Friday, July 30, 2010

Week 104

Week 104

The river is fast losing any sparkle that remains; the water has dropped markedly and is not far off the level it was at this time last year. Weed growth has steadied up, although the ribbon weed is sticking its nose through the surface of the water. Fishing is hard; rods are now resorting to nymphs to take fish during the day, with some brief sedge fishing in the evening. Many of the Brown Trout have tucked themselves away and not putting in an appearance for most of the day. It is amazing how so many fish can hide away in a small river with gin clear water, the clarity and size of the river draw you into thinking that most fish must be visible, but Brown Trout are particularly adept at tucking themselves away when they need to, which is why many beats started stocking Rainbows at this time of the year, a practice that many now undertake throughout the season. There is one female Brown Trout on the middle stretch this beat of around 8lb that I have only twice this year, and felt once when she crashed into my legs during the weed cut.

The flight pond is alive with Roach and Rudd fry that provide a daily feast for a family of Kingfishers, distracting them from my pond of Brown Trout fry further down the river. They are on and around the pond most of the day, taking advantage of the low clear water, there are a dozen or more Bream of between four and six pound who occasionally get their heads down and colour the water, affording the fry a little protection, but they too have taken to spending much of the day basking near the surface in the warm water.

The winter barley in the hundred acre field that borders one side of this stretch of the valley was harvested recently, and within a few days the stubble played host to around a hundred geese, an obvious distraction for our own harlot of the Goose world whose charges are now almost fully grown, how long before she does a bunk to go and play with the boys in the corn. They must have put some barley out the back of the combine because they have been there a few days now, along with a few ducks that have discovered the free feed.
One of our Friday rods, recently brought along a well-known fisherman in these parts. Advanced in years and as fit as a flea, he would fish some or other part of the river most days of the week. A resident of Stockbridge high street, he used to strike fear into the fishery management students gaining experience on the middle river. He once barked from fifty yards for me to stand stock still as I returned home for lunch with, what was for a puny teenager a heavy strimmer. A fish looked like it may rise and I may affect its decision to take his fly. I stood for many minutes frozen to the spot as he waited intently for the fish to rise before standing me down and moving on to another fish. He is still an accomplished fisherman, and fishes more days than not. I compulsively stand still on hearing his voice. I once walked into a pub in the depths of winter, and was greeted with the bellow “ I Know You!” from across the bar, which froze me to the spot. At another fisherman/journalist’s 70th birthday party on a nearby cricket field, he fixed me from twenty yards with another “You’re so and so from up the river!” which left me standing on the same spot fielding fishing questions for twenty minutes, much to my wife’s chagrin who was heavily pregnant at the time and desperate to get home. An entertaining and knowledgeable fisherman I would imagine he has fished almost all of this river system during his life and maintains the same enthusiasm for the sport as he did when striking fear into the hearts of fishery management students twenty odd years ago.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Week 103

Week 103

Where did all the water go? The river that looked in great shape mid April has been reduced by half following a prolonged dry spell that has bought hosepipe bans to various parts of the country. It’s early season sparkle dimmed by an explosion of blanket weed that hides the clean gravel and swamps the once verdant weed.
Fishing has been hard but not impossible, unlike last season we have experienced some good sedge fishing with the fish feeding hard for a short period most evenings.

I have had a schoolboy with me on his year 10 work experience, and have made the most of the extra pair of hands to get some two-man jobs done. Most of the week has been spent moving fish around the ponds. We have had to have a reshuffle to make room for some Rainbows that we are growing on for our neighbouring big fish water, five hundred pink striped ravenous lumps that grow at twice the speed of our more refined home grown Browns. The lakes in question have had a hard time in recent weeks, the water temperature in the lakes soaring to 24 Celsius sending the trout soporific and reluctant to feed. The temperature in the river is currently around 18 Celsius, although the Mill Stream is now still water and several degrees higher as we no longer have enough water to run it.

The Pond is currently full of fry, mostly Roach, Rudd and Perch with the odd Bream. We have around a dozen Carp left that have been feeding on the surface, along with a shoal of twenty Bream of around 3lb that have broken with type and now look to the surface for sustenance. My son and his mate’s recent fishing efforts resulted in a net full of year old Perch and many many Rudd. There are also Roach fry in the river along with some huge shoals of Minnows.

We were away watching a cricket match in the centre of Basingstoke this past weekend and for over an hour a Red Kite was checking out the ground, they seem to be almost as common as Buzzards around here at the moment unless it is the same one or two who get around a lot. Swallows and Martins are still way down on numbers from a few years ago, while the Ducks who have had later broods have benefited from the warm weather with large numbers of off spring surviving through to adult plumage. Coots and Moorhens have also had a good year, and may need sorting out in the winter months. Coots and Moorhens shot on Vermin day on a stretch of the Test on which I carried out pre college work experience invariably ended up in the pot. Several Keepers would take them home to pluck in front of the fire while watching Crossroads, to be served up at a later date. One retired keeper liked the breasts fried in butter, along with much of his day to day food. He also grew his own tobacco and pitched up in the pub well into his eighties. His son, who is now also retired, was regularly talked off as one of the best keepers on the river and is blessed with carpentry skills that have chucked up a dozen or more fishing huts on the middle Test that could fill a whole series of “Grand Designs”