The best trout river in the UK

flyfisher222

Well-known member
Points
48
Location
Hampshire UK
I think the test looks magical but I just couldn’t pay those prices to fish for stockies. I’d love to fish one of the wild sections but they’re no doubt all club or syndicate waters.

would these famous beats support wild fish? I’m sure if they got rid of the flabby stockies it could be amazing but then the London rich boys want a big trout to show their mates. I’ve seen the Wylye mentioned a few times on this thread now so will do some research.
As JohnH say, there are more wild fish than you might think. Below Romsey the Test is heavily stocked because from then to the estuary the river runs over peat and tertiary clay with near zero gravel breeding areas as the gravel is down very deep under the clay.
Immediately above Romsey there are several small owners who stock heavily, with rainbows too. This pleases the day ticket people. And why not?

But from Kimbridge on there is lots of natural breeding, near zero rainbow stocking, and active but careful maintenance/enhancement of breeding areas. ('My' just over four miles plus carriers stretch sometimes uses horse drawn rakes outside the breeding time to keep the gravel 'open'.)

I still prefer the upper Avon and Wylye, but AFAIK the only low cost access is via the Salisbury club, which has a four or five year waiting list. The Wilton Fly Fishing Club has a long stretch of the Wylye and a deliberately low membership but is about £1600 a year for 7 days a week which is all they offer, Vastly less than the Test but still expensive unless you live fairly close. But it has a waiting list too. I don't know how long it is.
Fishing Breaks do unguided river day tickes at Avon Springs on the Avon and also a section of the Wylye at Fisherton plus a couple of wading only places.
 
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Reg Wyatt

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Points
18
there are far too many stocked browns and, worse still, stocked rainbows.
I don't understand this at all sewinbasher? A stocked fish is a stocked fish - what difference does the colour make? Neither stocked fish are natural so why are rainbows worse?

Reg Wyatt
 

Reg Wyatt

Well-known member
Points
18
Below Romsey the Test is heavily stocked because from then to the estuary the river runs over peat and tertiary clay with near zero gravel breeding areas as the gravel is down very deep under the clay.
No, that's completely wrong flyfisher. I spent nearly thirty years fishing Broadlands, Testwood and Nursling. By 'heavily stocked below Romsey,' to which of those three beats are you referring. Testwood doesn't stock and Nursling has about half a mile of main river which is lightly stocked and the rest of the beat - the whole of the 'little river Test' - is fished for salmon and sea trout as is the whole of the Testwood beat. Plenty of the Broadlands beat has superb spawning gravel and I have spent many hours watching salmon cutting redds on both Testwood and Nursling. Where can you possibly mean?

Reg Wyatt
 

flyfisher222

Well-known member
Points
48
Location
Hampshire UK
No, that's completely wrong flyfisher. I spent nearly thirty years fishing Broadlands, Testwood and Nursling. By 'heavily stocked below Romsey,' to which of those three beats are you referring. Testwood doesn't stock and Nursling has about half a mile of main river which is lightly stocked and the rest of the beat - the whole of the 'little river Test' - is fished for salmon and sea trout as is the whole of the Testwood beat. Plenty of the Broadlands beat has superb spawning gravel and I have spent many hours watching salmon cutting redds on both Testwood and Nursling. Where can you possibly mean?

Reg Wyatt
Broadlands. I had a season rod for several years for both salmon and trout but trout weren't common. But I haven't fished it for a long time.
I know they later did some 'artificial' improvements, started to stock it heavily, and had great trouble raising their own stock because of the peat giving off methane. Bernard gave our local angling club a talk about it. So they had to drill very deep for the water and line the pools with heavy pool lining to keep out the methane as the river water has too high a methane content. The 'natural' gravel is about twenty feet down. Maybe they added some to the river when they dug the gravel for the motorway. (and left Broadlands Lake).

Testwood and Nursling are hardly worth fishing for non-migratory trout. I informally 'watched' Testwood for many years when Jack Terry was keeper and fished it on occasions.
 

sean freeman

Well-known member
Points
28
Location
Manchester
I’m not a fan of stocked rainbows either but then I’m not a fan of any stocked fish anyway tbh. Wild rainbows are awesome though. Although rainbows and my favourite brook trout wouldn’t be in the U.K. thriving were it not for their initial introductions so maybe a bit hypocritical. Isn’t there a southern stream that had/has wild rainbows? Think it was called the Chess?
 

JohnH

Well-known member
Points
38
Location
Near Southampton
Isn’t there a southern stream that had/has wild rainbows? Think it was called the Chess?
There was indeed, at one time, a self sustaining population of wild rainbows in the Chess. As far as I know they aren't there any more, the Chess along with several others of the little Herts and Bucks chalkstreams like the Ver, Gade, upper Lea and Misbourne - and the Pang north-east of Newbury - has been trashed by abstraction since the 1970s. Feargal Sharkey was quite right to have made a big fuss about this last year. .
 

sean freeman

Well-known member
Points
28
Location
Manchester
There was indeed, at one time, a self sustaining population of wild rainbows in the Chess. As far as I know they aren't there any more, the Chess along with several others of the little Herts and Bucks chalkstreams like the Ver, Gade, upper Lea and Misbourne - and the Pang north-east of Newbury - has been trashed by abstraction since the 1970s. Feargal Sharkey was quite right to have made a big fuss about this last year. .
That’s such a pity, I wouldn’t like to see them in every river but they add a lot of variety to my fishing, they fight like crazy and they look awesome.

E25F0941-B959-4142-AEED-CC7AF04A292B.jpeg
 

dave b

Well-known member
Points
48
Location
UK
I'm lucky to be able to fish some of the classic water on the Wilts Avon at and around Netheravon, however when I look at my native river Tees, the freestone rivers of the northeast and north Yorkshire, then the beauty of south Wales which is so similar in many ways, I just think there is no best, just more fantastic waters to wander and explore.
 

Reg Wyatt

Well-known member
Points
18
I don't like any stockies really but rainbows have no place in a chalk stream in my view, others are entitled to a contrary view.
I still cannot see any difference at all between a stocked rainbow or a stocked brownie. They're all triploid so it's just a difference in colour to me. If there has to be a stocking I think sensible size and quality of fish is the most important thing. Thinking that stock browns are somehow more natural than stock rainbows is a cop out to me. Like you say sewinbasher, different views I guess.

Reg Wyatt
 

Reg Wyatt

Well-known member
Points
18
Broadlands. I had a season rod for several years for both salmon and trout but trout weren't common. But I haven't fished it for a long time.
I know they later did some 'artificial' improvements, started to stock it heavily, and had great trouble raising their own stock because of the peat giving off methane. Bernard gave our local angling club a talk about it. So they had to drill very deep for the water and line the pools with heavy pool lining to keep out the methane as the river water has too high a methane content. The 'natural' gravel is about twenty feet down. Maybe they added some to the river when they dug the gravel for the motorway. (and left Broadlands Lake).

Testwood and Nursling are hardly worth fishing for non-migratory trout. I informally 'watched' Testwood for many years when Jack Terry was keeper and fished it on occasions.
Still don't know where you mean flyfisher? There are some excellent spawning gravels throughout Broadlands, the whole of the little river at Nursling and the mile and a half at the top of the Testwood beat into the bottom of the Nursling beat get salmon redds a plenty. The three beats below Romsey are quite possibly the least stocked on the whole river.
I also remember Jack Terry and his brother very well. Good times.

Reg Wyatt
 

flyfisher222

Well-known member
Points
48
Location
Hampshire UK
Still don't know where you mean flyfisher? There are some excellent spawning gravels throughout Broadlands, the whole of the little river at Nursling and the mile and a half at the top of the Testwood beat into the bottom of the Nursling beat get salmon redds a plenty. The three beats below Romsey are quite possibly the least stocked on the whole river.
I also remember Jack Terry and his brother very well. Good times.

Reg Wyatt
I mean Broadlands And as I said it's all artificial, gravels included. Not that 'artifical' make it 'bad'. As for the methane it's not concentrated so much in the main river as it flows too fast for it to have enough time over the short distance from Romsey (where the geology changes totally from above Romsey, as you can see in the riverside plant/tree life) to the estuary to pick it up

I'm not discussing it any more as it's not the topic of this thread . Try reading Bernard's book. It's very informative and real funny in places too.

Yes they were. Ten times the number of salmon than there are now. One bloke caught 21 biggies in a single day (and Sadlers Mill was teeming with them). Today I wouldn't waste my money, not at the price the Barker-Mills charge.

Back to the topic, "The best trout river". The prices on the Test and Itchen are totally nuts to any sane man, fisherman or not. That you and I may be able to afford them is irrelevant.
 
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flyfisher222

Well-known member
Points
48
Location
Hampshire UK
There was indeed, at one time, a self sustaining population of wild rainbows in the Chess. As far as I know they aren't there any more, the Chess along with several others of the little Herts and Bucks chalkstreams like the Ver, Gade, upper Lea and Misbourne - and the Pang north-east of Newbury - has been trashed by abstraction since the 1970s. Feargal Sharkey was quite right to have made a big fuss about this last year.
The Pang used to be beautiful (I fished it sometimes near Pangbourne). The 'authorities' have made many false claims about improving it but now it's hardly worth fishing due to abstraction.

Always bear in mind that as the abstraction increases the authorities lower the 'normal' point on the depth gauges to show it hasn't happened.
 
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Reg Wyatt

Well-known member
Points
18
I mean Broadlands And as I said it's all artificial, gravels included. Not that 'artifical' make it 'bad'. As for the methane it's not concentrated so much in the main river as it flows too fast for it to have enough time over the short distance from Romsey (where the geology changes totally from above Romsey, as you can see in the riverside plant/tree life) to the estuary to pick it up

I'm not discussing it any more as it's not the topic of this thread . Try reading Bernard's book. It's very informative and real funny in places too.

Yes they were. Ten times the number of salmon than there are now. One bloke caught 21 biggies in a single day (and Sadlers Mill was teeming with them). Today I wouldn't waste my money, not at the price the Barker-Mills charge.

Back to the topic, "The best trout river". The prices on the Test and Itchen are totally nuts to any sane man, fisherman or not. That you and I may be able to afford them is irrelevant.
Read Bernard's book. I fish with Brian Parker who worked as his underkeeper for many years. Broadlands is certainly not 'all artificial, gravels included.' You're getting confused by the trout stream that they made which goes into the Redwater alongside Broadlands lake and on into the Blackwater which eventually enters the Test at the top of the Testwood beat.
Vic Foot, keeper for fifty six years at Nursling, helped Tommy Sopwith's wife catch 21 salmon on the main river on the Nursling beat - there's a picture on the hut next to the Drawing Room Pool.

As you say flyfisher a bit off topic but important to get facts right.

Reg Wyatt
 

sewinbasher

Well-known member
Points
48
Location
North East Wales
I’m not a fan of stocked rainbows either but then I’m not a fan of any stocked fish anyway tbh. Wild rainbows are awesome though. Although rainbows and my favourite brook trout wouldn’t be in the U.K. thriving were it not for their initial introductions so maybe a bit hypocritical. Isn’t there a southern stream that had/has wild rainbows? Think it was called the Chess?
I agree re wild rainbows, I've caught a few in the Derbys. Wye and they're lovely fish, a far cry from the stumpy finned horrors that were put in some Test and Kennet beats. It's one of the reasons that I gave up fishing on some beats as, despite the lovely chalkstream environment, I could catch stocked rainbows 150 miles nearer home and for a fraction of the price.
 

flyfisher222

Well-known member
Points
48
Location
Hampshire UK
Read Bernard's book. I fish with Brian Parker who worked as his underkeeper for many years. Broadlands is certainly not 'all artificial, gravels included.' You're getting confused by the trout stream that they made which goes into the Redwater alongside Broadlands lake and on into the Blackwater which eventually enters the Test at the top of the Testwood beat.
Vic Foot, keeper for fifty six years at Nursling, helped Tommy Sopwith's wife catch 21 salmon on the main river on the Nursling beat - there's a picture on the hut next to the Drawing Room Pool.

As you say flyfisher a bit off topic but important to get facts right.

Reg Wyatt
Look.
In your post you said I was "completely wrong" I was just agreeing with JohnH's earlier post and giving some further information prompted by his "is less suited to recruitment of wildies" comment. Which it is. So go argue with him too.
Also you comment twice about sewinbasher's purely personal opinions. .
Now you come back to me again. Who cares whether the 21 was at Testwood or the nearby Nursling? It's just an example of how the salmon numbers on the Test have declined since then

So goodbye to you on this.
 
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PaulD

Well-known member
Points
18
Location
South Northants
"Best trout river in the UK?" . . . Any one I find myself standing in or by with a rod in my hand. Each one is 'special' in its own way, brings it's own memories. Given one to choose I'd say River Kennel. Rises near Stithians in Cornwall, runs through Ponsanooth and joins the Estuary near Perranwell. It's where I started and became an expert in the downstream worm. Priceless special.
 

BrownieBasher

Well-known member
Points
38
Location
Hampshire
The upper Test carrier, the Dever at Bullington Manor contains loads of wild brown trout. Most are small but plentiful in numbers.
Yes, i have fished this stretch a few times. it's lovely water, but imo there are just a few too many stockies in there. that said, there's always one or two very tricky fish, especially just above the aquaduct there, or right at the bottom of the stretch, near Dever Springs. I came accross an escapee from Dever there last year, a brownie of about 8lb. took a dry sedge and went utterly berserk! lost him after a hell of a fight.
 
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