Dever Springs is situated beside the River Dever (a tributary of the legendary River Test), a big-fish water where many 20 lbs.-plus Rainbows and Browns are taken each season.
The fishery comprises two spring fed lakes totalling six acres and a half a mile stretch of the River Dever. The lakes are well established, abounding with aquatic fly life, which includes an abundant Mayfly hatch in each season. These crystal clear waters enabled discerning anglers to stalk exceptional fish.
A late afternoon at Dever Springs
I travelled to Dever, after Meon, well after a visit to the excellent Flowerpots Brewery, in Cheriton. I was greeted by a number of fast, expensive cars in the car park and a number of anglers sporting similar category tackle.
Oh, well, in for a penny in for £55! a Three fish ticket was pushed into my hand, tips and pleasantries exchanged. Arriving at 2.30pm, the lake closing at 6 – I didn’t have much time to get to grips and get fish.
The water wasn’t as clear as I’d come to expect, a tint of tea one might suggest.
I started off at the bottom end of the larger Willow Lake, perhaps where there is an outlet, where the wind was blowing strongly into my face. I started off with an intermediate line with a long 6lb leader in to the waves and a favourite damsel. I knew fish would be here, it was too good looking.
The “anglers” had receded, huffing and puffing that it was tough going because of the water quality. I persisted, some 30 mins in, WHACK… the mother of all hits… something akin to a river fish in California decided to grab ahold of my damsel.
Banging, screaming fight on the 8# rod, the backing hit the middle of the rod… which was a shock, when you reach to grab a “fly line” and you feel dacron! Pulling back, takes line, pull more back, take more line…. I hoped I hadn’t hooked a carp.
Minutes passed. Finally a big ‘bow surfaced. My shoulder and arm starting to ache with this too-ing and fro-ing battle. Pushing the net out to greet it, just annoyed it. Off it screamed again, having to let line go and get a nice line burn for the pleasure. What the hell was I attached too, or what do they feed these fish on?!
Some 10 mins passed, and finally the head of this muscular ‘bow hit the spreader block of the net. You know when you get a biggun, when the tail folds in, and the head is still at the top of the net. a drag-lift on to the bank, was not easy – I have caught many a big carp, but this was pure muscle. I went to retrieve the hook, lodged in it’s snout, popped out easily – weird I thought… barbless it was… amazing.
Probably the most perfect looking big rainbow I have ever seen, I kick myself for not taking a picture.
I actually had to pause, and cracked a can of pop, such was my shoulder and arm aching.
After such a long fight I had assumed that the swim was dead, so I went for a stroll to the left of where I was fishing… nothing…
By this time it wa 4.30, time was a ticking. I didn’t want to waste my permit, I also knew I had a long drive ahead of me.
The lack of clarity hindered the chances of stalking – I moved down the fishery to fish the smaller Spring Lake where I hoped to see some very big fish swimming close in to the bank. I had to change to a floating line and tried to stalk one or two of the larger fish. I saw a couple of movements, more akin to a carp = These I estimated at being nearer to twenty pounds than ten pounds. Perhaps it was the heavy rain from the previous day. I was not the only angler to fail with these fish as despite the efforts of many anglers including Dever regulars none of these bigger fish were caught. The regulars thought that this was most unusual as they had taken many of these passing fish in the past with stalking tactics.
I moved further back to the Willow Lake when I noticed a fish moving along the river bank corner – I made a surprisingly good cast in the gusty conditions to cover the fish.
It was fast approaching 6pm, and I hate being the last out the gate – I had also realised I had dropped my priest. Light fast fading, I walked back from the top of the river bank to the corner. I had retackled my clear intermediate rod, earlier in the day – tying on on of my “when all else fails” – which is in fact nothing like a “when all else fails”… small silver nymph pattern, that I made for fishing the Stowting Trout Lake, where there is a lure ban, and you need something to go deep and be subtly interesting.
I cast to a rolling fish – It took immediately and I was playing my second fish. 5.59pm!
Bang, bang. This wasn’t as big, nor the athlete that was the brethren in the net. It came quickly to the net.
I struggled with the bulk of fish in my net to the club house, bagged the fish up 1 x 8lb 4oz and the other 6lb 4oz. For my own personal confidence, I stopped to see what else had been caught – some 5 anglers on the lakes, that 8lb’er was the largest out. Not bad work… better when that 5lb’er from Meon earlier in the day was the biggest out for a couple of weeks.
The day had been at great success. I had a bin bag full of good sized trout – destined for the parents freezer.
Dever Springs is a top class trout fishery that many top big trout anglers refer to as the “Jewel in the Crown”. Looking at the stock ponds there are certainly plenty of big fish present. The fishery fishes well all year round and is stocked with rainbows to over twenty pounds at all times of the year. Many believe that the Winter fishing is better than the Summer.
Years ago when I was fishing more for trout I wished I could go to Dever in the Winter and saw the pictures in the press. One ambition I still have is to catch a really big fish from Dever a Dever Double. It is possible but I have now been once, when I am passing next, I shall have another go, perhaps.