In the tightly-regulated places where we fish, the specialist experience and skills we have built up over many years, combined with the latest strategies and techniques, keep us at the leading edge of fisheries and riparian habitat management. On waters we own and those we lease our aim is always to protect and improve chalk stream ecology, whilst working closely with our waterlords to increase the value of their fishing assets. Chalk stream conservation is at the heart of what we do.
Wild trout and grayling fisheries depend on the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the habitat, which include water of a high quality and sufficient quantity, cover from predators and a good supply of invertebrate life for food. For wild trout particularly, the need for suitable habitat, for all of their life stages, often needs to extend throughout large areas of the catchment.
With increased pressure on water resources, tighter regulation and the wider public demand for protecting all species – whilst also responding positively to climate change – managing chalk streams can be extremely demanding.
To meet these challenges, we employ a full-time professional team consisting of a Director of Fisheries, a Head Keeper and two Keepers as well as several local contractors, who manage the waters fished by members.
Following a wider strategy for a landscape-scale approach to the protection, management and restoration of our rivers, the Society has become an integral part of a large group of stakeholders, which requires collaboration and partnership working with the local community, farmers, landowners, local authorities, water companies, conservation bodies and rivers trusts, as well as the Environment Agency and Natural England.
For example, at the Winnall Moors Wildlife Reserve, where we fish the River Itchen and its carriers at the historic site of Abbotts Barton, we work closely with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust through a dedicated Fisheries Management Group to provide a high-quality fishing experience in a sustainable natural environment. By putting nature back into the heart of the fishing experience, we are actively helping contribute to a living landscape that’s valued by everyone.
Whilst the evidence we gather through our own electric fishing surveys, invertebrate sampling and angler catch records suggests our wild trout and grayling populations and fly life are generally doing well we take nothing for granted – our monitoring and habitat improvement work continues to evolve to build future resilience.
We have been monitoring trout and grayling populations since 1996 at multiple long-term sites on the River Wylye as part of the Wylye Grayling and Trout Study, and long-term patterns suggest a recent decline in the Wylye grayling population, but an increase in the brown trout population. Working alongside our partners at Salmon & Trout Conservation and the Wiltshire Fishery Association, we continue to monitor fly life as part of the SMARTRivers programme, collecting high-resolution, scientifically robust data about water quality in our rivers.
We are always happy to talk to people with questions about chalk stream fisheries management – to contact our Fisheries Management Team, please click or tap here