With my wedding looming I decided a few final days fishing as a free man were required. And where better to start this four day fishing road trip than Hampshire.
We arrived at Mystery Chalkstream X just after dawn to find the water crystal clear, low and very, very weedy. Good fish were showing throughout the beat and everyone seemed to have a big grayling on their minds. The venue of choice certainly didn’t disappoint. Several over 2lbs were spotted almost immediately. However, spotting them was one thing, catching was definitely another! We all caught several smaller grayling, some browns, and also some small rainbows (less than 4 ounces) Could these be stream bred? let’s hope so! But the bigger fish eluded most of us. Except for Adrian that is. He was first to strike with one of the big grayling, managing to get a specimen of 2lbs 4.5 oz to the net on his Zero Weight set up! no mean feat considering the amount of weed in the river. The picture below shows the fish in the net but unfortunately the ‘grin and grab’ shots didn’t come out. The fly…..need you ask, his usual ‘little black jobbie’!
Moving right to the top of the system we literally fished the highest pool on the river. The water in this pool cascades some 15 feet down a serious of waterfalls before scouring out a lovely deep run under an overhanging tree. This is a renowned big fish pool and we all took turns to cast a nymph into the frothy head waters, Duncan and Adrian accounted for the biggest fish, but Theo and I brought up the rear with a couple of good ones too. In all we caught 6-8 fish from this pool, not one less than a pound!
Moving downstream we all fished on, landing a number of smaller fish, an increasing number taking dries, but as the sun got higher in the sky the fishing got harder and harder. A break for lunch was in order. Having located a nice spot by a downstream bridge to picnic, we discovered a small previously unknown (to us) carrier. Fast flowing and with good depth it was no surprise to find a pair of very decent brownies actively nymphing. Enter stage left Mr Grose-Hodge, who after missing the brownie on its first take managed to convince it to take again. A hectic battle ensued with the trout desperately trying to escape under a mid stream barbed wire fence. Some luck with the net finally allowed us to get the pictures below. A stunning example of a wild Hampshire brown trout at its best.
After lunch we decided a move was in order. Mystery Chalkstream Y was called for. The stream(s) in question were running painfully low. Weed growth was excessive and silt had gathered in the deeper pools where slow flows had allowed once pristine gravels to disapear. No doubt the first good push through of water in the autumn will make amends.
The fish in this venue were extremely spooky, but catchable. Theo (using a 1 weight outfit) accounted for a number of good fish on dries, and I managed the odd one or two on the split cane! Adrian and Duncan caught a number of fish, including a rogue perch and the odd good grayling.
With London calling there was just time for a closing pint in the Mayfly. It seemed odd to peer into the hallowed waters of the Test and admire(?) all the stockies in the famous and expensive beat that the pub sits on. Our fishing hadn’t cost a penny, and the wild fish encounted were fantastic.
And so our day on the Chalk was at an end. But the road trip just beginning. Up North the Chalk Waters of the Driffield Beck beckoned, and the free stone rivers of West Yorkshire were fining down after rain……..
I’ll post the next update on the trip next week.