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Archive for December, 2015

Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!


Dorset is one of those counties that offers peace, tranquility and beautiful countryside.  The numerous rivers of Dorset wind their way, twisting and turning, down towards the sea.  Iconic names spring to mind like Throop, Longham, Wareham and Christchurch Bridge Pool to name but a few.  There are a couple of very famous literary giants that resided in Dorset; William Barnes and of course Thomas Hardy.  Between them they wrote a number of very famous poems and in Hardy’s case numerous classic literary novels.  However they pale into insignificance when compared to perhaps one of the greatest poems that sums up fishing in Dorset, particularly in the region of  Bovington.

Obviously Baldrick’s experiences in the Trenches of WWI were comparable to the fishing in the Dorchester region!  There are days when the unrelenting boom, boom, boom from the tanks at Bovington can be deafening.  Recently they seem even more active than normal, perhaps an indication of the current crisis in places like Syria.  Interspersed between these ear throbbing booms are the incessant thrum of pulsating machine gun fire.  Perhaps in some small way it creates a sense of what WWII must have been like in Europe, with constant battles raging.  Of course that’s a far cry from life in modern Britain and one can’t really imagine what the horrors of a war torn Europe must have been like.  Fortunately you do become somewhat accustomed to the noise after a while and it certainly doesn’t seem to affect the fishing.

During the last few weeks we have been visiting this region to target the grayling.  We have mixed it up slightly with fishing Hampshire’s river Itchen, when conditions haven’t made the journey as far as Dorset worthwhile.   The fast flowing waters of the Itchen remain pretty clear, even after heavy rain, whereas the Frome will colour up a lot more, particularly in the lower reaches.  The area in Dorset we fish is also quite open, as the river winds it way through mainly open countryside.  It lacks hills and trees which offer some protection from the winds that whip in from the coast.  Further inland the wind tends to ease and bankside trees create a much needed windbreak.  So the weather plays a decisive factor in choosing the venue.

The Itchen has provided us with a couple of really good days fishing recently.  The area we target has a very healthy population of grayling.  Most are on the small side with an average of maybe 4-12oz but we do get quite a few fish over a pound with the occasional fish over 1lb 8oz.  So far we have not managed to break the 2lb barrier but I’m sure they are here to that size.  I think the biggest fish to date has been 1lb 12oz.  Wading is possible in places and the river is fairly straight, so lots of long trotting is possible.  With the addition of plenty of bankside cover, gravel runs, streamer weed and a good mixture of depths, finding swims is an easy task.  Most areas produce fish, with some producing a slightly better than average size.

The Itchen

The Itchen

On two recent trips here Geoff and I had well over 100 grayling to 1lb 10oz.  The lion’s share went to Geoff, who on one day had 45, the greedy bugger!!  Simple trotting tactics pay dividends and corn can be a very effective bait when they are not on the maggots.  As always keeping it simple seems to work and with probably a mile and a half of river to go at, traveling light allows you to explore the whole stretch.

Back to Dorset and a couple of trips again provided plenty of fish, although the larger specimens appeared conspicuous by their absence!  This area often produces big fish to well over 2lbs, however this season so far we’ve caught lots of small grayling of just a few ounces, with just the one fish over the magical 2lb barrier.  That’s certainly good news for the future but I do like to battle with the big ‘uns occasionally. Certainly fish in the 1lb-1lb 8oz are a regular feature and you’d be unlucky not to catch one or two around 1lb 12oz.  This river is known for it’s really big grayling and so 2lb+ fish are plentiful, although somewhat elusive at the moment.

1lb 13oz

1lb 13oz

The wind has been a nightmare in Dorset recently and this makes presentation of light tackle a real problem.  Even using a heavy float doesn’t solve the issue and the number of big grayling taken on the float decreases.  I guess they just don’t like the poor bait presentation because of the wind strength and direction.  Small grayling still seem to throw themselves at the hookbait, thankfully.  A few big trout always put in an appearance and we’ve had a few stonking great brownies and sea trout recently, close to 6lbs.  I had the fight of a lifetime with one the other day which I thought I would never land.  It used the flow and deep pool to its advantage and it took me nigh on 10 minutes to land.  For a while I was convinced it was probably a salmon because it took me so long to get the fish off the bottom and close enough for me to see it clearly.  Eventually I landed this behemoth and in fact it weighed in at 4lb 9oz.  It looked twice the size and felt three times bigger during the fight.

4lb 9oz Brownie

4lb 9oz Brownie

All fish are welcome of course and playing any big fish in a fast flowing river can be quite exhilarating.  We are hoping that once the temperatures plummet the weather will become a bit more benign, with the wind abating and the rain lessening.  Hopefully the river conditions will improve and the chances of a few ‘2s’ will be on the cards.  It’s tricky when you have limited time and a 300 mile round trip to target these rivers.  Sometimes you have to take your chances and give it a try, even in less than favorable conditions.  If we waited for the perfect day we’d never make it bankside! However when the wind speed exceeds 30mph, unfortunately Dorset will play second fiddle to something a little closer to home.

The Frome

The Frome

 

 

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