The River Itchen (Orvis Beat) 04 Jul 2016

I had shared a boat with Graeme Ferguson way back in April on Rutland water. We had discussed the prospect of a day on the river then but I had forgotten all about it to be honest. I had shared a boat with Graeme Ferguson way back in April on Rutland water. We had discussed the prospect of a day on the river then but I had forgotten all about it to be honest. I got the message on the Saturday that he was down this neck of the woods and would be fishing on the Monday. It took a bit of fast footwork with my boss who is an absolute gem and gave his blessing. So I found myself on the M3 heading for the Itchen on Monday morning instead of the office, bonus!

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I have not fished the Itchen for trout ever the small problem of not being loaded always getting in my way. I have however fished it for Grayling on several occasions and have caught some pretty impressive ladies from this river. I turned up far to early so decided to have a little exploration of the beat. It being the start of the weed cutting I had expected the river to be carrying a bit of colour. I was however pleasantly surprised to find it running very clear. As I walked across the small footbridge to the other bank I spooked several fish, not big mind but plenty of them. It’s not a particularly long beat and you can cover the whole distance in twenty-five minutes ambling up the bank spotting fish. Graeme showed up just before eight and as you’re not allowed to fish before nine I did the whole thing again with Graeme. Of course in the company of another angler everything takes much longer as you blether shite about fish lies, access and how you think it might fish. So we were at the very top of the beat at nine with no kit. After hot footing it back to the hut where we left our kit Graeme grabbed his rod and I the camera. I was keen to get some photos of Graeme getting his first chalk stream fish.

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As chance would have it I did not have to wait long after only five minutes Graeme’s rod lifted and he was into a very nice Brown trout. What a great start to the day, keen to wet my own line I headed back to the hut and grabbed my rod. I had opted for an 8’6” #3 and was fishing a light duo rig with a Parachute Adams and a size #18 Mary nymph of the bend. This is my usual rig for fishing clear shallow water and it seldom disappoints. Only a few casts in and the Adam’s disappeared I lifted into my first Brown trout of the day. Not the biggest fish in the river but very welcome none the less. Pressed right into the edge of the bank I creeped up the edge fishing at distance. The next two offers I missed and the one after that I just spotted the Grayling roll over spitting my fly as it did so. More alert to the presence of the Grayling I was much more alert to the takes. Next cast my rod bent over and the fish shot downstream. Again not very big but perfectly formed.

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Graeme had now moved above me and was fishing from the bank. It was a little more challenging fishing this way as there is quite a bit of vegetation in front of the water and in many areas little room for a back cast. Armed with such a short rod I resigned myself to return to the section where wading was permitted. I really enjoy being in the water especially when the wading is so easy. I fished up about one hundred yards taking a mix of Grayling and Browns. After this I opted to go and find Graeme to see how he was fairing. I spotted him the other side of the M3 fly over and stopped to try my hand at some of the bigger fish that lived just on the edge of the bridge. My efforts were mostly ignored though except, for a smallish Grayling that swooped on my heavy bug. As I approached Graeme he reported several Grayling but not many Browns. I moved above him to fish the very last fishable bit of water at the top of the beat. It was indeed Grayling central and after taking one after the other we decided to head back to the hut for a bit of lunch. It had been a grand morning and as we sat having a bite to eat several fish had started to rise. I was going to just take a few more pictures of Graeme but thought one on the dries before I called it a day. I had started by offering them a little sedge pattern that I have a lot of faith in but after a couple fish coming to look and turning their noses up it was time to go down. I tied on, after much swearing and cursing of my knackered eyes a size #18 shuttlecock emerger. It took a couple of casts to get it right where I wanted but when I got it right a nice Brownie came up and smashed it. It was to prove my last and best fish of the day, child care duties beckoned and with the unpredictable traffic I did not fancy being chastised by my seven-year-old for being late!

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 I gave my thanks to Graeme and said my goodbyes, he was driving back to Edinburgh after fishing with an appointment on the Lake of Mentieth the next day. The lengths we will go to for a days fishing! I am sure he enjoyed the fishing greatly and I received a number of photos via FB later in the day with some cracking looking Brown trout and a smattering of Grayling. I hope he can come back down sometime when we can arrange a whole day or couple of days fishing.