Bob from Hampton Court

A couple of weeks ago I went over to Shepperton marina for a chat with fishing coach Steve Gray who runs All Things Piscatorial, a new website for and about fishing coaches. He introduced me to Bob from Hampton Court who had featured on Keith Arthur’s radio programme, Fisherman’s Blues on Talk Sport. Bob’s angling exploits as The Angling Apprentice are listed on Steve’s website. Steve suggested that Bob might like to have a day’s fishing with me and after some discussion it was decided that we would go to the river Itchen to try and catch Bob his first grayling and I could teach him a little about small river fishing.

Last Wednesday, after finding a mutually suitable date with a decent weather forecast, I picked Bob up from his home and we drove down to Southampton (stopping briefly for a big boys’ breakfast!) to fish the Lower Itchen Fishery. The day was bright and mild but a stiff North Westerly wind blew intermittently all day making float fishing difficult, especially for a novice. We have to make the best of things at this time of year.

The river was as low as I have ever seen it due to the lack of rain over the winter but it still had an unhealthy grey tinge untypical of a chalk stream. As soon as I saw this I knew that the fishing was going to be difficult but as the fishery closes on 14th February we decided to make the best of a bad job.

I set Bob up with a long float rod with a centrepin loaded with four pound braid and I started to explain the principles of trotting a float on a fast flowing river. He was faced with a steep learning curve because of his inexperience, the centrepin reel, braid and difficult wind but he struggled manfuly despite the past injuries to his spine and in fact made me feel quite guilty about the fuss I have been making about my wrists.

Bob on river Itchen

It became apparent that I was right about the condition of the river. We tried several of what I would have considered “banker” swims without result. Bob was beginning to get the hang of trotting but was having some physical problems due to his injuries so I found him a comfortable swim where he could fish sitting down.

Bob fishing from jetty

A change from red maggot to sweetcorn produced the first bite of the day a brown trout that managed to shed the hook but not before Bob had experienced the shock of playing his first fish on braid. The second trout, a much larger fish, smashed his hook length but he was getting the hang of it and he landed the third fish a fine brown trout, his first on a centrepin.

Bob and first trout

Bob was beginning to tire and trotting was too painful so I suggested that he switched to legering with a maggot feeder and after a little work on his casting he hooked his first fish.

Bob playing a fish

This proved to be his second trout.

Bob and second trout

A change of swim and we finally found the target species, a grayling of one pound four ounces. of which Bob was rightly proud.

Bob and grayling

Bob had done very well on a difficult river in very hostile conditions, he responded well to my instructions and tried very hard to master a tricky technique. He now has a love for fishing running water and is well on his way to being a centrepin freak like me.

A good day ended well.

Sunset over trees

Update: Bob has written an excellent account of the day – I’m glad you enjoyed the day and I hope this will be the start of many such happy days on a river.