Posts Tagged ‘Hampshire Avon Grayling’

No, not some form of charity event to rival the Three Peaks Challenge unfortunately.  This was more your physical and mental challenge; human endurance.  Can the body and mind take the harsh and demanding challenges of fishing three beautiful rivers whilst being battered by wind and rain!

First up was Hampshire’s River Itchen.  The area we fished was fairly exposed to the elements however the rain actually held off on this day, although it was perishing cold.  Still one perseveres you know, stiff upper lip and all that…well it was frozen after all, so that wasn’t difficult!

The Itchen here is fairly narrow and quite pacey.  There is a fair bit of bankside cover and we found a lot of enticing swims to fish.  Waders came in useful as they allowed access to swims which would have been very difficult to fish from the bank.  We employed the usual methods; trotting with red maggots.  I think I tried sweetcorn too, although it failed to produce much.

Both Geoff and I lost a few decent fish but we both caught a number of nice grayling to around 1lb 6oz or so and a few trout.  Chatting with a couple of local anglers we manged to glean some useful information about the stretch for future visits.  We will certainly be back for another go at some point.

The next river was in Wiltshire in the shadow of Salisbury’s magnificent cathedral.  We had arranged an Association of Barbel Fisher’s grayling day.  Sadly the conditions forecast were pretty dire and it looked like it was going to be a poor turnout.  I like to think the cream of the crop were present on the day, although that maybe pushing it a bit.  Anyway four of us made the long journey to Britford to try our luck; Colin Walford and his Dad Bill, Geoff and myself.

The weather was pretty horrendous in the morning; very windy with gusts pushing 50mph and some fairly heavy rain.  At times it was difficult standing up in the icy blasts of this northerly wind and walking into the teeth of it was even more challenging.  Luckily the rain petered out by lunchtime but the wind remained strong all day.

I fancied trying a bit of light link legering to start off with, using some big juicy lobworms.  Sadly despite dropping into a number of very promising spots I couldn’t buy a bite.  Eventually I gave up and decided to float fish for the remainder of the day.  I had started off at the lower weir, where the carrier meets the old river and by the end of the day I was fishing on Harnham Island, so I certainly covered some ground.

Trotting double or single red maggot up amongst the trees at least offered a degree of shelter from the wind.  Presentation was still very difficult and this was borne out by the results.  We all caught some grayling and a few dace, roach and trout but results were poor for here.  I am delighted to report though that the two grayling virgins present both broke their duck, so Colin and Bill hopefully left feeling pretty pleased with themselves having caught their first ever grayling.  We finally called it a day about 4.30, the wind and cold eventually getting the better of us.  However as always Britford offers a pleasant distraction from the harsh conditions.

Next up was yet another southern chalkstream.  It cuts through some lovely unspoilt countryside but today it was being battered by strong winds, rain, sleet and even snow.  We arrived around 10am and the wind had abated and conditions were looking rather promising.  The river was at a good level and with only a tinge of colour.  It never appears to be clear at these middle to lower reaches.  I think the upper river runs much clearer, which I guess is due to maybe feeder streams that run into the main river lower down.

The fishing was slow going.  I managed a average size grayling early on but was struggling to get bites after that.  I had a moment of excitement when I hooked what appeared to be an Exocet missile that came headlong out of the river.  It looked like a silver tourist but maybe it was a large sea trout.  Anyway it came off unfortunately, so I’ll never know.  I did follow that up with a 4lb brownie which put a bend in the rod.

Geoff also had 1 grayling and had decided to feeder fish for a while.  This was proving more successful, with a bite a chuck and a number of grayling being netted.  Just to prove a point, he then trotted the same swim for half an hour and couldn’t buy a bite!  Swapping back to the feeder resulted in almost instant bites and fish.  Food for thought I guess.  Perhaps the answer, as far as float fishing goes, is to stret peg.  Fishing a couple of feet over depth and allowing the bait to rest in one spot at a time before lifting the tackle up in the water and allowing it to move downstream a bit.  The only thing that bothers me with this is the likelihood of deep hooking the grayling and therefore I’ve avoided it thus far.

We ended the day by moving to another very short stretch of the river and although we only fished it for an hour it proved to be more than worthwhile.  I found a few grayling where two parts of the river met and tempted several in fairly quick succession  to over a pound.  By now we had some snow falling and it was bloody cold.  The last cast of the day proved to be the most worthwhile.  Geoff hooked into something much bigger and with a few heart in the mouth moments as a big grayling swirled on the surface, shaking it’s head, Geoff won the battle and a lovely 2lb 5oz grayling finished us off in style.  Well done Geoff on a great fish to end our odyssey.

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My old buddy Jules was keen to try out his new float rod with some trotting tactics, something he had not done before.  So I arranged to take him to the Hampshire Avon to hopefully help him catch his first ever grayling.  Of course, as you would expect, Geoff and Kev didn’t want to miss out on a days grayling fishing on the Avon either, so they joined us for the day.

On arrival the river looked a little coloured and up since our last visit.  Overall conditions looked good. So after a full English at the local cafe, we headed to the river.  It was even colder than yesterday and again looked like it was going to be a windy day.  We grabbed the tackle from the car and headed off upstream to find a few likely looking runs.

I helped Jules set-up his tackle and guided him through the basics of using a centrepin.  He took to it reasonably well and more importantly enjoyed the experience.  After a while, I left him to it, confident that he would soon catch.  I opted to fish a run just above him.  I waded out and ran the float through a nice 4′ deep run.  The double maggot hook bait was soon snaffled up by a fish.  It turned out to be a feisty trout and a couple more followed that one.  Then the float shot under and this time a really nice grayling was the culprit.  It looked about 1lb 8oz+ but I didn’t weigh it as I was wading out in the river.  I followed that up with another nice grayling of about 1lb 2oz and then another trout.

Julian hadn’t had much luck so I stayed with him for a while.  He was doing all the right things but failed to get a bite.  I suggested a move and after a few trots through in this new swim, the float dipped and we had a fish on.  It was a beautiful grayling of about 8oz and Jules’ first ever one.  He was well chuffed.  We carried on fishing for a while.  I managed another grayling but we struggled.  We decided to move downstream.

Julian's First Grayling

Both Geoff and Kev were struggling on the grayling front too. I think Kev had managed one and nothing but a few trout for Geoff.  We left them to it and moved down.  I had a few more grayling and then lost a big fish.  It may have been a big trout, but who knows?  Julian found a couple more grayling a a few trout, so was over the moon with his first experience of trotting, centrepins, the Avon and grayling.

As the day wore on it seemed to get even colder and windier.  Kevin found a small shoal of good quality grayling, taking several over a pound.  Geoff also found a few.  Overall we struggled at what is normally a fairly easy venue.  I can only assume the conditions just weren’t quite right for the fish.  Virtually all the fish came to maggot and I couldn’t but a bite on corn, which is normally good in coloured water.

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