Friday, 8 December 2017

Back at that itch once again.

What is there to blog about the lower Itchen fishery that hasn't already been blogged? It is almost a right of passage for any Midland blogger to make pilgrimage there, as we come from one of the places in the UK with no genuine access to grayling. Go west into Wales and there's grayling, go North and there's grayling and if you go South and there shit loads of grayling. So I suppose it makes sense that those of us from the grayling void would want to go to the best place to catch a grayling and thus fly South in the winter to do so.

Not wanting to recount exactly blow for blow such an epic voyage I think this time the pictures will have to recount  much of this trip as not only do I not want to bore any readers with every tiny detail, but also I can barely remember everything as the day was so busy. Needless to say it began with an awfully early start in Coventry when I awoke prior to my alarm going off at four am and looked out of my window to see a light scattering of snow dusting my street. This winter theme was to dominate the day ahead. After thawing the car and making the trip over to my companion for the day, Mick's, house we whizzed through the traffic to arrive at the river not that long after the sun came up.

As both myself and Mick were of the same mindset to make as much of our day as possible we both agreed that we would please ourselves on this session and just link up for a spot of lunch around midday when Mick had promised a steaming hot lunch to power us through the day.
Being as it was freezing and that truthfully I quickly get bored of it, I opted to begin by trotting on the upper reaches to get the monkey off my back and bag a grayling on the float before pulling out my favoured feeder gear and smashing the place to bits.

First blood on the pin was beautiful grayling from a side stream.
Next bite came of course from a trout, albeit a good one.

After an hour trotting a few winding swims I finally worked my way down to an area I really fancied chucking feeders full of maggots into. Having already caught fifteen or more grayling up to a pound and a half I hoped to possible winkle out some of the other coarse species in a deep bend. So I put away the float gear and got on with the vulgarity of plying copious amounts of maggots into this sacred water. After relentless amounts of small grayling the trout arrived, though their identities as always confuse me.

Brown trout?
Sea trout?
Mick eventually passed by wrapped up against the freezing wind and much to his credit continued successfully trotting plenty of fish out of swims which I can honestly say I would have passed by, thinking them too shallow to fish.

With lunch time approaching and having caught an entire lifetimes worth of small grayling I opted to move back upstream towards the car and lunch. On the way down I had spotted an interesting looking side stream that entered the main river I quite liked the look of. The straight deep run directly above the junction looked prime for possible dace action so I ditched all but my float rod at the car and crossed a rather rickety bridge to access the run... my effort was rewarded...

My best grayling of the day at 1.10lb
Mick lived up to his promise and around lunch time the scent of frying onions began to drift over the fields through the chilly wind towards me. Sadly at the time this delectable scent was reaching my nostrils I was engaged in trying to untangle the line from the back of my centre pin after I had foolishly not engaged the ratchet having caught a fish. Ultimately the line was ruined and the bloody ratchet system collapsed and ended my trotting for the day.

A wonderful sight for a cold and hungry angler after a mornings fishing.
My afternoons plan was simple. Drop right down river to target a swim I have fished every visit to try and catch a decent chub or even a big roach which inhabit the lower reaches of the fishery. Luckily Mick had something similar in mind and so after loading up the car we made the savage journey down the heavily rutted road towards the weir at the bottom of the stretch to get as much fishing in as we could before the light went in a few hours time.

As per normal the maggot feeder drew copious amount of small grayling onto the line I was casting on and I hoped that all the action would sooner or later get the attention of the chub. In the end all I could catch was grayling all afternoon right up until my maggots ran out and I switched to the bread feeder with a pinch of flake as bait. My first cast and the tip wrenched round and I was attached to something good...

A rather fresh sea trout, I think?
The dark was soon upon us and after trying for so long I held out well on into dark for the rod to show any signs the chub might be about. Not long before I had to be packing up I detected a slight nod of the white rod tip in the dark. Moments later I was hooked into a very hard fighting fish which kept low in the water. After a hard fight unable to see anything the fish eventually came to the surface and a big set of white rubbery lips could be seen at the end of my net.

4.10lb of mint Itchen gold
Not long after I landed it Mick turned up and helped me take picture in the dark using an amazingly bright light. Happy with my last cast chub, we packed up and headed off to the local pub for some warmth, a drink and well deserved meal.