It’s just great when work and fishing collide, I was asked to hand deliver some paper work in the area and the rest of the day was mine. I had arranged for a guest ticket for my buddy Graham Lumsdon for the West Amesbury Fishery part of the Salisbury & District Club. I was brought to this stretch of river some five years ago by John Ball as a guest, which prompted me to get on the waiting list for the S&D Club. The fishery is Two miles (seems longer) of double and single bank fishing, situated 7 miles North of Salisbury and 2 miles from Stonehenge. The bulk of the fishery bends round in a huge horseshoe shape and access is very good. Considering the amount of rain, we have had of late the river was in great form and was running very clear.
The morning session started with some rain threatening so Graham and I donned our G10 for men waterproof jacket and headed down to the river. There were already fish rising all over and although keen to start we resisted the urge and wandered up stream towards the wading section of the beat. Graham opted to start with the nymph and I started with a dry fly. Forty-five minutes in and although I had scared a few fish and had my offerings refused by a few more, I had nothing to show for my efforts. Graham came into sight and I shouted across to see how he was doing. Just grand came the reply, the size 18 Mary nymph doing the damage. I soon changed and started to get into the Grayling not quite mimicking Grahams success…..read not even close! Still I was content to catch the odd one here and there. Shortly after things had picked up a little I netted a little silver looking fish which was not a Grayling. After showing it to Graham we agreed it was a Dace my first one ever on the fly, I was well chuffed it’s always nice to catch something a bit different.
As we moved up the river it was easy to see where the clubs hard work had paid dividends. The habitat improvement works have resulted in thriving populations of wild trout and grayling and very healthy invertebrate life. If you were still enough with a good set of polarized sun glasses large shoals of Grayling could be spotted on the gravel beds. As the morning wore on the sun was doing its best to cook us in our waterproof jackets and by the time we had got back round to the car for a spot of lunch I think I had shed a couple of pounds! So of with the waterproof jacket, body warmer and shirt and on with the T shirt and sun block. We enjoyed lunch courtesy of Graham in the company of two other anglers. Ian had also brought a guest in the form of his father. Ian has been a member of S&D for nine years and coincidently only live a few miles away in Windlesham. He regaled us with tales of much larger fish down at the bottom of the fishery. So as it was half time we swapped ends Ian and his dad were to go upstream whilst Graham and I headed for the bottom of the beat.
After such a hearty lunch and maybe half way down to the bottom of the beat I felt the very urgent need to evacuate the dance floor. I told Graham I would catch him up and wandered into the woods for an adventure poo. Feeling much better I hurried to catch Graham up only to find him at the side of the river casting away. I said that there was still a bit more water to go down but he had spotted a couple of large ladies hard on the bottom. Try as he might they ignored his advances so we headed down to the bottom of the beat. In this area where the bridge crossed the water the river is deep and just to the other side of the bridge which marks the beat boundary the bottom disappears into black depth. Luckily on our side of the boundary although deep you could still see the bottom and sitting in a very deep lie was a huge Brown trout. The fish seemed very still and sat alone in the deep pocket, Graham gave it a wide berth. I changed from the light nymph to something a little heavier on a jig hook. I crawled up on my hands and knees hiding behind the bankside vegetation. My first cast was not bad and as the nymph drifted by the fish about a foot away it moved to inspect the fly but quickly moved back on station. This was encouraging though so I retrieved my line and edged back to change my fly. I selected a smaller offering and crept back up the fish still there. This time as the fly drifted towards the fish it moved to intercept it and I struck into thin air. Remarkably the fish just dropped back into its lie seeming not to be overly worried. A little peeved that my bad angling had let the opportunity go astray I repeated the dance shuffling backwards and changing my fly once more. As I edged forward once more I obviously showed to much of my fat arse and the fish leisurely swam into the cover of the nearby ranunculus.
Cursing my incompetence, I moved further upstream and for the next forty-five minutes struggled to get back in the
groove and not tempting any more fish. A cry went up from Graham he had caught a good Grayling. I dragged myself out the river and ran up the bank keen to get a photograph of the capture. It was indeed a grand fish at 40+. After the honours were done we spent the next ten minutes looking for Grahams net which he had failed to attach to his body. The search was futile though and we decided it was a lost cause. We both moved down about 100 meters to find some fresh water. I had changed back to dry fly and was fishing some fast, shallow gravelly bottomed water. The little wild brown trout started to come now and my confidence started to come back.
As we moved further upstream Graham was only about 50 meters from me. I was looking at some real peachy water ahead of me when Graham once more shouted he had a good fish. I could not get out the river due to the trees on both banks, there was nothing else for it. I waded through the stunning stretch of water completely trashing it and thinking this fish Graham had better be good! Sure enough it was the best fish of the day a cracking Brown trout with a shovel for a tail. We fished on a little more but time had gotten the better of us and it was time to head back. As we walked back up we discussed the potential of this river and had spotted some very big Grayling. I think another visit once winter has gripped it may see some impressive ladies making an appearance.
What an absolute pleasure it was to be on the river today the weather was more akin to June than late Sept. It was also great to have Graham along for the day to enjoy the place, here is hoping for a return visit very soon.