IMMEDIATELY to the south of the hustle and bustle of the historic city of Salisbury, the London Anglers Association stretch of the Hampshire Avon offers members and day ticket anglers over eight miles of top quality fishing.
As it flows south, most of the Hampshire Avon travels through a low-lying flood plain and as well as the main river history has seen the creation of vast numbers of mill streams and side channels that leave and rejoin along the chalk-lined valley.
Britford is such a venue. The course of the main river splits at the top end of the fishery where it flows over a set of hatches.
Here part of the water branches off at Harnham Island where a carrier flows through more hatches and under Harnham Bridge, an enclosed building incorporating an old eel trap, into a classic Avon pool that’s holds chub, barbel, grayling and pike.
Another part of the water flows into the historic Navigation channel that was once used by ships on the way to the city. It’s hard to believe today that the Hampshire Avon was once a busy shipping river.
A link to Salisbury via the Hampshire Avon was created during the 17th and early 18th century. The river was developed for navigation and barges reached the city up until 1730, but it was so difficult to navigate that it was abandoned in 1772.
As you follow the main river as it skirts the main A36 out of the city, you discover a pacey, but clear stream that suffers during dry summers leaving no more than 18 inches of water along much of it length.
Don’t let this discourage you, as long trotting a shallow rig with maggots or casters will throw up some sporadic dace and roach sport and if you find the deeper pools pike, chub and grayling will oblige.
When the winter floods do finally arrive the surrounding fields are liable to flooding, but once the levels fall and the colour starts to drop out of the water, sport really picks up with chub to 7lb a possibility.
Britford holds some fighting-fit barbel and although they are not known to grow as big as the fish found further downstream around Ringwood and Christchurch, there are fish over 10lb grazing in the fast-water pools.
With all the miles of bank to cover you may need to get down the gym, as roving is the best way to cover the wide variety of deep glides, show runs and dancing pools that are dotted all along the carriers.
The Main Carrier that runs under Harnham Bridge has a reputation of producing near-record roach and this stretch of the Hampshire Avon is one of the few waters in the UK where your can track down a true 3lb-plus river redfin.
Big pieces of breadflake are the key to tempting these big roach, but you have to time your visit right or you could miss out.
Another carrier that produces roach over 3lb is the Navigation. Although narrow, this has some of the deepest water on the fishery and is seen as the best location to bag a big roach or dace when the rest of the river is out of sorts.
Venue Fact File
Hampshire Avon, Britford, Salisbury, Wiltshire
Contact: Stuart Wilson (Britford bailiff) on 07930 648991
Day tickets: Permits cost £6 per day for one rod for adults and £3 per day for juniors and OAPs. A maximum of two rods are allowed
Associate membership: The fishery is controlled by the London Anglers’ Association and a reduced adult permit is available until March 31st 2006 for £25. Visit www.londonanglers.net for more details or contact Stuart
Facilities: There are a number of car parks on the fishery with the main parking area close to Bridge Farm
Restrictions: No more than two rods are permitted. Spare rods must be packed away. No night fishing. No dogs. No fishing between March 15th and June 15th. No bloodworm or joker. No meat tins or glassware
Nearby tackle shop: Reids Tackle, Witherington Farm, Downton Salisbury, tel: 01722 711616
Nearby pub: The Avon Brewery Inn, 75, Castle Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire, tel: 01722 327280
How to get there: From junction 8 on the M3 follow the A303 towards Andover and after 13 miles turn left and take A343. At the junction with the A30 bear right towards Salisbury. On reaching the city follow directions to A338 (Ringwood) and as you leave the city limits, follow signs to Britford. Turn left at sign for Britford following the minor road over the Navigation Channel before tuning left down the track to Bridge Farm. The LAA car par is on the right as you reach the farm