Dorset chalk streams, Dorset trout, Frome, Phillip Jones, Richard Slocock, Stephen Wingfield Digby, Webster's Infallible, Wessex Chalk Streams Fishings, Wrackleford
My experience of Wessex Chalk Streams’ fishings in September 09, through whom I first ventured onto a Dorset river was influenced, positively, by the helpful tips at the time of booking, from Richard Slocock for tackling the Moreton beat, but, differently, for the lack of response to several attempts afterwards to engage in an exchange to understand some of what I observed, and of which I wished to learn more. (Were those salmon redds I spied?)
A difficult day in changeable weather, when I was advised to “bring a good selection of weighted nymphs”, did, nevertheless yield one trout, to an Elk Hair Caddis.
My second visit to the Frome was entirely better….memorable, fulfilling and a complete joy!
May 2011 – the Frome
Stephen Wingfield Digby and I worked together some five years ago, and prior.
The wretched ‘Big C’ took away the Mother of his three adult children, but he found a new happiness with Sylvia, who herself had lost her Husband to the same terror. Their’s is A Love Story, and few will forget their ‘coming out’ in Brewers Hall, when said Diggers, proudly presented his Fiancee to our Company, his smile had to be seen to be believed!
He is a ‘Shot’ of note, a salmon fisher by preference, and a beautiful presenter of a dry fly to a rising trout….and when he learned of my quest, he generously invited me to fish the famed Wrackleford beat (see Trout & Salmon, March 2010) where he has two rods on Mondays through the season.
The drive to Dorset was made largely in light, but continuous drizzle, but prospects remained buoyed by the forecast for sun spreading from the West, late in the afternoon, and after some coffee, Stephen suggested a mosey down to the Home Beat, which prompted an “Ooohhh!!” from me, and a confirmation for Simon Cooper’s description of this lovely water, in this short video – www.fishingbreaks.co.uk/movies/wrackleford.htm
A few casts, some with nymph, and some with an enticing yellow humpy, only produced one bit of interest. But we walked the entire length of this section, with me looking for likely lies…and spotting many, whilst not seeing many fish, which I judged to be in the weedy margins or at the bottom of the many pools, but there was still a very strong sense of anticipation, about.
And whilst when we ventured out in the afternoon, there was still moisture in the air, the clouds were breaking and the temperature was noticably higher and at the bottom of the beat some Mays were hatching to the odd ‘gollop’ and the splashy rise of eager trout, and two jumped out of the water in their enthusiasm to feast, and suddenly all looked good !
Two fish came up to my (last!) Webster’s Infallible but were missed, before the next nailed it and my first brown came to net.
The second, fought like a demon, and I believe it to be the largest brown I have taken from an English river at between 2 ½ and 2 ¾ lbs….and even better,
Stephen convinced me that the Wrackleford stocking policy is such it was almost certainly, a wild fish.
Arriving at the Eel House by the Home Beat Hatches,
I met Stephen’s other guest, who had already caught six fish! Stephen is Chairman of the Governing Board of the renowned Sherborne School, and his guest is Chairman of another. But I was flattered to realise that he was invited on that day for another reason. For Phillip Jones was until 2007, the Head Master of my Alma Mater…Christ College in Brecon, where, of course, I learned to fish….we had interesting chats through then until the evening’s end after supper, of that special school, and how he sought and did influence proceedings in his time, and compared with mine!
By 5 pm the fish were rising in warm air, and we caught twenty or so between us, mine latterly (another four) to a Mayfly (Danica) spinner, on Stephen’s recommendation,
and after a Pimms break at six, it was back to fishing. But the temperature was dropping, and the dancing Mays, hatching olives, and skittling caddis of before ourdrinks break, had disappeared, and there were to be no more fish…just the prospect of Sylvia’s lovely dinner. There’s more to fishing than catching fish!
Interesting post script – Stephen would have killed my big brown…for he judged it to be quite old, but more importantly, it probably predates on small browns. I must reflect on this piece of fishing wisdom.