Saturday, 14 December 2019

Lower Itchen Fishery – Quail-Pipes and Quarromes

This time of year like many I'm ridiculously busy, the diary is full, time at a premium, and because of that fishing sadly takes a back seat. To be fair my winter campaign usually starts in anger January onwards when I've far more time as one's disposal.

Now this my 5th visit to the Lower Itchen Fishery was planned sometime ago however, so it was something to look forward to leading up to the reindeer roasting, angel prodding and bauble bashing.

For this trip Nic Bradley from Avon Angling UK was braving the confines of the Suzuki Jimny and venturing down to Southampton with me to fish this chalk stream, where if you want to fish for Salmon during a good season you're looking at spending a 'carpet', that is 300 quid to the layman.


The day before the heavens had opened and to be honest we'd only really know what the river was like when we got there.

Obviously out of season, the likes of me and thee can fish it for a tenth of what the fluff-chuckers pay, which to be honest isn't that bad. We've nothing like that in these parts and when I put it like that, it is a mere price of four pints from the most expensive pub in Henley in Arden.

Hands up 'The Butchers Social' !!!!


Now the Lower Itchen Fishery was founded in 1954 and consists of 5,300 yds in total making it the longest continuous stretch of the River Itchen in private ownership.

The fishery is set amidst picturesque water meadows and has an abundance of animal, bird and insect life which creates an atmosphere in which to unwind from the stresses of life.

Even the airport that runs adjacent to it, doesn't seem that intrusive when you plundering the Grayling stocks with another trot down of a red maggot.


The beauty of rivers like this though, is the variety of fish you could have pulling your string, castrating your caster and possibly suckling the sweetcorn.

After the last trip though for this return trip apart from a Grayling I'd needed to catch for the bloggers challenge, I had a one fish on my mind and that was a decent Roach.

I'd stumbled on a small shoal you see the biggest fish of the group well over 2lb. The others were over the pound mark as well but despite trying my best to catch one, nothing materialised, well apart from the odd bang on the quiver.


When I was happy with a half decent Grayling I'd venture on down to the lower end of the fishery and try and claim the spot before others did and more or less set one's stall out. Breadflake on the hook and liquidised bread in the small cage feeder as last time, but this time scaled down a nadger.

I felt I might have fished a little too heavy last time, this fish are pressurised after all and they ain't stupid even though they are effectively deciding to live in a commercial fishery.

Looking at fish of that stamp visible under the layers of crystal clearwaters through some polaroids is something I'd never tire of, and back up in the Midlands it's as rare as an MP fighting to deliver the will of the people.


There are some cracking Barbel here as well but they didn't even enter my mind when redfins like the ones I saw are swimming in these crystal clear waters, it just wouldn't be right not going for the roach.

Before the feeder was used though, I'd trot some bread as well, just to alter the presentation a little before sitting it out for the remainder of the session supping on the Bovril, waiting for the quiver to well, yeah quiver !!!


"Stop right there Mick", best laid plans an all that, as I said before because a dumping of rain in and around Winchester put pay too much of the military operation. The river nearly over the banks when we got to the river 2 hours after leaving ones gaff.

I really wanted to show Nic just how clear it is here most of the time where donning the polarised sunglasses you can spot the fish you are going to catch. The area down from the weir was impassable because the banks were flooded and that was an area I wanted to target later on in the day.


The track was flooded in places luckily the Jimny feeling right as home making light work of the rutted terrain and deep standing water.

The visibility was a couple or three inches so targeting the sight feeding Grayling was nigh on impossible. Nic and myself split up and went our own way and I went to a stretch where Grayling are in numbers. After a good hour and a half feeding maggots and trotting a float through occasionally changing to sweetcorn was fruitless. I did managed to hook trout at the end of the run but the hooked pulled whilst bringing it up through the flow.

A change of tact was in order to get a bite....


Now Nic who turned up as I was making way back to the car made that decision earlier on and already managed to catch a couple of trout ledgering bread in some slacks. So that's exactly what I did and sure enough the first bite of the day was received.

It didn't fight particularly well for some reason, not sure why because they usually give a good fight. Another fish came quite quick and after losing another one, at least were both were having a bite or two.


After lunch I decided to drive to the middle of the stretch where I had a bream on the last trip down here. I'd caught Grayling before here as well, a swim where a bend leave a nice crease and a slack area close in.

A change to maggot the first bite came from a minnow but I persevered and some sharp bangs on the rod tip a fish was on. The distinctive fight felt through the rod this was a Grayling. Only 8 ounces but a few points for the Blogger Challenge despite James, already registering a 2lber.


Nic joined me later on and maggot wasn't doing the business so he stuck it out fishing for the trout, at the end of the day losing count at 8 so, ok, no Grayling but at least it wasn't a wasted trip which it could well have been.

The river as I type this had dropped a considerable amount to it may well fish differently if we were there the following day. I suspect though it will take another week or so of dry weather go get the Itchen back to what it does best.

Apparently a week ago it was fishing its head off for Grayling with quite a few 2lbers turning up among the humdrum.


For the last couple of hours I set my stall out for Roach, breadflake on the hook and liquidised bread in the cage feeder.

After losing a decent sea trout that did me over good and proper I banked another 4 trout and lost another. A decent fight from some of the fish though so overall not a bad trip despite the testing conditions. Now apart from another angler on the stretch where had the whole stretch to ourselves. He was back there today and when he left managed a few Grayling by sticking out with the maggot feeder.


If I visit again I'll be monitoring the weather and buy a ticket last minute, or maybe fish the Frome to have a change from the Itchen. I'm very much a novice in these type of waters and the Lower Itchen Fishery not for others but at least it offers the novice an easy way to fish a chalk stream all within the safety of the padlocked gates.

Now Nic filmed his trip down to make sure you subscribe to his channel to see how how tough the conditions were for us.

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