July 2017

I have always said that low water years (as this one undoubtedly is) do produce significantly higher catches than those years when flows are average or higher. So I was pleased to see from your July catch returns that we have already passed last season’s total takeable brown trout numbers (killed and released). That figure was 1027 and we have now reached 1035 with two and a half months of this season still to run. The reason for this does not take much analysing – in low flows the fish are inevitably concentrated in the deeper parts of the river only moving into the shallower pools and runs in the relative safety of dusk, and our members did not take long to recognise and exploit this! The effect is also accentuated by the way I was forced to manage the weed this year in order to hold up levels as far as possible. I do realise that one or two members have found the weeded areas difficult and frustrating to fish – downstream of Figheldean road bridge for example, but it is far better this way than to end up with the kind of conditions that can be seen on our two lowest beats at Durrington and Bulford. And as I predicted last month, the growth of cress is continuing to narrow up the river and speed up the flow in many places, producing some very interesting fishing for those who like to think that they can cast accurately,

With regard to evening fishing, there is no doubt that those rods who were prepared to have an early (or very late) supper, have been well rewarded. This was particularly the case in the early part of July when the hot weather still persisted. In those bright conditions and high water temperatures trout took cover and were difficult to spot and reluctant to take until very late in the evening. Then in the last half hour before dark many of our members had that usual frantic scramble – changing fly patterns, and sorting out the rises of small grayling from the often very quiet movement of takeable trout sipping caenis or small sedge on the surface, or taking hatching olives just under it. A torch becomes as important as a fly box – even if only to unscramble the combination padlocks at the end of the evening! But in mid-July came the rain and the present much cooler and unsettled conditions – giving a welcome and refreshing change which has improved daytime fishing no end.

But there is still a marked late evening rise for those prepared to make the effort, although I know you will inevitably encounter caenis or “Anglers’ Curse”, the smallest of all our upwings. There have been many brave attempts by fly-dressers to imitate this fly, and I will enclose a photo of an exquisite little pattern supplied by one of our committee members, tied by Hardys in the 1930s. But to be truthful a very small Black Gnat (size 18 or even 20) will often do the job just as well – silhouette rather than exact imitation is what matters when it is nearly dark. But we are also seeing some good Blue Winged Olive hatches, although these seem to be very localised at the moment. Charles Tarver, the author of our Guide to Newcomers (published on our web site) always used to say that our fishery comes “on song” at the same time as the Glorious Twelfth of August, and one of our previous Chairman, Murray Whiteside, insisted that the final three weeks of the season always produced by far the most interesting fishing. So there is still much to look forward to – and I will be very interested to see if those predictions are accurate this season.

Finally, just to remind you: I will be on holiday from 25 August to 4 September: please contact the Secretary if any problems arise.


Martin Browne

Tel: 07768 354788


Caenis (size 20) spent pattern.