I have had my eye on the River Allen all season long, because it's the nearest chalkstream in Dorset to my home. I could just about make a day trip to it and hopefully catch a first trout from a new county. The Allen is apparently one of the most private of all the English chalkstreams, because almost all of its 13 mile length is under the ownership of just two large English estates that have been in the same families for many generations (one being the Earl of Shaftesbury). When I saw that a day ticket beat on the Earl's water near the village of Wimborne St. Giles was being offered at a discounted price this September, I jumped at the opportunity to sample it. Everybody loves a bargain.
When I first saw the river I began to worry. The water level was extremely low, flowing no higher than my boot laces. I thought I had been sold a dud. Fortunately, I discovered there were deeper, fish holding pools at the lower and upper limits of the beat. It also transpired that I had the entire river beat to myself for the day and I enjoyed the solitude and freedom to roam. It turned out to be a very enjoyable day after all.
The final section of the river is above a trout farm. I followed a narrow grass path around the boundary of the farm, wary not to touch the electric fence. The water is impounded by a concrete weir at the top of the farm and only a trickle of water came over the weir in the river's historic channel. The majority of water was diverted through the trout farm. For around 50m upstream of the weir the water was like a lake, where the trout cruised around in schools or alone. I followed the path upstream and just where the current became perceptible again, I spotted a good fish holding stationary in the water. I cast a #22 bead head pheasant tail nymph ahead of the fish and witnessed it open and close its mouth in a flash of white. I struck in that instant, hoping it had taken my small fly, and enjoyed enormously the double sensation of feeling resistance in the line and seeing the fish shake its head in anger. Once again, it was a fine looking trout. Its top half was olive and brown, descending through a shade of mauve to an underside of golden yellow. Its lateral line was adorned in cherry red spots while its shoulders and back featured large black spots. Something about this water made the fish dress for the occasion.
|What a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the English countryside|