Fishing the Test with Les

Last Friday I took Les Weller (Weller of the Yard) down to Timsbury Manor to fish the river Test and its carrier streams. Les had asked me about this fishery as he had seen it mentioned on some angling forum but had never fished it and as most of our local rivers were about to burst their banks it seemed the ideal venue.

We arrived at about eight thirty in the morning and found the main river very swollen but the carriers were fishable. Unfortunately the banks were sodden and it was like crossing the battlefield of the Somme just to get to the water’s edge. Walking ankle deep in mud soon makes the legs ache despite travelling light which is the order of the day for this type of fishing. The bailiff was very helpful and advised us on the best places to fish but the whole place has a run down look to it and Les commented that it needed some real money spent on it to increase its appeal. He thinks the place could be a goldmine but he knows about these things as he manages the Surrey estate I have mentioned before.

While we were setting up at the car his rod fell down and his holdall fell on top of it breaking off the top ring and removing the liners to a couple of others, a disasterous thing to happen at the beginning of the day. Doubly so because for probably the first time for years I had not brought a spare float rod, as anyone who has ever fished with me will tell you, I normally bring two or three of everything I need and one or two things that might come in useful.

Les did not let this stop him for too long and we were soon trotting our floats on one of the carriers. We both caught some grayling and a few trout, the biggest of mine, a brown trout weighed nearly five pounds. I have been spoiled by the river Itchen when it was at its peak a couple of years ago and four or five two pound grayling were caught each trip but I was happy with this fish which might have been a pound.

Me with a river Test grayling

I’ve cropped all but my hands and the fish from this picture because I’m wearing an expression of bewilderment and extreme concentration that would be understood by anyone who has tried to hold anything other than a very small grayling with cold hands, they are like a muscular bar of soap.

The weather was not particularly our friend on this outing as the down stream wind carried very cold rain and despite changing swims several times not much else was caught, although Les did manage a nice roach of about a pound from a very sheltered carrier.

I was using my fifteen foot Harrison GTI match rod and Les obviously took a shine to it as couple of days later he told me he had ordered a slightly more powerful Harrison rod from Mark Tunley, a rod builder he had found on the internet and this chap is repairing his old rod as well. Les wants me to write a review of his new toy when he gets it so watch this space, although I don’t promise to be totally unbiased as I love Harrison rods.