t3-2It’s TROUT TIME!!….Another last minute thought about what to fish for recently made me break out the fly rod to get some autumn action with the trout. Normally I like to get a couple of trips in when the waters tend to go clear around the end of September, and the weeds die back. This year I seem to have missed the slot, and the problem is that if you like spotting a trout individually, here in the UK the lower angle of the sun going round means there is more difficulty in seeing that fish take the fly. Your hotspot period is often between 11am and 1pm when the sun is at its highest. So a call was made to Avington Trout Fishery in Hampshire, where you have three lakes stocked with Rainbows, and now some big Browns. I can give you the tip-off that only a week or so ago a massive 16lb Brown was caught on the fly, and when I filmed the feeding in the one of the stews there were several jumbo Browns, I would certainly put at approaching the magic 20lb barrier. I had fished Avington when Sam Holland first opened it, and my claim to fame was that on the middle lake Dick Walker was fishing and offered to come round and help me net a trout I was battling with. Now, that really would have been an honour, and instead, my stubbornness meant I netted it myself. I think there were a couple of other big names from yesteryear fishing the same day, Peter Stone and Fred Taylor. So I was in good company, but too terrified to talk to them. Who would have thought that way back then, with three of the most iconic names in British freshwater fishing that  a)-I would still be fishing Avington, and b)- that I would, with son Mike, be running the most popular fishing film shows in Europe with over 23 million views! It’s a strange thought….

t1     So, with camera on tripod, and headcam in pocket I set off to see what I could see. The lakes were unbelievably clear. In fact I would say they are the clearest I have ever seen them in 40 odd years. Plenty of weed growth still there, but the action was tricky. I talked with the fishery staff as they were watching how much feed the trout were taking in the stock ponds. They were barely taking any and we both thought it must be the high air pressure and easterly airflow that shut them off. The same must have happened in the main lakes. Maybe the insect life the trout feed on was also inactive. I used a 9 foot leader of 6lb mono and worked away using Sid Knight’s patterns of size 10 Pearly Daddy Longlegs ,weighted Shrimps and WAEF. It took just a long second cast in the centre lake to get attached to a 5lb Rainbow, and obviously I thought I was on a huge success run. Alas no, it took me the best part of the day to pick off my remaining three Rainbows, and for some reason I lost about five, just bumping off the hook. I think they were just nipping at the fly and I ended up striking faster and faster. In retrospect I think I should have reversed the fast strike and slowed down. Lesson learned though. I also found an enormous Brown trout in the corner of the middle lake. Initially I walked past what I thought was just a group of basking carp, but on return and closer inspection I could see one of the “Carp” was in fact a monster Brown of about 15lbs. With a ripple of the water I saw a flash of white where it snapped at the fly, felt the tug but missed it !!  Then, late in the afternoon I found another Brown in the lower lake, but despite some spot -on presentations with a weighted Damsel fly I got treated with disdain. That’s why Browns are so popular, they are not as easy as the rainbows. When talking with the Avington crew at the end of the day they said the Brown could be better than 18lbs…..and I had it down as about 14lbs! Probably a good job I never hooked it.

The weather was as clear as I have known all year, and I got some great shots with the camera of misty starts, slow motion action in the water and some great casting shots. For me the acquisition of good camera shots is the real buzz, and the actual fish itself takes second place. Even though I made this film entirely on my own all the extra work makes it worthwhile when I get to review the clips in the edit stage. I don’t think there is anyone else pumping
out the quality of fishing programmes we do, on such a volume, and with such a variety of species and fishing. I would say I got some of the best shots I have this year, so if you want a day out fly-fishing and your target is a big Brown, then Avington is worth a visit. But it won’t be easy, as low winter light plus any ripple on the water will make targeting one of the Browns extremely challenging. Of course you can always catch a big trout “blind casting” by just throwing out and pulling back, but in my experience the individual targeting gives you the selective chance. I only ever got one big trout by blind casting, and that was an 18lb Rainbow. All my bigger trout were targeted individually. So look out for the upcoming film on Avington.
We put up a film on making your own pop-ups which went down well. Some anglers get mixed up between “boilies” and “pop-ups” despite me going to the trouble of hooking them both and filming them underwater to show the difference !!  Never mind, it must be part of modern society that despite however much information I put into the film some bright spark will always skip through it without taking it in or learning anything. I do try to answer the more coherent of questions, but have had to stop replying to obvious questions, the answers of which are in the film if they took the trouble to watch. Some just cannot keep their fingers off the keyboard….the old saying is..”Engage the brain before opening the mouth”.


STOP PRESS!…  I knew something would happen when somebody asked in one of the YouTube comments if we ever blank…..The answer is Yes, but I didn’t need it confirmed to me a few days later. Another last minute slot to slide down to a Canal in Berkshire. No early start, just camera, knapsack, grub and a rod apiece. Mike would go for Perch, I would try a Pike. We drove all the way there, purchased the day tickets and drove down to the bottom end of the fishery. One view from the bridge was all we needed!!…day ticket money completely wasted. Brown, no flow, and plenty of leaves. We barely had the second cast out when a plain Police car drew up and asked if we had seen 3 people etc. Apparently they needed to be found urgently. Great, not only was the water coloured but something peculiar was happening in the immediate vicinity. We had 6 casts then agreed to try above the lock in case it was clearer. We hadn’t gone 150 yards before another two Police officers with radios crackling came the opposite direction down the towpath and asked us the same question. Obviously something serious going down. We decided to not even fish, walked back to the bridge and could see another officer working his way up the towpath from downstream. Things “Perchy” just were not about to happen today. To salvage something I suggested the Thames might not be coloured like the canal, so we hacked back to the Caversham stretch above Reading and flogged away with lures for three hours. Mike had one small Perch, I had…yes, one of those blanks that a viewer asked if we ever have. We put it down to Easterly airflows and a high pressure system, and now just want this blocking high pressure to move as it is deffo doing something to the fish. A long drive, about 3 miles walking, and just one small Perch to show for it. At this rate I can feel a night beach fishing session coming…it’s getting to be about that time of year!

STOP PRESS AGAIN – Having taken my own advice of going for a good weather slot, I drove down to Dever Springs in Hampshire after hearing they had stocked some large Brown trout again. The beauty of trout fishing is that you can go at short notice and need a small amount of tackle. Ideal, if going on a half-day session. I arrived about 10am, and one of the Browns had already come out by 8:30am  at over 13lbs, which is a bit unusual as last season Stuart, the fishery manager, stocked some big Browns around this time and nobody caught them until around February the following year !!.. Hard to believe when you think there must be anglers on Dever almost every day of the year. I tried the small lake, but with the late autumn sun going round low it was tricky getting enough sink-time to present a fly to the trout. In my experience you need to get the nymph right in their face, especially the bigger trout which rarely charge across the lake to grab your fly. I went back on the main lake and noticed there was a paddle-operated oxygenation machine roped across the middle. I could see the odd swirl either side of it so reasoned that there might be a hole in any weed around the paddle that might act as being a bit deeper to the trout. By long casting I worked the area with one of Sid Knight’s Goldhead Daddy flies and missed several which tugged the fly line on my slow retrieve and I missed the strike. But I still finished with 3 nice Rainbows from 4 ½ to 6lbs, managing to get some footage with the small camera on all of them. The clarity on both lakes was as good as I have ever seen it, so if you do fancy a day after one of those big Browns (and don’t forget the rainbows)…then give them a ring.

Good luck, and make sure you get a “String -Stretcher”….