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Robjent's Chalkstream Diaries - Business as Usual

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Sedges Dance in the Evening Light Sedges Dance in the Evening Light

This last month gone has witnessed an incredible amount of rain; in fact we have had half of last year’s entire rainfall upon us in June alone (137.0mm)! Nevertheless its business as usual on the Chalkstreams, with headlines plaguing the press of widespread flooding and new record highs on rivers across the country fortunately the majority of our southern rivers have remained fishable.

The rivers have been fishing well too, June has to be one of my favourite times on the river because everything is happening, and this year hasn’t disappointed (as long as you kept dry!).

There have been some impressive olive hatches this month, with Medium Olives and Iron Blue Duns being the main focus. On the warmer, less soggy days the Sedges have come out in numbers, mainly Black Sedges but a few larger Brown Sedges starting to show as the month progressed. The best flies have been various Olive imitations both emerging and duns, Twinkle Gulpers and Adams for the Iron Blues and Black sedges (preferably with a CDC wing). We also welcome back Grayling on to the fly-fisher’s quarry list this month as of the 16th June after a two month spawning period, and they have not been slow in returning to taking dries.

Rob_with_Itchen_Brown_At the beginning of the month I guided a South African chap on the River Test, we were blessed with a typical June 2012 day; overcast with drenching showers at regular intervals! Although this did not deter the fly hatches, I arrived at the water before 9am to see how the river was looking and even then there was a steady trickle of Olives coming off with the odd rise breaking the surface. As the day progressed the hatch increased until the surface resembled something more comparable to the Spanish Armada with Olive wings portraying sails, unfortunately for them they weren’t an ‘Invincible Fleet’ with fish picking them off with ease. It was like watching a scene out of those fishing films that we all love and hate at the same time, where fish are moving left and right with such confidence taking every fly that comes in to view! There are few days in a dry fly-fisher’s year that they experience such a hatch; the fish were selective of pattern but leader shy they were not.

The clarity of the water made the fishing all the more thrilling, you could see every thought of the fish as it considered each potential meal floating down. This helped raise the Adrenaline levels as you watched a fish slowly lift through the water to then inhale your dryfly imitation in, but on the downside because you could see it all unfold in front of your eyes it did lead to the odd early strike! As the day drifted into evening the hatch slowed down as did the rises, until suddenly a cloud of Olive spinners lifted on the breeze and drifted across the river. It was a moment to just stop and watch in awe of nature, it was a testament to why we go fishing, and hopefully a good sign for seasons to come!

Wagtail_gets_its_fillThe rest of the month showed impressive hatches, not quite to the levels experienced that day but that kept the fish and fisherman happy on the banksides. Saying that, we are not the only ones who benefit from these hatches, the other afternoon on the River Itchen I stopped and watched a family of Wagtails catching Medium Olives just 20ft from me. The fish were very obliging too, picking my Parachute Olive imitation off the surface with confidence. That afternoon the river changed as if working to the time on a watch, at 5pm the fish decided that Olives were no longer plat de jour and they would much prefer Black Sedges, once a fly change was made the takes started up again! The Sedge takes, if happening, will generally then continue in to the fading light.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the piece, most of the chalkstreams have been fishable but some of the R. Avon and its tributaries have suffered from rain muddying the water. Also down on the Lower reaches of the River Test and River Itchen the Salmon and Sea-Trout fishing has been affected due to an increase in debris and a colouring of the water.

Although the rain has been really important locally in restoring the aquifers to a reasonable level, we are still not full on groundwater but we have at least negated regional drought and a hosepipe ban!

To July now, and the start of the UK summer holiday season, we will see if it brings any shock warm weather with it this year!


Alex Jardine
Alex Jardine

Alex Jardine works for international fly fishing specialists Aardvark McLeod where you can contact him at alex@aardvarkmcleod.com

Robjent's is 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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