I had an invitation to fish the Wey near Alton. A proper chalk stream. This would take me well outside my comfort zone. Clear water, Ranunculus, streamer weed and fussy Brown Trout. I would have to fish at the top of my game. It was a very hot, sunny day with a gentle breeze, not ideal for fishing. We walked downstream looking for fish, the weed beds covered the stream from bank to bank with narrow gaps of deep, dark water in between the weed beds and down the margins.
I started to fish a stretch of water around a right hand bend, flicking the fly on a long leader with only a yard of fly line outside the tip eye. I watched the fly drift back towards me. ‘Tenkara’ style. With each cast I moved upstream a step, slowly making my way along the barbed wire fence and around the bend. As the bend straightened out there was a wide, deep run under the far bank. Overhanging rushes and grass sheltered the run. I flicked the fly close to the far bank and followed the drifting fly down with the rod. After several runs down, there was a flash and wrench on the rod, a monster Trout had seized the fly. Chaos ensued. There was much splashing and shouting for help. After a lot of messing about the Trout was subdued but it was out of reach.
I slid down the bank into the water, waded out into midstream and tried to net the fish, it went barmy again. Eventually I got it in the net and took the fly from it’s mouth. I held the Trout up for a couple of photos and then released it into the chilly water. It swam off strongly and I was a happy bunny. A big, wild Trout from a lovely stream, it doesn’t get any better.
We wandered back upstream, watching the water for rising fish. I had seen a monster in a secluded pool at the start of the day. My host, also called Nigel, worked his fly up under the trees but there was no response.
A sausage sandwich and a pint at the pub allowed me to cool down and recuperate, ready for the afternoon session. After lunch we fished a stretch of more open water. I saw a couple of nice fish below a bridge, they were feeding. They were moving up and down a pool under a big old Willow Tree. I flicked a Mayfly imitation over one of the fish but it didn’t react. I swapped to a badger winged Mayfly and that was taken immediately. As the fish charged off downstream I held it too hard and the tippet broke. It was a good fish, damn.
We walked upstream, there were broad open reaches, deep corners and gravelly shallows with thousands of minnows. It was good to see such a healthy stream with crystal clear water. Near the top of the stretch I found a fish rising just below a Ranunculus bed, it rose to an Olive but I was too slow. At the top I caught a small, wild fish from a weedy glide under an Alder tree. We sat in the shade for a while and cooled down.
Lower down the stream widened out as it dropped over a weir below which was a deep pool with a huge weed bed. Down the nearside the water was deep and fast and along the far bank was a shallow gravel run. I saw a Trout’s tail waving under the trailing weed fronds and crouched down for cover, it hadn’t seen me. I tied on a nameless, olive bodied fly with a bushy ginger hackle. Two Trout about a couple of pounds each came out from under the weeds and stationed themselves in the gravel run, perfect! It was a tricky upstream cast but the fly landed above the fish and floated down, without drag, right over the fish. Nothing. The second cast had the same effect. Both fish swam under the far bank and disappeared into the bankside weeds. There was only about six inches of water and yet two large Trout had hidden themselves completely. I presented the fly ‘up and across’ the stream and drifted it close to the bankside weeds a dozen times but it was ignored. As I watched the stream one of the fish came out from under the bank, across the pool and into the deep run under my bank where it continued to ignore my fly.
Above the weir several fish were rising, one accepted my dry fly and I returned a fat little brownie of about eight ounces. As we were making our way back we saw a fish rise several times. It looked like a good fish. I tried to capture the moment of it’s downfall but although it rose nicely to a Black Gnat, I missed the photo opportunity and Nigel missed the take.
We were both tired. The water had become coloured by cattle upstream so we made our way back to the farmyard and our cars. Tired, hot, thirsty but fulfilled, I would remember the day forever. It had been my best days fishing for a long time.
Thank you very much Nigel 🙂