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Robjent's Chalkstream Diaries - April Showers

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A chalkstream brown trout despite the incessant rain that plagued April A chalkstream brown trout despite the incessant rain that plagued April

I am sat here hiding indoors from pouring rain and howling gales. It is an odd sensation after such a prolonged dry period but April certainly lived up to its reputation for the associated showers that often accompany it!

Being anglers we have been grateful to see the rains come but we have also sung to the chorus of “why does it have to be like this on my fishing day!” we are never fully satisfied! We have seen the effects of this rain with the whole countryside blooming back into life and leaves back on the trees, also water levels have risen somewhat but this has affected clarity. Although I would like to point out a statement from the Environment Agency (29/04/12) “groundwater levels remained low and the rain was not yet making a difference to the drought conditions” but we remain hopeful that it will soon!

If we live life by the following poem; “Whether the weather be mild or whether the weather be not, Whether the weather be cold or whether the weather be hot, We'll weather the weather whatever the weather, Whether we like it or not”, the Trout season arrived to the Chalkstreams this month and many of us were out in full waterproofs and catching!

The_rains_came_225637482.jpgFly life has been generally slow this month, partly due to inconsistent weather, but there were steady hatches of Grannom Sedges (Brachycentrus Subnubilis) to be seen and also Large Dark Olives (Baetis Rhodani) trickling off all month long. Most fish are succumbing to generic dry patterns or attractor dries, but Grannom and Olive patterns have also had fish. Although there hasn’t been any great show of Hawthorn fly this year yet, we just need a couple of clear days in the weather so hopefully the beginning of May.

Before the rains came I ventured up to the River Coln, one of Gloucestershire’s Chalkstreams, I have never seen it so low but there were fish around and a good hatch of Small Dark Olives made the dryfly fishing exciting. Olive coloured dun patterns in sizes 16 and 18 worked best. The fishing wasn’t easy and it was almost comparable to Bonefish fishing on the flats, with ghost like Brownies sat on a white sandy bottom and spooking at the slightest unusual movement. Though with careful river-craft and delicate presentation the fish could be fooled and brilliant looking wild fish they were fat on flies and a brilliant array of colours!

On a recent trip to the Itchen I was greeted by torrential downpours and slightly coloured water, I prepared for the rain first with full waders and coat, once able to stay reasonably dry I set up rod and rig. To begin with a 9 foot leader and generic grey Klinkhammer to see if anything would even rise. I started fishing during a rare dry spell but still with black clouds lingering, the water gave little in the way of hope; no rises and poor clarity to see possible fish lies. As I worked up the beat I noticed the odd rise out of the blue (or brown as the case may be!) but there was no regular pattern to the rises. I did manage to raise one small brownie, I say brownie but parr may be a better description but glorious all the same!

"...suddenly I saw raindrops going the wrong way, up!"

As expected, but very sudden all the same, a torrential downpour arrived, the hood went up and the head sank into the shoulders. It was one of those times when you feel like a drowned rat, but anyway there is only one thing to do in these conditions and that is fish on! And a good thing I did too, suddenly I saw raindrops going the wrong way, up! I wiped the beads of water from my polaroids but they continued going up, almost as instantaneously as the rain had begun as had a brilliant hatch of Medium Olives (Baëtis Vernus/Baëtis Tenax).

AJ_s_Duck_s_Dun_varient_234464105.jpgThe fish had been slightly quicker on the uptake of this event than I had, there were now rises wherever the eyes ventured. The Klinkhammer was boxed and replaced by an old favourite; The Duck’s Dun (see photo) a brilliant fly for most olive hatches. The fly was an instant success; the fish were coming up and taking it with a sense of urgency making it difficult to hook-up every time but it was an exciting period! As the rain subsided as did the hatch somewhat, and the fish went back to being invisible prizes in the murky waters.

I close this month’s musings with a celebration of the coming of rain and the Trout season to our Southern waters and leave you with the anticipation of the Mayfly arriving later this month.

I wish you all a successful season!

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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