no competitions to attend, how boring would that be! Roll on Broadlands and the tasty Test.

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I was starting to second guess myself, never a good thing so up I walked twenty minutes left first drift through I was surprised by a take so surprised I forgot to strike! Next pass through and there was no mistake a flick of the wrist and a very good fish of 38cm came grudgingly to the net. Next cast 41cm Grayling landed. Now a little more relaxed I continued to fish for another three in short order all decent fish over 30cm. With five minutes left I knew one more hidey hole close by and have now trashed my double nymph rig I was forced use the Duo rod first chuck nothing. I flicked my flies back out and commented to my controller that no one was home as I looked round to the water my dry had gone and I could see the flash of a Grayling twisting in the water. By the time I had got the line on it though it was gone, ah well never mind 16 was a decent total and I was pleased with my effort. As I got back to the car I had heard that Cameron Craigs had managed 19 a superb performance Graham had managed 15 and Dave Drake 14 which will probably be enough to make the cut. The Afternoon session was only half an hour after the morning session ends so the turnaround time was tight. I was controlling Joel Beaney and we set off in the torrential rain towards the bottom of the beat. There were several anglers in front and Joel opted to let them crack on and he dropped into the swim I had finished my morning session on. After around ten minutes Joel landed a decent fish that easily made the measure. A few more fruitless casts and we were on the hoof heading down stream, we passed Baz Reece landing his first fish.

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Joel elected to fish just down from Baz and very quickly had two more to the bank. To cut a long and miserable three hours short, the rain did not relent the water took on even more colour and it was getting pretty parky! Joel managed a few half-hearted offers and did lose a couple of fish but there were no more for the card. He did, however, manage two very nice sea trout that after speaking with other anglers were fairly prolific, Lewis Hendry had no less than six. The afternoon had certainly been a bit tougher but Tony Fox managed a healthy 10 and Billy Rankin put 8 on the card so the fish were there to be caught. I think I speak on behalf of all the anglers when I say a big thankyou to Andrew Green the organiser of this event. It takes a lot of time and effort to put these events together and without the efforts of the various Federations, we would have no competitions to attend, how boring would that be! Roll on Broadlands and the tasty Test.