The Chiltern anglers at the Wherwell Fishing Lodge.

The Chiltern anglers at the Wherwell Fishing Lodge.

Twelve Chiltern Club members gathered at Wherwell for the annual grayling fishing weekend, and to enjoy the excellent food and hospitality provided by Hughie and Eileen O’Reilly.

The weather conditions were incredibly mild for the time of year, and really warm and bright towards the end of the Saturday morning, with just a light easterly breeze – at least until the Sunday afternoon when the wind started to pick up a bit and made casting – and particularly up-stream nymphing – very difficult.

But the fishing conditions weren’t easy at any time because of the low river level and the gin clear water – a stark reminder that this October has been the driest for 65 years.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to fish the Butcher’s Mead beat of the Test this year because of work being done by the Environmental Agency to modify the course of the river, narrow the width and improve the flow.

Some stretches of the carriers were certainly easier to fish than others, but by keeping on the move – and there was a lot of walking done over the 2 days! – most anglers managed to pick up at least a few fish each session.  For those out for their first experience of grayling fishing it was a very tough initiation, but Hughie took the novices under his wing for some expert tuition and guidance, and ended up giving a lot of his time ensuring that everyone had caught by the end of the weekend.  I certainly can’t remember Hughie staying as late on the Sunday afternoon as he did this year!

But there is more to fishing than catching fish, and it was just not possible to have anything but a wonderfully enjoyable weekend in such peaceful and sublime surroundings, and with such good company and camaraderie.  Stuart Foulds had a particularly memorable weekend – and I suspect he will never lock his keys inside his car at the end of a day’s fishing ever again!