I have been a member of the Salisbury & District Angling Club (SDAC) since 1995, and whilst living in Kent, but now in London, I have managed to get down to fish the club waters on some ten days or so, every season.
I have always been intrigued by Salisbury and the Plain, and have read Edward Rutherfurd’s marvellous fictional historic novel “Sarum” three times!!
I just love this part of the Britain because for me it resonates with mysticism and wonder, with its big skies, its tumuli, its sleepy mornings, rolling chalk hills and rape covered acres, colourful lanes, (I can forgive the noise of its military presence) …and it reeks of history. The Roman spirit lives on in (Old) Sarum, and those VERY straight, slightly elevated and angled (for run off) roads….and its biggest attraction to me is obviously its luxuriant streams, offering the angler the ubiquitous Avon and the elegant Wylye, and the challenges of the diminutive, but gin clear, Ebble and Bourne.
The Itchen excepted, I prefer the Wiltshire streams to those of Hampshire.
I feel comfortable in Wiltshire.
It is the most serene and most peaceful County in our Land.
The change in pace from the Capital is obvious and agreeable.
Sustenance during the important lunchtime break is available from a myriad of great pubs, where the quintessential English Ale is the norm; food is generally local, seasonal and therefore fresh; and overnight accommodation is easy to find and a welcome is guaranteed.
I am excited every time I hit the M3, knowing the exit to the A303 is 45 minutes away, and I am about to enter another place…may be I am a Druid!?
My favourite SDAC beats are –
Preferring solitude when fishing I will always plum for the beats between Amesbury and Salisbury, where, whilst taking mainly stocked fish, there is a good head of wild browns (and grayling), too. I enjoy the Simon Cain re-engineered and wild fish beat below the iron bridge in Amesbury; the wading beat below the Mill;
and the wading beat above the sleeper bridge at West Amesbury, but less so since the extraordinary excavations and diversions by the new owner of Moor Hatches. So I have not fished there for a couple of years, and must try it again next season….it has always had a good fly life and free rising fish, and just before dusk, can be manic!
The Durnsford beats are my favourites, though, and working downstream, 18, 11, 12, and 1 & 2, have been the most productive over the years. The joy of the Durnsford stretch is the extraordinary variety it offers.
Stapleford and Druids have both given me hours of pleasure. The water depth some years ago during the worst abstraction, fell so much that the resident swans would swim upstream, in formation and, heads down, eat all the weed, removing cover and food and ruining the fishing. Happily this is in the past!
Fishing into the right hand bend below the old hatch pool, from the Druids bank has yielded my largest fish. And there is always a number of good fish holding below the left bank on the bend above the hatch pool, too. Olives, Iron Blues, Beacon Beige, BWO and Elk hair caddis have proved to be the catching flies through the season….
The Nadder is a greensand river and tends to colour up, but offers a different challenge to the chalkstreams. The Meadows beat wins hands down for me, and I am delighted that wading has been introduced. Dry fly catches the browns…nymphs might attract a chub, and there are plenty under the trees toward the bottom of the beat.
This year I fished the Ebble for the first time at Longbridge.
What a pretty piece of water, which yielded a handsome fish of a pound from among the flowing weeds towards the top end, and away from the roadside distractions.
I love the tricky waters of the Hurdcott beat, as much as I dislike the turgid Upper Bourne Fishery! It was in summer 2009, when in bright sunlight, and reeds as high as they would grow, I stood on the wired sleepers, across the mid-beat section, and cast into the narrowed stream where only about a five foot width of water could be fished at that time….and first cast had a fish which crashed into and out of the foliage, and when netted, turned out to be the largest grayling I have caught….circa 2lbs. The water is four or five feet deep, but to catch a specimen from there was a surprise as well as a wake up call!!
I have never tempted a brown into my net from the Bourne!
‘Our’ Club is very special.
The twelve miles or so, of pristine mainly, chalk stream fishing it offers is very varied. Free fishing or via the beat and disc system, I have rarely, if ever, been unable to fish my chosen water for that day. Members are courteous and always willing to share what they see of the day, and the fishing is ‘patrolled’ by a small team of bailiffs, protecting the Club and its members from incursion. Investment in fishing quality is constant, and the Club is always eager to expand its offering, for an annual subscription, which is modest for what is available. We are lucky to be led by an energetic team, and we Associates (resident far from Salisbury) are also lucky for the local volunteers who support riverside initiatives with the generous giving of their time.