River Avon (West Amesbury) 14 Dec 2017

After spending the last year gallivanting round Asia and Australia Graham Lumsdon had finally returned to good old Blighty. Off course high on the things to do was to go fishing, we had arranged this while he was in Cambodia eating pigs’ intestines no doubt! The trouble with organising fishing so far out is the weather and we had endured some much needed rain of late. The Avon copes fairly well with rainfall none the less I was a little worried that we my turn up to Willie Wonkas’ chocolate river. As we sat in McDonalds enjoying the breakfast of champions and catching up the rain pounded the sides of the windows. I can’t say I was gagging at the bit to get to the river. I had brought along a load of kit as the last Graham had seen of his was the 2016 Grayling festival.

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I started pulling bits and bobs from the car waders, shades and various other bits. “You have got wading boots”? “Eh no”! Was it to be a quick trip to Stockbridge for a new set, no luckily Graham had a set of willies in the car and although not the most stylish look it did served a purpose? We took a rod each and walked down to the river it was as high as I have seen it for a long time and quite coloured but not as bad as I feared. We walked up stream a ways before setting up. Graham opted for double nymph and I set up a duo rig. Graham had moved up to the wading section and I started from the bank first cast I was swinging my first fish to the net what a great start. As I moved up a few more fish joined in, with half an eye on Graham I was yet to see him net a fish.

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As I came up closer I shouted over to see how he was doing, not so good came the reply. That’s when I started abusing him because that’s what pals do ….lol. The banter was pretty fierce but eventually Graham found his fishing feet and started pulling fish out fairly steady. We moved to the end of the beat and enjoyed a decent flurry of fishy activity including some very pretty wild brownies’ who had not read the memo about being out of season. The weather had not improved and in-between the rain the Sun would make the briefest of an appearance then tuck itself away behind the next storm cloud. The walk up to the next section of river was most welcome and warmed us both up. The water is quite deep in this section at the best of times and with the water being so high we walked past much of it. The areas we did dip into produced fish to the bugs and by the time we had decided it was time for a hot drink and something to eat we had managed over thirty fish between us not a bad morning’s work.

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After warming up with a brisk walk to the bottom of the club water we got off to the slowest of starts. We failed to get even an offer as we fished our way back up stream dipping in to known hot spots that just seemed to be devoid of fish. The light was now so bad that I had to use my torch to tie on flies I had also abandoned my dry fly for a full blown bung as I could not see anything on the water. The rain was now lashing down, not the best time to have to get your kit of for a pee! Graham and I were now leapfrogging each other in a bid to find some fish. We had made it all the way back to the first bridge with not a fish between us. As I slipped into the water on the other side of the bridge I could feel what warmth there was in the day slipping away. Thankfully the fish just came on and we were back into some decent sport. Regular changes of fly ensured we kept in touch with the fish and we both started to pick a few up.

The Avon is not known for its big fish and anything in the high thirties I would consider fairly decent. When my bung dipped under and I lifted I knew almost instantly that I was into a good Grayling and was pleased when it eventually gave up and slipped into my net. The fishing was not easy and we were wading slowly upstream, prospecting for the odd fish. The cold had found its way to my bones though and I cursed myself for not putting more layers on. I am sure it’s the same for all anglers one more cast and I will get out….. Twenty casts later I dragged myself out the river with some help from Graham. Time was wearing on and we marched up to the next likely area that has produced some great spot for me this year. Not even the smallest fish put in an appearance, gutted. It was time to head back we were going to finish up our day at the weir, notoriously difficult to tempt the Grayling here but with the water being coloured we might have a chance. My first three casts into the head of the weir produced fish. Graham who had decided to fish the tail was having a great time fishing a combination of nymphs and wets. A change of pattern for me saw more grayling joining in it was a great finish to a grand days fishing.

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The weather had done us no favours with heavy showers much of the day but we had done fairly well. It was great to be back on the river with Graham and with a trip to Broadlands and the river Test planned for Monday let’s hope the rain packs up and we can get into some of the Tests finest!