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© Bill Beddows 3/09/17
On a recent visit to Dorset to stay with our daughter I was invited to fish the Wylye. I don’t often get a chance to fish a chalk stream so I jumped at the opportunity. Situated near Salisbury the Wylye is a tributary of the Avon. We fished the waters of the Wilton Fly Fishing Club, a rather exclusive body and one of the oldest fishing clubs in the country but with more advanced customs than some of the chalk streams so wading and upstream nymphs are allowed.
After coffee with my host I followed him down a minor road from Wilton and we parked in a layby. We were fishing on a rod sharing basis so used our own rod but only one person fishing at any moment. Nymphing was deemed to the likely method so I put up my 10ft. 3wt. with a nymph rig and we set off down the footpath to the river. After about 400 metres we fought our way through the bankside vegetation and slid into the water. To someone used to the northern spate rivers the water in a chalk stream is disconcertingly clear, gauging the depth is difficult and you can watch the fish watching you. On the plus side the water level is not affected too much by rain, more by the amount of extraction.
It was immediately obvious that fish were rising so off came the nymph rig and on went a few feet of 0.1mm tippet and my default deer hair emerger fly. I much prefer fishing a dry fly to any other method while Bernard, my host, prefers the nymph. The river at this point is about 10 metres wide and a fairly uniform knee to mid-thigh depth with plenty of Rancullus weed. Both of us were catching fish steadily, mainly grayling about a pound and the odd trout. As lunch time approached I was into double figures when the sky darkened and there was a loud rumble of thunder. Standing up to your bits in water with a 10ft. pointed stick made of carbon is no place to be in a thunderstorm so we climbed up the bank using a convenient metal ladder. Great to have facilities for trout fishermen, where I normally fish if there is a bench to sit on or steps down the bank you know you are near a salmon pool !.
We walked briskly back to the road, stopping off to admire two large grayling feeding below a footbridge. As we got to the cars it start to rain heavily and I realised that my estate car was lacking a rear window. Some passing low life had smashed the rear screen, reached in and removed my Fishpond bag. They had not been put off either by the fact that it was a quite busy minor road or that the boot cover was in position so it could have been empty. As it was, an expensive bag, two reels, one with a silk line, various items of clothing including waterproof and soft shell jackets and other sundry items had gone. All in all a bob or two’s worth! They had missed an Orvis Superfine rod and fortunately I had left my large box of spare flies at home.
This put a bit of a damper on the day, fishing was replaced by visiting the river keeper to report the incident to the police and making a makeshift rear screen with a sheet of oil cloth and a reel of gaffer tape. I think Bernard felt worse about the affair than I did and he and his wife could not have been more helpful.
I have no expectation of recovering my gear, none of it has appeared on E-bay or Gumtree and the Wiltshire Police will only come across it by chance. The theft has caused me to change my behaviour as far as what I take with me when I go out. I was using a large rod bag with 4 or 5 rods, 6 reels with various lines and room for a fly box, lanyard, glasses etc. and deciding what to use when I got to the parking place. This reduced the risk of forgetting something and meant I had a choice of methods. I now only take one rod, 2 reels and the clothing I may need. I know I’m bolting the stable door after the horse has gone but the probability of being a victim in the future has not been reduced by what happened.
The good bit
The bad bit