Thursday, 23 February 2012
On the Itchen with Bob James
Why is it, I always wonder, that grayling are considered the odd relation of our fish species? They really are a one off: nothing looks, or fights, quite like one. I just love them, but had never tried the legendary River Itchen for them. I had the pleasure of meeting up with Bob James with an eye on trying both bait and fly fishing. What could be more perfect? With the wind whipping up across this pretty chalk stream, Bob decided to start trotting while I took the fly rod. Presentation on either method was tricky, but with his customary skill Bob got amongst the fish taking a really chunky chub and this two pound grayling. Did I stand a cat in Hell's chance of matching him with my box of nymphs? As crazy as it sounds, the fly picked out more fish on the day. I knew I'd hooked a good one when I saw a big fin and stripy broadside flash mid stream. Walking her downstream, I picked a solid fish out. An unreal fish it was too. At 2lbs 2oz the best on the day and a terrific little battle on a 4wt fly rod. I lost a bigger one later too, I'm sure of it (or do they always grow a few ounces when we lose them?). You might easily peek at the Itchen and think in terms of trout and grayling, but there's fair variety here. Some decent perch and pike turn up too, and there's also the possibility of a good chub. I tried throwing both nymphs and little streamers in the bushy undercuts and also weighed in with the odd solid chub. Bob reckons a four pounder is pretty much average here- whilst being a Westcountry boy more used to the Culm, my reaction was more along the lines of "it's like a chub, only bigger!" What a day and what a river.