I am always thankful for invitations to fish water that I would normally not be able to access. So when I received the invite from Richard Thorpe to fish the Army stretch of the Avon I was over the moon. I have fished the Avon a couple of times during the Brown Trout season and even then the number of Grayling that I have seen there was phenomenal. Richard had invited a couple of guests the week previous who had a successful day taking some fantastic fish. The beats at this time of year are cut down which was a great shame as the area I had seen the most Grayling was off limits. I was to fish the beat by the Charlie Crossing bridge. I arrived a little late by my usual crack of dawn standards as Sash has judo training, so parenting duties fulfilled I got onto the M3 and hightailed it down to the Avon. It is only about 20 minutes on from Wherewell, but it seemed to take ages to get to the roundabout and turn up into Amesbury. Three miles up the road and I pulled up beside the C Crossing bridge. Recent trips to the urban rivers I have had to put up with traffic, passers-by and generally the noises of everyday town living. This has in no way detracted from the gentle art of fly fishing. As I got out of the car the sounds that greeted me this day was that of heavy machine gun fire and the occasional heavy ordnance from the Artillery or Tanks I could not tell which.
I set up my shorter rod 8’ 4” when what I should have done was gone and had a look at the water I would be fishing. I set up Duo when in hindsight I would have been much better fishing double nymph. Undaunted by my schoolboy errors I bimbled downstream and marked a couple of very tempting runs that were tailor-made for double nymph. Time was wearing on though and I was keen to get going, I knew I only had time for a short session. The water clarity was at worst non-existent and at best very poor. My first dozen or so casts bore no fruit but as I approached the tail of the second run I had walked past, the sedge dipped away and the first Grayling of the day was in hand. A very bright light coloured fish stunning, only about 25-30cm but perfect. The next fish was a very small perfectly formed brownie. I was content that I had found a good area, so I got myself into a good spot where I could cover the maximum amount of water without moving my feet. Two or three fruitless casts in the sedge disappeared almost at my feet and my slack line was ripped through the rod rings. I have caught a few OOS Browns and assumed this was yet another. I was wrong this was to be the first of three fish over 45cm. As I battled to get it into the net against the current I had visions of the hook peeling away. Luck was with me however and the hook held fast, the fish was in the net. Photographed and returned. I went on to take another nine fish from this spot in short order, they were a decent stamp around the 30cm mark. As I moved upstream towards the bridge another likely looking run presented itself and the first cast another small Brownie seized the nymph. The very next cast another stonker of a grayling which although did not fight as ferociously as the previous was well in excess of 45cm. As I worked my way up the run only another three fish came out but it was a stretch of water that I thought should have produced more. Note to self-do better next time.
It was only 1100hrs but I was near the car and thought If I eat lunch now I won’t have to walk back when I was Hank Marvin. So tuna butty and Bovril consumed I was of upstream. I took the opportunity to change rods and move to a team of double nymph. I fished up a really sweet looking run for one fish again I felt it should have produced more. I walked upstream a little and reached a mark that was familiar to me from my visit earlier in the year with Alan Ward. I had taken some
good fish here in the early part of June. There was good depth and a decent flow of water, the clarity was still very poor but this probably helped me get closer to the fish. I had taken some really nice Grayling and was really enjoying myself. Then the third surprise of the day another Grayling over 45cm. Last year my best Grayling was 43cm for the whole season and here I was in one day getting three over 45cm. I pinched myself and cracked on. I walked up the river but could not find any water that appealed to me so back down to the bridge and another go at the afternoons first run. I was convinced there must be more in this 50 yard stretch than the measly one I had taken. So I carefully got into the water well back and fished thoroughly covering all the water in front of me with great care. I was rewarded with one offer which I missed and not a lot else, oh well you can’t win them all what a great little session, certainly worth the hour's drive.