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A memorable day on the Avon

The Magnificent Cathedral over looking the Avon. The huge bed of high Rush like Canes on the Avon. A tricky cast from here! Anthonys' fly that did the damage! Anthony with his Chub A closer look at the chub

How would I fancy a day with the Fly Rod on the Avon at Salisbury my brother John asked? Is the Pope Catholic!

As the wife and I were booked in the Sands Hotel Bournemouth for a week’s Holiday, a day on the Avon would make a perfect interlude from trailing around shops.

I picked John up at Salisbury Station, now living on the Isle of White he had come over on the ferry to Southampton then train to Salisbury. He is a member of Salisbury AC and had sorted a day ticket out for me.

Parking near to the Nadder we made our way along this well-known little tributary, till we reached the Famous River itself.

Now when you get to my age mid "70s" and you have grown up reading Bernard Venables and Mister Crabtree and the fantastic Roach catches of Col Parker and Col Crow etc.you just drink in scenes like this! The Magnificent Cathedral overlooking the Avon and I just wondered at all the Famous Anglers not to mention Artists that have trod these banks.(photo 033)

It was a warm early October day. The Avon was low and clear! but on his last trip John had taken a few Brown Trout to 1lb, another member had landed a good brown of 3lb in May so hope springs internal. I personally was not to bothered what fish took it into its head to take my fly.

Putting up a small hackled Grey Duster I soon rose a Dace, followed by a small Grayling then a steady flow of Salmon parr which bodes well for the rivers future! All returned safely. They took me back to my days on the Severn when as a ten year old I would cast a tatty Greenwells all day and catch countless Chub, Dace and the endless stream of Salmon Parr. I eventually arrived at large over hanging Sycamore Tree on the opposite bank! With a huge bed of high rush like canes on my side of the river. (photo 039) and it was quite easy to see that more than one angler had forced his way through the canes to fish the obvious fish holding spot opposite.

Sure enough I eased my way out on to what was now a flattened raft of rushes and canes that slowly sank down under my weight ! blimey if I went down I was in some 4ft of water the whole position was precarious. But on close quiet inspection I could see 3 our 4 nice Barbel gently holding station in the flow and 2 our 3 nice Chub hovering just above them.

Now I have won countless contests on rivers, canals, and commercial fishery’s using 14mtr poles and I could have easily nailed 1 our 2 of these fish with an elasticated Carp pole rig, after having dribbled in a few pots of bait out of my pole pot. But to cast a dry fly under the branches of the Sycamore to the waiting Chub was clearly going to be another thing, you never get a comfortable cast with a Fly Rod on the Teme or Lugg rivers and streams I have grown up on God only knows how many Fly's and leader points I have left hanging in branches over the years. So it was not as though the situation was new to me.

I struggled out of the rush bed to see if it was possible to cast under the branches from below the bed of canes (see photo 040) but no chance. I would have to be opposite the tree to stand a chance of casting to the Chub lying some 3ft back under the branches.

I tied on a black well hackled dry fly of my own tying (see photo) surely no self-respecting Chub would refuse this, and upped the leader point to 5.5lb there were long thick beds of weeds reaching out across with just a 4ft wide clear flowing area of open water before the branches of the tree. If I did hook a fish I would have to get him up quickly and on top of the weed beds.

One thing was pretty obvious I would be lucky to get more than one chance. I eased my way back out to the now rapidly sinking rush raft! With my arm fully extended strait up to give as much clearance as possible over the high stuff behind me, I extended line out amazing I did not foul anything.

A few lines from J.W.Hills .A Summer on the Test suddenly sprang to mind as I cast to these fish. And I Quote - “There is a conspiracy of anglers, started by Halford and carried on with increasing momentum by latter writers, to make out that the art is so dreadfully obscure that none but the gifted should attempt it.”

Halford should have a crack at this I thought!

Now this may sound like a story from A J Hartley but I swear the first cast hooked a sodding dinner plate size Sycamore leaf, luckily they are soft and a steady pull ripped it clear! a quick roll to lift it clear of the weed beds in front and back out to land perfectly through the gap in the branches! At a guess I would say there would be about 3-4 seconds before the drag snatched the fly off its line. With almost all of the line lying across the weed beds.

If only it had been on film .I have had a lot of fish! Trout that is through 2015, a few nice Browns, a lot of Rainbows and Blues and the odd Tiger Trout and most have gone like stink as we know they do. But most, if not all have come from comfortable casting positions.

All I recollect is seeing the Chub appearing from out of the depth of the river and the big rubber lips taking the Fly.

Now we have all see that gorgeous Head and Tail rise when a nice Trout takes our Shuttle Cock CDC! And lovely it is! This Chub did exactly the same and for a change I somehow did not snatch the fly from its mouth. I suddenly found myself shouting our kid who was wadding some 100 yards below me, and I lifted and pulled the fish over the weed beds.

Now I know it’s only a Chub - one of thousands I have had in my life, but was the highlight of my day on the Avon.

The Magnificent Cathedral over looking the Avon.
The Magnificent Cathedral over looking the Avon.
The huge bed of high Rush like Canes on the Avon.
The huge bed of high Rush like Canes on the Avon.
A tricky cast from here!
A tricky cast from here!
Anthonys' fly that did the damage!
Anthonys' fly that did the damage!
Anthony with his Chub
Anthony with his Chub
A closer look at the chub
A closer look at the chub
--- End of article ---

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Page Tags: Chub on the avon | Barbel on the avon | fishing river avon