London Postcard

London Postcard issue 86

There is no back-country in southeastern Great Britain, no new frontiers except those of the mind in one of the world’s most densely populated areas. You can see this if you are lucky enough to make the descent into Heathrow on a clear day, and since the industrial revolution in the 17th century its waterways have come under continuous pressure from abstraction and pollution.

Now I found myself anticipating something a bit different, trout in the urban jungle…”   from FlyLife #86 p.86

For the Classicists

Halford — Oakley fishing hut at Mottisfont Abbey on the Test via (the Houghton Club and its water still exists as the most exclusive of fishing clubs; to talk your way there try the bar of the Grosvenor Hotel Stockbridge)

Plunket Greene — Bourne Rivulet via

Skues — the closest part of the Itchen to Abbotts Barton is via The Rod Box at Kings Worthy just upstream of Winchester

Sawyer — both fishing breaks and famous fishing have Avon beats he kept (Sawyer is best known for the Officers Association water, which today is the Services Dry Fly Fishing Association and is not let but can be visited as a members guest)

Cotton — his original fishing house on the Dove complete with round stone table as visited by Joe Brookes, and the Lathkill as visited by Prosek, via

A day on the chalk streams can be from £40 to £400 with most somewhere in between, you should book well ahead for the Mayfly (prices drop after mid June, and many locals consider autumn the best season).

For the Realists

Places are available to fish for Environment Agency fishing licence holders including the Wandle, sections of the Itchen in Winchester township (I fished there years ago, its near the Mill Youth Hostel) and others — see Theo Pikes book ‘Trout in Dirty Places’ for details and get your licence at

Some club waters offer day tickets, most notably the Salisbury and District Angling Club, as do some branches of the Salmon and Trout Association (for members)

Generally in the UK the further north you go the more the fishing opportunities expand and the prices drop. Of note for hatch based addicts, the Mayfly exists up north as well and like the bluebells takes about 4 weeks to go from the southern counties to the northern (highly regarded but unfished by me are the limestone streams of the midlands and the northernmost chalk stream, Yorkshires Driffield Beck).

For the Sceptics

To make up their own minds I have posted the FlyFishers Club Journal Spring edition 1938 with the Nymph Debate transcript on the Internet Archive where you can also find the works of Halford and Skues.

Fly Odyssey UK offer a large selection of guides, beats and rivers from the famous chalk streams of Southern England such as the Itchen and Test, to spey-casting on a legendary Scottish salmon rivers in the north and Ireland in the west. This includes private estate waters such as Bossington, Lower Mill, Longparish, Wherwell and Ballynahinch Castle which can be accessed at short notice for varying durations. There are a range of accommodation options and all clients receive a comprehensive pre-trip guide.

For more information please email


“Where the bright waters meet” – Bourne Rivulet below Railway viaduct, Photo: Fiddes
Happy days and Wild Trout on the Bourne Rivulet, Photo: Fiddes
Bourne Valley Inn at St Mary Bourne – local beers, warm beds, vintage rods on the walls, Photo: Fiddes
Mayfly Bourne Rivulet, pale wings and body with a hint of green indicate E.Danica (the other large Mayfly often hatching at similar time E.Lineata and E.Vulgata are very similar, but a bit darker), Photo: Fiddes
Bourne Rivulet from the Iron Bridge, Photo: Fiddes