Fishing the Hampshire Basin

River Itchen, Hampshire
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The Hampshire Basin, drained by the rivers Stour and Avon, provides some of the best coarse fishing in the British Isles. Both rivers produce quality fish in s large numbers, despite reports of disease, pollution, water abstraction, and the adverse consequence of weed-cutting. At Christchurch, the Royalty Fishery is probably England’s most famous day-ticket water, providing anglers with first-class mixed fishing through summer and winter.

Game fishing country watered by superb coarse rivers – that’s the Hampshire Basin where Avon and Stour vie for an angler’s attention with the famous, but inaccessible, Itchen and Test.

Good fishing can be had at the Bull and the White Horse at Downton, both inns controlling beautiful stretches of water. The Throop Fishery on the Dorset Stour, north of the A3060 four miles out of Christchurch, is also a first-class day ticket venue. It has barbel, chub, roach, dace and, surprisingly, tench and carp as well. The Avon and Stour are basically summer fisheries, although winter fishing is excellent. These rivers hold roach, chub, dace, and numbers cf big pike.

Much of the Avon’s coarse fishing is available only to members of local clubs, and day tickets are rarely offered, but pubs along the rivers often issue tickets at reasonable prices.

Stillwater fishing

Stillwater fishing in the Hampshire Basin is limited, but what fisheries there are hold extensive stocks of specimen and coarse fish. Hatchett Pond (a 25-acre lake) a mile outside Beaulieu on the B3054 Lymington road, is typical of these waters. It is mostly shallow, but contains one or two deep gullies up to 10ft deep. Basically spring-fed, it has clear water with extensive growths of dense bottom weed. In recent years Hatchett Pond has produced many large tench, and bream up to 11lb have been caught. Heavier fish are known to exist, and this water probably holds the British record for common bream. There are also roach, perch, rudd, eels, and numerous pike. Coarse fishing is by permit only, and tickets are obtainable from the Forestry Commission, Queens House, Lyndhurst.

Another fine New Forest day ticket water is Cadman’s Pool at Stoney Cross. Tickets are again available from the Forestry Commission. At Lyndhurst the Mill Lake is open. Tickets cost £12.50 and may be obtained from the Leominstead trout lakes, Emery Down, Lyndhurst.

Mixed fishing at Broadlands Lake

Alder trees in the Beaulieu River north of Faw...
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Broadlands Lake near Romsey is a recent addition to the available waters. It is reached by the A3057 out of Romsey and 300 yards on the right the road is signposted to Rowham. Situated on the Broadlands Estate (home of the Mount-batten family), the lake was originally excavated to provide ballast for the M27 motorway. It was then filled with water from the River Test, weeds were planted, banks landscaped, and stock fish introduced. The object wa^s to provide a good mixed fishery, readily available by purchasing day tickets. The stocking campaign was carefully carried out using only large tench to 6lb, rudd to 4 1/2 lb, carp to 15lb and grayling to 3lb. Heavyweight perch were added in 1997.

Trout fishing throughout the area is good. At Winchester, the now famous Avington Park Fishery has produced a succession of world record fly-caught rainbow trout to a fraction under 20lb. The fishery is situated south of Itchen Abbas three miles along the B3047 from Kings Worthy, north of Winchester. At Lyndhurst, Leominstead trout lake provides first-class fishing in New Forest surroundings. It is one of the most beautiful and tranquil waters in the Hampshire Basin.

Damerham trout lakes

Access is by the A337 to Romsey and Minstead, turning left to Emery Down a few miles out of Lyndhurst. Farther west, at Damerham near Fordingbridge on the B3078, the man-made Damerham trout lakes provide over three miles of actual bank space to visiting anglers. Nearby Aliens Farm at Sandleheath is a much smaller but highly popular fishery with good facilities.

Most of these trout lakes are stocked with fish which average over 2lb in weight. Bicton Lakes, Bicton, near Fordingbridge and Bull Meadow Lake, Portmore, near Lym-ington are also open on a day ticket basis. At Bighton, near Arlesford, a totally new water, Nythe Lake, has great potential and is well worth a visit. This water is limited to two anglers only per day. All these fisheries operate on a day-ticket basis with a one-fly-only rule. Recommended flies for the area in-clude the whisky fly, muddler minnow, corixa, leaded shrimp, Av-ington nymph, and black and peacock spider. But the angler must experiment all the time with varied patterns of fly.

The New Forest is full of tiny rivers most of which hold good stocks of brown trout for the angler who prefers to fish for wild ‘brownies’. During the autumn many of these attractive forest streams have a run of sea trout.

Individual trout up to 17lb have been caught from tiny brooks it is almost possible to jump across. Sea trout between 6 and 8lb are relatively common. Most of these fish are caught on fly tackle or artificial lures. Tickets to fish the forest streams are obtainable from the Forestry Commission, Queens House, Lyndhurst, Hants.

World famous trout rivers The rivers Test and Itchen are spring-fed and flow over chalk. They are world-renowned for trout fishing waters and in their lower reaches give a fine annual catch of about 1,000 salmon. But the major part of these waters is privately owned. For certain stretches of both rivers, however, day rods are available at a cost of £16.48~£49.95 per rod per day. The Test tends to be more expensive than the Itchen. Colonel Eric Hay (Tel: Twyford 713458) operates a 24-hour answering service, and after personally vetting applicants, will issue day rods on both rivers if available, though demand is huge. We have been asked not to publish details of these stretches. A trout licence from the Southern Water Authority is necessary before fishing on the Itchen and Test.

There is very little free fishing in the area. In Hampshire, there is a stretch on the River Itchen by the Weirs in Winchester, owned by the Winchester City Council. In Southampton, the owner of the Woodmill-Mansbridge fishery does not object to anyone fishing from the left bank for coarse fish. For these free waters, rod licences are obtainable from the Southern Water Authority. In Bournemouth, there is a very small section of the Stour owned by the Bournemouth Corporation below the sewage outfall. For this stretch rod licences may be obtained from the Wessex Water Authority.