One of our longest chalkstreams, the River Test is often heralded as ‘the King’ of the chalk rivers. Like the River Itchen, it is steeped in history as it runs through 40 miles of pristine southern English countryside, and weaves through old hamlets and market towns.
The source of the river rises about a mile and a half upstream of Overton, a historic village in the north of Hampshire. The Test then flows about a dozen miles south west to the famous town of Stockbridge, along this journey it is joined by three major tributaries; the Bourne Rivulet, the River Dever and the River Anton.
Now, with much more water, it slowly winds its way south through deeper parts of the middle Test, perfect water for large trout and mayflies. The last five miles of the river, Romsey to the estuary, is in fact the steepest part of the Valley, the faster runs create some larger swirling pools, offering ideal habitat for our silver tourist, Salmo Salar, along with trout and grayling.
The Upper Test
The Upper Test lends itself to the purist form of chalkstream fishing, crystal clear water runs over shallow gravels beds guided by long luscious ranunculus beds. Trout in this part of the river can be incredibly spooky, but they will readily take a dry fly as generally they aren’t that far from the surface. The Test’s upper waters are a must for all you keen dry fly enthusiasts, challenging casts made in close quarters produce some fantastic rewards. Just keep your eyes peeled, the trout are more likely to spot you before you see them.
The Middle Test
When the Anton and the Dever join the Test, the volume of water dramatically increases, the river almost doubles in size. On the middle Test you still have the pleasure of sight fishing over clear shallow gravel beds for individual fish, but deeper pools appear on big sweeping bends. These lend themselves to larger trout and, whilst they may be harder to see, patience pays off to sit and watch as they do come to the surface in stronger fly hatches. Casting larger terrestrial patterns in these deeper pools can be just as exciting, watching your fly suddenly disappear and lifting your rod into an unknown fish gives an element of surprise and really tests your ability to fight a fish off the cuff.
The Lower Test
The Lower Test is home to probably one of the most famous beat names in chalkstream fishing, Broadlands. Not only home to some monstrous brown trout, their migratory cousins cruise the lower system throughout the season too. With a slight steepening in the Test Valley the river gains pace and sees the water gliding in and out of runs, with large holding pools for salmonids. Don’t be scared off by the power of this part of the river, if patience and good river craft is applied you will find yourself stalking fish on that true chalkstream intimate level. There are not many places to test your distance casting with pin point accuracy and delicate fly presentation.
For more information on availability and costs please do not hesitate to contact Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.