Firstly apologies for the blurry photos’ but I am respecting the wishes of the club in regards to the exact location of this beat. I was fortunate to control Adam Stafford at Broadlands last month and by the power of Facebook we arranged a day out on the Itchen. I have been suffering from a bout of tennis elbow, brought on by squash I might add not fishing! Anyway I had rested it for the previous three weeks and was hopeful that it would not give me too much trouble on the day. I was a little more excited than usual as I was fishing a stretch of river new to me, brilliant! After having some trouble sleeping and reading for a bit in bed I decided just to get up and leisurely get ready. Plenty time to ensure I packed some tackle this time round; needless to say I have had some stick over my last trips lack of tackle fiasco.
The drive to the meeting point was outstanding not much on the roads at 0530hrs. I stopped at McDonald for a coffee and a bit breakfast and arrived well in advance. I got to setting up my kit, not knowing what to expect I set up my 11’ for #3 for bugging and a 9’ for #2 with the trusty Duo. Most of the chalk streams I fish respond well to Duo but the Itchen is in places a bit deeper and with a stronger flow. The Wet Your Knot boys arrived a very cool VW Transporter they had arrived bang on time and were quick to kit up. Sean opted to walk to the bottom of the beat and that left Adam and I to explore the large and I must say for attractive looking pool at the top of the beat. Adam had brought along his DSLR in the hope of getting some decent snaps. This is not an easy task at this time of year as the light is often poor and fast shutter speeds are hard to achieve. The day although pretty mild was dull and grey, so photos would be difficult. Adam being the host with the most allowed me first dibs. The river was up and fast but remarkably clear and I could see where I wanted to plant my feet. A couple of casts later and I was into my first fish of the day, it was a nice fish in the 35cm bracket. This was followed by fish after fish and for the next ten or so casts my indicator paused or dipped and more often than not I was playing a fish. Not ten minutes had gone by and I had released nine or ten fish. Most in the 30-40cm bracket with a couple over 40cm. What a start. I ushered Adam into the pool to make a start to his day, it was only one or two casts before he was being hauled around the pool by an out of season Brownie. There were a few more of those in short order, lovely wild fish in their winter colours. We both shared the pool for twenty minutes or so with loads of sport between us.
Adam wanted to show me the rest of the fishery so we upped sticks and wandered downstream. We came across a bridge and Adam mentioned a large pike that lived there and on cue out it shot. It seemed undaunted by our presence above it. Adam popped a nymph in front of it and it darted over to investigate, rejecting the offering with a flick of its tail it was gone. As we moved further down we met Sean who was on the opposite bank playing a nice Grayling. We had a chat and then continued down the river to the bottom of the beat. We found a fairly deep run and Adam crossed the river to fish it from the other side. I was on my tip toes and chancing my arm a bit with wading but it was worthwhile and a steady stream of fish came to the net. Adam had moved up to join me and began to bend into a few as well. As time wore on we decided to work our way back up the bank. We plopped the nymphs in here and there and I had a little go with my duo rod for not even an offer. Still by the time we had got to the top of the beat it was time for lunch.
I had brought some sandwiches but need not have bothered as we retired to a local pub for a more civilised lunch. I am used to just cramming a butty down and getting on with it as there is not much light this time of year. I have to say though it was very pleasant having a proper sit down and a chat. The publican had no problem with three wader clad punters having lunch and very nice it was too. Sean very kindly paid the bill and we were back off to the river all within an hour. This time Adam moved downstream and Sean and I started into the top pool again. How forgiving are Grayling, it fished like they had never seen a fly never mind the amount of stick they had taken in the AM. I hooked into numerous fish until on one occasion it went solid and I knew as all anglers know I was into something a bit special! The fish fought with everything it had and it took a little subduing but eventually came to the net. Sean was making his way over to take some photos and I snapped the one shown at the start of this blog. Once Sean arrived I handed over the camera and attempted to get this behemoth of a lady out of the net and that’s when it kicked and was gone in a heartbeat even after trying to reclaim the fish with the net and failing I was gutted. Oh well I will still have the memory and it was great to see her shoot off in such great shape. I apologised for wasting Sean’s time and went back to the run I was fishing. Fish were coming steadily when again I had the take that came with the knowledge that I was into another good fish. Perhaps I was going to get a second chance! As it shot by me into the shallow water with its fin extended out the water my heart was in my mouth. It seemed even bigger than the other fish, it had bolted past me downstream I would not hold it if it got into a faster current, so I got on the hoof and was off after it trying frantically to get below it. I managed to do this and was soon scooping the huge fish into my net. It was massive. I could not believe I had caught another fish this size on the same day never mind within ten minutes of each other. Adam was making his way upstream from where he had been fishing to do the honours with the camera. Again I made a complete arse of holding the fish and it slipped from my fingers and was gone like a bullet from a gun! I looked despairingly at Adam and he offered some words of comfort along the lines of you will always have the memory. Adam oblivious to my complete lack of memory had been very kind.
What an absolutely stonking day, it only leaves me to say a huge thanks to my two excellent hosts Sean and Adam. I had blast thank you both very much!