A metrosexual tit (it’s not in any bird book) employed as a radio reporter, was dispatched by the lunchtime news programme this week to report on the dry conditions in the south east of England. He travelled to the river Itchen at Eastleigh and reported that the river was flowing, ducks were quacking, Swans were swimming, Otters were ottering and the ice cream was lovely; the river had water in and he couldn’t see what all the fuss about. Had he travelled to the headwaters of this river, he could have reported on spring ditches that are dry and a river fast disappearing before our eyes. Cracks in the ground big enough to take a hand would provide a perfect opportunity for dramatic visual reporting, much arm waving and tales laden with doom. A missed opportunity for our intrepid reporter but then we are just that little bit further away from the M3. The middle river will always feel the pinch less than the headwaters.
Out and about on fish business, much of the conversation is centred around the water level. A visit to a stretch at the very top of the Test that we have stocked for many years revealed a river down to its bare bones, gin clear and full of Brown Trout from parr to fish of a great age, it has been stocked with mixed sex Brown Trout for some years, a practice that will be forcibly discontinued in years to come. The middle river is fishing well and on a recent excursion the colour of the water seemed to be much improved on recent years, although this may be due to the reduced flows. Most report good hatches of Mayfly. On the stretch at the top of the main river that does not normally see many Mayflies I saw several spent Mayflies crash landing down on to the water.
At home the fishing has been very good. A lot of fish have been caught, predominantly between 4pm and 6pm on Mayfly patterns. Mayfly have started to hatch from late morning onwards peaking around 4pm with fish rising hard to slash at the surface fly. Biggest fish to date is four and half pounds, fin perfect and probably stocked a couple of years ago, hauled from an Irish Lough on a dapped Mayfly many would swear it was “wild” whatever “wild” means these days.
On the over-widened shallows of the ford, there are large shoals of fry, some tiny Grayling, and Trout approaching an inch long, the cry from some quarters that prolonged stocking with mixed sex Brown Trout hinders replenishment of this river’s stock does not hold here.
Lack of water is raising problems in the stew ponds, The jumbo Rainbows that we rear for the neighbouring big fish water, are always likely to get a bit “gilly” in low flows with protozoan parasites thriving in the stale conditions. Salt treatments help along with Formalin but the sign of blanket thriving in one of the ponds in mid May hints at troubled times ahead.