“Here Comes The Sun” by the Beatles blared out of my radio as I drove down the A3 to Hampshire. An unseasonable weekend of April sunshine meant I decided on a last minute switch from fishing at Albury to fishing at Avington Trout Fishery. My reasoning was that the strong sunlight and clear waters at this location would give great trout-stalking opportunities for this fishery’s larger trout. Big trout don’t come cheap, but I had the winner at yesterday’s Grand National. One For Arthur came in at 17-1. That’s my day of fishing paid for.
I was keen to see how my new tackle would stand up against the bigger fish. I’d newly acquired a Hardy Jet Fly Rod 9ft #4, a Hardy Ultralite CADD 3000 Fly Reel #3/4 teamed with a RIO InTouch Gold Fly Line WF4F. Maybe a little light for this kind of fishing, but in my previous visit to this fishery, long casting wasn’t necessary and I hoped the reel’s drag would cope with whatever was thrown at it.
In the fishery’s office, one chap claimed to have caught seven trout. Lake 3 was “fishing its socks off” he declared, despite his reservations about the bright conditions. I paid the £70 3-fish ticket, and tackled up.
In the afternoon sunshine I made a leisurely inspection of the venue’s waters: an offshoot of the River Itchen and three lakes stocked with a mixture of browns and rainbows. A few wild brown trout and grayling swam in the clear waters of the chalk stream. I couldn’t resist a few speculative flicks with a small hare’s ear nymph as I passed between the stream and Lake 1. I’ll have to work on my technique for clear streams like this. Most fish were spooked and darted away before I had spotted them.
A nesting swan hissed as I came too close. I tied on a Blue Flash Damsel and turned my attention to the lakes. Large rainbows patrolled the shallows. A few fat carp sunned themselves in the upper levels. Tiny ducklings followed their mother in formation across the surface.
I made short casts towards passing trout. I’m very impressed with the Hardy Jet. It cast like a dream with very little effort. The RIO line had a little memory which I’m hoping that will drop out with use. The first fish I hooked into was a large rainbow. On such light tackle if fought for five minutes, making several hard runs, before I lost it as it threw the barbless hook. Oh, well. You can’t lose what you never had, said some famous fisherman. Probably.
To mix things up I tied on a #10 Woolly Bugger with a large bullet head. This heavier lure would target the sunshine-shy deeper fish. This choice provoked a number of follows, but only one bite. The lure was in and out of the fish’s mouth before I could react. I returned to the ever reliable Blue Flash Damsel. This is a very popular stillwater lure, and I can see why. Fish react to it unlike any other offering I’ve seen. Its olive colour is similar to the pond weed and doesn’t stand out, so it’s a bit of a mystery to me why it works. Maybe it is similar to the trout pellets the fish have been accustomed to eating all their lives?
Two more rainbows took the damsel today. I landed both. One just over five pounds, one just under. Both made long, hard runs, testing the reel’s drag, before reluctantly coming to the net.
Rather than catch the third fish my ticket allowed, I spent the last half-hour bothering the wild fish on the carrier stream. My un-stealthy approach meant I scared more fish than I was able to cast towards. However, in a deeper pool I remained out of sight and cast a good few times. A pink shrimp pattern interested some small fish, but none were bold enough to take it. In hindsight, I wish I’d changed over to a smaller red-tag fly.
I took a last look at the lakes. A slight breeze picked up and rippled the surface; the trees cast ever longer shadows onto the water. The trout were hidden. Time to go.
- 2 Rainbow Trout (Blue Flash Damsel)