United Kingdom - the English Chalk Streams - Fly Fishing for Trout Where the Sport Began

Fly Fish Where it All Started

We have a passion for trout fishing, and we highly recommend that our clients consider the south of England. With over four decades of experience on the English chalkstreams, we have unmatched destination knowledge in the US market. We invite you to experience a customized itinerary on the river Test, river Itchen, and/or river Kennet. Our Team in England will look after you on these incredible spring creeks.

I spent the summer of 1985 guiding on the Test and the Itchen. Frontiers had a wonderful itinerary working closely with Orvis. I looked after our US clients and worked for Orvis when I was not on the water. The lore, tradition, and history of these fisheries go back to virtually the beginning of the sport.

It’s difficult to establish an exact date when recreational fishing and fly fishing were first practiced, but England certainly was one of the very first countries where anglers trout fished with a fly. It was not until the end of the 15th century that the upper classes of England practiced fly fishing as a sport. British fly fishing began to develop rapidly in the 19th century with the advent of fly fishing clubs, and many authors devoted entire books to the topic of fly fishing.

That season, I learned a tremendous amount about dry fly fishing techniques, the need for great habitat, and the importance of client hospitality. Similarly to some of our limestone fisheries here in Pennsylvania, the chalk streams of England are phenomenal resources with abundant hatches and very healthy trout.

There is nothing quite like a spring or summer's day on the chalk streams in southern England. The noise of the birds mixed with the rustling of the reeds and the flow of the water as it glides by is mesmerizing. These are the unmistakable sounds of summer on the chalk streams—perhaps punctuated by the splash of a rising trout or the pop of a champagne cork before lunch. The sound of human presence will either be the gentle swish of a fly rod or laughter around a fishing hut. These are some of the prettiest, quintessentially English countryside scenes you will ever see, but you will never know such places exist unless you find yourself on a chalk stream with Frontiers.

The first part of the season (May and June) is the most popular and sought-after and is usually upstream dry fly fishing only—the majority to sighted, rising fish. The latter part of the season tends to enjoy rises later in the day and can be more technical; therefore, upstream nymphing can also be productive. There is no fly fishing experience more pure than casting a dry fly to a rising fish on a clear English stream.

The fishing is sold by the day by the 'beat', which is a stretch of river owned and managed by an estate. The estate may own a much longer piece of water that has been split up into several beats which work for two rods per beat, for example. This system allows a visiting fly fisher to enjoy multiple different experiences over the number of days they are fishing.

Every beat varies in shape, width, and fly hatches at different times of day depending on upper vs. lower-river, etc. Our Frontiers UK staff was brought up on the chalk streams and have guided and fished on them most of their lives. With time to plan, our crew is more than capable of organizing a fabulous mixed-beat experience for Frontiers clients that includes fishing, guides, transport, equipment, meals on and off the river, and accommodation.

The UK Fishing Team:

Toby Burrell

Although Toby spent most of his youthful years in the north of England, he spent many summers with his Grandparents in Stockbridge, Hampshire (known by many as the chalk stream capital of the world) right on the River Test. While on summer breaks, he spent many evenings chasing trout. In more recent years, he has guided on numerous beats across various rivers including the Test, Itchen, Kennet, Nadder and many more.

Richard Scrope

Richard spent the first 21 years of his life living on the Kennet, more specifically the Avington beat, where he caught his first chalk stream trout at age six. This kicked off his love affair with sight casting to rising fish. Having such an amazing fishery on his doorstep meant that many an evening was spent matching the hatch in the pursuit of rising trout. Since then he has fished various other chalk streams and helps out guiding our clients as needed.

Tarquin Millington-Drake

Tarquin started fishing the chalk streams in his early 20s. He guided Frontiers clients for countless days throughout the 1990s until his schedule meant he had to allow others to take over the guiding! In recent years, he has been back on the water with select guests, and he hosts the Frontiers Invitational days on the Itchen in May.

Easily accessible from London, you can easily add a few days of fishing to a business trip or a vacation. For the non-fishers, there is lot to see and experience in this region of England. Whether you want to stay at the Four Seasons Hampshire or a quaint pub hotel, like The Peat Spade, we can design a wonderful experience based on your specific travel objectives.

Please contact Mike or Kristene Fitzgerald for more information.

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