For up to date reports on how the rivers have been fishing recently. The reports are grouped into the Upper, Middle and Lower sections of the Test, the Upper and Lower sections of the Itchen and the Meon. The reports are compiled by river keepers working on the rivers. You can also view the three day weather forecasts for the Andover, Winchester and Romsey areas.
Upper River (above Longparish)
Last updated 7 September 2017
The August weedcut was difficult due to the sheer volume of weed growth. Blanket weed made the cut difficult as well. It needed raking off the good weed before cutting could begin. Strangely enough, lots of weed was cut at Tufton and above, yet, speaking to the keepers for two or three miles below, they had very little to cut at all. Answers on a postcard please!
Fishing is steady with some fair fly hatches. One or two rods are saying it’s getting difficult. Only to be expected with such low and clear water, in my humble opinion! However some are still doing well.
An Osprey was going up and down the carrier this afternoon. A great sight. No doubt on its migration back to Africa.
The river at Tufton is still fishing very well despite some of the awful weather we’ve had recently. Fly life has been reasonable but not spectacular over the last few weeks.
A cautious approach was taken during the July weedcut in an effort to keep the water levels up. In hindsight, I was perhaps a little too cautious as some areas now have too much weed with very little gravel showing. The August weedcut will have to be quite heavy in certain parts of the river if it’s to see us through to the end of the season, otherwise the river will be choked with weed. Once again, blanket weed is a problem in some areas. This will be cleared during the next cut but will no doubt be back again within days!
It’s just as well we’ve had all this rain recently, which has lifted the levels an inch or two, otherwise I believe we’d really be struggling with the fishing. The rain has meant that the fringes and grass are growing at an astonishing rate. The wind and rain has also caused a few trees to fall into the river.
An otter has been seen a couple of times and sadly ducklings and moorhen chicks are disappearing at an alarming rate.
6 July 2017
The fishing for the three weeks before the June weedcut was quite exceptional, arguably the best since I’ve been the riverkeeper here. All this despite very low water and slower weed growth than usual.
Very good hatches of mayfly, various olives and the true yellow sallies. Quite strangely on some evenings, midway through the mayfly, the trout seemed more interested in the olives than the mayfly!
The June weed cut was easier than usual as I was very careful on how much weed I cut to try and stop the levels dropping. Blanket weed was appearing before the June cut in the slower sections of the river. This no doubt due to the low flows and intense heat. We do not normally get blanket weed until August, if then. The July weed cut is coming up and I shall have to be very selective with what is cut again to try and keep the levels up.
All the wildlife in the area is doing well with lots of ducklings and moorhen chicks this year, which coincides with less otter activity than last year. Last year the otters were about all the time and wiped out most of the above. There was a large dog otter in the main hatch pool one night, but that seems to have moved on. Forty Canada geese arrived one night, trashed the fringes and made a mess of the banks, but they soon moved on.
9 May 2017
On the warm days before we started fishing at the end of April, there were a few grannom about, and for three days lots of hawthorn flies. The arrival of cold weather stopped the emergence of the latter. Saw my first mayfly on the second of May.
Olive hatches are building up, but not in great quantities as yet. If the predicted rains appear later this week I’m confident of some good hatches of olives and iron blues, as they seem to like the wet blustery days that we frequently get in May.
The river is very low and where it has not been stripped out by swans the ranunculus growth is very good with lots of it in flower.The bed of the river in the slower stretches has a lot of brown algal bloom on it and the water has a slight tinge to it – sadly these days it’s to be expected in low water. A far different cry to when I first became the keeper here!
The fishing has been steady, if not spectacular as yet. The cold downstream winds of late have not helped.
Middle River (Longparish downstream to Romsey)
Last updated 18 July 2017
The Mayfly had all but finished by the June weedcut, after some massive returns of Spinner on the evenings of the 25th and 26th May.
The weedcut concentrated on the Ribbon Weed in the deeper stretches. We left the shallows to hold the water up and cut runs and holes so the fishermen could see a fish or two.
Small black flies have been successful. The fish are taking something very small in amongst the Medium Olives and Spurwings. The evening rise has been sporadic and usually late on. A Sedge cast into the faster more oxygenated riffles will often be taken.
River levels are as expected after the long, hot, dry spell. They are holding up, though, helped by the rampant weed growth and the lack of swans eating it. River temperatures are hovering around 20 degrees C in the afternoons, not ideal for Trout in the River or the Farms.
We have had several trees down in recent weeks. They are working overtime, sucking up huge quantities of water to keep up with evaporation and must be stressed.
This year seems to be ideal for Damsel and Dragonflies, the fringes are alive with them. Marbled White butterflies are also prevalent in the Meadows.
11 May 2017
The Fishing started on our River Beats at Leckford on 1st May. Cold NE winds have made the fishing difficult but fish have been rising to Iron Blue, Hawthorn and Black Gnats. The River is a bit coloured in the afternoons when the sun is shining and still quite cold. Weed growth is slow to get going but will no doubt go mad as the temperatures climb. Odd Mayfly hatching but still early days. We need some rain.
Flows are low water temps are high (peaked out over 23 degrees !) but the resultant levels aren’t bad due to exceptional weed growth .. water is very clear and little weed has been cut , just enough to create some velocity around the main lies… 75 salmon and grilse for the Test so far and although fish aren’t moving far fresh grilse are sneaking up the system . However water temps mean fishing is either suspended or very hard work . Sea trout are present in the lower river but again takes are hard to come by due directly to the temperature ..Trout fishing is good early and late … tough going throughout the heat of the day . Good numbers of olive spinner and sedge on the water after 9pm
9 May 2107
Flows are low but as the weed takes hold the levels are holding. One salmon grassed so far at Broadlands. 8 at Testwood. Also the first few sea trout are starting to nose their way into the lower river.
Grannom and Hawthorn have been plentiful as have LDOs and BWOs. Recently the Mayfly have started to trickle off in the afternoons. Unfortunately, the north wind has kept all rising fish firmly at the bottoms of the pools and all fly life thus far is safe. A slow start on the lower river
Upper River (above Winchester)
Last updated 3 September
The river continues to fish well during the daytime with olives hatching throughout the morning and early afternoon. A number of fishermen have reported excellent fishing over the last few weeks with both cdc and sedge proving effective, and September usually continues in the same vein. For the time being, barring the resident pairs, the river remains swan free, though this may not last much longer with a large armada sitting on Avington Lake waiting to muscle in on the mainstream. An osprey called in for a couple of days over the bank holiday before heading south.
What a difference a few weeks of proper rain makes with that extra increase in flow making the riverbed look rejuvenated. Even some of the blanket weed has dispersed, and hopefully with no more prolonged hot weather the rest can be shifted during the August weedcut. There is still a steady hatch of olives during the middle of the day with both trout and grayling quite active perhaps enlivened by the increased flow, and the riverbanks look a picture with almost every variety of chalkstream plant in flower. Summer must be drawing on as the swifts have left us and the first cormorants have started plaguing the river having returned from nesting away from the valley.
17 July 2017
Despite the lack of a any continuous rain, water levels continue to hold up reasonably well entirely thanks to the effect of a good covering of aquatic weed. Regrettably some parts of the river are covered with blanket weed which not only looks awful, but makes landing a fish difficult. The algal bloom has now dissipated allowing the river, at last, to look like a proper chalkstream with crystal clear water. Although July and August have traditionally been quiet months on the river with little fly and fish movement, over the last few years, this part of the season has become much more interesting even on hot sunny days when the trout have been actively feeding on or just below the surface, and so far this July seems to be continuing in the same vein. A trip to the river may not be a waste of time.
16 June 2017
The fine settled weather at the moment favours evening fishing as there is little olive activity during the daytime to get the fish moving. Mayfly which have been in abundance are now coming to an end, many of them having been blown a long way from the river by the persistent gales. The water is far from clear with algal bloom still present and blanket weed has now infiltrated most clumps of aquatic weed. Any prolonged hot weather is going to make this a real problem. The margins are humming with damsel flies and scarlet tiger moths and a hobby has been performing aerobatics whilst feeding on the mayfly.
Lower River (downstream from Winchester)
Last updated 13 September 2017
The Lower Itchen Fishery recorded their 200th salmon/grilse at the end of August. Catches over recent years have been pretty consistent on this fishery and once again there’s a chance that this year’s catch will beat the record of 285.
Further upstream, the improved conditions in July and August saw fish moving up but they’ve been reluctant to take the fly/nymph. Sea trout numbers have improved considerably this year with the odd double figure fish amongst them. As usual, they are difficult to tempt.
2 August 2017
July’s rain, in excess of 100mm, has had a dramatic effect on the Itchen. Although residual flows are low, the frequent rain has kept the river in good condition and the migratory fish have responded. Clayton Moorhouse from Lower Itchen Fishery tells me that they hit the hundred salmon/grilse towards the end of July and stocks at present are good. Grilse have filtered up to the beats above and whilst some seem to be of reasonable size, there are others that are nearer 2lb than 3lb and very thin. What happened to those lovely short, plump 6 pounders that we used to get? If the rain continues and the grilse keep coming, there will never be a better chance of a chalkstream salmon in August/September.
10 July 2017
Salmon fishing on the Itchen has been below par this year with the flows approaching the low levels of 1976. Eight consecutive months of below average rainfall have done the damage and one can only hope that we get a wet August/September and a corresponding improvement in fishing conditions. Having said that, salmon have been entering the lower river on spring tides and some have been running up to Bishopstoke and beyond. The water temperature has been monitored at Gaters Mill and there have been a fair number of days when salmon fishing has been suspended as the water temperature climbs above 19 degrees. Some grilse are appearing now in early July and the next few weeks should see the best of the fishing.
11 May 2017
Flows on the Lower Itchen have fallen away to worrying levels as April failed to produce any significant rainfall. This on top of inadequate winter recharging of the chalk aquifers could well result in problems later on. Excessive cropping of ranunculus by swans, is impacting on backup. On the positive side a few salmon have ventured into the Itchen with a couple at Lower Itchen and a fish at Bishopstoke. Numbers of migrating smolt appear to be down, but it maybe that the cold nights in much of April have encouraged most of the smolt to migrate at night. The first of the mayfly have been seen at the end of April.
Last updated 26 April 2017
As expected, the river is lower than usual for this time of year. At present flow is good and depth more than acceptable. Clarity has improved over the last 7 days, but is disappointing considering the lack of rainfall.
All nymphs sampled for the Riverfly Census Project present in decent numbers, but less than this time last year.