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Robjent's Chalkstream Diaries - Dusting off the (Fly Fishing) Cobwebs

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Robjent's store frontage on Stockbridge High Street reflects the early spring sunshine Robjent's store frontage on Stockbridge High Street reflects the early spring sunshine

Walking around in shorts, wearing sunglasses and enjoying pub gardens, what has happened to the UK spring?? March madness indeed! This month we have seen the close of the coarse fish season including the grayling, and it is now time to think about the impending trout season, easily done when its 20 degrees+ and sunny outside!

The close of the grayling and general coarse fish season happened on the 15th March, which I managed to take advantage of and squeeze a last couple of trips in. These trips were very successful; a trip to the River Frome in Dorset at Casterbridge Fisheries saw me land my largest grayling of the winter on the Vlad which featured in last month’s article.

aj_roach_360942434.jpgAlso a brief outing to the River Dever at Dever Springs Fishery brought some nice grayling but also a stunning roach to a fly using low water techniques for finicky fish. Unfortunately I rose my first fish of 2012 to a size 21 shuttlecock which I aptly, and very frustratingly struck too firmly causing my fly to pull out and go shooting into the grass behind, hopefully not a sign of things to come!

An ongoing message in my articles is to mention the terrible low water conditions that our Southern rivers are facing. For those who want to keep up to date with the issues surrounding the rivers and find out how you can help these are very good sources:

The low water and unusually warm spring has led to our early fly hatches coming even earlier and have started to precede the trout season, which the EA bylaw states begins on the 3rd of April with most estates opening their waters around the middle of April to 1st May.

aj_grannom_252873150.jpgThese fly hatches include the Grannom Sedge and Large Dark Olives (LDO). Slightly later appears the Hawthorn fly, a terrestrial insect that seems to end up on water and sends the trout wild (never leave a black fly out of your box!). For the Grannom the obvious representation is the self-name pattern but most light brown sedge patterns will generally do the trick, LDOs on the other hand can be represented with patterns such as the Beacon Beige generally in a size 14. With the Hawthorn size 14 black dries will usually do the trick, and make sure they have legs!

"...go into the local tackle shop and ask their advice!"

For many anglers the imminent trout season will be a return to the rivers after several months of the tackle hiding in garages, sheds, etc and it is therefore crucial to check everything is in working order. At this time of year I use the gap between seasons to make sure reels are greased and flylines are cleaned and re-dressed. This not only makes them nicer to use but also prolongs their life expectancy. This checking also allows you to find what you have lost or broken over the ‘hibernating’ period.

aj_robjents_146414246.jpgWhen considering the first outing of the year, or any for that matter, there are several key ‘to-dos’ that will improve your chances on the riverbank. Most obvious and easiest to do is check the weather; it can be the difference between fly hatches happening or not. For those who keep a fishing log you should look back on your successes and failures for the same period the previous year. Possibly most important and often overlooked however, is to go into the local tackle shop and ask their advice! As well as being fishermen they are also a social network of sorts collating information from anglers, river keepers and riparian owners.

When getting ready for a trip or season of fishing don’t be afraid to ask for advice, be it from other anglers or tackle shops. Other anglers will quite often give you a different line of thought and will explain how they have overcome particular problems. As for tackle shops, they have a plethora of equipment and flies that they can advise you on and their knowledge is also invaluable on the local waters as that is where their predominant experience will be based.

Well good luck in the coming trout season, and I hope there is enough water to satisfy us all!

Happy Trouting!

Alex Jardine
Alex Jardine

Alex Jardine works at Robjent's, a well-known country pursuits store located in Stockbridge in the heart of the Test Valley and a mecca for local and visiting fly anglers.

They stock a diverse range of high quality fly fishing tackle, shooting equipment, clothing and accessories as well as the providing the latest information on fly fishing and the most popular fly patterns in the area and further a field. Such brands as Hardy, Greys, G Loomis, Abel, Nautilus, Lamson, Rio, Costa, and many more can be found in store.

Go in and see the shop or for further information call +44 (0)1264 810829.

Robjent's, Halfway House, High Street, Stockbridge, Hampshire, SO20 6EX

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chalkstream, alex jardine, robjents, roach

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