Recently I was very kindly invited to fish a wonderful section of the beautiful R.Wylye set deep in the Wiltshire countryside, the offer was far too good to refuse and Mike who would be my host and I organised a day on the banks amongst my incredibly busy work schedule, just the tonic!
The previous day I was guiding on a picturesque R.Test tributary where my client for the day targeted the Grayling, once we had had our day, I packed up and drove down to the R.Itchen via the kebab house in Eastleigh - Large Kofte with salad, chilli sauce and chip :) - as I looked to continue my quest for an Itchen double, a fish that so far has eluded me and by 3am the decision was made to pull the plug so I could grab some shut-eye before driving up to Amesbury after a biteless 6hrs, yet again.
It is incredibly frustrating fishing on the Barbel front, seems its either feast or famine as between mid July to the end of September I'd managed to chalk off FIVE target rivers with lets face it pretty limited time what with my busy life at the moment. 29hrs so far on the Itchen (overnighters between work usually) for not even a bite! but I know they are there, albeit not in great numbers, so I will continue as I have no back-up area to target where a double is a possibility should I get a bite.
Alas, we move on to the Grayling and having met with Mike at a leisurely 0830 we headed to a couple of lovely looking beats where I was assured the Lady of the Stream resided, so I began to trot white maggots down a wide sweeping bend around 4ft and feeding roughly ten maggots per trot to build the swim. It took just one trot to get a solid pull on the float and it felt like a big Grayling, twisting in the flow as expected, a minute later a Brown Trout surfaced and slipped into the net. Not what I expected given the fight.
The next bite didn't disappoint as a Grayling around 1lb 8oz came to the net which was quickly followed by the loss of what looked and felt like a big Grayling, with Mike peering in he suggested it was a good "2lb" which further asserted what I thought! Not great and I'd have to wait for a decent amount of trots to pass by before I did get another shot at a Grayling and this one didn't come off.
|A decent fish to kick off proceedings, properly. 1lb 12oz.|
Then the bites began to dry up, so having plenty of experience with Grayling I know just a change up can work wonders in eeking more out of each peg/run/swim, so I changed over to red maggots and deepened up 2'' and began to feed in the same manner, bites didn't take long to come again and within twenty minutes I had another four Grayling and two Trout but one Grayling was in that bracket I really wanted to catch....my first "two pounder" of the day.
|A raggedy 2lb 4oz specimen, thick as anything!|
Then by the time I had had nine Grayling out of the first peg it went dead and decided to move on up and find a fish or two amongst the gravel and weed runs, but a brief pause to take a couple of photos was needed, be a shame to not show how lovely it is here!
|Conditions really were absolutely superb.|
Mike decided on fishing downstream and I moved on up to see what was lurking around, but apart from two smaller Grayling around a pound and a very cautious Otter it didn't pay off so I moved downstream after lunch and a natter with Mike to see what else lye in wait.
After lunch I decided to work the top of the next beat and work my way down until I ran out of light, this time of year thats a lot earlier than perhaps we'd all like. First peg down looked lovely and 2.8" in depth and pretty steady I opted to fish straight away and feed from the get go and within twenty seconds of my first beginning a large Grayling took my double reds and fought hard in the pacy flow, wearing my polaroids I could see the fish clearly and knew I need to get this beauty in!
|I need not have worried, 2lb 5oz and my best of the day.|
A tense battle under the rod tip was pretty nerve jangling, along with a great hook hold behind the scissor plate my long landing net handle bridged the gap and a quick couple of snaps was followed by the typical batter me on the bank then play dead, a minute later she cruised off after some gentle holding in the current, no sooner did I get my next trot going my float sailed under exactly where it went down the trot before and the hook set into another big Grayling, another long fish twisted and turned in the current, making a bid to escape, yet again I was fortunate with the hook hold as this time the hook was in the folds of net when I began to look for it, fine margins and all that, this beauty was yet another "two pounder" but weighing less than she looked, but thats fish for you.
|My third "2lber" of the day, excellent, 2lb 0oz|
As I opted to move down again as the previous peg dried up I began to hook Grayling pretty quickly and after three fish around 1lb 8oz a bigger fish took two whites and made off downstream in the flow, sail up and broadside I knew this was the doing of a better fish and within thirty seconds the hooked slipped and a powerful tail slap was its final goodbye, I wasn't going to land that one...it looked bigger than any I'd caught up to then, such a shame, we can't win them all.
But my day didn't finish there, as I made my way further down on my first trot a nice Grayling came up in the water column and intercepted my two whites before they hit the trotting line, a good fish and once in the net I weighed her and another 2lb 0oz fish, this one I opted to just slip back straight away, a lovely fish, which was number 16 for the day and my last three fish were again of a smaller stamp around the 1-1.08 mark and a couple of Trout to finish up on what was a great day on a river I'd never fished before and must confess I have read much about the Wylye and it's sister rivers, which I am yet to have step foot on, but who knows that may change in the future.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and the elusive "three pound" specimen will have to wait a bit longer :)