Half the fun of fly fishing is holding onto memories of the previous season and expectation of the season to come. Not all seasons replicate each other and I guess if they did it would remove the uncertainty from our ‘fishing world ‘. One might think that this season is likely to be strongly influenced by the winter flooding and no doubt it will, but maybe nature has a way of balancing itself.

The early guiding days of the new trout season have been successful in providing some good early season sport to both dry fly and nymph tactics.  There have been good hatches of Grannom Sedge on the Lower Test beat I guide on regularly and that triggered some good dry fly interest from the wild fish particularly.   It is always fun to catch a number of fish to the rise, whatever size they are, and I must say the shoals of Grayling in particular were all of a decent size. Mix in a sizable over wintered Brown trout and a 2lb Grayling caught whilst searching for Brown’s with a nymph, and you can sit on the bank in the April sun knowing it is all ahead of you rather than that Autumn feeling of time running out.  Sure, the level is still higher than normal on the Lower Test but the clarity is pretty good and the water is certainly fishable. That was not the case a few weeks ago so perhaps we are fortunate to have the condition we have. There are certainly a lot of fry in the margins.

The River Itchen has fished well for both wild fish

Wild Brownie

and some of the larger trout. One client had great fun casting to rising trout average 2 lb on the Itchen.

Chalkstream Brown Trout

The fish were fussy and the best results came to a size 18 Tups Indispensable.  However, one fish that repetitively refused had to be conned in a different manner, and a switch to a Daddy Long Legs brought an immediate response with the slowest of takes imaginable. The client waited to set the hook perfectly and that was a satisfying fish. It often pays to make a switch of fly rather than persist casting at the same fish relentlessly, and if changing the fly gives the fish a short rest from the effects of casting then so much the better.

Whilst guiding I am effectively fishing by proxy and whilst that is very satisfying it is also important to fish alone at times for both pleasure and to try those little things that you can’t always chance doing whilst with a client. I went out today for that very purpose on the Itchen. Apart from catching some lovely fish, all on tiny dries,  I collected some ‘kick samples’ from the river which delivered straight away some lovely Mayfly nymphs, still with growing to do but already at a good size, and a lovely cased Caddis.

Itchen Kick Sample

From recent guiding and after today I can only be both enthusiastic and optimistic for the coming season. There is plenty of evidence of upwing flies hatching and the food under the surface should never be forgotten of course. Where allowed, an upstream nymph will often be the answer early season and is as much a skill as fishing a dry fly. I shall leave you with a few photos that tell their own story. Tightlines.

Blog by Go Fly Fishing UK Chalkstream guide Colin Alexander.