Every Shoal’s A Goal is a group of three part-time fishermen in their twenties. They met through a mutual love of fly fishing and all share a passion for catching fish, of any kind, from anywhere. We will post a series of articles about the adventures they have been on, as well as some techniques they have learnt along the way. Henry is 23, based in London and studies Medicine. Jed is 27, also living in London and working in Fintech. Tom is 25, lives on Jersey and works in finance.
Today, we hear from Henry….
The Test, Itchen and Avon are probably some of the best-known trout rivers in the UK. Their crystal clear waters, abundant fly life and healthy stocks of fish can make for immensely exciting dry fly fishing. For better or worse, many of these rivers are now immaculately maintained and offer exclusive fishing for enormous trout with a one-way ticket to the smoke-house. Whilst some fishing for the original residents exists, it’s tough to access without some good contacts and a cheque book.
A little further West, in Wiltshire and Dorset, there are numerous rivers running clear as gin, packed with wild trout and many other surprises. I learned to fish on these rivers and am constantly amazed by their ability to frustrate, humble and reward those who are willing to use a variety of techniques, equipment and tactics.
I am not a purist. I love fishing with a dry fly and sometimes it can be embarrassingly deadly. The joy of fishing for me is the challenge of turning up to the river, adapting to the conditions and fooling a trout or two. Sometimes, all this requires is casting a little dry fly in a few likely runs. However, on some days a little ingenuity (and maybe some tungsten or marabou) is required. For example, in early season, even the most fertile of chalk streams can seem fishless. You arrive at the river, the banks are a mottled brown, lacking in colour and water clarity. You fish a dry and may get the odd small parr splash at it, but nothing substantial. ‘’It’s too early’’, you tell your fishing buddy. If rules allow, this is the time to break out the lead. You can use nymphs, but why not take the opportunity to try out some streamers. The trout have finished spawning and the fry are emerging- it’s ‘match the hatch’. Beware though, if your river has Grayling, you may find yourself watching enormous males, dorsal fin flared, bearing down on your streamer. Whilst this is exciting, they are best left to spawn.
Come the warmer months, when the crow-foot starts to grow, and the insects start hatching, it’s time for dry flies. On small chalk streams the trout quickly become voracious for anything put in front of them. Eight-inch bars of gold slam the flies, with the larger fish also starting to make an appearance in readiness for the may-fly hatch. From here on in, the best way to tempt a trout is with a dry fly. There are few things finer in life. The trout season can seem far too short, so don’t waste the pre-grannom weeks. At worst you’ll learn a new technique, at best you’ll connect with a big, hungry, carnivorous trout that’ll make your season before it even starts.