Saturday, 16 May 2009

A Day On The River Test May 15th

Spent a day on the hallowed waters of the River Test courtesy of a Corporate Day, John S could not make it so I was fortunate enough to be offered the day.

Travelled down to Stockbridge on Thursday getting there about 1700 so the "essential shops" were still open. Went into the Orvis shop, it's very simialr to the one in Bakewell, to try and find out the SP. Told that the mayfly were hatching along with a few olives and sedge in the evening. Then went over the road to Robjents, here the proprietor was extremely helpful recommending the killing patterns however as I tie my own tried to resist the temptation but succumbed to 2 "Robjents Daddy Longlegs" as its not a fly I usually use, informed the chap that he was extremely privelidged as it is about 25 years since I have actually bought any flies! A really good shop and if you are ever in the area well worth a visit to buy or browse, as we do. If you have never been to Stockbridge it is a lovely market town with pieces of the River Test at strategic points of the high street with the residential brown and rainbow monsters ala Bakewell town centre. However as the local tandoori was just across the way from one particular stretch I am sure the residents here probably would come out ready curried!

Stayed overnight at The White Hart, a welcoming inn at the top of the high streeat again recommended, were I met my hosts Kevin and Dave. Had dinner at the 3 Cups, certainly an entertaining evening!

On Friday morning went down to the Bossington Estate beats where we met Rob the organiser and owner of Halcyon Ways the Corporate Entertaining Business which organises this kind of day. Breakfast was laid on in the fishing hut (I say fishing hut more like a small bungalow you could easily live in) whilst we received the details of how the day was going to pan out with the do's and don'ts namely UPSTREAM DRY FLY ONLY. The River Test looked stunning although a bit coloured but magnificent with fish rising to mayfly which had started to hatch by this time, 1000. Tested my fly was ok at the edge and immediately Jaws grabbed it, a brown of about 8lbs! Needless to say it threw the hook, so carried on upstream wondering what was going to happen next. Do you ever get those days when you rise fish and hook them but they get off within 10 seconds, well this was starting like that. There were fish rising constantly here and there and amongst the mayfly were a couple of different types of olives. Decided to change to a mayfly after so many fish were seen rising and bang, the first to stay on was a brown of about 3lbs in fin perfect condition but obviously stocked. The rain started and though a few mayfly continued to come off the majority of the fish ignored them. Walked upstream to a thatched fishing hut to shelter but passed a few fish taking something small from the surface so covered them with my mayfly using a bow-and-arrow cast as there was bamboo behind me. Again after a couple of drifts a brown took and hared off upstream with me in pursuit as I only had a 4lb point on. Landed it and another superb brown in excellent condition about 4lbs. This went on catching all browns nothing smaller than 2 1/2lbs during the showers.

At about 1230 the heavens opened and so decided to head back to the hut for lunch at 1330 not seeing any fish rise on the way. Following a hearty lunch washed down with some very fine wine we adjourned to the river again, by which the rain had ceased. I took John G, a newcomer to flyfishing who only fished the previous 2 years at this same event, to a beat which Rob informed us had not been fished much. Did not see any fish rising until we got to a weirpool so encouraged John to cast to the edge of the fast water. After a couple of casts he hooked a fine brown and I managed to net it for him. The photo below is the fish, as you can see in first class condition.

Worked our way back to the hut for high tea catching browns all the way back to mayfly which were still coming off. Following tea the temperature dropped and the fly disappeared along with most of the fish so decided to walk downstream to take some photos. Passed a few likely looking places but no fish rising now. Put my mayfly across a weirpool and took another good brown which was duly returned like all my other fish. Got back to the hut at 1930 by which time only our group was left.

Most of the company were virgin fly fishers and had all taken fish which is encouraging to get people interested in fly fishing, they all appeared to enjoy themselves. John who had only fished a couple of times before took home 4 superb browns.

Made for home at 2030 by which time the sun had come out and lit up the whole valley now that fishing for the day was done for.

Once again many thanks to Dave and Kevin who hosted us, and John S for suggesting me to take his place.

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