Friday, 2 March 2012

Guest Post - As an Aside, It is an Ide! - Cassian Edwards

Here's a first for Idler's Quest, a guest post...! Cassian Edwards got in touch after fishing at, and then reading about my trip to, the Lower Itchen Fishery. My trip was Friday, and his the Sunday following, and at the end of the day, Cassian hooked and banked one of the Itchen's surprising specimens, and one that may become a familiar sight on the bank in years to come...

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On Sunday 26th February I was invited to join a friend on an Osprey Specimen Group fish-in at the Lower Itchen Fishery. After a 35 mile drive we arrived at the fishery at 8am to find a slight frost on the ground and the long rays of the early morning's sunshine glistening on the river. A mist was rising off the water and as we drove along the bumpy track towards the top beat we remarked to each other how luscious the river looked. While I had fished the Itchen before, on the free stretch lower downstream, this was a first trip for me to the fishery and I was rather excited to see the river in such splendour!

It seemed to take ages as we drove up fishery to find somewhere to park near the top end of the middle section. Perhaps I was in a state of stupour as I watched out the window at the wonderful river rolling by?

Realising I would be spending my day walking and fishing I had made sure I had come lightly prepared, as far too often I take far too much! Nevertheless, today I had come with just a small old canvas bag containing a tackle box, a centrepin, a bottle of water, cheese and pickle sandwiches, a set of scales and of course a camera; in other words, exactly what was needed, no more no less! Oh, and of course a stick float rod and a landing net.

Of course, it didn't matter which way I looked, the view was just as splendid facing downstream.

Within ten minutes or so we had tackled up and were ready to go. As we strolled upstream I realised what a wonderful morning it was and so took time to shoot a few snaps as we passed by the salmon beats. "Oh what a marvellous trot that would be", I couldn't help but think to myself.

We continued on our way and after reaching the top said our good mornings to some of the other fishermen who had arrived a few minutes before us. The place was idyllic, it really was; just think what we might catch today!

Finally I found a spot up near the railway bridge where I had nice long glide down the inside before the water curled round to the left. I started feeding 4 to 5 maggots every 30 or so seconds along the line to try and build up the swim. Ideally I was after a nice roach, but of course in reality I was happy to catch anything, especially a good grayling. I was fishing a largish Avon float to 4.4lb Drennan floatfish, with a 2.2lb bottom, bulk shotted with a number 4 eight inches from the hook and a Kamasan B980 size 16 on the business end.

Bites didn't come immediately but I didn't have to wait too long, for after several trots the float buried right down at the end of the swim. I wasn't sure what was on the end and started to feel perhaps a little undergunned, yet my Drennan Ultralite coped perfectly absorbing all the shakes and sails into the fast flow of what I soon realised was my first grayling of the day. Not a big fish, perhaps just pushing a pound and a half at best, but beautiful by any measure.

Back she went with a little help as these devils do tend to fight hard and use every breath; one really must make sure they are ready to wim off strongly before letting go.

And so the feeding, few and regular, continued and it wasn't long until the float slid under again. This time, however, it most certainly wasn't a grayling. In fact whatever it was didn't really know it was hooked. Instead it just stayed there, somewhere near bottom, moving upstream and then dropping back down, this it did several times. No shake of the jaws and no sudden runs; there was no way I was going to try and hurry this one! I was just content to play the walking game up and down the bank until time told the story...

After several minutes I was none the wiser as to what was on the end. A barbel, I doubted it; it just didn't feel right. A big trout, possibly, or, perhaps, even a salmon? Yes, I thought it was a salmon and what a glorious moment it was! I had hooked it and been attached to it, walked up and down the bank with it, and then all of a sudden, with me being as gentle as could be, the hook pulled. I laughed! That's fishing! That is fishing!

But I got back on the horse and no sooner said than done I was into another salmonid, albeit this time of the trutta variety. A zippy little bugger who certainly wasn't going to give up and this time I really did doubt whether he was going to do what I wanted him to do! With a reasonable amount of weed in front of me he tried his old tricks to tangle himself and escape my ever stronger attempts to thwarte his getaway. Alas his time was soon up and as I slid the net under him the hook popped out of it's hold - I was very, very lucky!

Not long after another smaller grayling graced my net and then another brownie, and then another grayling of about 1lb. Time to move downstream.

After a good walk we reached another spot that looked mesmerising. In the rays of the sun it was sparkling, like a gem. I decided to have a go on corn and also decided to go up to a 4lb hooklength and a size 14. I hoped that would give me some luck!

Third trot through and the float buried. On the end was a fish that certainly put the pressure on, although another brownie and not quite what I really wanted. I stayed in the swim for a while before walking off and finding a place to have an early lunch. I think it was about 11.30am - but my cheese and pickle sandwich was calling! With a nice bench to sit on I could relax, take in the air and listen to the goldcrests in the conifers in the distance, their sweet, repetitive and distinct song much to my liking.

Not much was happening after lunch and I decided that before moving off a final cast was in order, albeit I think this turned into five! Everyone does it, I am sure. "Just one more cast, just one more cast!".

The last cast finally came and the float dipped under. Now it was a salmon that was on the other end, albeit one that in the future may be a bit bigger than a few ounces. A salmon nonetheless, even though I did think it was a trout parr until I examined the photograph at home.

With the appetite appeased and with maggot back on a size 16 and the lighter hooklength attached, I decided to try and find myself a roach as the day was getting on. I looked for slightly deeper swims, less current, less swirls, generally a glide that was, well, more relaxed. Finally I found it and with a good 8 ft in front of me I thought it best to plot up here for the next few hours and abide the time to redfin time! Well, that was the plan, but as we all know the fish don't always read the plans!

I changed my shotting pattern, switching from a bulk of shot to a spread out style. An hour or so went past of constantly trickling in red and whites with nothing to show. I needed a bite but couldn't buy one! I was holding back, letting the float run through, and finally all it took was a slight change in the depth, to about 6ft, and first trot down and the float diped under, again right at the very end of the swim. Was it the change or just good luck?

It was a fair few minutes before I saw what was on the other end but the fast and furious motions led me to believe it wasn't a roach and I was right. This was an all together much more powerful fish, and before I was able to land it I could see that it was a sea trout. Once on the bank I marvelled at it's spots and sleek form.

I must have annoyed him, well he seemed pretty annoyed and just sat in front of me on the bottom sulking for a good while.

Finally we decided to drive down and finish the day with a few chucks by the entrance. Would it be roach time, I wondered. The sun was lower, the air was warmer, a few flies were rising.

We parked up in the car park by the buildings near to the entrance to the fishery and I rejoined the three lengths of my rod togther. Within a few minutes I was casting over the railings and in to the concrete channel. I really wanted a nice red fin to end the day. A few maggots went out and I reeled back ready to cast again for the next trot down. No sooner had the float hit the water and it started to make it's way down river than it slid under the surface. I struck. The line went tight. A different kind of tension was felt, a slight 'plodding' about, if that is the right word... She was on. I was nervous. Time was running out. Was this the roach I was after; the one I had been longing for?!

While I could say she put up a spirited fight, the truth was It wasn't long before she was in the net, after what was a tense time. "What a beaut!", I thought. "What an absolute beaut.... what an absolute.... what a..

WHAT THE?!???!!!".

"Dave - come and look at this!"

I was flabergasted. This was no roach! It was an imposter! Blimey!

And so it was that I had landed my first ever orfe, also known as an ide; Leuciscus idus to be more precise. A fish more common in a back garden pond, not a chalk stream for heaven's sake! I suppose it must be an escapee, or perhaps an unwanted pet put in to the river after it had outgrown it's home. Nevertheless, after weighing in a plastic bag she pulled the scales round to 3lbs 8oz exactly. Certainly a good fish, and a very intriguing capture. In fact one probably has more chance of catching a 15lb barbel or a 30lb carp from the river, or even a 10lb salmon than of catching a 3lb 8oz orfe! Happy? Me? You bet!

However, I am even happier to have read that I wasn't alone in experiencing the jubilation that this thoroughly unusual catch has provided to others. This will probably stay in my mind as one of my most unusual catches, as no doubt it will have been for Sash. I hope you have enjoyed my little write-up as much as I enjoyed the day fishing. Nothing beats the open air in such nice surroundings, and even though I didn't catch a big roach I will certainly remember this day forever.

Tight lines and best fishes,


PS; Regarding the fish, my friend at work (I am a marine ecologist) used to work in an aquatics shop and swears it is a golden orfe that has lost the gold pigment, rather than what is sold as a 'blue orfe'. As an aside, it is an ide!

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Many Thanks Cassian, A lovely read. Great pictures too!



  1. Do you think the fish in the Lower Itchen get paid on appearances Jeff???

    You wouldnt put a fish like that in those swims would you .

    Bazal Peck

  2. Aghh! Rumbled...

    I confess, I did it. Wet pets is what done for me, all those flashy tanks and luminous fish.

  3. Nice pics Cassian but you do look like a young Danny Baker....