The Hippo Hunters 29 Jan 2018

First post, new site layout and format, and a new river - for me anyway. The fly-tying season has been going great guns, the fishing not so much. A combination bad weather, bad timing and some quite extraordinary bouts of D&V (felt like I had been force fed a hand grenade) I have not managed to wet a line. The plus side is I have really buckled down to some serious fly tying. I contacted Adam Stafford to see if he had any availability for a day out, he told me he was going to practice on Wherewell for the forthcoming eliminator with Adam Sinclair. Having heard how our finest anglers faired at the recent EPL (Elite Performance League) I did not fancy that, no not one bit. So, Stafford said to leave it with him, intriguing!  

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 I got texted a postcode to a local McDonalds and we all arranged to meet up for the breakfast of Champions. Adam Sinclair and I were on second breakfasts by the time poor old Stafford turned up looking rather dapper with his new beard, it’s all the fashion I hear. We spent a good while catching up and putting the world to rights before making the short trip to the river. It was exposed and the wind was howling, at least it was not raining but I suspected it was in the post. We all tackled up with nymphing rigs, Adam Sinclair had recently bought a new Vision rod, its praises he was singing; it did seem well finished and light.

 We arrived at the bankside and disappointingly the water was high and carrying a fair bit of colour. Undaunted and full of enthusiasm we tootled upstream looking for likely spots. Stafford was bringing up the rear and shouted over to ask if I had tried the run in front of him. I said I had given it a quick go but could not get close enough. I turned back only to hear the spladoosh of him doing what looked like a classic swan dive straight into the river. Head first, what a start to the day. He took it well to be fair and after stripping down and wringing his clothes out he cracked on, good man.

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 The wind was playing merry hell with the French leaders and it was a fairly frustrating start. The two Adams had moved a little further upstream as I did my level best to try and drop my nymphs in some likely looking water. My concentration was broken by a shout from afar and as I got myself up onto the bank I could see a bent rod. As I raced up the bank (should read puffed and panted up the bank) to reach the boys, the prize was already in the net and there was much back slapping and cheering already going on. It was little wonder it was a huge fish and the first one of the day. Stafford had been well rewarded for his dunking and the smile says it all.

 Stafford struck again a short while later and I could hardly believe it - this fish was even bigger! The previous one had just nudged the 3lb mark but in the process of weighing the fish, the scales got wet and stopped working properly. Still, this in my humble opinion, was the best fish we had that day and I would have guessed over 3lb definitely. Not to worry though I am sure some FB expert will be telling us to the ounce what it was. Adam and I were still waiting on our turn, would it come? It was not for the want of trying!

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 Adam was next it was another massive fish and it had led him a merry dance running down the river desperately trying to get downstream of the fish. It was a long and tough fight with the new rod getting a real workout. In the end though Adam won the day and netted the fish. These fish are a bit special but I had not even registered an offer. We worked our way up the river, for some distance with the rain joining in with the wind to further dampen my morale. We eventually decided it was time to turn back and drop in a few of the sweet spots we had fished on the way down. I was chatting with Adam who was standing next to me when my line locked up. As I looked down I could see the giant dorsal fin of a grayling opening out in the water. I only saw it for a second though as it neared the surface it dropped several gears and headed downstream like a bullet from a gun. The reel did its job but as I tried to slow it a little the leader snapped. I looked at Adam, you know the look and he looked back saying he had never seen anything like that.

 Had my chance for the day gone, gutted is the word I am going to use but that doesn’t quite do the gut wrenching disappointing feeling any justice. Still, chin up, there was plenty of light left. We dipped in here and there and had spread out a little, conditions had improved a bit the wind had died away and the rain had stopped all in all it was rather pleasant. I was fishing a likely looking run from the bank when the indicator on the Frenchie stopped dead I lifted and knew instantly it was a big fish. It was above me in deep water and the dilemma was where to land it. I eventually managed to get myself into the water and net the fish it was a cracking example of a grayling long and well made with an enormous dorsal fin.

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 I had shouted for some help while playing the fish and Stafford had run across to help me out and do the honours with the camera. Adam a little further up from us gave up a shout and he too had netted another big fish. Unfortunately he could not get across the river and the photos did not turn out so well in the fading light. We fished on half-heartedly for twenty minutes or so but all of us had caught and were buzzing from the experience. A great day in super company with a few nice fish thrown in - that’s how to kick your season off!