Nice to see you again

Nice to see you again

Tracy&James | Sunday, 10 October 2021

Last weekend, after the BFCC competition, Tracy and I had the opportunity to fish the River Test in Hampshire (many thanks for the invite Gilly!). This was a rare chance for us to sight fish as, however well we know the position of fish in the river Dee, from watching them rise, we can’t actually see the fish in there. We usually get our fix of sight fishing on our flats trips, but they haven’t happened in the last two years for obvious reasons – hopefully this will change in 2022. As such, the gin clear chalk stream water offered a perfect end to our weekend and the trout fishing season.

The weather forecast for the day was not great; 15 to 20mph winds with heavy downpours of rain.  This was on top of a huge amount a water that had fallen the previous day, as we noted as we negotiated the spray on the M3 on the way into Hampshire.  However, we shouldn’t have worried – the wind wasn’t a strong as predicted, certainly not enough to consider going up in weight from our usual #3s, and the river itself was at its normal level and crystal clear (it takes a lot of rain to colour up the Test).

I felt I had a bit of a score to settle with the bigger grayling as the last time we fished the same beat I hooked a big male that made full use of its oversize dorsal fin and the fast flow of water to go over the weir where I was fishing (from a bridge) and escape.  I saw the size of that fish as it pretty much passed under my feet, bending the tip of my rod into an alarming curve.

On arrival at the water’s edge I made my way to the exact same weir as Tracy headed upstream.  I was greeted by the sight of a shoal of good sized grayling with the occasional lunker amongst them.  Although the fish were hunkered down on the gravel patches between the flowing ranunculus weed, I thought I’d start with a dry fly as the water was maybe 20 inches in depth and there was the occasional late season up-wing in the air.  This was met with immediate success, being taken by a nice grayling, however this proved to be a one off.  After persisting with the dry for probably too long I eventually succumbed and put a weighted nymph on – a non-descript pheasant tail affair with a bit of colour in the collar just behind the tungsten bead.

What followed was some of the best sport I’ve ever had on a river.  Targeting individual fish and striking at any deviation from their holding position, i.e. if I saw the fish suddenly move 2 inches to the side when I knew the fly was in the vicinity I would set the hook.  I think it’s fair to say this turned out to be a successful tactic, so much so that when Tracy joined me, saw the shoal of fish and enquired if I’d caught any I felt like saying ‘yes, all of them’.

Whether this was true or not didn’t matter.  However, whilst Tracy was with me something a little unusual happened in that I caught a big grayling for the second time that day.  It was definitely the same fish as it had a mark on its flank from where it had been grabbed by a bird (probably a heron) at some point in its life.  This was definitely my cue to go and fish elsewhere.

This is the first time I can be certain of catching the same grayling twice in a day.  This has happened to me quite a few times in the past though with various species.  I’ve definitely caught the same carp twice in a day on a number of occasions, suggesting they’re perhaps not as wily as they were once thought.  It’s also happened with trout and perhaps more surprisingly with bonefish.  This got me thinking about which fish I thought was least likely to be fooled twice in a short time and I came to perhaps a surprising conclusion – for the fishing I’ve done it’s a flats lemon shark.  By this I mean the bigger fish (i.e. the 5 foot plus ones), not the babies.  There’s been a number of occasions when I’ve caught a territorial fish which upon release stays in the area.  What’s been noticeable is that these fish will not come anywhere near me for days or weeks after their initial capture.  So perhaps they’re not a dumb as some people make out.

Have a great week,