You know, words begin to fail me when I describe the fishing on the San River in the autumn. We had a magnificent trip, a special, stolen week with great companionship among close friends, right at season’s end among the fire and blaze of the forest under the sun, and the foam laden river.
Old man and his stick aka Tremendously Experienced Angler, appearing regularly in fishing magazines and books, Carefully Studies the Water
Low, clear water throughout our trip, and every day trickle hatches of BWOs, and huge caddis numbers (these ignored by the fish), and rising trout… Among them the gold of the San, the grayling, the best grayling in Europe. I managed a 45 cm specimen (somewhere around two and a half pounds in weight), and four other 40cm+ fish. Paul Fear caught about the same, along with huge numbers of trout on a mixture of French nymphing and dry fly. I fished most days exclusively dry (19 and 21 plume tips), though had two morning sessions with duo (Oppo and PTN size 18) and averaged 15 ‘measurers’ each day.
Autumn on the San
Lawrence Greasley claimed to be right at the limit of his ability, but I observed him fishing carefully and with some success. He caught trout consistently well and also grayling when he committed to the plume tip and ignored the dreadful deer hair abomination in which he has so much faith. There was a moment, actually on our first afternoon, fishing in the river by our garden, when I found a long line of grayling (where they always are). I caught three of them (all 35cm plus) before calling over Lawrence to get on the drift line: who then enjoyed this special moment with this, the ultimate prize among single handed fly rod exponents.
Pat Stevens – probably the finest fly dresser in England – had already hosted a group on the San the week before our trip, so he was now relaxed and determined to fish dry. Of course, this paid off and I witnessed two special moments when Pat singled out big grayling rising to BWO duns. Lovely fish and a smiling Pat.
Nice grayling returned
There, in the Blitzkrieg dazzle of autumn leaves, and the steady, reliable hatches of BWO, we suffered. We endured. Wojtek’s dreadful cooking (we all put on a few pounds during the week); the dismal absence of fly hatches (every day – more than you will ever see in agriculturally destroyed Britain) and huge grayling (a 60 cm grayling was caught by Lechu, and photographed, during this week), the lack of enormous numbers of brown trout (Paul nudged into the twenties most days) – well, if the place wasn’t so ugly it would be ok. You get the message. If you want the best that trout and grayling fishing can possibly provide, there is only one place in Europe where you can find it. Take it from me, who has fished throughout Europe. San River is the worst place on the continent. Stay away, please.