This past weekend saw a gathering of piscators, anglers who's intention was to meet up with friends and exchange pleasantries just before Christmas. This section of the Itchen has become a firm favourite for many of the brethren, fishermen who believe that it is far more important to enjoy the day, as it is to catch some fish. The weather started started out fairly lousy, in fact, I was all ready to leave at the expected 7:30 but a toe dipped outside the front door had me rushing back in and towards the kettle. Jessica woke and wanted me to tell her all about Father Christmas one more time, so before I knew it the sky was looking far more friendly and it was after 8:30.
This trip, for me, was mostly about my dear departed friend Richard, for it would be the first time I used the reel given to me by his partner which happened to be the reel he last used at this very venue when he caught his first ever grayling. That trip was to be his last fishing trip, after that I visited him twice in hospital before receiving that heartbreaking news a week later. I still miss him every day.
With his reel in tow I arrived at the river, said hello to Paul and Bumble and found a nice stretch of semi slow river to angle upon. A few trots through with single red maggot and the float dipped. It was never going to break any records, quite possible the smallest grayling I've caught, but it meant so much to me. A grayling on Rich's reel, and a baby one too, a symbol of new life. I couldn't have been happier.
A few fish later, including some delightful trout type creatures, and it was time to head for the weir and to say hello to the others. Bernie was angling just before the weir and I found MGs just a tad past it. We chatted briefly and I settled down for another few trots down towards the weir itself which is where I found a few of the better fish the river has to offer. Most notably a fairly large trout and a very good grayling, both fish really tested the AD All-Rounder with the Roach tip fitted, knew I should have plumped for the Avon instead.
At lunchtime we gathered at the weir bench (our usual congregational spot) and ate sandwiches, drunk from flasks and when MGs arrived tucked into his exquisite fruit cake. PafPuff arrived just as we were leaving, he'd been fishing much further upstream and had been enjoying himself immensely. We got chatting about fly fishing, something I'm very inexperienced with but am looking to get more involved with very soon, and he gave me a present to help me on my way, thanks Paul! Bern, PaulD and Myself had decided to leave shortly after lunch, I wanted to have a look at a couple of local rivers for perhaps an hour on the way home to see if I could catch a bristling perch.
On the Itchen at Mansbridge I set up in the swim just downstream from the pub. I trotted for an hour but only had 1 minnow, a lovely minnow it was though. As I was on my way back to the car a chap stopped and asked if I'd caught anything, then he asked my name and told me he knew me. Turns out he was good friends with Richard and had seen photos of me and read some of my work. what a small world, and what were the chances of bumping into him on the day I first use his old reel??
On the Wallington the swim I wanted was free and I began catching from the off, a handful of roach were swung to hand before a wonderful river perch brightened an otherwise drab day. Not the biggest perch by any means, but it put a massive smile on my face and sent me home feeling totally fulfilled.