New Horizons – Stu Harris


Well what a rotten old spell of weather we’re having. Damp, windy, and in no way shape or form what we should be experiencing in December. That, combined with the busy schedule I usually get lumbered with at this time of year, have meant no angling for me this weekend. I have, however, been making provisions for later, namely the traditional closed season. This is usually a time when I try my best to observe the old close and switch my attention to sea angling around our local shores, creeks and piers. This next coming close though will see me having a dabble in the rivers nearby, I’ll explain.


The two marvellous stretches of river PDAS have to offer, the Hamble and Wallington, have recently seen their close season fishing ban lifted, and now members can fly fish (ONLY) for the trout during this period. Fly fishing and me have never seen eye to eye, a branch of the sport that has never appealed to me, the same can be said for pike fishing. Don’t ask me why, they just don’t float my boat. Up till now that is. JuDSC_0047 (1).JPGst recently I’ve been feeling a strong urge to have a go, and I’m so pleased to say I’m beginning to gather the equipment for this new adventure.


Some good friends of mine fly fished for the trout last close season, and the results were wonderful. The river in what is probably its most amazing state, the surroundings waking up from their winter rest, springtime taking a firm grip on the land, so what better time to be out enjoying it all and witnessing the birth of a new year. Along with the fascinating wild trout that take residence in both rivers, there are chub that have been known to snatch a fly intended for something else, and on the Hamble you can add grayling also. Of course these fish are out of season so it’s best they get back to the river as quickly and as hassle free as possible.


Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing I like better than feeling for a twitch when touch ledgering, or watching a brightly painted float tip disappear, then to wonder just what it was and how big it’ll be. But I think that having a strong love of floater fishing for carp meant that sooner or later I was always going to have at least a decent try at fly fishing. That rise in the water, watching as the bait gets taken, the strike, the leap, the fight, as you can tell, I’m really getting quite excited by the prospect.


So for the kit. As you’ll know, I’m a stickler for the older items of tackle available. But the kit should be the same for both the new and the old ways. A brook rod, some 6 – 7 feet in length would be about right, with a weight of 3 or 4 being ideal for the size of fish you’ll be encountering. Both rivers are small, little more than streams in places, so long rods are certainly not required and will make things rather difficult. A small reel will match the aforementioned rod, the smaller the better I think, it’s not as if we need lots of line here, long casting won’t be necessary. A smallish folding net will just about complete the set up, all that’s left to do then is source some flies.


Oh, and that’s where the fun comes in. I’m extremely new to this, so forgive me if my knowledge is somewhat lacking, but I believe it to be called entomology. The study of the aquatic life in and around the river. The trout will, at certain times of year, be feeding on certain insects, and by studying what goes on down by the river you can do something called ‘Matching the hatch’, to mimic the trout’s prey, use a fly that looks like their dinner and you should be successful.


Me being me, I’ve obviously gone for more aesthetically pleasing kit, or to the younger members reading this, tatty old antique gear. The rod I’ve sourced is an old split cane number, a rod of 7 feet with a weight of 5. I’ve gone for a slightly higher weight due to old cane being much floppier than newer materials, so hopefully that will compensate. The reel is a little 2.5 inch brass jobbie, which really does look quite delightful and should, in turn, counter the weight of the cane and make for a very balanced outfit. I haven’t yet got a net, but will probably go for one of those tennis racket type ones.


The flies will be the difficult bit, it’s far too early yet to get studying them, but having spoken to a few friends, it appears that variations of the mayfly should see me through the early part of spring, flies such as the Adams, CDC Olive and the Griffiths Gnat. From there I can keep em peeled and work out the rest for myself. I will then, hopefully, be in a position to begin tying my own flies. Much in the same stable as refurbishing my rods, making my own floats, even rolling your own boilies, to catch on something you made yourself knocks spots of anything else.


So there you have it. Plans are afoot for the coming months, preparations underway and hopefully a great and magical spring can be achieved. Next weekend I have a day’s trotting for grayling on that uber famous chalk-stream, The Itchen. A gathering of like minded souls with a little fishing mixed with some serious cake munching and tea drinking. I did manage to get out last weekend for a brief few hours, and a plentiful few hours it was too, with some of the wonderful trout I’ve been telling you about, along with some tremendous gudgeon, roach, perch, dace and minnows.


Thanks for reading.



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