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Posts Tagged ‘Test Grayling’


The babbling brooks, streams and rivers that surround us are so mesmerising, so enchanting to anglers that you can find yourself drifting into a reverie just thinking about them.  They are so full of life and shrouded in many a long yarn or stories of magic and myths.  Many of the southern chalk streams are the preserve of the rich and famous, those a tad more fortunate than most.  Of course when you see the idyllic setting of these wondrous rivers , who can blame those that part with the vast sums of money necessary to partake in such a decadent indulgence.  I certainly would if money was no object.

There are a few beats here and there that fortunately can be fished for a fairly modest sum.  There are places on the Itchen, Test, Frome, Kennet and numerous other delightful chalk streams in Southern England that can be fished on a day ticket, coarse fishing syndicate, fishing club or even free fishing in some places.  As always it helps to know the right people and that can make a big difference.

Anyway I digress, I headed to one of Hampshire’s finest accompanied by good mate and Team Pallatrax Manager Jez Brown; the Baron himself.  We were primarily targeting the big roach that can be found in these hallowed waters.  Of course there was also a good chance of some decent grayling, dace and those ever present trout that enjoy the deep pools around the old mill house.

With significant rainfall over the last few months most of the area shows signs of the flooding, with large swaths of land under water.  This is when your dream house overlooking the river can become your worst nightmare.  Fortunately the floods have abated somewhat and the level of this particular chalk stream was perhaps 18-24″ up on its normal level.  It was bombing through of course but the pools looked very fishable and there were a number of very enticing slacks to be found close in amongst the partially submerged marginal trees and bushes.

We headed to our chosen spots and I opted for a cage feeder packed with liquidized bread, 3ft hooklink and a size 10 barbless hook with a decent piece of breadflake on.  We were soon fishing and Jez had some early success with a couple of trout.  However it soon became apparent that the recent good form of this beat had possibly come to an end.  Sadly the bites dried up and neither of us could tempt so much as a twitch.  Jez was experiencing the powers of Nathan ‘Jonah’ Walter first hand.  I seem to posses the uncanny ability to turn even the most productive of swims into a desert this season.

It was time for a change and so I decided to try maggots and changed the cage feeder for a blockend.  This decision paid off immediately, with knocks and decent bites signalling activity.  Soon a number of fish succumbed to the new tactics and I landed some cracking grayling to around a pound and a half, some big trout and a number of nice dace.  Jez decided to run a float through the swim but sadly this produced nothing.  We kept some feed going in and I tried the float after increasing the depth a bit.  This seemed to make all the difference and first trot through produced a fish.  I then returned to the feeder and targeted an area where the pool started to shallow up before running off downstream.

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The action started to hot up and each cast produced a fish, with some good grayling.  Jez was also beginning to get a fish a chuck and he took some lovely grayling on the float.  However even this action soon dried up.  Perhaps the heavy frosts of the previous two nights had put the fish down a bit.  It’s been so mild lately that frosts must come as a bit of a shock to the poor old fish!  So it was time for a change, as the afternoon was wearing on.

By mid afternoon the sun was out and it was incredibly warm.  A hint of early spring was in the air and there was no need for any winter thermal clothing for a change.  That constant  gale force south westerly wind that has been so prevalent this winter, had at last abated and we were able to enjoy the warm rays of the sun.  It really was a pleasant day and that was enhanced by being privileged enough to be on one of Hampshire’s finest chalk streams.

Maggots - Pallatrax Style

Maggots – Pallatrax Style

Jez decided it was time he went for a wander, whilst I concentrated on the hot peg.  Well if anyone can freeze hot pegs, it’s me.  Another hour passed by without so much as twitch.  However the move had been the right decision for Jez and he had just landed a pristine 1lb 9oz roach from a marginal slack.  He soon followed that up with a slightly bigger roach.  It was time for me to have a go!  Yes you’ve guessed it; two immediate bites and two fish bumped off!  Bugger…or words to that effect.  With Jez shouting “watch out for the snag” and me shouting “what $%#@ing snag” both fish came adrift.  Still I’ve got used to this type of result this season, if it can go wrong it has, with one cock-up after another.  Still hopefully I’ve had so many cock-ups this season there can’t possibly be any left for next season……!

1lb 9oz

1lb 9oz

So I returned to my original spot whilst Jez worked on his Karma after my disastrous attempt at his swim.  One of the roach I lost was a good fish but these things happen I guess.   As the light faded the rod top started to indicate more action.  I had opted to touch leger for the majority of the day, mainly due to the presence of grayling.  I don’t really like quiver tipping for grayling as they have a habit of swallowing the hook.  If you touch leger and hit the slightest knock the problem is almost eradicated.  Its also a very rewarding way to fish as you feel all of those tiny taps, quivers and trembles on the line.

The rod tip whacked round aggressively and at last the target fish was netted; a beautiful river roach of 1lb 5oz.  By now it was dark and Jez was still downstream.  I wasn’t going to call him up to photograph the fish, if it had been a bit larger I would have.  So I popped her back and carried on.  Almost immediately the tip hammered round again and this time a really chunky grayling was the culprit.  It went 1lb 12oz on the scales and I popped it back as quickly as possible.  A couple of big trout followed and I started to think the action was really hotting up.  Big mistake….it died a death.  Not a touch followed. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Naught.  Well you get the picture.

Jez Brown's Stunning Roach

Jez Brown’s Stunning Roach

I decided with around 15-30 minutes left to go for a wander and find Jez.  He had lost one fish but that was all he’d had since I lost my two fish in his swim.  So after a 10 minute try in a slack, we decided enough was enough.  I was due on the Kennet the following morning, being picked up at 6am.  It was nearly 8pm now and with a 2 hour drive ahead of me it was time to call it a day.  I had thoroughly enjoyed myself, in great company and in a truly magical setting.   Although I hadn’t tempted any of the big roach that call this stretch home, I’d had some cracking sport and some really lovely and pristine conditioned fish.

Hopefully Jez will let me join him again here next season when hopefully the levels are back to normal and maybe we can don the waders and get in and trot a float through some of those glorious gravel runs for some of these enormous roach and grayling.

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