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Oxfordshire streams are predominantly coarse and such game fishing as is available is tightly controlled  and day ticket access is very limited. So I was intrigued to note that the Orvis catalogue shows that their store in Burford has water. A telephone call to Keith Passant and a ticket was secured for the modest sum of £25, on a river where, when fishing with Steve Webster the day before on the Chess, I learned that brown trout were plentiful, and that he, a member of a small syndicate upstream of Burford, had learned that the mayfly were up and he was to fish his beat the same day as I was to fish –

May 2010 – the WINDRUSH


Burford is the most picturesque market town full of Cotswold stone shops and houses, and a mecca for tourists offering local fare from a number of small restaurants and bars, and boutique-y stores. And the Orvis store offers visitors its classic range of country wear as the main attraction, with the fishing store upstairs at the back of the building, which is where I found Keith in mid stock take.

The shop has three tickets on the Burford AC water which flows upstream and downstream of the town bridge offering about a mile of fishing. Keith is a real enthusiast and stressed that their hope was only that visiting anglers had fun, and by “whatever method” they choose….which made me suspicious ! He offered me a beat map and helpfully indicated the fish holding areas, alerted me to where tourists might be a problem, then sold me some mayflies (with ease!)

A stroll upstream from the bottom of the beat revealed a channel below muddy sided elevations of ten feet or so and sandy muddy bottom and little weed or other cover except for the odd fallen tree. Then shallows and gravel runs which was repeated a couple of times, interspersed by a wide bend with the inevitable deep pool scoured out by winter flood rush.

These pools hold trout I have no doubt, but it’s May and I am seeking fly life and rising fish, and a purist, my preference is to fish the dry fly, and few are moving, except for small fish, and I manage to take two on CdC olive in the hot afternoon sun from a riffle.

Walking in full chest wader Gortex, and quite conspicuously through the town to the upstream beat, I went to its head, but apart from a small weir pool where I tempted a small grayling, the rest of this water resembles a coarse river and is canal-like….