Originally posted 06 October 2006
It’s Friday and I’m looking out of my Bristol office window at a grey, wet & windy October day – not a day that would inspire one to go fishing. At times like these, with the new season too far away to start planning a new campaign, you can only reminisce about the season just gone.
I am, and always have been an early riser. Leaving my house at 6:10 I can usually be in the office before 7, which means that I can leave by 3:30 and be fishing by 4. I am fortunate that the stretch of the Little River Avon that I fish is situated almost exactly half way between home & office & is only 5 minutes from junction 14 of the M5, this allows me to spend much more time fishing than would otherwise be the case and, through the summer I have spent many delightful afternoons/evenings getting to know this river a little better.
I first saw the river in March or April while I was waiting for my Charfield AA membership to come through. She was high but clear & fish were showing in all of the expected places – enough to whet the appetite of a would be river angler. Spending a bit more time studying the river I noticed that there were fish where I [with no experience of rivers] would not have expected to see them – in the open, shallow, gravelly stretches in the inside of bends. This observation was to stand me in good stead later in the season as I took several fish from these spots – almost exclusively Grayling – when the more obviously fishy looking lies proved unproductive.
I am growing to love this little river, though she could not be called beautiful in the classic chalk stream sense, she offers enough variation and challenge to keep me going back for more. Back in May, while everyone was anticipating the Mayfly, she was high & thick with mud, barelling through at a rate of knots and carving a new course for herself where her progress was obstructed by fallen trees. In the dog-days she was low & quiet, the temperature of bath water and very unpromising from a fishing perspective. Surprisingly, even in these conditions there are still deep runs to be found and the odd fish willing enough to be winkled out with skill, judgement or sheer bloody luck.
In all seasons she is overgrown. Nature seems to conspire to place an Alder or Willow branch in exactly the right place to make casting to a rising fish difficult or downright impossible. Oh, how I envied the tweed clad patrons of the Test or Itchen in those moments; never a backward obstruction for these chaps & if there were perhaps to be an arborial limb, reaching out to grab cast or fly, you can bet that the keeper & his family would be evicted from their cottage by sunset. Ah well! If the LA were as well manicured, I wouldn’t be able to afford to fish there! And besides, I think I’ve learned more about casting in one short season than I would in a lifetime on the Hampshire chalk-streams.
So there she is, with all her faults. Learn to take the challenges in your stride, accept the mood swings and the rewards with equal measure. She’s worth it.