Meon Springs Fishery rainbows come out to play in the sun

April 26, 2014 at 10:39 pm

My first visit to Meon Springs Fishery had been on a dark December day with 80 mph gales whipping the surface, when I’d looked forward to Spring and sunshine for my next visit. That day arrived when I was invited to join my friend Peter and his son Steve, who’d been given a 40th Birthday present, a day’s fishing at this secluded Hampshire water. Nestling in a valley on the upper reaches of the River Meon, a series of dams allow this clear chalkstream to simpathetically follow the contours to provide enjoyable flyfishing for the novice and expert alike. An added bonus to the two put and take lakes are two catch and release sections at the lower end of the fishery, where having caught the two fish minimum, an angler can gain added value to the £32 day charge.

A bloodworm nymph under a yarn indicator had brought success on our previous visit, this being the opening gambit for Peter and myself, while Steve opted for a traditional greased line, nymph approach. Tackling up, another angler came back to the clubhouse with three rainbows, all taken on a Blue Flash Damsel lure in half an hour, his day over by 10:30 am. I hoped to stretch it out a bit longer than that. Walking the bank, I was amazed and slightly intimidated by the clarity of the water, which showed healthy weed beds interspersed with holes right down to the sandy bottom, through which fish were cruising unaware of the fate awaiting them.

It’s not always good policy to stop at the first likely spot, as those fish have probably seen more flies than any others, but stop I did and cast to the clearing fifteen yards from the bank, where I could see three, or four fish. The bloodworm was too small for me to see, but a rainbow reacted as it sank, turning off from it’s line, then rising up to the nymph, where the white flash of it’s mouth opening and shutting indicated a take. I lifted into the fish and felt it’s weight, watching it’s initial struggle before the hook lost hold. An angler to my left smiled knowingly in answer to my look of protest saying “God save the Queen” then raising his rod in a mock strike. I felt sure that I had left enough time to set the hook, but the indicator hadn’t moved. Next time; if there was one.

Minutes later, the indicator bobbed a couple of times then slowly sank away, reminding me of a roach bite on a waggler float, but this was no roach, that accelerated off to the right, then swept round in an arc toward the opposite bank, before tailwalking off the hook. The angler to my left still had that superior smile, despite failing to raise a fish in the time it had taken me to lose two. Looking along the bank to my right, I could see Peter was also into a good fish, only to lose it short of the net. A couple of missed takes and another lost rainbow prompted me to move up to Peter for a chat, arriving as he hooked into another good fish, which tested his tackle to the full, this time netting his first rainbow of the day, a deep bodied specimen of around 4lb. Further along Steve had made a black and red nymph work and was playing a very nice brown trout of 2lb. All browns are to be returned at Meon Springs and Steve released it, after a quick photo session.

I was now feeling the pressure to get a fish on the bank, Peter and I taking it in turns to miss takes, or drop fish, the bright sunlight assisting the trout in distinguishing our immitations from the real thing, just plucking at the bloodworm nymphs, before ejecting them. A skyward rainbow gave Peter his second fish, not a biggy, but his two fish limit all the same, while I continued to be tormented by the educated trout in front of me. The answer was a longer cast towards the the shadow of an oak tree, where the indicator disappeared from sight and a hard running rainbow was firmly hooked.

Several times I had the net ready, only for another finger blistering run, forcing me to give line each time, until eventually the runs shortened and a 3lb rainbow was on the bank.

Steve was now playing a very large rainbow that he had stalked, an induced take, once he had the fish’s attention, resulting in a solid seizure of the nymph. In the well oxygenated water, this rainbow resisted every attempt to get it in the net, several times it turned at the last moment in a bid for freedom, but the hook held on for long enough and it was landed.

With a fully formed tail, Steve’s rainbow had finally fought to a standstill and weighing in at 5lb 10oz was destined for his Dad’s smoker. Meanwhile I was playing my second fish, with one eye on Steve, paying the price when a sudden lunge, parted the 8lb leader. With the other lads now fishing the catch and release, I persevered to catch my second rainbow, a slightly smaller version of the first fish for my limit.

Time for some lunch and bagging up my fish for the fridge at the clubhouse, but not before donating a bloodworm nymph to the angler next to me, who had been struggling for takes on a retrieved nymph. Returning 20 minutes later, he had a fine 4lb trout on the bank and was happy to pose for a photograph, failing to get his name for a credit, the Newbury angler was pleased with his catch.

His brother-in-law was also without a fish, so in passing, on my way down to the catch and release area, another bloodworm nymph was handed over in the hope of more success. Below the dam, several rainbows were facing upstream in the gentle flow and I spent an enjoyable, but often frustrating twenty minutes trying to land one of them, sight fishing the bloodworm nymph on a greased line a foot beneath the surface. Twice I lifted into fish, only for them to throw the hook and dart back to the main pool. In the crystal clear water, I could see the fins twitch, when they saw the potential snack, then move in for a close inspection of the dressed hook. A tweek of the line put movement in the tail of the bloodworm and a bold rainbow moved in for the kill, a firm side strike setting the hook with a boil of exploding energy. In only two feet of water, the rainbow took some stopping, stirring up the mud, as it zoomed about, making several jumps, but staying on. Having followed it down, past another angler, into deeper water, I was able to bide my time, until it was ready for the net, the barbless hook falling free once the pressure was off.

This fully finned rainbow of around three pounds gave me the best fight of the day and I was happy to release it, after a period of recovery in my landing net.

Joining up with the others, we had enjoyed our day at Meon Springs with plenty of action and resolved to return in the warmer months to fish dry flies on the surface.