Trying out a new fishery is always a thrill, especially when you’ve heard it’s home to supersized rainbows, so I was particularly excited about visiting to Avington Trout Fishery in Hampshire. I set off at the crack of dawn, accompanied by The Two Richards, and our intrepid band pulled in to Fleet for the obligatory greasy breakfast. It proved to be a lucky stop-off as Richard One quickly found a five pence piece on the ground. Working on the basis of: “See a penny, pick it up, and all day you’ll catch the biggest bloody rainbows you’ve ever seen”, we all dutifully rubbed the lucky 5p and set off for Avington with a spring in our step.
We pulled in to the fishery just as the sun was coming up, with mist rising off the water and a very warm reception from the people on the desk. No sooner had we started to fish than the lucky coin began to pay dividends. We were all into fish straight away. Realising we’d quickly hit the fishery quotas if our lucky streak continued, we changed our tactics to go for size rather than quantity. It wasn’t long before we heard a shout go up from Richard Two on the other side of the lake: “I’ve got a submarine on!” Even allowing for fisherman’s exaggeration, this was nothing short of a small U-boat: a 16lb 8oz rainbow. Richard One and I retreated to the far lake to regroup and hatch an evil plan. We would track down a monster fish to trump his and cut short the endless mileage we knew he would squeeze from his prize catch.
After lunch, the sun was much higher in the sky, with autumn leaves dropping into the perfectly clear water. We switched flies, moving from the winning formula of the cat’s whisker with an orange body to Green Montanas and daddy long legs. An algae bloom in one of the lakes made fishing tough, so we upped rods and went to lake one where shadier conditions made for easier fishing. I opted to stake out the small inflow to the lake, where fish could be waiting for insects coming down the stream. Immediately, I was into a fish, and had one on the next cast too. With the tactic coming up trumps again and again, I made the most of my last half an hour to reach the quota. Meanwhile, The Two Richards had been busy on the middle lake. Richard One had another big rainbow in the bag, weighing in at 8lb – a personal best for him.
So was our run of good luck down to skill? Or was it the lucky 5p? We’ll never know for sure, but Richard One now swears by it. I don’t think it’s the last we’ll see of that little coin...