Saturday, 1 April 2017

Opening day on the upper Wilts Avon

Well its been a long time but worth the wait. Opening day I set out to spend quite a few hours on the upper Avon in Wiltshire on the Salisbury ticket. One of their few beats that allow the use of nymph early in the season probably when you most need it if you want to tempt a fish. Anyway it was a lovely day light breeze but relatively warm, about 15C, and the river was running well, not gin clear but pretty clear. Walking the freshly mown paths a Stoat ran across into the woodland just five yards ahead of me. The bird life was in glorious song and I watched a Sparrowhawk dash through the trees with a Blackbird precariously held in its claws. I had missed these moments of nature, almost as much as the fishing, and it was great to be back. No one on the bank except those looking for leisurely stroll round the stocked lakes.

From the bottom of the beat I made my way upstream casting the nymph at fairly close range as the river is quite confined here. the first few runs produced nothing so I downsized the fly and leader and as if by magic my first wild trout of the season came to hand. I stuck with the little brass nymph and then I hooked a solid lump. After a battle which I initially thought was a stockie I just about netted a beast of a Grayling. I estimated it at near 45cm and over 2lb. Without too much fuss I gently held it in the flow and watched him swim away all coloured up and in the throws of spawning. Needless to say I felt guilty, but privileged to have held such creature in my hands.

I went on to catch many more Grayling, some big, some small, but tried to avoid any shoals I had clocked moving upstream. I caught a handful of wild Brownies and the odd obvious stocked fish. In the moments of real warmth in the sun small upwings began to come off and the odd rise materialised. I immediately switched to the dry and although not connecting tempted several rises from small fish.



At the top end of the beat I was snapped off by a very large Rainbow and watched with curiosity the unnatural behaviour of the stockies ignoring the nymph on the dead drift but chasing competitively in shoals as soon as I imparted any movement. For one moment I tempted myself with the thought of a Damsel which would have cleaned up, luckily for them the biggest fly in my box was a Size 14 Hares Ear. Exhausted but fulfilled I return home, I know its trout season but a PB Grayling can't be ignored!

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