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The weather was unseasonably warm, broken cloud gave way to intermittent sun, red kites took to the skies gliding on the thermals and cows grazed in the lowland pastures. Every now and again the peacefulness of the Hampshire countryside would be broken by the buzz or roar of the planes taking off from Southampton Airport, we were on this day fishing a free stretch of the River Itchen in search of ‘the lady of the stream’, the grayling.

Having watched the weather forecast all week the conditions seemed favourable however the overnight rain would impact on our fishing. After the hour or so drive from South West London we arrived by the River Itchen at just after 10.30am. The rods were put together and appropriate reels in order to float fish using maggots as bait.

There were several people already on the water, it ran clear if not a little too fast so fishing wasn’t going to be easy. Having spoken to a couple of local fisherman they mentioned that there was a good run of sea-trout so there was the likelihood that one of these fish may also take the bait. As the hours past the only bend in the top of the rods came from the bunches of weed that made its way downstream with the flotilla of autumn leaves. Every now and again we would see a fish rise in a swirl of water, the rippling water fading out as the current dispersed the rings.

I had found myself a small opening on the riverbank, I placed the old Efgeeco tackle box on the muddy bank and set up the rod on the rest and watched the tip. Gazing across the meadow I was aware the young Tales was doing his own thing, now a competent fisher I left him to fish on his own, always mindful of the dangers of any river he was safe enough and within constant watching distance. Young Tales would now and again shout out “dad, there’s a big fish”…was this just the eagerness to catch something, could he see the trout running through the weeds or was it his imagination. It wasn’t long before I heard another shout, this time, “dad, I’ve got a fish!”, I glanced to the right to see his rod bent right over and Young Tales hanging on for dear life, what on earth had he hooked. I rapidly made my way to him, net in hand and when I got to him he said, “it’s huge!” Looking over the bank down to the water sure enough there was a large mass of Silver and dark grey swirling around in the water. I needed to look twice, it wasn’t a sea-trout but a salmon he had hooked. I could only deduce this from the prominent ‘kype’ on the lower jaw. Clearly a large male fish. It ran and thrashed about for some time as Young Tales held on. I told him to walk back and keep his rod up in the air so I could lean down and get the net beneath it in order to land it. Well this was more than we had bargained for, a sea-trout was one thing but a salmon was a surprise. Once netted and on the bank we carefully unhooked it, took the trophy photograph and then returned the fish to the water.

I’m so proud of my Young Tales. He’s out-fished me all season and good for him. To see the excitement in his eyes and to know that memory will last a lifetime is worth every minute of taking him to the river. .

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