Its deep, narrow, meandering course through prime agricultural land
is shrouded for most of its length by high, lush bankside vegetation,
the only way to fish the Piddle is from within, up to your mid thigh
in water with short little casts through the tunnel of vegetation.
The Piddle is home to the whole run of waterbourne life, good hatches
of olives, mayfly, sedge and midges. Arthur was suprised to see the
shocking yellow of the Yellow May Dun flitting over the water. A
hatch that he wasn't familiar with in Ireland. The fish are all wild
browns, healthy, well fed fish and the stretches under the management of
Richard are almost unique in the UK as he doesn't supplement the head
of fish by stocking. All his guests are required to practice catch
and release. NO fish to be killed. PERIOD!
His gentle, sympathetic water management methods, coupled with
intelligent weed cutting should be a milestone for most water
keepers of my aquaintance. In my honest opinion, this is a prime
example of what a healthy chalkstream should be, you can keep
the Test and Itchen, sadly they seem to be little more than stock
ponds, put and take fishing for much of their course these days.
So back to the fishing.
We started at the bridge at Braintspuddle, parked the car in a field
and walked through some woods to be greeted by the sun dappled Piddle
in fine flow. Straight away we started to spot fish holding in the
currents between the long weed fronds. I love the contrasts in colour
on the chalkstrams, deep lush green banks of weed, golden chalk and flint
gravel between them and dappled light capping it all. The flies of choice
were shrimp imitations as it was still early in the morning and no fish
were rising that we could see.
The first shots at them were disastrous, fish scattering in all
directions. Our haste to get at the water resulting in missed
opportunities. But after a while we both settled into it and started
to take a fish here and a fish there, leapfrogging each other up the
stream as we fished. The fish weren't big, 14 inches was a fine
example but they were as tough and wary as they could be. Each
fooled fish a minor victory.
This developed into the pattern of the morning. Myself fishing the
shrimp and Arthur taking fish using a #14 Klinkhamer. As the morning
warmed up, the strength of the wind rose adding another interesting
challenge, the lightweight lines we were using and the accurate casts
needed between the weeds and under the canopy of vegetation getting
more difficult to control as lunchtime approached.