I was lucky enough to win a day fishing a syndicate water on the River Frome through the Wild Trout Trust auction, albeit for a healthy price. But I’d never fished the Frome before and this was an opportunity to fish a water I would probably never get to again.
I booked it for mid-May and arrived after several days of torrential rain to find a river which was swollen, fast and dirty. Not the best conditions to fish a chalk stream! I thrashed away for a couple of hours but there was little chance of catching anything. Fortunately, the owner of the syndicate offered me a replacement day and so, on a lovely sunny day early in July, I returned.
A large part of the beat is left to run wild; there are no mown paths down the banks like I am used to on the Avon. After trudging through several fields of grass almost up to my armpits, I found my way to the bottom of the beat. I could hear the river but it was hidden by undergrowth. After setting up my rod in a clear patch of grass I managed to gently ease my way through the reeds and slip into the river. I knew there weren’t many clear routes out again so I would have to wade and fish through the stretch. Fortunately, this was pure unadulterated chalk stream; generally no more than 2-3 feet deep, clear and cool. The river at this point was quite slim, probably no more than 3-4 metres wide, with a significant amount of tree cover which proved to be a boon in the hot sun.
There was lots of fly life about; I had seen olives, crane fly, midges and the odd mayfly already. I decided to start with a small, pale olive CDC (like this but smaller and light olive – CDC Olive). There was nothing rising so I decided to test the water by casting into likely spots as I waded upstream. I was as surprised as the little brown when it gobbled down the olive with a splash a couple of minutes later. I continued this approach for the next hour as I made my way slowly up the beat and managed a couple more decent brownies, all taking the little olive. There is something joyous being immersed in the water while fishing and I spent as much time enjoying the wildlife and scenery as I did fishing.
I stayed on the bank for the next section as the river changed; it was wider, more open and deeper but with more patches of weed which made it harder to find fishable water. I tried a few places with no joy but eventually found a section on a bend with a clear pool. I managed to get myself into position after fighting through some reeds and started with the olive. Unfortunately the wind was whistling straight at me and it was difficult to get the small olive to where it needed to be and present it delicately. I did, however, notice a flash of gold as something popped up from the depths to take a quick look at the fly. I changed to a beaded pheasant tail nymph and a couple of casts later the line moved slightly and I struck into something decent. After a good fight a beautiful brown made it to the net. I’m not great at estimating weights (to be honest, I don’t really care) but this was a decent-sized wild brown.
After a break for lunch I explored the upper section of the beat which was still quite wide, fast and deep. Amazingly for July there was still a lot of mayfly hatching so I stuck on my favourite mayfly emerger. Casting between the weed beds I found some kamikaze little browns who fancied this decent morsel as well as a couple of larger browns.
All in all, this was one of my best days on the river. The beat was varied, there was lots of fly life, it was clearly not overfished and the fish, once you found them, were obliging and absolutely stunning. While this stretch of the Frome is a syndicate water only, Casterbridge Fisheries have other sections of the Frome available on day tickets. They also offer some self-catering accommodation with fishing access. I enjoyed my day on the Frome so much I’ve booked a week’s holiday there next year!