"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ", C S Lewis

Jo proudly holding the two trout caught by her husband Keith and wearing a Fly Fishing Club cap.
From the private collection of K Spence

On Saturday 10 April 2010 I was part of a group of Partners and guests gathered at Leckford for a one day induction course on fly fishing being run by the Partnership Fly Fishing club.

I was a bit nervous.  I wasn’t an angler.  In fact the only time I had held a rod before was when my children were little and I put their small rods away after a fishing trip.  Would I last the day without falling in the water?  Could I bring myself to dispatch a fish?

Over coffee at the Abbas I began to relax and listen to our course organisers and instructors .  We were given a short introduction on equipment and tackle selection before being given our flies (made from feathers) and put into smaller groups led by two or three seasoned anglers for the rest of the day.  The morning would be spent on the river Test and after a light lunch back at the Abbas, we would journey to Bossington Lake.

Shout for help!
It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny.  Although I later found out not the ideal conditions for fishing.   Our instructors took us through putting our tackle together, how to tie fishing knots (not easy), basic entomology and fly fishing techniques.
Once on our river beat we practised casting.  First with a dry fly and later with a fly that was weighted to sink in the water.  As I tried to perfect my cast and catch a fish I listen to my tutor Neil Lucas as he guided me through how the fish takes the bait, in this case a fly, and how important it was to know which fly to use  depending on the conditions.  If I felt a tug, I had a fish and should give my rod a sharp pull to set the hook and then shout for help!

The river Test bubbled past me and looked inviting as I got hotter and hotter.  My arm began to ache but I didn’t care.  Fish or no fish. I was having a great time.  All to soon it was time to return for lunch.

The only member of my group to catch a fish ( a Brown trout) that morning was my husband, Keith.  Tom, from Leckford farm, demonstrated the correct way to gut and clean it.

In the afternoon we all made our way to Bossington Lake.  This time we were fishing for Rainbow trout.

The one that got away
Again Neil took me through the cast.  A different one this time and I found it more difficult to learn.  The rod was heavier with a weighted nymph fly and I just couldn’t master it.  I kept getting the line tangled up but I did persevere and Neil was extremely patient with me.  He suggested I work a few other spots on the lake to see if  I could catch a fish.  I could see others landing fish and some losing them and a few like me didn’t get a nibble.  As the afternoon got cooler more fish were taking the bait but I still had no luck.   I eventually made my way back to the weighing station to find that Keith had just caught one.   Great, at least one of us was doing alright.  Another club member quickly called me over to reel in a trout he had just hooked.  I followed his advice and played the fish to tire him out but I was beginning to wonder who would tire first, the fish or me?  Just as the net went down to scoop him up the line broke!  My fault.  I wasn’t holding the rod high enough.
Ah well, the one that got away.

Still, we had Keith’s two, both three pounders.  At home that night we barbecued the Brown trout,which was delicious and have frozen the Rainbow trout for another day.

Thanks to all who gave up their own time to organise and run the event. Especially our fishing guides Neil and Tom.  It was a fantastic experience and memorable day.  

Was it a success?   Yes, yes, yes.  I may not have caught a fish but I am hooked on fishing.  We have already booked another lesson and I’m the proud owner of a Partnership Fly Fishing Club cap.


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