It’s been a relatively slow summer on the river; with holidays and the kids off school, I’ve only managed a few little evening sessions, trying different beats, with little luck. However, with home life back to normal I booked a day off to have a proper session on the Avon at Amesbury. This has become one of my favourite beats; its over two miles long with three wading sections and a good variety of different bank sections.
I arrived to a crisp but gorgeously clear September morning which promised to be hot and sunny later on. I chucked my gear on, including my new chest pack and hiked down to the bottom of the beat where there are two wading sections. I’d fished one before, with good results, but decided to try the other, slightly deeper section as the river, as a whole, was much lower than before. There was a significant amount of weed so although there were no visible signs of rising fish I decided to stick to dries as nymphs would just get tangled. I’d seen the first signs of daddies on the water on a quick session a few weeks ago and with no obvious hatches I thought a big daddy might induce some takes. I’d tied a few foam daddy’s based on Davie McPhails version but slightly smaller, on a size 12 barbless dry.
I dropped into the water, carefully waded into the middle and started casting into likely looking spots. I’ve found that the brownies don’t like sitting on weed (although they quite happily swim into it when spooked) so aimed at the clearer chalky areas in between the weed. After just 4-5 casts, my daddy was engulfed in a big swirl and I managed to delay long enough to set the hook with a gentle lift of the rod. This immediately felt more substantial than previous catches and after a short fight I netted a beautiful brown trout of around 2lb. I continued this method and a short while later had another big swirl at the daddy, with a decent sized grayling, around 1-1.5lb, coming to the net.
There was no other interest through the rest of the wading section. It was getting close to lunchtime by this point (its surprising how time flies when you’re wading in this way) so I decided to hit a few likely bank spots on my way back to the car. I missed a few more takes to the daddy on the way to finish off a fun morning.
After a lazy lunch, I made my way back to the river and set off in the other direction to fish the bank and hit another wading section at the top end of the beat. By this time the sun was high in the sky and the temperature had risen to a toasty twenty degrees. This is a wider, shallower section of water and there was a vein of thick weed laying above the water right down the middle. There were fish rising but, typically, they were on the far bank. It was just too far to be able to cast accurately and strike properly with the trees behind (which now have a few more of my flies in them) and the weed. I persevered for a while but as I reached the wading section another angler was just starting. I had a choice at this point: either wait for him to get ahead and the water to settle, call it a day or trek back up the river to the other wading sections. It was so lovely out here, I didn’t want to go home just yet and I hoped there might be an early evening rise as the sedges came out. I had a quick break and then walked back up the river to the far wading section I had missed earlier.
By this time, the trees were wearing my daddies and, as the sedges were out, it seemed daft not to match the hatch. I tried a few different options as I waded upstream with a few swirls but no concrete takes. At the end, there is a deeper section before a small bridge and as I reached this area I saw a series of consistent rises. I’ve not had much luck with sedges so far and I had been wandering whether I was tying them too big – the river sedges here certainly look smaller than sedges I’ve seen hatching on reservoirs. I stuck on a CDC and deer hair sedge which I had tied on a smaller, size 14 hook with much less deer hair than previous versions. I waded slowly into place and managed to drop my fly into the middle of the rises. As soon as it dropped, there was a swirl rather than a take but I delayed slightly and lifted my rod, feeling the line tighten immediately to another decent sized grayling. The commotion didn’t seem to put off the other fish as the rises continued. A couple of casts later I had another grayling to the same fly. This did manage to put any other fish down, so I decided to call it a day.
So, a lovely day out with fabulous weather, great surroundings and a good bag of four fish, all caught on dries. Perfect!