To get the most out of your fly fishing days its important to plan to be in the right places at the right times and because of the need to book ahead this needs some thought in advance. 

Some chalkstream beats open in early-April but most open either in mid-April or on 1st May.  Generally beats have a dry fly only rule until around 1st July but some do allow nymph fishing from the start of the season.  Generally fly hatches on the chalkstreams are poor at the start of April but get progressively better as the month progresses until by the end of the month the hatches are excellent.  However in 2011 I had an excellent day with friends on 7th April on the lower River Test and there were lots of flies. 

I’d say that May/June and October/November deliver the best dry fly fishing of the chalkstream year.  July and August can be poor if the weather is hot and sunny.  However in 2011 August and September were excellent because we  had mainly cooler overcast weather.

The first two weeks of May – just before the Mayfly – is one of my very favourite times.  A number of smaller mayfly species are hatching in good numbers.  There tends to be good numbers of rising fish right through the middle part of the day and it is interesting challenging exciting fly fishing trying to ‘match the hatch’ and fool the fish.

From around mid-May to around mid-June there is the Danica Mayfly hatch.  This is the most sought after fly fishing of the whole chalkstream year.  Sport can be fantastic but nothing is ever guaranteed.  In 2011 we had a very warm April and this caused the Mayfly hatch to start about one week earlier than usual (and end about one week earlier).  I had clients out in the second week of May when we would usually not have seen any Mayfly who had fantastic ‘duffers fortnight’ style sport.  In a normal year on the upper River Test it can often be 20th May before we see Mayfly in any numbers.

Remember to plan around the weed cuts.  The River Test, River Itchen and River Wylye all close for three or four periods of river-wide co-ordinated weed cutting by the river keepers.  On the Test and Itchen the first weed cut is timed to start around the time that the Mayfly fishing is just ending.  Check out our main chalkstream rivers web pages for exact weed cutting dates for the 2012 season. 

In the summer be prepared to fish a nymph if you want to make the most of your opportunities to catch fish.  Yes fish a dry when fish are rising, and be ready to go to a finer (6X) tippet, but often an unweighted size 16 or 14 Pheasant Tail Nymph of Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear sight cast to Trout you can see is the way to exciting sport.  I’ve often experienced excellent sport even on hot sunny days by stalking and fishing in this way.           

September can be a very good month and some beats continue Trout fishig up to mid-October.  The fishing tends to be a little more difficult – and thus interesting – than in the spring but its a great time to fish.  It gets even better into the late-October and November period when we are targeting the Grayling.

Anyway if you’d like any specific advice or assistance please drop me an email to or give me a call on 01252 851397.

Tight lines for 2012