Monday 7 November 2016

Lower Itchen Fishery – Twaddle and Trollops

My first visit to the Lower Itchen Fisher nearly a year ago was a successful one, well in my eyes anyway as I’m not sure all the accompanying party enjoyed it as much as I did. It was the first chalk stream I’d fished after all and it was all a bit of a novelty.

Countless ‘ladies of the stream’ were caught from one particular swim whilst long trotting sweetcorn cumulating in a 1.8oz PB grayling which really made the trip for me. Thinking back, maybe if I stuck it out, the bigger fish would likely be sat at the tail of the swim, and maybe a specimen 2lber would have been mine, hidden amongst the sheer quantity of fish which really was something I’d not tire of.

There was so much to go out though so I’d only have regretted my decision if I set my stall out so many a swim was explored and some decent fish caught.

Heck I even enjoyed the tussle with the brownies that gave a decent scrap on light tackle, don’t get many of them in the Warwickshire Avon now do you.

Now a friend of mine, an infrequent fluff chucker, really detests the Grayling, seeing it more of a pest, a nuisance, a pain in the proverbials. Even liking them to that unwanted prostitute hanging around on the street corners, all short skirts, proud plumage and easy pickings.

I gave him the Paddington Bear stare…..

I found them great sport personally with plenty of character. But then I’m a coarse fisherman due to my locality and maybe If I was chucking flies around in game rivers maybe I’d come to the same conclusion.

With a friend of mine Simon in tow who like me before the last trip was an Itchen virgin, however for this trip I was in a much better position to fish this lovely river.

So I kinda set out a plan before I went….

 Trotting for grayling and obvious brownies in the morning and early afternoon. The fish are found in the upper reaches of the stretch where there are shallow glides and gravel bottoms. Tactics well, simple trotting of caster or sweetcorn which worked well last time with a little an often amount of feed to hopefully keep the fish interested.

Size 12 Guru QM1

Late afternoon I’d be Roach bound in the mid to lower deeper areas where it changes to deeper pools and bends and coarse fish in residence. Trotting again with hemp and caster as feed and either bread flake or caster on the hook. Now I know Roach and big ones particularly are not that easy to come by here these days, certainly not as prolific as some would make out and possibly the downstream areas beyond Gaters Mill would be the better bet but I was hoping regular feeding and some decent bait something of interest would turn up.

Last but not least ‘we’d’ sit it out with a big bait in the Weir pool for an hour in to dark to see if there was a decent Chub or Barbel hanging around. PVA bag of what was remaining for loose feed.

Simon had no choice but to follow my lead you see….

I had the car keys and access to the camp stove, the pork sausages and buttered baps. His resident host ‘worm’ needs to fed otherwise it can get very nasty indeed.

Unpredictable, uncontainable….it needs to be contained.

So the weather predictors got it wrong, yet again. There was meant to be the odd shower, nothing of note and yet, it pissed down all day.

From 9.30am till 4.00pm it was constant, it became heavier as the day went on so one had to rely again on the Poncho I’ve grown to love. It makes a horrible day bearable.

The middle of the stretch was far clearer than a remembered from last time and in hindsight I should have known it would be tough going.

Still, starting at the top we worked ourselves down trying a few swims and yeap, as expected it didn’t take long to get the first Grayling.

First of the Day

Simon a Grayling landed his first one soon after and sweetcorn seemed the bait of choice. One particular swim was fantastic, a stupidly long trot with the float sinking at the tail end. Grayling after Grayling with the odd Brownie getting in on the act.

It’s full of them this river and fun on light tackle.

My father-in-law an occasional fly fisherman was in horror when I showed him the pics of holding the trout, not a done thing apparently, an unwritten rule for his club anyway. Rainbows, not a problem bosh them over the head.

The quantity of fish in certain swims is staggering and stumble on one of those swims you could probably stick it out all day.

Simon used a closed face reel, me a centrepin and I realise now I should trot the Avon more often particularly in the summer with thick streamer weed and cagey Barbel. It’s a great way to fish.

I managed 1 tangle all day, Simon umpteenth but then he took part in about 3 or 4 conference calls during the day and even two in the car, I think his mind was elsewhere.

Trying to change the world or something….

The middle and lower reaches were tough going, the water levels were rising and the debris and rubbish coming down was making trotting or even ledgering frustrating. So it was back the top to catch more Grayling and Trout.

I must have had >50 Grayling, nearly ten trout and plenty lost too. Nothing of size, trout wise and the best Grayling was a PB equalling 1lb 8oz.

1lb 8oz

There was more fly anglers here than last time, a club meet up I think. I had one cast over my swim when he didn’t realise I was long trotting.

 “what, you can see that far ?” “Wow”

And another fishing about 10 foot away from where I was picking up most of the fish from in the most productive of swims. Sweetcorn under a float was clearly the order of the day as their results from what I witnessed were mediocre indeed. Maybe the rain didn’t help I’m not sure.

The most productive swim.

So back at the car decided to drive down to the weir and fish in to dusk. Again with lots of rubbish coming down I could only keep the rod in for ten minutes before having to retrieve it and remove the thick weed. A few taps and pulls but nothing that developed in to a bite.

Another enjoyable day despite the weather but I think I might somewhere other than the Lower Itchen next year, maybe even a different river altogether.


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