Lower Itchen Fishery
0900 - 1815
Bright and breezy and quite warm after overnight rain - temps didn't dip below 16ºC all day. River really quite low despite this week's rain and carrying a bit of colour which dropped out during the day.
23 Grayling; 8 over 1lb - best 4, 2lb, 1lb 10oz & 1lb 8oz. 3 Chub; All over 2lb, best 4lb 14oz, 10 Roach (all small, alas), a dace, a small perch, a gudgeon, 4 brownies - biggest a cracking looking fish of 3lb, 1 small sea trout & 7 Salmon parr.
A trip, which despite weeks of anticipation, nearly didn't happen! Paul and I have been fishing here for many a year now and the routine is now a familiar one. My house at 0615 (though Paul is usually 5mins late!), Little Chef, A34 Sutton Scotney for 0700 (Olympic & OJ for me, Early Starter and a pot of tea for Paul), LIF by 0800 - fishing by 0815 at the latest! For this trip I was also under instruction from Paul not to get his new car too dirty - he only picked it up on Weds - so I even put in a clean set of clothes to change into after we finished.
I wasn't overly alarmed to get a call at bang on 0615 - fully expected to hear from Paul that he'd just pulled off the motorway and would be 5 mins. Well the first part was right - though limped off the motorway would be more accurate - as he'd broken down with an over heated engine - having lost all it's coolant! 142 miles on the clock - the AA man did have a chuckle - newest car he'd ever attended!
Thankfully after quite a bit of head scratching the problem was located - a plastic spacer used to keep the clip from attaching the hose to the thermostat housing during manufacture hadn't been removed (which would have engaged the spring clip) when it left the factory meaning the pipe had come loose and emptied coolant all over the gear box - and stank out the car in the process.
Having got Paul going, the AA man followed him to my house to check everything was OK and whilst he finished off the repair we rejigged our timetable for the day. And it was bye bye breaky!! I did us some toast and we decide that we'd head straight for the fishery - fishing time being EVEN more important than a fry up! However, whizzing past the LC at 70mph did feel a little strange!
On arrival I was quickly wondering why I'd bothered as I had a very frustrating first hour, We both started in the same pool - often a hotspot and a good place for both of us to get off the mark. I fished red sweetcorn (something I'd continue to do for most of the rest of the day - all my better fish were caught on it) while Paul fished maggot. There's no doubt I got the majority of bites - but fish after fish kept coming off. 'Your hooks not sharp enough', said Paul (I checked it - it was). After getting bitten off by a trout I changed patterns which seemed to do the trick - as I started to land fish - including the trout that had bitten me off 10 mins earlier - my original hook being retrieved from its scissors.
We both caught pound plus fish from this first swim - though I was hoping for something a little more impressive - something I eventually achieved by letting my float trot down the glide below the pool - I connected with, and thankfully landed this time, the only 2lber of the day.
Roach were also high on our agenda for this trip so for most of the rest of the day we eschewed the usual grayling hotspots in search of redfins (though I was also after a chub or 2!). Paul even got out the feeder rod a couple of times. By the end of the day our final tallies were very similar Paul had more grayling than me with a best of around 1½lb, a couple of nice chub, fewer roach - though those he did catch were a much better stamp than mine - being around the 8-10oz mark. However, I think the highlight of his day was getting an eel when he was feeder fishing - almost by design too - twas from a spot where we've seen them caught before (another point in his species race comp - hence the delight!)
As tradition befits we rounded the trip off with dinner and a lovely pint of ale in a local hostelry while we let the rush hour die down.
The bit of plastic that caused all the problems...
My 2lber & 4-14 Chub
Paul's eel and biggest chub (unweighed as his scales were knacked - but I reckon a similar size to mine...)