Meon Springs Fishery rainbows on the bloodworm

December 11, 2013 at 5:48 pm

A planned visit to Meon Springs in very rural Hampshire coincided with the windiest day for decades, forecast and when my driver and companion for the day, Peter collected me from home, Scotland was already being ravaged by 100 mph winds. Dead leaves were dancing in the lane, before being whipped into the air by sudden gusts, as we drove down the valley towards the clubhouse, which nestles in the hillside above the fishery.

This commercial fishery consists of a series of small dams holding back the natural flow of an infant river Meon, as it meanders down the valley protected in the main by woods. Leaving the comfort of the clubhouse, where a log burner was blazing, the wind was already rippling up the surface of the main lake and with sight of the number of blanks in the returns book fresh in our minds, a hard day was in prospect. A chat with an angler, who had “tried everything without a touch” for three hours, made up our minds that the bloodworm nymph under an indicator, was the only chance to avoid a blank entry in the book.

Without too much hope, I made a cast downwind and across, watching the indicator yarn bouncing across the ripples, giving the nymph life 18″ below. After a minute it slid sideways and under. A lift of the rod and I was playing my first fish. I looked to my right to see Peter’s rod was also at full bend. We were on the method again! The angler between us visibly sagged in disbelief. He’d been there for three hours working hard without a take and these two guys arrive and catch straight away.

This was not a small fish and it patrolled the opposite bank at speed, making regular direction changes, before diving to the middle of the lake for a head shaking session, a sign of a lightly hooked fish. This might be my only catch of the day and if it wanted line I gave it, while in contrast Peter was bullying his across the surface, leaning hard onto his rod. Both techniques were successful.

As I removed the bloodworm from this near 4lb rainbow, Peter came down for a look. “Nearly as big as mine” he said and went back to his rod. Another cast, a two minute wait and the indicator disappeared again, as if by magic. A lift and a miss. Another cast down and across and it went again with a swirl. Missed again! An instinctive return cast saw the nymph land in the swirl and it continued down, taken on the drop. A lift and all hell let loose, as another big rainbow made like an outboard motor across the surface. Convinced that this would soon be a lost fish, I hung on as it screamed line from the reel, fighting the now blowing gale, as much as the rainbow. These Meon trout were in peak condition and commanded respect, this one leaping clear a few times before coming to the net.

Not much more than half an hour had passed since making my first cast and I’d banked my two fish limit. Peter was still on one, having dropped a rainbow that was boiling on the surface, but was still getting takes. The stunned angler between us was busily tying on a blood worm nymph and I offered him some indicator yarn and my fish filled spot; carrying my trout back to the clubhouse to be bagged and weighed, 3lb 12oz and 3lb 14oz respectively. With my return filled and warmed by strong sweet tea, I ventured out again, this being my first visit, I’d decided to check out the catch and release section below the main lake. I stood and watched our new friend miss several takes, then continued up to Peter, who now had an even bigger rainbow on the bank estimating it’s weight at 5lb, all the others fishless. Peter smokes most of his trout and decided to fish on for four fish, but with wind now lashing the surface in all directions, it seemed unlikely he could get the presentation needed. 

The first section of catch and release water opens out to a pool and at the dam end I saw a nose appear among a raft of leaves blown into a small bay. A fish was working this area and I cast hard to the leaves, waiting for movement from the indicator. Five minutes later the indicator was snatched under and I missed it, lifting into thin air. Another fifteen minutes of waiting and watching, huddled beneath my fur lined cap against the wind blasts and it went again, this time skating a foot towards the leaf strewn bay. Unmissable, but I did.

Giving up on the pool, I continued downstream, to sample the more natural river-like section , which I was informed had been stocked with 1500 brown trout, but the bloodworm failed to get a response and by now I was past caring about more fish, just getting the nymph to land anywhere I intended was becoming the overiding concern. On a spring afternoon this strip of water would be a delight, but early December in the midst of a howling gale, it was an endurance test. I made my way back up to the main lake and was relieved to see Peter playing his fourth fish. After a blank spell, he had raised the indicator to fish the bloodworm 3 ft below the surface and caught two in quick sucession, a trick not missed by the others, who were soon taking fish.

Peter’s fish varied between 3lb 8oz and 5lb 4oz and with my two added to the mixed, the following day was destined to be a filleting and smoking production line.