A Return To The River Test Houghton Lodge


The alarm goes off, yet as always before a trip, I'm already awake, especially this morning knowing that I will be returning to the River Test. 
I make my way to the closet, everything is already prepared from the night before, I get ready calmly, without stress, trying to keep cool despite me bubbling with excitement. I walk downstairs, and the coffee is already boiled as I set the timer the evening before. As with every fishing trip, I like to have all my gear ready packed and in the car so when I get up I have zero faffing about, everything is premeditated. I don't like changing last minute, I like to set out and stick with my choices during the day if I can.
I pour my drink and a lark sings, the smell of the coffee and the songs of the bird take me to a riverbank in the crisp fresh air, I breathe in deeply and fantasize about what the river will be like, will they be feeding subsurface or on the surface?
I have tied a selection of nymphs and dry flies, ready for all eventualities in hope that this selection will cover this stretch of the Test as it did last time around. I take a sip of coffee and pour the rest of it into my tumbler, with a dash of milk. 
Every evening before a trip my wife orders an Indian and I spend the first part of the morning achingly full, fortunately, this time, I have managed to skip it. I feel fresh and ready to enjoy the sound of the river, a fish rising, a bee buzzing, an eddy churning. I snap out of my daydream as my old school friend Jimmy pulls up on the driveway, he is just as excited as me.
Jimmy introduced me to the world of British field sports, taking me on my first shoots last winter, I could not think of a better way to enjoy this beat than with a good old school friend who shares my passion for field sports. We pull off and head down to the river.
As we go we notice the weather beginning to change from clear, to drizzle, to on and off rain, a little smile appears on my face.  It might not be optimal for dry fly but for nymphing, there is no better time for me to prospect for trout than in the rain. Something about the quiet and the raindrops, perhaps it gets the fish more excited and feeding, perhaps it's because fewer people go out to fish? Either way I always have a blast in the rain.
We pull up and meet the ghillie, a great chap who has already told us we can nymph at the moment, so we have come prepared for both eventualities. We gear up while having a friendly chat with our newly made ghillie friend who takes us through the boundaries and regulations of the beat, then as he leaves we set out.
Before getting close to the bank we stop and plan our fishing out step by step. We have decided to hit the back of the pockets first and the runs that come out of the pools. I have rigged up another Jig Nymph Pt and we start to prospect. 
The sound of the rain ticks my wading jacket, and a little trickle of water starts to make its way onto my wrist as I concentrate on using the currents to get my nymph deeper, I know there are fish under there I just need to make sure it gets deep enou......gh FISH ON! 
It shoots upstream keeping tight to the bottom, it pulls like a grayling, and sure enough, it is. A stunning fish landed quickly on a big six-pound line and set free right away. 
Line back in the water, I'm not here for grayling today I'm looking for something else, something bigger. Two casts in,boom fish... I see it's flank, bright yellow with orange haze, white belly, perfect. That's what I am here for. I land the fish and admire her beauty before a quick release.
We head further upstream and enjoy a few more catches of smaller wild natives. Eventually, we reach a deep wide pool, I decide to change my nymph to a pink shrimp pattern in hopes to attract something bigger. I prospect the pool to the best of my water knowledge, starting right at the bank and slowly make my way out, about halfway out deep between the reeds I see my nymph meander its way through the entanglements and hope there is something big lurking.... something spots the shrimp and slowly rises from the stream bed then gently drops back down. 
I recast, get the nymph in the same current and let it float naturally straight past the spot I last saw that lovely trout, sure enough, a white mouth opens and closes around my shrimp. I set the hook, she jolts, jerks and gyrates in the water. 
 
She knows, I know, we fight, she goes upstream, then down, I follow trying not to stress her.I manage to land her on a slower blade of water and present her to the camera.
There are lots more like her in here.




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