27 August – River Itchen

Rain was forecast for the afternoon and as I woke early, it seemed sensible to leave the house without breakfast. The traffic was light and I arrived in good spirits to fish a Beat that I had been rained-off a few weeks earlier, the Long Reach.

The air was heavy with the scent of new mown grass and the river looked in excellent condition, flowing fast and with a hint of colour from the heavy rain the day before. I peeped over the neatly trimmed marginal plants and saw three fish in the first pool. They were active, a great way to start the day. I soon got into a routine of presenting a dry fly and after several casts, quietly retreating to select another. Each change of fly boosted my confidence for a few minutes until it too was ignored. I was convinced that each change of fly would immediately provoke a take but of course, nothing happened. I decided to rest the fish and move upstream.

I found a couple of fish in a narrow run just above an overhanging Willow. The casts were well measured and accurate but each fly was ignored by both fish. On my last visit I had spent a lot of time trying to tempt fish from a large shoal only to be later informed that they were Sea Trout. I had been wasting my time and I wondered if I was repeating that error. One of the Trout was a very light colour and looked like a wild brownie. I repeated the present-ignore-change cycle at several more pools on my way to the top of the Beat. None of the fish showed the slightest interest in my offerings.

During the walk back to the bottom of the Beat I found a group of very large fish under the near bank in a deep run. After a sandwich and drink I felt energised, Red Bull has that effect, ready for a successful afternoon. I fished each of the pools again using all my secret weapons but the fish were indifferent. Parachute flies, neoprene buzzers and Black Gnats all failed to stir the Trout into action.

The group of large fish in the deep run were active and I thought this was my best chance. A big dark coloured specimen turned and followed my fly downstream but showed no sign of taking. I think it was just changing it’s lie. I walked back to the bottom of the Beat to start my third journey upstream but just as I started to plan an attack the forecast rain arrived and I realised I had run out of time. The poor light and rain drops obscured all of the sub-surface activity. It’s no fun fishing blind on a chalkstream and I called it a day.