Sunday, 17 November 2013

Scratchin' the Itch

Some years ago I was lucky to get to fish the Test on some of it's fabulous beats, treating customers to days out! This was a completely new kind of river to me, someone who was brought up on the Warwickshire Avon and Severn. I loved it.
So when I had a phone call from Martin suggesting a day on the Itchen I jumped at the chance. He arranged day tickets for the Lower Itchen Fishery above Gaters Mill for Joe, me and himself. As I had done previously on our trip to the Wye, I opted to take a leisurely drive down the day before rather than get up at some godforsaken hour on the day. After a hearty breakfast at a proper caff (didn't want the pre-packed rubbish the Travel Lodge offered) I was on the water by 7:30 and had a good mooch before Joe and Martin arrived.

The river is a mixture of fast glides and some deeper runs.

I thought such a place desrved a little respect so set up my Edgar Sealy "Rover" with a centre pin loaded with 3lbs line. A cane and balsa Avon completed the outfit.

Being the gentleman I am, I waited for the others to arrive and even sorted out a comfortable parking area for both cars! We had a big bend in the river to ourselves and were able to rotate swims.

We were all quickly into fish, mainly small grayling up to 1lb.

When I changed from corn to maggots I started to attract the attentions of tiny parr.
After a few hours Martin and Joe decided to go for a recce upsteam and settled into a couple of likely swims. After about an hour I had a phone call from a breathless Martin urging me to get up there quickly with my camera. He'd managed to annoy a cock salmon of about 5.5lbs into taking his double red maggot on a size 16 hook!
Both he and Joe caught a couple of Sea Trout and I managed a Brownie of exactly 1.5lbs on double red maggots. It looked as if it had been in trouble with something as its tail had been munched. Either that or it was a fungle problem.
By mid afternoon, Martin had decided that he'd caught enough grayling and was going to go back downstream to the mill in search of some chub and I joined him. While he feeder fished the weir pool I stayed on the float in a nice little swim on the old mill race.

As you can see from the photo, I'd packed away the traditional gear in favour of a 15' trotting rod. I scaled up from size 16s to a size 10 which carried a big chunk of Hovis's best. What chub could resist such a prized piece of processed white loaf? Well, these could. But as a consolation prize a 2.5lbs brownie decided it was time for a late lunch.
To finish off a most enjoyable day, I spent some time watching a grey wagtail on the far bank and a typically cheeky robin munching my maggots.

All 3 of us had good bags of graying mixed with some more exotics like salmon and sea trout so a great, but tiring day out. I would say in the peaceful Hampshire countryside, but upstream we had the planes taking off from Southampton airport 800 yards away and at the mill we had the M27 traffic thundering 50 yards away!