When the winter river Grayling season ends on the 14th March it is easy to think that us fishing guides retreat to await the rivers opening in April. The truth of the matter is that most guides have a mixture of work throughout the year. Sure they are concentrated on the rivers at key times but also they teach beginners throughout the year on stillwaters that have no seasonal restrictions. All our guides enjoy this work because it is very satisfying to help a new angler catch their first trout and be the creator of a casting style that hopefully will develop and improve with practice. Many who take their first fly fishing lesson at a Stillwater location are the same clients who later book a day on a river.

A recent (late-March) day at a trout fishery in the heart of the Meon Valley in East Hampshire is a prime example. The Go Fly Fishing UK instructor/guide was Colin Alexander, and the clients were Christian and Saltren who work in London and Portsmouth respectively. Christian owns the Northbank Restaurant in London and a day in the country was a welcome diversion from work and all that goes with employing twenty plus staff. Saltren also has a busy work life with a young child and commuting to London several days a week. They arrived with a sense of humour…always an asset for a beginner to fly fishing……and were impressed with the scenery and peace of the Meon Valley. Colin taught them to cast for about an hour on the grass area and then moved them to the lakes.

It was a very cold day with an easterly wind…a lazy wind…it went straight through them instead of going around…and in these conditions fishing can be testing especially with bright skies. However, nymph tactics soon netted the first fish and when Colin demonstrated how to spoon the fish, (i.e. examine the stomach contents) there were lots of small olive buzzers to be seen. The clients could easily see how the size and colour matched in with the size 16 Hares Ear nymph that had caught the trout. Not everyone spoons their fish but please have a go…you will either be pleased that you have matched the hatch or you will find out that whilst your fly has caught the fish it bears no resemblance to what the fish is naturally feeding on!Meon 1

With lots of cups of tea this was a typical small water day for novices. They each caught four fish, and took two home apiece having returned the others. They learnt to cast safely, both overhead and roll cast and as they were staying overnight they were able to return to fish on their own the following morning and succeeded in catching more fish by themselves.

The weather has been slow to warm up in 2013 but there are splendid days to be had on small waters where you can learn or hone up casting skills and catch trout whilst waiting for the rivers to spring into life. Christian and Saltren will no doubt be back.