Chalkstream conditions/hatches – 6th May
Well the chalkstream Trout season is now well under way. So far it has been mixed fortunes from a hatches and fly fishing point of view, with some unusually wet weather. Few beats open before mid-April but all were open by 1st May. The chalkstreams are very little affected by short term rain no matter how heavy it is. One exception is the lower River Test from Timsbury downstream. I was guiding here three times between 29th April and 2nd May and I saw the worst river conditions that I have ever experienced on the chalkstreams…but my clients all still caught fish. The rain leading up to 29thhad put up the river level at Timsbury by around 6” and the water was a little coloured, but not muddy. It rained non-stop all morning and around the middle of the day the river rose a further 6” and coloured further. Interestingly even though this beat holds more Browns than Rainbows all six of the fish that my clients caught were ainbows. On 2nd May the iverkeeper reported to me that the day before the river level had come up just ver the bank top – for the first time, he said, in about ten years. By 2nd The river had dropped back ” and although the majority of my client’s catch was Rainbows one of them did catch a good sized Brownie and a small Grayling on dry flies and there were a reasonable number of fish rising over the shallower sections of the beat.
The next two days – 3rd and 4th May –I was guiding on the upper River Test near to Andover. The weather reports had told of April being the highest rainfall on record. Looking at the upper River Test you would not have known that it had rained at all. The river was still a good 6”-9” below its normal May level. ALL the rainfall of the previous month had just sunk into the chalk aquifers or been taken up by the fast growing spring vegetation.
Fly hatches have been varied. As at 5th May I’m yet to see my first Danica Mayfly but there have been some excellent hatches of olives. On 23rd April guiding on the River Itchen downstream of Winchester I saw my first really good hatch. Very few flies hatched in the morning but for
three hours around mid-afternoon there were large numbers of olives coming down the stream, including medium olives and Blue Winged Olives, fish rising excitedly everywhere and the sport to a size 16 Parachute Adams was excellent. 25th April on the same River Itchen beat the water was slightly coloured after heavy rain and few flies hatched. The next day on the upper Test there was a sparse hatch of olives all day and good dry fly sport.
This last three days – 3rd, 4th and 5th May – have all been different. 3rd and 4th I was guiding on the upper Test. 3rd saw no flies in the morning
but an excellent hatch in the afternoon – mainly medium olives and Pale Watery. 4th I was expecting a similar afternoon hatch, because the weather conditions were similar, but the hatch was poor by comparison to the previous day. Then yesterday I guided on the River Lambourn. We didn’t start fishing until 11am and ended at 4pm. The hatch started about mid-day, was intensive by 1pm with excellent sport, by 3pm it had slowed and by 4pm almost stopped. The Lambourn, while being a little on the low side, looked very healthy with lots of healthy weed growth
and its usual exceptionally clear water.
So it won’t be long now before the Danica arrive- probable sometime this week on the lower River Test and lower River Itchen, but perhaps not until around 20thMay on the upper Test and Itchen. The River Kennet and River Wylye Mayfly hatches tend to be about one week later starting than on the upper Test/Itchen.
So get out there dry fly fishing NOW. The next few weeks are the best time for dry fly fishing on the chalkstreams of the whole of the Trout season.