River Avon SDFFA waters
Weather: Mild with a little sun but occasional blasts of drizzle; windy but warm in sheltered spots
Rod: George Maurer “Harry’s Rod” 8’ 5wt (This is one of Maurer’s last rods, as he died while this was just getting to completion — it was finished for me by the Dietrich brothers).
Reel: Orvis Battenkill III with SA Mastery Trout (WF), then switched to Cortland Sylk 444 (DT)
Dep London 0615
Arr Tank Crossing C about 0815 after stop for coffee and victualling at Popham. Walked down across meadows to Durrington footbridge and fished back up to X-C. Saw no fish, as river is deep there and was slightly coloured.
Found had left amadou behind, so drove to Stockbridge to Orvis shop to see if they had any (19 miles/20 minutes). Also found that ferrules had stuck on Maurer rod. No amadou, but they did unstick the rod for me and showed me a Wes Jordan original but brand new cane rod. Apparently they’d found 40 completed blanks that had been put away in an attic and had made them into finished rods. A snip at £2,300. Bought hat with lights in it. £19.
Returned to Figheldean Bridge, where I met Martin (Browne), the keeper. Interesting chat. Apparently, the number of regular and long-term members of the SDFFA is pretty low—postings are for two years and, save for the senior members, there is not much continuity. Martin thinks September and October the best time on the river, unless it’s a wet Autumn—fewer people on the river.
Walked downstream along the edge of the trees, but in the field, not along the bank, to Bluegate Pool and fished back up to the bridge. There are some nice fish there but the fishing is very difficult unless you can slip into the water, as trees run almost down to the bank on the whole stretch. NOTE: as you exit the path and reach the river at the Pool, with stile on your right, there is a nice holding spot for a largeish trout right in front of you in the middle of the river. A big fish swirled up to look at my red nymph (from Gliffaes, and which Martin approved of) but was put off, I think, by the bloody great fish pimp indicator (which three casts later flew off, anyway). Had a go at a large shoal of grayling, including some big specimens, but could not tempt them. They were in skittish mood, which is unusual on the Avon at least in my experience so far. I had one smallish grayling but was able to shake him free by giving him some slack as I brought him to the bank. Grayling often hook themselves awkwardly and I prefer them to unhook themselves, if possible, once the fight is done.
Martin said that the pattern of fishing in mid-season was roughly: nymph from about 10am until about 3pm, then dry-fly from about 5.30pm until it gets pitch black—and he reckoned the later you could stay on the water the better. He said that it reverses in Autumn, and that dries are the order of the day save towards the evening.
I finished the day by going up to my favourite spot at Tank Crossing B, fishing a little way back up Beat 2, just round the bend from the large tree, where I had a little grayling, then going upstream of the Bailey Bridge. I had a small trout there on one of Roy Curtis’s Avon Special Emergers, then at 1945 a call from C__ to say that A___ was a little unwell and would I come home.
Tackled down in about 3 seconds flat then roared home, doing the 90 mile trip in about 1hr 20mins.
Bring on 1 July when we can start wading.