River Whitewater comes to life after months of floods.

May 11, 2024 at 12:00 am

The Hampshire chalkstream, the River Whitewater has been in flood since March and I had to wait until the middle of May this week to pay my first visit of the season. A week of sunshine encouraged me pay an evening visit to the river, which is controlled by Farnborough and District AS, but the river was still carrying too much water and colour for traditional dry fly tactics, so I opted for a Gold Ribbed Hares Ear nymph, a good early season starter on the Whitewater.

As I walked upstream from the road, there was plenty of fly life, even a few Mayfly lifting off, while large Daddy Long Legs Crane Flies were scudding about from the bankside grass, but no sign of rises, even from the deep slower sections. This was only a scouting exercise anyway and I made my way towards the weir, casting the GRHE nymph to likely looking runs. It was also a pleasure casting a fly again, satisfied that my accuracy had not suffered due to lack of practice, a classic case of Just Like Riding a Bike, you never forget.

As I reached this section there was a rise ahead of me and I planned my approach to avoid the trees and bankside vegitation and even extended my landing net to its maximum to be able to reach the river from the bank. I began working the nymph upstream toward the point that I had seen the rise, but the flow was too quick, skating the nymph along just below the surface. There was a pluck on the line. That WAS a take. Time to try something else. I have a box labled Heavy Nymphs and I reached in for a size 14 Gold Head GRHE. This would slow down the retrieve and fish deeper. It was worth a try.

I began searching the slower water close to the opposite bank. The line stopped on the retreive and I lifted the rod. I was IN. In that instant a trout leapt vertically out of the river in front of me, tumbling in an effort to shed the hook, before running downstream past me, putting a bend in my seven foot rod and leaping clear again. It was only an eight inch wildie, but after catching roach all winter, this brown trout could fight. It swam into underwater reeds and became lodged. I walked downstream of the snag and it swam out. Battle commenced again, but it was one sided and the landing net was waiting.

Many of the wild browns in the Whitewater have this steely silver look, unfortunately the bright evening sun glared out most of the spots. Keeping the trout in the net, I lowered it back into the river with its head upstream, waiting for the gills to start pumping before allowing it to swim free.

I continued to walk upstream, casting as I went, a deep pull on the line bringing a fish to the surface. It was a small chub, which fought briefly, before being swung in.

I was pleased with the result, a trout and chub in less than an hour’s fishing, not big fish, but considering the pace and colour of the Whitewater, encouraging.