4 May 2012

A weekend on the chalk streams of Dorset

My mate Jacques and I cracked an invite from John Grindle to fish the Dorchester Fishing Club water last weekend. It's a lengthy drive from my house in the South East so John suggested we fish for 2 days, the second one on John Aplin's incredible mile of the Frome.

Tight casts in the Piddle to magnificent orange-finned brownies
We fished the Piddle on the 1st day because the Frome was still pretty high and a little dirty. The Large Dark Olives were coming off in enough numbers to have the little wild browns looking up and we we managed to get a few in the morning. The afternoon was warm, sunny and still and we worked our butts off to little avail.
Pretty over grown piece of the Piddle, the channel is in there I promise!

So we got off the Piddle a little early, met John Aplin and went to have a walk along his stretch of the Frome... a sneak preview of the water we'd be fishing in the morning. This is classic chalkstream but somehow unique in it's character. A truly beautiful bit of river, full of wild browns and grayling of Jurassic proportion (sorry no pics).

The bottom of John Aplin's piece of the Frome
It's not all manicured bank stuff, a good portion has bank side foliage along it's length and the amount of ranunculus and other aquatic weed is incredible. All that habitat produces huge amounts of fish food. The shrimp, BWO and LDO populations are huge and on day 2 we picked off enough brownies on imitations of emergers and adults to make us think we were fairly competent. No huge browns, but I'm sure they're there.
I ate pork pies and drank chardonnay while Jacques irritated the brownies

At about 3pm Jacques and I split up, we'd been spotting for each other to that point. I moved upstream, he down. I got a few more browns, some of them proving very challenging even on 7X and what I thought were good drifts produced by the Zenith 10' 3wt. And then I saw the behemoth. The largest grayling I'd ever seen. 4lbs? very possibly. I spent about a half hour stalking this thing and there was no way of getting a decent drift to it. Then its mates arrived: 2 more monster grayling. So, there I was staring at 3 massive grayling and no way of getting a drift to them. what did I do? What would you do? I kept staring. Until 6 that evening. Yes, I spent the afternoon just watching these things moving around in a 20metre area but never providing me a drift. I walked away a few times to recompose myself and get a finger hold on my sanity again... and then I went back, sidled up behind one of the 2 trees I had come to know very well through the afternoon, and stared.

The story ends well. While I was mid crisis Jacques was downstream landing 50cms of grayling. yes 50cms. He was a good 600 yards downstream from me. He tells me he screamed his lungs out trying to get me to him to take a picture of this thing: He had left his iphone in the car (who wants to take calls on the river) and the compact camera's batter was flat so he never packed it. Jacques' a pretty solid guy so I've no doubt he got a fish of 50cms and John Aplin estimated it at 4lbs. I think he knows the bigger fish on that beat fairly well and he told us the Frome and Dove grayling are of a sub species that is much heavier for their length than other strains.

Amazing water, available on day ticket and an amazing fish. Thanks to both Johns for their great company too!

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