Graham had spent several days scouring the South East in the search of free fishing, a fool’s errand I had thought. Remarkably I was completely wrong and Graham did find some not only interesting but in some cases pretty spectacular sport for free. Yesterday he showed me the Lambourne in Newbury, it was the biggest stretches of free fishing that Graham had found.
I picked Graham up around 0730hrs and then we negotiated the increasingly busy traffic to get onto the M4. It was still fairly early and as we arrived we parked close to a local School, we attracted some strange looks as we began to tackle up. At least no one was hitting us up for cash though, I love Wherewell to bits but £45 a visit is pretty steep. Tackled up we began to walk past the ever growing hoard of children to the bottom of the free stretch of river. As the river came into view it was clearly a project that had been well financed and organised. The river was running as clear as any chalk stream I have seen. There was a nice gravelly bottom to the stream the perfect environment for Grayling. We had walked down about a mile at pace in an effort to warm up the air temperature was around -2 and I don’t think the water was much warmer. Graham had told me that this was the coldest running chalk stream in the country due to the depth of its source. We were not going to fish far apart and I was set up a little upstream from Graham. We had both opted to fish Duo and on my third cast, my first Grayling of the day came to hand it was only about 15cm but a start none the less. Very quickly after a really nice wild brownie had eaten my small Mary nymph and then at last a decent Grayling came to the net. Not a huge fish but very rewarding. Graham was doing well again not taking big fish but plenty of them. I came across a good shoal of fish that from my vantage point I could see were of a reasonable size. I covered the shoal several times with different patterns but could not tempt them even going down to a single nymph could not provoke a response. A little frustrated with my lack of success I moved past the shoal and even with me only being a rods length away they did not budge an inch. My feet were now no longer mine all feeling had left them, Graham was also feeling the cold and short spells out of the cold water were needed. We continued to fish upstream towards the car finding some nice Grayling along the way. Time had obviously gotten away from us as by the time we had looked up we were not even halfway back to the car and it was nearly 1330hrs. We decided to have a quick tab back to the car and this was just the tonic for cold feet. By the time we had made the car feeling had returned to my feet and the sun was starting to make a bit of an effort. The hot Bovril and steak slice were most welcome and by the time we had finished we were both raring to go.
With the sun on our faces the afternoon session was going to be short as we wanted to be off before the traffic got horrendous. We walked up stream a little and began to fish in the twenty of so minutes I had managed nothing and Graham only one small Grayling. So we headed under the dual carriageway to a kids play park the river here looked very good with some excellent runs. Graham put me in where he had caught his biggest Grayling, the run was very slow and I took extra care getting into the river so as not to cause a big bow wave. Taking a step up seemed to take an age and even with the utmost care I was aware of the ripple I was causing on the pool. I did manage a couple of fish one around 15-20cm and another around the 20-30cm stamp which you could say was the average for the Lambourne. By the time Graham had caught up to me I had gone down to micro bugs on a size 24 to try and stop the plop of heavier bugs. He had faired pretty well a bit further downstream taking four Grayling. As the day was drawing to a close Graham wanted to show me the jewel in the crown if you like. A weir pool as we approached it is was not the biggest pool in the world and would only accommodate one angler. Graham had the call of nature and told me to crack on. Ten Grayling later and Graham was itching to have a go, I handed over my rod and moved to a position where I could take some pictures. He had taken my nymph of and was working through the pool. Eventually I watched him strike and a tiny little (really was small) Grayling flew through the air bounced of Graham and fell in the water. “That one won’t be counting then!” a short while later (ages) Graham got one that could not be captured on camera even with a telephoto lens. We had a chortle and decided to call it a day. It was only 1500hrs but the temperature was dropping again and we had not paid a penny. As we walked back to the car we reflected on our days sport well over forty Grayling between us and a smattering of OOS wild Brownies. An exceptional day’s sport with fantastic fishing and even better company my thanks to Graham for his time and effort. OK so you can hear a bit of road noise and the occasional dog walker walks past but I for one can live with that at the price!