|A rare piece of top day ticket fishing on the Avon.|
DAY ticket venues on this famous Hampshire chalk-filtered water are rare, so this urban section on the upper reaches of the river, lying to the north of the city, is well worth a visit, especially in winter when it’s carrying some extra water and colour after the weed has died off.
Much of the fishing on the upper reaches of the Avon is under the control of Salisbury and District AC, but the Town Stretch is open to all on a day ticket, that must be purchased in advance, available from local stores as well as tackle shops.
Compared to the famous lower reaches found downstream of Fordingbridge, the river here is narrow and, with depths of around three feet or less in many places, the fast-flowing waters provide a challenging day’s fishing for the visiting angler.
This stretch of the Avon is known for its big roach; they can be seen, throughout the summer, grazing over the clear gravel runs in-between the vast beds of streamer weed, where levels can be very low, with less than two feet in some places.
If you are prepared to rove there are some deeper channels, up to six feet deep, which are ideal for the purist angler with a centrepin reel and big stick float to trot maggots or casters – by far the best summer baits – for the chub, grayling, dace and those big roach that go to 2lb plus. Don’t stint on the bait either, as you will need to take at least four to six pints with you for a session.
The lower end of the fishery can be busy, especially on weekends, as the river runs downstream into the city with a footpath alongside that is used to get to the shops from the car park.
The banks are fairly steep here, but, as the depth is shallow, it pays to wear waders and get in the water where you can comfortably long trot a stick float under the overhanging trees and bushes, over to the far side. Fish your bait just off the bottom and keep the loose feed going in on every cast to draw the venue’s chub, dace and roach upstream.
As you head upstream, away from the city, the river takes on a more natural look; both the near and far banks are full of features that can offer the stealthy angler plenty of cover, especially when the water is crystal clear.
These features also provide the perfect home for the river’s big roach. Punched bread or flake, fished over loose-fed liquidised bread, is the killer winter bait here.
It’s well worth a walk up to the top end of the fishery because this is where you will find the best of the grayling fishing. Light tackle is the key to catching these shy-biting, graceful fish, and maggots are the best winter bait to tempt them – a single bait on a small hook can account for hard-battling fish to 1lb 8oz or, if you are lucky, 2lb.
This long, straight section of the river is also home to some of the Hampshire Avon’s big dace, where fish to 14oz often show up among the shoals of smaller fish. Casters are the favourite bait for these ‘silver darts’, and float fishing with light tackle is once again the order of the day.
The fishing is often at its best after the winter floods, when the level fines down and the colour starts to drop out of the water. The river’s gravel bed will have been cleaned of all the rubbish, and, with much on the venue’s weed gone, long trotting with maggots on slightly heavier gear should bag you plenty of small chub.
Venue Fact File
The Hampshire Avon, Town Water, Salisbury, Wiltshire
Contact: Dave Moody at Reid’s Tackle on 01722 743192
Day tickets: Permits are available from local tackle shops and the Londis store in Salisbury and cost £5 per day
Restrictions: Contact Reid’s Tackle for details of the rules and regulations for the venue
Facilities: There is a public car park with public toilets near the lower end of the Town Water stretch
Nearby tackle shop: Reid’s Tackle, Kingsway House, Warminster Road, Wilton
Nearby pub: The Mill, 7 The Maltings, Salisbury, Wiltshire, tel. 01722 412127
How to get there: For the lower end of the fishery follow the signs for the city coach station located just off the A36 (Churchill Way West). The car park is to the north and access to the west bank is from the far end, near to the shops. Further access to the east bank is via the leisure centre to the north. Details of other access and parking can be obtained from local tackle shops