I rarely get the opportunity to fish the Test these days but an invite by good mate and Lone Angler’s team manager Jez Brown was very welcome indeed.
I have fished the Test at Timsbury a couple of times but not for quite a few years. I did try Jez’s beat out last season and managed a few nice fish but lost a couple of big roach, so I was looking for a second chance.
The forecast mentioned something about a weather bomb. That’s a term I’ve never encountered before and the only thing I’ve heard close to that is Sex Bomb, but hey that’s enough about me! Anyway it seemed strong winds and driving rain was the general ingredients in this meteorological bomb. Luckily the area we were in seemed to be sheltered enough by hills and trees to deflect this winter storm of almost biblical proportions (allegedly).
Still this meant we could feeder fish and trot without any interference from Mother Nature. A simple feeder rig consisting of around a 2’6″ hooklink of 4lb line and a 12 hook, a small cage feeder and breadflake hook bait did the trick. I used a soft glass tip on a 12ft Avon style rod. Initially we fished up in the mill pool where there is plenty of deep water to hold a few roach. The levels looked pretty normal with a tinge of colour. Everything looked more or less spot on.
The feeders were loaded with crumb with a nice piece of flake on the hook and out it went. It was a little slow at first but once we got some bait going in on a regular basis, things started to improve. I missed a few bites as I was a bit too quick to hit them. Soon a few grayling, dace and trout put in an appearance and then a run of nice roach to over a pound. Jez trotted a few maggots down and grayling after grayling came to the net. They ranged in size from just a few ounces to close to 1.8lbs.
After lunch we headed off downstream but that failed to produce much and so we returned to the mill pool. I managed a few more roach to breadflake with the best going 1lb 6oz which made 4 over the pound mark. Jez tempted a couple as well, of a similar stamp and we both had a few decent dace to maybe 10oz or so. As always the trout were active, they are such voracious feeders. Sadly those really big roach failed to show but hey there’s always next time.
I headed off to another chalk stream this time in search of big grayling. Geoff and Kevin had fished it the previous day whilst I was on the Test and had struggled, although Geoff had taken a nice fish at just a tad under 2lbs.
The area we headed to was far more open to the elements and the wind was blowing a hooley. Dark brooding skies suggested rain could come at any moment, almost without warning. However lady luck was with us and although we had a very squally shower it only lasted around 10 minutes or so and then remained dry for the remainder of our visit.
The key for me was to find a swim where the wind was blowing (howling more like) down stream. After a long walk I managed to locate a swim that looked fishable at least. The wind was seriously strong and would make presentation very, very difficult. I decided on a heavy float with a strung out shotting pattern. I normally fish bulk shot but felt the presentation would improve with this alternative approach.
Hook bait was double maggot with a regular trickle thrown in with every cast. The float buried almost immediately as it sailed down a lovely long glide close to the near side bank. The fish felt heavy and I was confident it was a decent grayling. I wasn’t disappointed. At 2lb 5oz it was a lovely big, solid grayling. Another small one followed almost straight away and a short time later another very good fish fought for freedom. Luckily I seemed to be keeping most of the fish on the hook this time and a 2lb 9oz fish was the result.
The other two lads seemed to be struggling with I think one fish apiece and neither particularly big fish either. Around lunchtime I decided to move. I hadn’t had a bite for sometime and fancied trying elsewhere. Kevin jumped into the swim to see if he could tempt something. Later on he reported he’d just landed a 2lb 7oz fish, so maybe I should have stayed put.
I wandered upstream trying out spots on the way. I spotted a couple of unusual old birds!! Two Antipodean visitors; a pair of black swans. I managed to get a few shots with the camera before spotting them again later in flight. They have the most beautiful white wing feathers which are an incredible contrast to the rest of the bird. Anyway I digress, the odd grayling and trout were tempted but all in all it was difficult. By 3pm the skies were growing very dark with rain clouds and so we opted for an early finish. I ended up with 7 grayling and 3 trout. which put me just ahead of Kevin. Geoff had a tough day and then broke his centrepin! Not the best day for him.
There is plenty of time left this season to get back here and hopefully bag a few more of these stunning fish before March.