By chance I managed to get the work fishing balance just right a meeting in the area that afternoon left a spare morning to explore some of the Salisbury & District water.By chance I managed to get the work fishing balance just right a meeting in the area that afternoon left a spare morning to explore some of the Salisbury & District water. I got in touch with Malcolm Hunt who manages Manningford Trout Fishery. He is a font of knowledge in regards the local area and put me right on the money. When I arrived at Manningford I was surprised and pleased that out of all the water I could have chosen from the generous S&D ticket that I had picked this one. A large comfortable and clean lodge sits on the banks of the fishery with stunning views across the lake. I was greeted by Malcolm with the offer of a hot drink, very welcome. The lake was booked out to Bill Howell from fishing for forces and the car park was filling up fast with some familiar faces. I was here to fish the river though and after an excellent briefing from Malcolm using the map displayed in the lodge I had a good idea of the beat. It was much longer than I had anticipated and I wanted to see it all.
I made my way down to the bottom of the beat and on the opposite bank I could see a nice hammock by the river with a caravan which I assume is for anglers to use. There was a deep weir pool at this part of the river but I was rigged with a dry fly and only had a couple of speculative casts. Moving carefully upstream I purposely stayed close to the edge of the river to try and get a feel for the fish density. Spotting the last remnants of Mayflies, the odd one or two could still be seen fluttering down the river trying to stay above the water. I had the odd cast here and there but always conscious of the time pushed on. I got to a really nice run that was bending sharply round on a hairpin. I could see a few fish rising and managed to hook one up but it gave a little wriggle and was gone. The flash of silver as it shot back to a deeper hole gave it away as a Grayling. Nice to see those back on the menu!
Before too long I was back at the lodge and the fishing for forces day was in full swing. A tremendous turn out saw experienced anglers coupled with novices being shown the ropes. I ducked into the undergrowth to find myself back by the river. This section was mostly covered by the canopy and looked awkward to fish. As I walked up I could see many fish darting about they had chosen their spots well, they were marked in my mind though and I will be having a go at them in the near future. I moved further up noting various areas where fish were steadily rising. One area in particular seemed to hold quite a big fish and I resolved to have a good look at that later. I walked up as far as the Church, this marks the point at which no more wading is allowed. So I turned around and made my way back to the spot I had noted before.
Careful to avoid the edge of the river I slipped into the almost canal like stretch as carefully as a fat boy like me could (not very). You know when you go fishing and you know your shite, well the first five minutes were a lot like that. I slipped sending a tidal wave up the river, then I caught my fly high in a tree. After several expletives and a re-show on my kit I got into it. I was still a good way back and the rising fish still seemed oblivious to my presence. I started to pick up some small Grayling, always welcome and then I caught a small Rainbow of about 30cm. A perfectly formed fish and reminiscent of the wild Rainbows I had caught in Slovenia. I worked my way up at a snail’s pace taking several fish trying to get into position of a fish that was very obviously of a much bigger stamp than those that had gone previously. As my parachute Adams hit the water it was immediately engulfed and a fish tore of downstream it was only little though and I just assumed that it was punching above its weight. A spritely little Rainbow of maybe half a pound. As I looked up I saw a big bubble in the same area, perhaps the big one was still there. Sure enough the next cast the water exploded and a huge Rainbow leapt clear of the water. It tail walked towards me while I tried frantically to strip line and get some tension on. I had no sooner got some tension on the fish than it very obligingly swam straight into my waiting net. I estimated the fish at between 2.5 and 3lb an obvious escapee from the fishery. I went on to get another few fish but time had beat me today it was time to get back.
As I walked back along the banks of the fishery the novice anglers were having a ball many with fish on the banks. A real testament to how well stocked the lake is, as I strolled up many fish could be seen sipping flies from the surface. This was a dry fly fisherman’s dream, so I was more than a little perplexed to see 4” cats whiskers being thrashed across the lake. Each to their own though and the results could not be argued with. I resolved to bring my daughter here and try and infect her with the bug of fly fishing, this will be much to the disgust of my wife Jayne. After saying my goodbyes to Malcolm and a few of the boys it was back to real life NOT!
Many thanks to Malcolm Hunt not only for his time explaining the beat but for the kind loan of a landing net, which I had neglected to bring. Manningford is a stunning location for a day’s fishing and I may well have a go on the lakes next time round. It is certainly worth considering if you are looking for a relaxed day on the bank.