Longford Lines 2018


The Longford Estates Fishing Syndicate annual review.


Estate Office, Longford Castle, Salisbury. SP5 4ED

Tel: 01722 411616 Email: office@longford.org.uk www.longfordestates.co.uk

Longford Lines 2018

Longford Lines 2018

Season 2018 – Game Fishing

It’s midday on the 18 th October 2018. I’m having a day away from the fishery, and am sitting on the

banks of one of my favourite lakes in Southern England, trying to tempt a large Carp to make a

mistake. Nothing really unusual about that aside from the fact that I am sitting in unbroken

sunshine with 17 degree temperatures dressed in just shorts and Crocs.

The 2018 season will long be remembered for the coldest March as we endured the beast from the

East with heavy snowfall, the likes our part of southern England hadn’t seen for decades. This was

followed by torrential rain in April which persisted for days, raising river levels and flooding

banksides which had a dramatic effect on the fishery this year.

Logistically running a fishery of this scale will always be a challenge. Even when you have the

weather on your side! With the last 12 months of extremes, a good analogy would be, ‘like trying to

herd CATS’! With the fishery membership being a

mix of coarse and game anglers, it can be a

challenge. Conditions that are good for coarse

anglers, are not necessarily good for game anglers

and vice versa.

1 st April sees the start of the Trout season. The

fisheries banksides grass has already been cut twice

and the margin fringe has had its first trim of the

year. The early season rods look for what can be

some good sport with the arrival of the Grannom

hatches, although it was not to be this year! Early

April saw the main river and carries flooding over

their banks with the water the colour of Ovaltine. On the days when we did see some sunshine, it

triggered some sparse Grannom hatches which were slightly in vain with the Trout being able to see

little in the turbid water. The arrival of the Grannom normally enables our rods the chance to fish for

wild and over wintered trout prior to stocking taking place in the last week of April. By this time,

water levels are usually starting to stabilise. Increasing water temperatures encourage steady weed

growth and an increase of aquatic food, enabling the freshly stocked trout to settle into their new

environment and make the transition from farm to fishery.

As a consequence of the extreme

weather I was unable to get

mowing equipment on the banks

of the fishery, let alone 6 tonnes

of vehicle, trailer, water and

trout to enable stocking to take

place by the 14 th May. Stocking

of the river as a result was not

completed until three weeks

later than usual, this

unfortunately had an adverse

effect on the fly angling. But

with the changing environment

and climate, what is a normal

season?! In 14 years, I have only

experienced one other season

similar to this one, 2007, where

we had relentless rain in mid‐May. The difference in the 2018 season to the 2007 season, was that

the stocking had been completed in the April prior to the rain and the rising river which provided the

stocked trout plenty of time to acclimatise. Interestingly, in 2007, during the peak Mayfly period,

the river was high and coloured but the fish were still rising to the hatching Duns. This highlights the

importance of the second half of April and the need for the river to be in a reasonable condition to

stock the fish. This is not an exact science but is heavily reliant on the experience of the River


The Trout season on Longford is a lengthy one, running from 1 st April to 14 th October. As the River

Keeper, you are always going to have peak periods; May through to the end of June, would normally

see the most peak footfall of fly anglers in anticipation of the most consistent fly hatches and of

course, the arrival of the Mayfly. Early June did see the Mayfly starting to appear, but hatches were

quite sparse. This was in contrast to the 2017 season which saw some of the heaviest Mayfly

hatches I have seen in 14 years at Longford. Could this just be nature adjusting itself or is it a direct

result of the weather? A bumper year, followed by a subdued hatch. You might want to see the

reflections of Mr Bonford’s experiences on the fishery as rod in the 1950’s later in the newsletter.

His observations of that season 60 years ago, show that things were not always as perfect as they

are made out to be and prove that nature does what nature does!

That aside, you may be aware of the situation that has been highlighted in publications and on the

internet of the plight of the fly life on our southern chalk streams. Various factors are contributing

to this. The higher demand for water leads to low flows, poor water quality and a general lack of

managing our natural water sources. But it is never too late to change things, the industrial

revolution saw our rivers turned into nothing more than running sewers, but we have now rectified

that. So we must be positive! In the short term, I feel river fly anglers are going to have to adapt

their approach. I was fortunate to have fished SADAC waters above Amesbury 40 years ago and I

can remember strong flows with hatches of Iron Blues, BWO’s and various other Olives, the hatches

were almost predictable. Yet by the time I reached my 20’s in the mid 80’s, river keepers and

angling bodies were starting to make noises about the diminishing upwing fly life on our rivers.

Being around these rivers most of my life I have seen fluctuations of various species but nature

always adapts and fills a void, so I always remain positive. One important lesson I have learnt as a

full time River Keeper is to concentrate on what you can effect and not to waste time on things you

cannot or that are out of your control. One of our Longford rods summed this season up perfectly

with what may be modern anglers perceptions of their sport, in a conversation with Will Templer

who guides on all the southern chalk streams. He spoke of an experience this season with a team of

rods who had booked the same Mayfly week for the last 3 years, up until this year they had

experienced almost predictable sport and hatches. When this did not go according to plan this

season, they asked what’s happening? To which he replied, ‘I think they call it nature!’

I always encourage our rods to contribute to the Longford Lines and again this year, we have some

interesting articles on their experiences of this season. I would like to thank them for their

contribution. While this Trout season has been a struggle for some, others have reported great

sport by choosing the times to be on the fishery. One article in particular, written by Jim

Wregglesworth, describes his seasons experiences, including references to our stretch of the River

Ebble and the success he enjoyed. One noticeable fact and one I have mentioned before, is few rods

seem to be around the river later in the day in anticipation of an evening’s sport. Even though rises

are not guaranteed, even a slight drop in temperature can put a halt to any surface hatching flies,

the temperature of last Summer saw many weeks of surface feeding activity. Albeit it might be a

short window, sometimes lasting no more than 20 minutes. After these hot days, any evenings

fishing is generally going to evolve around Sedge hatches but I did witness a few BWO hatches into

the darkness, which saw the trout respond accordingly.

Fly pattern size is another reason I think some rods struggle at times. Most rods will have Mayfly

patterns, Sedge and various Olive imitations down to size 16 in their fly boxes but if you glanced into

the fly boxes of some of the most consistent rods, you will find your big Mayfly imitations but also

find many other patterns ranging down to size 20 and 22. I think some anglers need to take a leap of

faith and use small imitations as the season progresses, and particularly when hatches of

Chironomids, Simulion and Caenis become more apparent and the trout are focusing on them if you

are to enjoy consistent success, you have to, ‘match the hatch!’ I can assure you, the trout have no

problem seeing these minute food items and while close copy patterns are not really needed, a

suitable sized suggestive imitation will generally do the trick.

Apart from the difficult fishing conditions this season, all rods

have commented positively on the quality and fighting ability of

this year’s stock fish. This is testament to the skill of Wesley

Hulme who manages the estates Bowerchalke trout farm and

who now provides all my fish for restocking. These fish are

hatched on site before being grown on in water at aconstant 10

degrees and are fed on a complete diet of floating food. The

ponds the trout are grown in are lightly stocked to enable

perfect confirmation. And Wes assures me, if they could have

been improved, the fish for 2019 are even better, which I can

testify to after visiting the site last week. There may be an

opportunity for some small groups of rods who are interested to

visit the farm with myself to meet Wes and see the trout that go

into our fishery. Thank you again Wes for your support. It goes

to show that a lot more goes on behind the scenes in running a fishery of this scale than people


I would also like to thank James Morgan, the estate Gamekeeper for helping me to stock each

season, Lizzie Parsons for doing the admin, Ed Gray from the farms, for helping me with the lake

constructions and lastly to my long suffering wife Deb, who is my constant support.

As August moved into September and then edged into October, there was a slight drop in

temperature. For the rods who ventured onto the fishery for during the last 2 weeks of the trout

season, they witnessed some of the best fly hatches and rising fish of the whole season. This is

touched on, amongst other matters, in Philip Ellis’s contribution to this years newsletter. While this

isn’t an unusual phenomenon, there seems to be a shift from the productive end of September

period to the first 2 weeks in October. As they say, ‘it isn’t over till it’s over!’

Looking to next season, we will hopefully find ourselves dealing with something more stable weather

wise and more favourable to successful trout fishing.

It is nice to see the increase in interest in the pursuit of salmon in recent seasons which appears to

be the case all along the Avon valley to Christchurch. The local by‐laws see the start of the salmon

season on the 1 st February with fly‐fishing being the only permitted method during this time. Some

of our keener salmon anglers can be seen on the fishery prospecting with a fly in these early weeks.

To catch an Avon salmon by this method must be the golden chalice for salmon anglers. Salmon

anglers in my experience, always appear to be the most optimistic. After all, you are trying to tempt

a fish that doesn’t feed once it enters the river, so you are relying on a purely aggressive response.

And even then, you’re never really sure at that point that there is actually any salmon in the river in

front of you. Hence the endless enthusiasm, it really is true wild fishing where the next take could

be a truly wild fish in excess of 30lb.

Even though a fish in these early weeks would be a big event, the main push of salmon into our

fishery seems to start around mid‐May. Due to the large amount of rainfall we had during April and

May I thought this would set the estate for a successful year with high river levels enabling salmon

to make the journey to our fishery.

Towards the end of May, one or two nice fish started to appear and once spinning was permitted,

the odd fish started to get caught. Even at this juncture, I could sense it wasn’t going to be a vintage

year. Just looking at the reports down through Sommerley Estate, Biston to the Royalty rod catches

were definitely down, although the Longford fishery reported 11 fish caught over the season which

this year, finished in August. So didn’t allow us to have the September extension we’ve been

permitted in the last couple of seasons.

Again the weather hampered salmon fishing activity with very high daytime water temperatures

lasting for weeks, alot of fishing days were lost this season. From a River Keepers point of view, I

feel the by‐laws regarding Avon salmon fisheries and timescales probably need looking at a bit more

in depth.

With salmon anglers always (as previously mentioned) being eternally optimistic, the good news is

again this year, I witnessed a large movement of salmon smolts migrating their way through

Standlynch Mill. If they successfully make their journey to the estuary and then onto the open sea,

fingers crossed, they will appear back in the rivers of their birth at some point in the future. Also,

there appears to be large amounts of Salmon parr present in the fishery, especially on the lower

River Ebble. We live in hope!



Wet & Dry

It’s almost impossible to remember, as the bare patches still linger on the lawn, that at the start of

the 2018 trout season, we were experiencing a very different set of circumstances.

After a cold and snowy winter, where actual precipitation totals were on the dry‐side, we were

viewing the forthcoming spring with some trepidation, as we faced the prospect of a damaging

summer of low flows.

However, we needn’t have worried, as Mother Nature had a rather damp trick up her sleeve, and by

the start of the trout season we had more water than we knew what to do with.

I’ve settled into a bit of an early season habit over the last 10 years, searching the same few fruitful

locations on the Estate, where wild trout seem to be willing to rise to the very first sparse hatches of

the year. Even before the Grannom you can usually tempt them one way or another, but things

were decidedly tricky during April this year.

The usually shallow carriers were spilling out into the meadows, and sploshing around the banks was

more reminiscent of winter pike fishing trips, rather than the supposedly gentile and delicate art of

chalk stream fly fishing. Retreating to the Ebble, I experienced the rather novel sensation of being

almost swept off my feet in places where the water would normally only be babbling around my

ankles. I finally caught a small trout, but unlike the usual Ebble fish this trout was dull in colour, soft

and flabby to the touch, and clearly not fully recovered from a freezing winter followed by an

untimely barrage of water. I apologised, and slipped him gently back into a slack as The Radnor

Arms was calling from across the valley, so I left the fish in peace and enjoyed a rather fine

ploughman’s lunch instead.

I gave the fishing a rest for a while, but it wasn’t long before the sun started shining, and didn’t stop

shining for the rest of summer it seemed.

By late May things looked very different although the river still had an uncharacteristic power, the

fish were enjoying the improved weather and were definitely looking upwards to feed.

The Ebble started to fish well, and the healthy flows seemed to add an extra sparkle to things. The

riparian fencing which was completed a few years ago has worked wonders, and the bankside

herbage forms a dense swathe of text‐book marginal habitat, perfect for insects, and great for giving

wary trout and grayling a bolt‐hole when they feel threatened. The gravel has cleaned up nicely too,

thanks to the grazing cows now being restricted to bespoke cattle‐drinks.

I use a 6ft 3 weight when I fish the Ebble and, when the brambles, rampant vegetation, and tree

canopies seem hell‐bent on grabbing every clumsy back‐cast, I find a short rod gives me a nifty


The trout and grayling can sometimes group‐up into closely packed shoals, and a very sneaky

approach is often needed to avoid sending a bow‐waving flurry of fish ahead of you. Quietly getting

in and out of the margins, while keeping a low profile, seems to be the best bet if you want to catch

fish, consequentially I often end the day with a few scrapes and scratches and always go home with

tingling, nettle‐stung hands after an evening on the Ebble.

By the end of May the fish had undergone a miraculous transformation, from the exhausted grey

specimens of early spring they had changed back into the brightly coloured spotty jewels the Ebble is

famous for. Lots of the fish are very small, but the soft delicate tackle helps to make even the

tiddlers fun, as they skip and cartwheel across the stream once hooked, with ‘laugh‐out‐loud’


The colouration of those small fish is simply stunning, and when they are in the mood they can give

fantastic sport for anybody who adopts a child‐like enthusiasm for this type of small‐stream fishing.

I love it.

Every now and then, often after the most delicate of takes, the rod bucks heavily under your hand,

and a more solid swirling resistance can rapidly turn into a surging high‐speed run towards

overhanging snags, or into a deep pool – you’d better react swiftly if you want to stay in touch!

To be honest I’ve never caught a truly ‘large’ fish, of the size I know the Ebble holds, but a wild fish

which is pushing a pound in weight, caught on a dry fly in such a tiny river, is still a fish to savour.

Every time I catch one I marvel at how fin‐perfect they are, and at their butter‐yellow bellies and

outrageously colourful spots.

Over on the main river things were still rather challenging. The Grannom didn’t really do it for me

this year, and the Mayfly seemed to stutter on and off for weeks on end, rather than coming in any

great hatches like they had the season before. Having said that, there was some very good fishing to

be had, although much of it was still restricted to fishing from the banks due to the continuing deep

and powerful water.

As the temperature soared, the usual time for prime fishing was pushed back into the late evenings.

Expanses of water which appeared devoid of fish during the heat of the day would come alive as the

daylight finally melted away, and a combination of sedge and smaller up‐wings often dictated fly

choice, with the odd mayfly spinner‐fall too, if you were lucky.

One thing which stood out for me this season was the change in stocked fish. Of a more uniform

size, and distinctly more handsome than in previous years, it was a real joy to treat these fish as a

truly desirable quarry. Shortly after Pete stocked them into the river they appeared to settle into

‘proper’ trout behaviour, and on more than one occasion I had my ego dented by one of those fish

as they briefly looked at, and then declined to take, my offering.

The other obvious difference with these fish, which immediately became apparent once you had

managed to hook one, was that they knew how to fight! None of that wallowing thrashing lark,

these fish took off and did their utmost to regain their newly‐found freedom. So impressed was I,

that I couldn’t bring myself to kill a single one this year…there could be some rather feisty overwintered

fish waiting for us next spring!

I’ve been fortunate enough to rub

shoulders with some very fine anglers,

and am always listening for any words

of wisdom which might be cast in my

direction. I have to say that 2018 was

a bumper year in this regard, and I’m

very grateful to all those Longford

members (you know who you are) who

shared their knowledge on what might

be a wise rod purchase to celebrate

the end of my first decade as a flyfisherman.

I’m still mulling it over, but

I’m hoping that my Shakespeare collection may get fewer outings next season, if all goes to plan.

I started this article with a photo of the submerged footbridge at the lower end of the New Cut

Carrier, and ironically it was in the same spot where I encountered a lovely fish, which turned out to

be my last Avon ‘wildie’ of the 2018 season. The idea that the conditions could go from such an

extreme in April, to such a beautifully tranquil scene by the end of August, is astounding.

Catching this particular fish was everything I love about fly fishing. It (eventually) required a stealthy

approach, from an angle I’d never waded from before, and the capture itself was nothing short of a

game of chess as I worked out just what the fish was waiting to see before it would drop its naturally

suspicious guard.

I saw the fish rise, just once, as I approached from upstream (there’s no other option at this

location). That immediately presented me with the problem of how I would get past it, so I could

cast from downstream, without it seeing me. I quickly realised that was going to be tricky. And so I

adopted my ‘nonchalant lion’ technique (don’t try it, it doesn’t usually work!) – the theory being that

of the lion which casually strolls past a herd of wildebeest without them batting an eye‐lid, due I

suppose to an unspoken understanding that the lion isn’t hungry, and so the wildebeest have

nothing to fear.

Well, sometimes I do the same with rising fish, especially when I know that even with the stealthiest

approach I still can’t guarantee to keep myself hidden, so I pretend to be a well‐fed lion

(metaphorically, not literally), and simply stroll past without pausing, and usually looking the other

way! On this occasion it worked a treat, and as I turned to look back upstream from a safe

downstream vantage point, the unmistakable dark nose of the same gently feeding trout broke

through the surface again. Don’t you just love a ‘sipping’ trout?

I lowered myself into the deep margin, and got myself composed. I spent some time carefully tying

on a fresh length of tippet. I often like to busy myself in this way for a few minutes when I’ve found

a rising fish; it allows my pulse to return to normal, and usually results in a better first cast. As I

stood in the water, a medium sized conker‐brown caddis came skitting and fluttering past me across

the surface. Seeing this as a sign, I attached a suitably sized tan‐coloured elk hair caddis ‐ the best

match I could find in my box. Everything went to plan and, having inched ever so slowly into

position, I made a perfect first cast, with the fly landing gently a yard or so upstream of the fish. I

held my breath. There was movement, an upward bulging of the water, and my fly shimmied slightly

to the right before continuing its downstream drift unmolested.

A second cast was totally ignored. I looked around, desperate for a clue and, just like with the

caddis, a small olive came drifting towards me like a heaven‐sent hint. I looked upstream, just as

that dark nose nudged up through the surface again. Of course! How silly of me, of course this fish

isn’t feeding on sedge – look at that delicate take, definitely taking those little olives. I tied on a new

fly. Several casts later, and with not the slightest hint of interest, I was feeling rather baffled. I

stood like a heron, with my line coiled and swaying in big loops around me on the water. I watched

as the trout continued to rise but by now there weren’t any caddis, and the olives had stopped

hatching too – and yet that fish kept coming, gently rising, again, and again.

I really looked at where he was rising, staring intensely, and realised he was taking nothing at all, or

at least that’s how it looked. It was about then that I noticed the drifting swarms of tiny gnats just

above the water, chironomids in their hundreds. A new ultra‐fine tippet was swiftly attached to the

tapered leader, and the smallest Griffith’s Gnat I could find in my box (size 20 I think) was neatly

knotted on the end. The excitement had returned, and a further few moments were required to

compose myself. The fish rose again, and after allowing time for him to return to his station, I made

my cast. Incredibly my casting success stayed with me, and the tiny ball of hackles landed softly on

the water just ahead of his last rise. Up he came, good as gold, and as I’d watched him do so many

times before, his dark nose gently sipped something off the surface – my fly. I even managed to

maintain my composure, and waited for him to turn back down, before a gentle strike set the hook.

As wild fish of his size often do, he

instantly took to the air, leaping in

utter surprise at having his relaxing

supper so rudely disturbed. His

fight was noble, darting briefly

downstream of me before I got

him under control, but soon

enough he was safely in the net.

He was not a monster by any

stretch of the imagination, just a

baby really, but he was a pristine

Avon wildie, the likes of which I

would be happy to catch forever

more. As is so often the case, the photo really doesn’t do him justice. I’m starting to realise that,

along with the usual patterns like Grannom, Mayfly, caddis and olives, there is a strong case for

having a special section of my fly box dedicated to ‘micro‐flies’ – I’m convinced I wouldn’t have

caught this fish without one.

Catching that trout feels like a fading memory now and, as I write, the weed is starting to die back,

rolling up out of the riverbed and drifting away downstream ‐ creating work at the hatches and fish

pass structures all the way down the valley to Christchurch. An arctic blast is being threatened on

the long‐range weather forecast, and I’m already dreaming about bronze flanks & vibrant stripes,

rather than red & blue spots, as the autumn turns my thoughts from trout, to barbel and perch.

Let’s hope the winter brings perfect spawning conditions for our beautiful wild brownies, and that

our Longford trout can forge a strong new generation for us to enjoy in the future.

I look forward to seeing you all again, before we know it, at the start of the next trout season…or

sooner maybe?

All the best,

Jim Wreglesworth

Falling in love with Longford

This was my second year at Longford having been introduced to it by Chris Paris (he of the three

double figure barbel – and yes I am jealous!)

I am primarily a game fisherman who enjoys a bit of coarse fishing when the game fishing is over.

My first love is salmon but I joined Longford for the trout and the salmon have been a pleasant


My first year was one of exploration and firsts. My first double figure barbel came in early March

when the river was coloured and dropping from a flood – I have found them much harder since in

low clear water. Then came my first trout on upstream dry fly during a fantastic Grannom hatch in

April, my first experience of a full on Mayfly hatch and some excellent catches of trout including

more wildies than I expected. One day when I went exploring I had six wild fish (and no stockies)

most around 8‐10 ozs but one over 2lbs a memorial day. Then to top it off I had my first and second

ever English salmon.

What I really enjoy is how friendly everyone is and my incessant questions are always answered in a

friendly and helpful way. Members have been happy to advise me and point me in the right

direction, I even was given a map with the best salmon lies marked which proved invaluable. I was

so enamoured that, with Brexit forcing the sale of our French house, we replaced it with one in

Downton overlooking the Tannery Cut where I have already had some roach and perch.

This year has been one of more learning and exploration and a realisation that conditions the first

year were very favourable whereas the floods and cold water of early season and heat wave

afterwards made game fishing much harder. The Grannom were a washout, my total for five days

trying to fish Grannom ,was one chub the only fish I saw rising all week! Stocking had to be late and

that and the weather meant I only saw one half decent Mayfly hatch and few other hatches. Most

trout I saw caught seemed to be on large heavy nymphs. Never the less I still enjoyed myself, caught

some trout, and fell in love with the Ebble when the Avon was too high. I only wish I had found it

when I was 50 years younger and could crawl along, clamber up and down banks and walk miles

much better than I can now! The fish may be small but they are beautiful.

I also enjoyed learning more of the salmon. The high water enabled me to take up traditional Avon

spinning with a paternoster and floating Devon, as it dropped I found it more suitable for fly fishing

than I expected – no salmon but a surprising number of trout seemed to like 4” tube flies – even the

wildies! Then after 16 th June back to my first love of freelining shrimp – no float and just one shot to

swing it round above the weed. I found some more salmon lies (again thanks to others and, of

course, Pete who has been really helpful). The one disappointment is that just as I caught two in late

August the season came to a premature end. It is a real shame that the season has been curtailed

just as the main runs arrive I saw more salmon in early September than all season. The two I had in

late August were grilse which had only been in the river a week or so. Hopefully the Avon

regulations will allow us to fish in September as in previous years.

So what of next year? I am really looking forward to it. I would love an Avon salmon on fly or

traditional spinning with a floating Devon. I would love a good Avon roach and am going to spend

time trotting this winter. More than anything I am looking forward to spending more time on the

water now my house is fully up and running with all work finished. I believe there are more salmon

there to be caught if I could only find out where and how. Let’s hope for a better season weatherwise

this year!

By John Wheeldon

Observations from Southern chalk streams

This year has been my third season at Longford and travelling from West Sussex is no easy task along

the A27 & M27. Apart from fishing on the estate I fish on various beats of the Itchen and Meon

including a short stretch of the upper Itchen where I was keeper for a club for about 10 years.

At the beginning of 2018 all southern rivers were short of water and thankfully rains came in the new

year up until end of May giving us about 150% of monthly average rainfall each month. The start of

the season saw good levels and were sustained until the end of July. The Itchen remained crystal clear

right from start of season to the end that I have never seen in 10 years. Fishing there was good with

catches of trout and grayling but for me nothing huge. The Meon was over the banks into June. Fly

life generally was average but I will say I thought less Sedge anywhere. Towards end of season fish

seemed to be taking very small fly’s I could not see.

The Avon at Longford in contrast although a good flow was coloured that Peter put down to an algal

bloom from above Salisbury, no not Norvichok! There have been concerns over water quality backed

up by data collected above Salisbury by the Salmon & Trout Conservation UK. Where this will lead to

I do not know at present and I suspect may be due to all the new housing at Amesbury and on the

Plain by my old firm the MOD. On the Itchen this year S&TCUK managed to stop a watercress

operation allowing washing chemicals flowing into the river.

My few trips to Longford during May and June were not as productive as I hoped and fish were hard

to locate on the days I visited. Driving to Longford was a heat exhausting experience and I decided to

reduce my visits and fish the Itchen and river Meon both nearer home and in excellent condition. I

came back to Longford towards the end of August although still very hot had some fun fly fishing for

carp on the ponds below Standlynch Mill. Throw out dog biscuits and a similar sized fly and up they


Peter does a superb job maintaining the river almost single handed, banks always kept mown. Would

be nice to see some weed cut in the river especially in the carriers but I understand this is not allowed

by Natural England, who know best! On the Test & Itchen weed cutting is essential but organised to

be carried out on set dates each month not only to benefit fishing but prevent flooding. I suspect

many of the members have not been inside the barn next to the roundhouse that has facilities

including a fridge and kettle and the huge table is worth a look as its huge, from an estate tree.

Seeking Trout in August and September proved difficult compared with the last two years with few

rising and on one day saw lots of small grayling at the shallows. A weekend at the start of October

reversed results with lots of fish rising at beat 1 and Peter told me similar seen at The Shallows. So,

my end of season was successful compared with friend on the Itchen that same week who found it

difficult. So far, I have not managed to fish the River Ebble but will have a go at the bigger grayling

before this Christmas. I can recommend The Radnor Arms at Nunton for food and drink if you need a


One of the bonusses of coming down to Longford is seeing the huge amount of wildlife, Cuckoos,

Egret’s, Heron and various raptors. I’ve not seen so many Cormorants this year anywhere and let’s

hope the trend continues. I do see a few deer on the meadows but surprised not more. One mammal

I have yet to see in the flesh anywhere in my travels is an Otter, apart from spraints, next season

maybe! Swans can be a nuisance at times especially when a gang of them crash down in front of you!

The Itchen now has Signal Crayfish that sadly will finish off the small populations of Native Crayfish as

they carry Crayfish plague.

Overall 2018 was not the best season for me and I fear if we get more hot summers it will get no easier

for any of us. Now it will be just grayling fishing for me through the winter and maybe trying for pike.

There is always hope for next season and more river to explore.

By Philip Ellis

Season 2017/2018 - Coarse

The arrival of the beast from the east in March certainly effected the back end of the coarse season

with the very low water temperatures making for difficult fishing.

The Barbel have become a popular species over the years and the area below Standlynch holds a

good population. But with this, it sees more attention than other areas of the fishery, which in turn

is making them much trickier to catch, especially if the river conditions aren’t right.

Modern baits are scientifically designed to provide the fish with an almost perfect, albeit an

artificially nutritional diet. This with the abundance of natural food in the river, probably finds them

feeling quite sustained a lot of the time. Whilst these modern baits are convenient and extremely

effective the rise in the increased use of extruded pellets as bait and loose feed can lead to a very

stereotypical approach where sometimes a more natural approach would be more affective, i.e.

hemp casters or corn maggots etc. Food for thought, pardon the pun! The way anglers apply bait is

another factor to consider. And when to apply more of less is worth a mention. I am never shocked

at the quantity of loose feed in particular, Barbel and Chub can consume if conditions dictate.

As already touched on, this year will be remembered for the incredibly hot summer. I know the

fishing was tough, but the high water temperature has seen a bumper spawning year for all the

coarse fish species. The large amount of habitat work undertaken on the estate, with the opening of

over grown ditches that linked to the main river like veins, is really bearing fruit. This habitat has

created the perfect environment and has enabled the increased survival of the fry from these

successful spawning years.

February 2018 saw the introduction of juvenile Barbel

into the Barford carrier. This is part of a five year

stocking plan, which sees some further Barbel

introduced into the carrier at Barford in February

2019. In subsequent years carriers such as the

Cowbridge will see introductions, I hope this will

increase the populations around the fishery. These

fish have been supplied by the team at Hampshire

Carp Hatcheries.

Some of the time, there seems to be an air of

doom and gloom regarding rivers; what with

predation issues, abstraction, etc. But up and

down the Avon valley, talking to other River

Keepers and anglers, there does seem to be a

change of fortune on the horizon, with talk of

increasing Roach populations and in particular,

large shoals of Dace. Certainly this year, I have

seen more Dace than I have done in previous

years on the fishery. This is really encouraging

and without a doubt, there is a lot more Roach

present than 5 or 6 years ago. With some 2lb

specimens reported to me so far this season from our anglers, this with good numbers of fish up to a

pound from various stretches of the fishery. The increase in Roach in particular is part of the long

term project on the Longford waters.

What can we say about the Chub?! They are prolific on the Longford fishery, and seem to be doing

well all over the Avon valley, with strong year classes coming through. Probably this year, there is a

good chance of our fishery producing another 7lb plus specimen. Interestingly, over the Summer

months, during grass cutting activities, I was keeping a bucket of Trout pellets on the mower and in

certain spots on the upper fishery, I would feed some pellet just to see what turned up. One day on

a certain carrier, two hours after feeding the pellets, I crept back down the bank to see what had

materialised, to be greeted by the sight of around 20 Chub tearing the bottom up to get at the

pellets. This is from somewhere that hardly sees any coarse fishing activity. This observation is

interesting in itself and probably gores to show the success of pellets as a bait in warm water, as this

particular shoal of Chub would have certainly not come across this food before in this area. But it

didn’t take them long to work out what great fayre this was!

Last season saw some of our new rods, who haven’t any experience of the fishery being really

successful. I think this comes from not having preconceived ideas about where they want to fish and

being more prepared to go on instinct. One example would be Matt Tarn who only joined the

syndicate this year, and in four trips, has caught Barbel on each one in tricky conditions. One day

catching four in an hour and catching a Barbel where I hardly ever see anyone fishing. What I have

witnessed personally, is how in some insignificant looking back waters you can find incredible

populations of fish. The area at the bottom of the Newcourt carrier is one such place, as the main

river rises during the Autumn and Winter sees large migrations of fish into this area. So sometimes,

when the main river seems devoid, don’t neglect those backwaters.

James Champkin – “Youngest Longford Rod” with a 14lb 8oz Barbel

As most of you know, I grew up fly‐fishing on the chalk

streams and trout reservoirs but the Carp bug bit

deeply 30 years ago. And generally, I spend my spare

time away from the fishery pursuing these fish.

Longford fishery has provided me with some amazing

Carp from the river over the years. This season I saw

one or two fish that made me think about pursuing

them on the river again, in particular in the area of

Buckleys Hole, where I spotted a large Mirror Carp, I

would estimate to have been 20lb plus and that

certainly got me thinking.

One of the rods, Craig Smithson,

enjoyed a successful start to his

coarse season Carp fishing on the

river with some great results. For

next year’s newsletter, I will ask him

to write about his experiences.

Craig is among the growing number

of younger rods in our coarse

membership with ages ranging from

late twenties to mid‐thirties. A lot

of these lads have come primarily

from a Carp fishing background, and

have made the transition to the

rivers easily and are successful

anglers. It is nice to see fresh blood

coming through. This certainly

seems to be the case with the coarse fishing but I can see in the future, fly fishing, struggling with

recruitment of new anglers. Comparing coarse to game membership generally speaking the age of

the game membership is on balance much higher, with very few younger trout anglers coming

through the ranks this is seen across all disciplines of fly fishing from rivers to the still waters .

We have an extensive river fishery at Longford that I

have manged now for 14 years but times are changing

and anybody involved in angling can’t fail to recognise

this. As I touched on before, with regards to my own

Carp fishing, when I started 30 years ago, it was still

seen as a strange secretive pursuit. Neither I nor many

of my angling friends would have believed it could

grow into the multi million pound single species

industry it has become. Looking to the future, all the

indications are it will continue to expand. The angling

trade association reported in 2016 carp tackle sales

alone were £222.7 million! This was the first time it

had overtaken general coarse tackle sales of £198.1 million pounds, with game fishing coming in

third with £80 million spent. This figure would’ve certainly increased by 2018. I have always known

the fishery needed more diversity to keep up with changes and while the river remains the core of

the fishery, I have been developing various ponds around the fishery. All these areas of the estate

had previously been used for coarse fish

rearing at some point, so all had held Carp

and various other coarse species, it was a

case of manipulating what I already had and

it is starting to come to fruition. This

provides coarse membership with year

round fishing and angling when the river is

out of sorts due to high winter flows etc.

This I hope, will continue to be an area I can

keep pushing forward and in particular I

would love to create a purely Tench and

Crucian Carp fishery, which I know would be


Predator fishing on the estate is

something I manage quite closely and

strive to have a limited part of the

membership that enjoy this side of the

sport. This is in part due to Pike being

very sensitive to how they are treated

when caught and the importance of

those who fish them are totally

confident in how they are handled. Over

the last few seasons, the fishery has

produced some very large Pike. These

are a massive asset to the diversity of

the fishery and should therefore be

treated with respect. I feel it is time to

review the rules of the fishery and there

will be separate guidelines for Pike fishing practices sent out with the new membership cards.

Please adhere to the rules at all times.

We hosted the castle match again at the end of the season in March which proved to be a success.

Even though the guys and girls were faced with difficult conditions, good numbers of fish were

caught, albeit slightly down on the previous matches which would be expected. Ricky McMaster

triumphed this year with a good catch of fish from the castle stretch. Interestingly, Pete James, who

came second, also from the castle stretch, had two Barbel in his catch, a first for the match. The

date for the 2019 match has not yet been finalised but you will be contacted in regard to this.

Before I wind up this review, I would like to thank Reg and Mary and the Standlynch Sunday mill

crowd for the work parties they do over the closed season for the coarse fishery. This helps me

immensely and is much appreciated. I would also like to thank all the rods who gave me words of

wisdom and encouragement that helped to take me through, what was essentially, a tough season.

You know who you are!

Let’s hope that the next season brings better weather, for better fishing conditions and good

catches. Tight lines!


London buses and barbel

I don’t seek publicity, but Peter Orchard was keen that I should write a short note about the most

spectacular barbel fishing session that I’ve ever had. This came about during my annual autumn

coarse fishing trip to Longford. I mainly seek barbel but come equipped for a range of other species,

especially chub, roach and pike, in case conditions suggest that they may be better options.

Well, after having had five days barbel fishing without a bite, I was beginning to think that roach and

pike could be better options. I had caught a few nice chub and seen a couple of small barbel, but

was staring to think that this would be my first barbel‐free year at Longford. I saw a seriously big

barbel above the trout farm bridge on my sixth day and spent the whole day fishing there without a

flicker on the rod tip. Another angler did catch barbel that day, so they obviously could be caught,

though not by me it seemed.

Then on the seventh day my luck changed with a vengeance. I was fishing one of the popular swims

below Standlynch and doing pretty much what I’d been doing without success during the previous

six days, but on 27 th September at about 10 am I had a nice pull on my second cast and found myself

into a nice low double. I was delighted to save my week’s barbel blank but didn’t bother with

pictures as I like to return fish as quickly as possible and it’s a very steep bank in that spot. I had to

take pictures a little while later, however, as I somehow managed to land the fattest barbel that I’ve

ever seen on my very next cast. I thought it was 12‐13 pounds when I first saw it, but then I realised

that it might be a lot bigger due to its girth. It was the Mike Gatting of barbel – the portly English

cricketer who the Aussies claimed had eaten all the pies. I was shaking so much after I’d netted it

that I had trouble getting the fish into

the sling to weigh. It went 15 pounds

4 ounces, beating my previous best by

three quarters of a pound. I called

Peter on his mobile and at home but

was unable to get him to come and

witness the fish. But I was able to get

my fishing mate, David McCulloch, to

drop everything and come over to do

the honours. I kept the fish in my

landing net while David was driving

over and the fish was well recovered

by the time that he arrived.

He fired off lots of photos using my phone before I carefully released the fish, which swam away

nicely but slowly enough to give me a chance to take a few more snaps of her (him?) in the water. I

would have been happy to stop there and offered David the swim, but he declined and told me catch


‘Some chance,’ I thought, but had another

cast anyway and was immediately into

another lovely fish. It looked small

compared to the big one but took the

scales to 11 pounds 10 ounces so would

usually have been enough to make my day!

So double figure barbel really can be like

London buses: you wait six days for one

and then three turn up all at once! I don’t

expect that I’ll ever have another session

like that, and I didn’t catch any more

barbel during the remaining four days of

my trip. Those two golden two hours, on a

bright sunny Longford morning will live

forever in my memory, but why then?

Why did they suddenly go on the feed for a

mad two‐hour spell when the rest of my

eleven days’ fishing was entirely barbel‐free? It may be that the more you fish, the more chances

you get, or maybe it was just my lucky day.

By Chris Paris (The Prof)

Leslie Raymond Bomford (1895-1981)

Memories of fishing on Longford Estate (1940-1975)

I can’t remember when I first fished the Hampshire Avon at Longford Castle. I may have fished

during the 1939‐45 war, but after the war, my brother Hercs and I fished there, staying in a guest

house in Fordingbridge to save petrol. We spun for Pike and removed large quantities up to 18lb. I

can’t remember a 20 pounder. We used to take a sack and fill it up. Lord Radnor wanted them out

of the water, above and below Charlton Bridge used to be very good. We had one or two kelts

there, but there weren’t many then. The water below the castle was good, and still is. There are

one or two carriers which were productive.

The keeper was Victor Hawton. Curiously, his brother was huntsman to the Croome Hounds in

Warwickshire where I hunted a bit after the First World War before the depression. Many keepers

are fine men but Victor was outstanding, one of the nicest men I have known. He reached retiring

age about when the estate took over Trafalgar. We used to go up and have a cup of tea with him

and Mrs Hawton in their cottage by the Mill on the Ebble. He was succeeded for two years by a

useless nonentity. Then Tom Williams arrived. A very pleasant man, but much more assertive. His

coming coincided with fish passes and the Upper Avon becoming a Salmon Fishery. One way and

another, Tom had a good many salmon besides those caught for the castle from the bridge there.

A few years after the war, Longford Estate let four beats:

From the castle bridge for nearly a mile upstream. There were some nice shallows but it

wasn’t a productive beat.

From where the Ebble came in down to Matrimoney Farm.

From the farm to below the shallows at Charlton Bridge. These two beats were by far the

best for fishing.

The Ebble, which was rather overgrown, but contained small brilliantly coloured trout.

The rods were Alec Gale, Wilfred Cave and myself, and the estate kept a rod. We were allowed to

take some visitors and fished each other’s beats.

The hatch of Grannom was uncertain, but the Mayfly for ten days was marvellous, and was followed

by Blue Winged Olives in the evenings. Dancing Mayfly were a regular sight and a 2lb+ Trout were

frequent. Nearly all the good Trout were within 2ft of the bank. Also 2‐3lb Chub were common and

Dace to ½lb. Robert my son was at school in Blandford and I used to fetch him down to Longford.

He has a 5lb+ Trout above Charlton Bridge and had to follow it under the bridge. (Robert note: Tom

Williams turned up just after I triumphantly landed this Trout and I showed it with great pride. He

cheerfully said “That one would have died tomorrow if you hadn’t caught it today”. It was a rather

ragged looking specimen). He also got a 4lb+ Trout from the carrier 200 yards. That 10 days of

Mayfly was the best fishing I have had.

Some years were quite good for Grayling, and we had a few Salmon, nearly all from Charlton Bridge.

(Robert note: I remember one of these Salmon well. It was a big fish and my father was worried it

would bolt under the bridge. I was delegated to collect some bricks from the rubble of a demolished

barn not far away, and every time the Salmon approached the bridge, I dropped one or two into the

river. It worked. The Salmon was successfully gaffed (this was the 1950’s), and taken back to the

White Hart Hotel in Salisbury, where the manager offered my father £20 for it. He declined, I was

very proud of him).

We had this fishing for about 5 years (1954‐1959), and then the estate bought Trafalgar with the

fishing. Fish passes were put in the weirs and the fishing was let for Salmon. Incidentally, through

pollution and weed cutting the Mayfly nearly ceased.

The top three beats remained the same. The new beat 4 was from Charlton down to Trafalgar Mill.

There were four or five good catches on this beat, which was much the best. Beat 5 was from the

mill to Barford. Above the hatches at Trafalgar and the bottom of the water opposite Newcourt

Farm were free for all, and you needed to be very early in the morning to fish them. In a wet year

when the river was high, quite a lot of Salmon were caught. In drought years there were very few.

Nearly half of the Salmon were taken above the sluice gates at Trafalgar. About one in two of the

hooked fish went down the sluices and broke the tackle. I didn’t like this. I think one year I got into

double figures but years only one or two. Three of the beats weren’t worth 50 miles by car, so about

1970, I gave it up. There were Trout to be caught but fly was scarce and coarse fishing was allowed

in the winter. I did get a 30lb Salmon spinning near Barford Farm.

About the period, Lord Radnor bought the Bickford fishing from his boundary up to Salisbury. This

had been a well‐known trout fishery in the past. It was nice water. I fished it several times with little

success, probably because it was not the Mayfly season. The Avon can be dour.

Lord Radnor sold it to a London Angling club, who for a start caught masses of coarse fish. I’m told

it’s nothing like as good now. Where coarse fishing is allowed, trout fishing is indifferent. Too many


Since then Robert and I have had one or two days each Christmas on the castle water for Pike. We

expect six or more decent fish on spinner or sprat. In 1975 Robert had a 23lb fish. (Robert note: In

43 years of Pike fishing since then I have never had a better one).

Longford Estate Fishery Rules – 2019

1. The fishing seasons are as follows:

‐ coarse River 16 th June to 14 th March

‐ coarse still waters 12 months

‐ Trout fishing 1 st April to 14 th October

‐ Salmon fishing 1 st February to 31 st August as per regional bylaws

2. The extent of the fishery and boundaries are identified on the accompanying map. Access

routes to the water are coloured red. There is no right of way through Longford Park. There

is no access via Barford fish farms. When the fields at beat 1 are flooded, rods must park

their cars where signposted i.e.: before you enter the field. If you choose to take your

vehicle further into the field when it is wet, it is at your own risk. However, if the fields are

dry, feel free to park by the wooden gate adjoining the river bank. Do not take your vehicles

through the wooden gate onto the river bank.

3. All rods must be in possession of a valid EA licence.

4. Fishing guests are allowed by prior permission of the River Keeper. Day guest rod fees as


‐ game £50.00

‐ coarse £25.00

5. Under no circumstances are fishing guests permitted on the fishery unless accompanied by

the rod and the applicable fee paid. Syndicate rods are not permitted to rod share or

transfer their rights to others. Anglers can be accompanied by 1 non‐fishing guest.

6. Catch limits:

‐ Trout – 1 brace per day can be kept after which catch and release is permitted

‐ Grayling – all to be returned to the river

‐ Salmon – strictly catch and release only

7. Permitted methods:

‐ Trout and Grayling – dry fly and up‐stream Nymph only

‐ Salmon – as per Wessex rivers by‐laws

8. All Rainbow Trout caught whilst either game or coarse fishing to be killed and removed from

the river.

9. Keep nets used for coarse fishing must be used sparingly and not to retain fish for long

periods. Under no circumstances are Barbel, Carp or Pike to be retained in keep nets.

10. When targeting specimen coarse fish species i.e.: Carp, Barbel, Pike. All rods MUST be in

possession of an unhooking mat and suitable size landing net.

Rods not adhering to this rule will be asked to leave the fishery.

11. Additional rules apply for anglers fishing for Pike as follows:

‐ you must be in possession of an unhooking mat and a suitably sized landing net

‐ you must have suitable unhooking equipment i.e.: large forceps, strong wire cutters

‐ strictly no Pike gags to be used at any time

‐ main line must be a minimum of 20lb breaking strain, braided main line is allowed with a

minimum breaking strain of 30lb

‐ wire traces must be used at all times

‐ hooks must be barbless or semi‐barbless

‐ no live baiting or coarse fish dead baits, sea dead baits only

12. Under no circumstances are syndicate rods to move fish between different locations on the

fishery i.e. carriers to main river or vice versa.

13. Angling is allowed from one hour before sunrise to two hours after sunset.

14. Dogs are permitted if accompanying rods but must be kept under control at all times. If your

dog fouls the river bank, please clear it up.

15. No litter to be left on the banks and no fires to be lit.

16. Rods enter onto the estate fishery entirely at their own risk. The estate accepts no

responsibility for injury, damage or loss caused by any circumstances or obstacle. Rods

should hold sufficient personal liability cover to any eventuality.

17. The estate reserves the right to stop all fishing without refund in the event of any national

restriction imposed by government.

18. The estate reserves the right to alter the rules of the fishery at any time.

Longford Estate Fishery – Recorded Weights

Barbel 16lb 2 oz James Howes March 2016 Standlynch


Carp common 30lb 10oz Peter Orchard September 2005 Castle Stretch

Carp Mirror 34lb 2oz Peter Orchard July 2007 Castle Stretch

Chub 7lb 4oz Hugh Miles Feb 2006 Tannery cut

Dace 1lb 2oz Tony Ward December 2005 Pollarded




Perch 3lb 10ozs David Hazelden September 2016 Bet 1

Pike 35lb 12oz Darren White February 2016 Musselwhites

Roach 3lb 1oz Paul Witcher December 2015 Big Bend


Brown Trout

Salmon 30lb (est) Colin Offen June 2016 Roundhouse

*Please report your catch to the Riverkeeper should you record a weight in excess of the

returns above









Britford Navigation

End of







Longford Navigation Private








Stretch Private


Yew Tree







River Ebble

River Ebble







River Ebble




End of


River Ebble Private

Castle Stretch Private

End of Beat

Cowbridge Hatches

& Weir Pool



Cowbridge Carrier






Cowbridge Carrier

Extent of Fishing


Private Stretch


Farm Barn

New Cut


New Cut Carrier



The Junction





















Tue High Bank

Blue Bridge Carrier







Distance in Metres

0 100 200 300 400 500 600

Newcourt Carrier





Barford Farm

Iron Bridge










End of




End of








Newcourt Carrier

Longford and Trafalgar Estates

Sporting Fishery




The Bull


The White














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