River Itchen – Chalkstream Fly Fishing
Some of the finest clear water trout fishing in the world
The River Itchen is formed by the streams Candover, Arle and Titchbourne coming together just west of New Alresford. The River Itchen to Winchester is some six miles in length and is considered to be some of the finest trout fly fishing in the world.
River Itchen; the river that inspired G E M Skues
Surrounded by the serene beauty of the countryside through which if flows, the River Itchen above Winchester has remained fairly untouched unlike the urbanisation of motorways and airports which has occurred lower down the river system. The river between source and Winchester is primarily non-commercially run by clubs and syndicates, but very occasionally day rods become available.
The river is blessed with good fly hatches throughout the season although mayfly hatches are generally lighter than on the River Test and River Avon systems.
There are many notables that have fished the River Itchen over the years including G E M Skues. Skues fished the river mainly at Abbotts Barton for 56 years where he developed the theories of nymph fishing. He wrote two classic books on the subject; Minor Tactics of the Chalk Stream (1910) and The Way of a Trout with a Fly (1921).
Viscount Gray of Falladon, the Foreign Secretary from 1905 to 1916, was an keen fly fisher and would travel down by train on Saturdays leaving London on the 6 am train. After walking from the station via his cottage to collect his fishing tackle he would head straight for the river. His days spent by the River Itchen are documented in his classic book Fly Fishing first published in 1899.
F M Halford fished there along with the enigmatic figure of G S Marryat who it is believed greatly influenced Halford’s ideas and thinking. Apparently Skues was not very complimentary about Halfords choice of gut.
And before all of the above Francis Francis (1822-1886) who has a plaque to his memory in the nave of Winchester Cathedral along with Isaak Walton who is buried in the chapel but never fished the River Itchen as he was too old when he came to Winchester.