Wild Brown Trout On The Upper Avon
Adam Sinclair shares his approach to catching spooky trout in skinny water on a recent trip to the Upper Avon at Manningford.
The Upper Avon at Manningford Trout Fishery near Pewsey, Wiltshire, has for many years provided me with some fantastic fishing and of course those frustrating days where nothing you do is productive. Here there are three miles of narrow water that hasn’t seen a stocked brown trout for years. The venue also has a great head of grayling that thrive in the clean and clear water making this venue a must in my fishing calendar. This was also the first river I fished some eight years ago and is one that I still love to fish today.
Skinny Water and Spooky Fish
I think it’s fair to say that the rivers here in the UK, have for the early part of the season, seen more water in the months of March and April than the whole of last winter. The Upper Avon, like most rivers, has struggled with the amount of water pushing through it, and on a recent trip, the conditions provided me with some great challenges to overcome. Skinny water, spooky fish and tight casting positions all needed to be combated to get on the fish. My only saving grace would be the colour dropping out and the river starting to return to its normal level.
After a cup of tea and a chat with Malcolm Hunt, the Fishery Manager I set about preparing myself for a challenging day on the river. I decided to set up my 8ft 6in Hardy Sintrix rod with a very lightweight New Zealand setup. I knew I wouldn’t be casting far so I shortened my leader to 9ft with my point fly approximately 35 to 40cm from my dry fly. I prepared my dry fly with the new Up-High floatant gel that has been released by Hunt’s Original in advance, coupled with the floatant powder whilst fishing. This is a great combination that kept my Klinkhamer high and dry throughout the day. Although I was using very light tippet, I made sure that I used Hunt’s Mud to remove the shine. I knew I was going to have to tread carefully and opted to put on my shin and kneepads.
For those that know me, you know I’m no size zero. Standing at 6ft and weighing in at 16st I needed to fish with tact and remove as much in the way of disturbance in the water as possible. Wearing my pads enabled me to get as low as possible, removing my shadow from the water and enabling me to cast without too much trouble from the overhanging trees and bushes that line most of the river, on both sides. This was an approach I used with great success at Wherwell on the River Test on the recent National Rivers Qualifier. This was a slow, demanding but a very rewarding approach; minimal movement and shifting upstream a few inches at a time completely removed any disturbance on the surface. This is the way to fish this river. I could target fish as I saw them and was astounded by the lack of fish I spooked. My line of sight was unhindered, and I was able to get into a comfortable position to look ahead before making my cast. To assist my vision, I was wearing the new Sunrise Mirror lenses by Costa Del Mar and to pinch their tag line “see what’s out there”, I certainly did!
To assist my vision, I was wearing the new Sunrise Mirror lenses by Costa Del Mar and to pinch their tag line “see what’s out there”, I certainly did!
It wasn’t long before I started to find fish. A very simple PTN was proving to be the fly of choice and accounted for nearly all the fish I caught. The trout that I caught I found close to the margins, opting to stay on the seam of the heavier flow whilst the ‘Out Of Season’ grayling were holding up in the deeper faster channels of the river. When it came to the deeper water, I chose to keep my distance between the dry and point fly to 40cm. I was curious to see if the fish would move up in the water column to take my nymph. This proved to be an effective approach. I would simply keep in touch with the drifting flies and manipulated the dry by giving a slight lift of the rod. This would then lift the nymph as if to imitate it making its way to the surface to hatch.
By staying low, moving slow, and fishing a very light and delicate setup certainly made my day more successful. Let’s hope that spring and the start to some decent fly hatches happen soon!
Manningford Trout Fishery, Pewsey, Wiltshire SN9 6NR
Manningford Trout Fishery offers fishing on the Upper Avon high up in the Avon Valley at Pewsey Vale. Smaller, wilder and more intimate than the river further down the valley, this is a pristine chalkstream that offers superb nymph and dry fly sport on light tackle. It has excellent hatches of Mayfly and Hawthorn and holds a good population of wild brown trout and grayling. Day tickets can be booked by contacting the fishery.
T 07544 801844
Hampshire based Adam Sinclair is a serving soldier in the British Army and has fly fished for nine years. Adam is a committee member of the famous Services Dry Fly Fishing Association that was once kept by Frank Sawyer. Much of Adam’s fishing is on the Chalk Streams of the South, however, he has fished across the United Kingdom, Canada and Slovenia. Adam is an ambassador for Hunts Original and has recently been appointed the Pro Team Co-Ordinator for Costa Del Mar and Seapower UK.