Our chalkstream guide Colin Alexander reports on his day on 12th June – ‘With the weedcuts on the Test and Itchen it was a pleasure to return to guide this week on the River Kennet between Newbury and Hungerford. The beats there are unique in that they are restricted per day to a number of anglers rather than allocating one beat per rod or pair of rods. It is always lovely to see how anglers in the fly fishing world respect each other’s space and are always happy to pass a few words and compare notes on passing or stopping in the hut for lunch.

It was a windy day which threatened rain constantly but only delivered on occasions until early evening when it bucketed down. Few fish rose all day but when they did it was clear they were taking Mayfly. The secret, as often the case, was to stop and watch the river before casting. Just a few Mayfly showed but those that did had a wonderful yellow colour to them, and weren’t particularly large. The fish were keen to take as they rose from nowhere through the slightly tinged quiet glides that are typical of the Kennet as it meanders through the water meadow. However, hungry as they were, the fish would not tolerate too much surface disturbance from casting.

My client’s best fish of the day was caught by wandering quietly behind the reeds of the bank and firstly spotting a rising brown trout. We watched the fish take two Mayfly before lowering our fly…a size 12 Grey Wullf… over the top of the reeds to land gently as a feather. Hardly any tippet touched the water and the fish took almost instantly. The client lifted too quickly and the fly was cheated from the fish’s mouth. To be honest, we had caught fish earlier and we both laughed at the result as we stood there knowing the fish had won round one.

The Wullf got a good drying out as we watched the water and knowing the hook had not connected we tried again. The style of lowering the fly or flicking it with barely a foot of fly line outside of the rod tip is known generically as dapping. Steve, the client, repeated the process and this time there was no mistake. A lovely Brown about 2 lb in weight fought hard before being netted and proudly returned.

We all like to deliver a cast to a fish but there is an awful lot of pleasure to return to child hood stalking of trout where the presentation can be second to none and one never quite knows who gets the greatest shock when the fly is taken..the fish or the angler hiding two feet away.