Just under a week ago a group of cane wielding piscators set forth to the Itchen in Hampshire for a day amongst beautiful surroundings, amongst wonderful company and with the hope that a few superb grayling might just make a brilliant day and even better one. I say a week ago as this is the first time since then I’ve been able to sit in front of the laptop and attempt to jot down the day’s events.
It started badly for me. I stopped at Dad’s on the way to collect my tackle and, most importantly, the cake. With the car just about loaded I picked up the cake tin with one hand and watched in agony and in slow motion as the tin opened and out came the beautiful cake all over the kitchen work surface. I looked at Dad, he looked back, I said “sorry” and he said “never mind, it’s still edible”.
I did my best to stuff the sorry mess back into the tin whilst cursing a few times and eventually got going just about the time I was supposed to be there. I arrived twenty minutes late through a fifteen minute downpour, my guessing was that the guys would have already made their way to the river, and apart from one angler, PafPuff, I was right.
PafPuff and I had a brief chat and unloaded our cars whilst dodging the last of the raindrops. We set off for the river together and halfway to the weir pool we bumped into Chubman, a local who was on hand to put the lads right with swim choices and other such helpful advice. We nattered for half an hour or so and then pushed on towards the weir where I expected to find some more of the anglers.
Hovis and Baz were fishing one side of the weir, Bumble and Baz were fishing the other and Blackadder was angling just below the weir. I stopped for a chinwag with these fine gentlemen briefly before pressing forth upstream in search of more float trotting enthusiasts. T3100 I spotted next clad in long waxed coat and a super titfer. We spoke a while and after letting him know tea and cake would be served at the weir at midday I left him to terrorise the minnows.
Deaf Cat was next in line followed by MGs and ultimately Loop was much further upstream so I banked on catching up with him whence he bimbled down for cake or spotted the smoke signals. With all of the meeting and greeting done, apologies for my lateness and excuses about the cake it was time for me to think about setting up and rod and getting down to a little trotting for grayling.
The rod I was to use that day was a new one, not new as in new, but new to me, one I’d recently restored, a Sealey Floatcaster with whole cane butt and middle with split cane tip, it had the makings of a superb trotting rod, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. So with a swim found just below the weir past the sweeping bend I attached the reel, a Paul Cook avon float and began angling.
The first swim produced only minnows and small troot for me, although there was certainly something bigger in the swim, it attacked one of my minnows and almost bit the tail off. I put it down to a vicious sea trout and moved downstream some after the swim went quiet. The new swim was between two tight trees and just below a glorious willow tree. I threw out a handful of maggots and watched as the water erupted before me, it was quite a sight.
I trotted through a couple of times and wondered why I never caught considering the amount of feeding fish in the swim. Then I removed the dropper shot, slid the bulk up towards the float and fished practically on the drop. This way the hooked maggots emulated exactly the loose free offerings and a bite was had straight away. This happened three times on the trot, by which time I decided to find someone who was struggling and help them out with the banker swim I’d discovered.
Tea time came, there was more tea and cake than we needed, but nobody complained, even the mess I brought along was enjoyed by those brave enough to try it. Whence the tea and cake started to look unloved, and folk started to concentrate once more on their rods, we decided to pack the tea things away and get back to the fishing. I took most of my stuff back to the car, quite a trek when laden with two creels, a water bottle and a Kelly Kettle. But once the things were back in the car I could relax with my minimal tackle and travel light.
Testing the brew...
The first swim I thought about when my rod was back in sight was Wilbur’s Bush. Wilbur is a good grayling, somewhere around 2lbs and is quite friendly. A number of TFFers have met Wilbur at some stage, and I thought it would be a good day to say hello. Once I was settled into the swim I began feeding with maggots, this I did for five minutes and then I began to fish.
It didn’t take long to receive my first bite, the rod, which had behaved beautifully I might add, arched over more than it had done all day, I was quite obviously attached to a much better fish. I struggled to get it past the bush, it just seemed to be able to hold there in the flow just out of sight, but then I saw it, a nice dark trout of around 2-3lbs. Again it held in the flow just out of reach of the net, frustratingly holding out there just inches too far. Finally it made a dash towards the bank, I swooped the net round in an arc so it was below the fish, slackened off and in went the trout.
It was a marvellous beast, all dark and spotty, brightening up an already lovely day. I took a few quick snaps and release her to sulk among the streamer weed. The next cast produced yet another bite, this time a grayling of around the pound mark. For the next half hour I landed one more trout much similar in appearance to the last and three very good grayling, the last and smallest of which I took along to Blackadder for weighing, it was 1lb 15oz.
With dark clouds looming and thoughts of getting back in time to put Jessica to bed I rounded up the troops and suggested a quick drink in the pub before heading off. Before long we were sat not too far from an open fire chatting away about the day’s angling and planning future events. It was a wonderful day, it always is, and I can’t wait to get back out with these wonderful gentlemen.
Chubman, Deaf Cat, T3100, Gord and Loop...