The River Avon rises in the Vale of Pewsey and flows through Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset for over 40 miles until it reaches the sea at Christchurch.
Although the river seems to be permanently overshadowed by its close neighbours, the Test & Itchen, the Avon and its tributaries form one of the most diverse chalk stream systems in the UK, with over 180 plant species, one of the most diverse fish populations, and a wide range of aquatic invertebrates. The importance of the River Avon and its tributaries has been recognised for several internationally rare or threatened species, such as sea and brook lamprey, bullhead, Atlantic salmon and Desmoulins' whorl snail.
The cream of the trout fishing on the Avon is to be found upstream of Salisbury. The lower reaches are famous for salmon fishing and include the renowed Royalty Bridge pool.
River Avon at Little Durnford where the fishing rights are held by Salisbury and District Angling Club
The River Nadder is the most substantial of the Avon tributaries and is much sought after by fly fishermen because of its clear waters and abundance of brown trout. Rising at Donhead St Mary, from a number of springs and small streams, the river winds its way east-northeast, heading towards the medieval cathedral city of Salisbury.
During the course of its 20+ mile journey the Nadder meanders and widens gradually until the river joins the River Wylye, another tributary of the Avon. From the confluence with the Wylye the river passes through the unspoilt water meadows on the outskirts of the city, and finally into the River Avon. It flows through some of the prettiest countryside in southern England, twisting and turning amongst the peaceful Wiltshire sheep meadows.
River Ebble at Coombe Bisset
The River Ebble is one the five rivers of Salisbury. It rises at Alvediston, 12 miles to the west of the city, and joins the River Avon at Bodenham.
The River Chalke is the most significant tributary of the Ebble rising in Bowerchalke and flowing through the Chalke Valley to join the Ebble at Mount Sorrel in Broad Chalke, after running through extensive watercress and trout farms.
Chalk streams in Wiltshire
The uppermost reach of the River Wylye, just south of Maiden Bradley, is sometimes referred to as 'The Deverill Brook' and after flowing through the Deverill Valley, the river forms the southern perimiter of the town of Warminster. The river then heads east-south-east, forming part of the southern edge of Salisbury Plain. It is fed by winterbourne streams so water flow can vary from time to time, especially in prolonged dry spells.
The river forms part of the River Avon catchment and joins the Avon's other major tributary, the River Nadder at Wilton. Technically the Wylye is a tributary of the Nadder but this is generally ignored.
The River Wylye is a very picturesque chalk stream river flowing for over 21 miles and is held in as high a regard as the Test and the Itchen for the standard of its fishing. The River Wylye has particulary prolific fly hatches and also has an abundance of spawning of wild brown trout.
However, there's a lot more than just trout and grayling in the Wylye - numerous eels (there was once a commercial eel trap near Manor Farm), perch and chub can be found in the in the slower flowing parts. Salmon also use the river as a breeding ground.
The 15 mile long Bourne is another fine chalk stream that has suffered greatly from over abstraction. Once a good fishery, the Bourne is now languishing.
The best of the fishing is to be had below Porton where there is a very pretty private fishery at East Gomeldon. Below this the Salibury Club have a short stretch of fishing.
There is a head of trout and grayling and some salmon do still run the river to spawn but in much reduced numbers.