I have been getting more than my fair share on the rivers of late with visits to the Lower Itchen, Broadlands and a couple of streams up North. Trying to get on Wherewell which is only half an hour from me was more problematic, I had tried to book for the previous month and could not get a free day. After a bit of calendar reshuffling, I eventually managed to book the 6th. My colleague Bob was going to come along as well as my regular partner Graham Lumsdon. Having completed the early morning taxi service for my daughter’s judo lessons I fought my way through the early morning work traffic and got onto the M3. The weather was appalling and driving conditions were poor despite this the road was moving pretty well. As I rocked up at the fishery Grahams van was already parked up on the new hard standing car park and as I got out of the car the smell of freshly cooked bacon met my nostrils. Graham had kindly made some bacon butties to kick the day off, we chatted for a bit before stumping up the fishing fees to Robbie the Riverkeeper. Robbie was in fine form and we exchanged some banter before tackling up, Bob was running a little late but we were in no hurry so decided to wait. Bob is relatively new to fishing and we wanted to make sure he was on the right road before shooting off and doing our own thing. We set Bob up with a Duo set up and Graham explained some of the finer points of casting as I was not giving a very good practical demonstration. We could see plenty of fish in the water it was very clear given the amount of rain that had fallen and still was. It was not long before Bob was into the first fish of the day, unfortunately, it was to be the first out of season Brown trout and I am sad to report not the last!
It was near 1000hrs before we stepped off to start our days fishing, we had agreed to meet up for a cuppa and a bite to eat around 1200hrs. I dropped into a section of the stream that had produced good numbers of fish last year in pretty high water. Confident I began working my way up the stretch. Forty yards on confidence had grabbed its coat and was heading for the door when my first Wherewell Grayling locked on briefly before spitting the hook. This scenario played
out a further two times before I finally got one in the net. Not the biggest fish but a good 30cm. I managed a few more but nowhere near the numbers I had expected. I spoke with Graham who had caught loads of fish but the vast majority were too small (shorter than 15cm). We both agreed that they had not really woken up yet and maybe after lunch, the sport would pick up a bit. We stopped for lunch about 1200hrs and I was pleased to have managed a total of nine. We went into the hut and chatted through the morning, it was fairly evident that the fishing was tough. After lunch, I decided to tootle upstream and fish and generally get a feel for the river again. It was very clear and fish could be spotted easily, targeting Grayling, however, was pretty difficult. On several occasions, I watched as my nymph floated by the fish and not even a movement. Once, the fly seemed to bounce off the front of the fish and still nothing. I was not without sport though as I watched huge Brown trout move four or five feet across the river to snaffle down a large sedge pattern. They were a nuisance though and when they did not completely destroy the cast they would run riot upstream ruining any chance of catching anything else in the pool. I eventually got up to a bit I have favored in the past near the top of the beat. Robbie had obviously been busy and had cut large sections of an overhanging tree to allow access to some sweet water. At last, I had found a pod of Grayling willing to feed, they were not very big but hey any port in a storm.
I met up with Graham and he was having the same issues we agreed the Grayling were just not that up for it. However
the Brownies were intent on beefing up for the winter and we both had some fantastic looking fish, all safely returned to go about their business. We wondered back downstream ways and there was still some light left in the day. We both picked a stretch of water and fished the last half hour of light. It was at this point I had an unexpected guest, having gotten used to the Brown trout I simply thought I had hooked another but no this was a pristine looking Rainbow trout an escapee from the little lake here no doubt. After numerous visits by Brown trout, I was eventually rewarded for my persistence with a couple of cracking Grayling of the 40cm stamp. All too soon though the last of the light departed and I could no longer see my flies, it was time to go. I met Graham back in the van, Bob had left just before. A tough day but as ever a pleasure to be out and about despite the inclement weather. Graham was moving to Winchester to be up bright and early to fish the free water that is available there, as I type I am sure he is having a ball!