My book Life of a Chalkstream
is now out in paperback.
Fishing Breaks is the company I founded over twenty years ago because I had a passion for all things fly fishing, but in particular the chalkstreams of England.
Bought up in Hampshire I was lucky enough to have great fly fishing on my doorstep, but as I grew up, got a job and moved away I realised what a closed world the chalkstreams were unless you were in the ‘know’. So with little more that a germ of an idea, a telephone and the book of my fishing contacts, I set out to change that.
Back then taking fishing for the day, as people liked to term it, was a haphazard affair which involved tracking down obscure adverts in magazines or following up contacts gleaned in the local pub. If you needed a gillie you would soon discover that it was job description for someone filling the time between waking up and the pubs opening. And heaven forbid that anyone might have a professional casting qualification.
So I set out to make the best beats accessible and bring a new level of professionalism to the whole business, but never losing sight of the fact that the chalkstreams are some of the most precious and unique trout fishing rivers in the world. By building relationships with the river owners I gained their trust to sell day rods on their behalf, the income helping to make the rivers pay their way. For anglers I knew that buying a day of fishing should be pleasure rather than a chore, with the prospect of that day something to look forward to. I introduced the term Fishing Guide to the chalkstream lexicon and demanded the highest standards of myself when I was a full time Guide and now from the team that make up Fishing Breaks.
Fishing Breaks has comes a long way in a quarter of century, but it is still a very personal business. I have fished every yard of every river we have. I talk daily to our river owners and keepers from our office here at Nether Wallop Mill, in the heart of the Test valley, where the river truly runs beneath the building and overlooks the trout lake which is home to our fly fishing school.
But, however good the rivers might be it takes more than just great fishing to make a great company and I am indebted to a wonderful team who all make it happen both here in the office and out on the river.
Raised in Yorkshire, Diane had never knowingly clapped eyes on a chalkstream until she moved south with her husband and young family, living close to the River Itchen. Even then fly fishing remained something of a mystery until she got to know Fishing Breaks through the company that did, and still does, provide all our catering for river parties.
Swapping food for fish Diane has become the lynchpin of the firm; she will nearly always be your first point of contact be it by phone or email. Questions, bookings, special requests, information ..... well, just about everything that happens at Fishing Breaks will pass across her desk in a season.
In the 10 years since Diane arrived she has become an accomplished fly fisher, plenty capable of out-fishing us Guides when the mood takes her. When the hatch is on don’t expect her to answer the phone a minute after 5pm as she’ll be out on the river ‘checking out’ as she calls it, a spare Fishing Breaks beat or on one of the Salisbury & District Fly Fishing Association waters of which she is a member.
Jonny joined us fresh from Sparsholt College in Hampshire with a newly minted fisheries management degree. As I am sure he would tell you, classroom learning and river keeping are very different but in the past seven years he has become a skilled river keeper.
Looking after beats as diverse as Nine Mile Water (Wallop Brook), Bullington Manor (River Test), Dunbridge (River Dun) and Donnington Grove (River Lambourn) is no mean feat. It requires long hours in the summer and working in some appalling conditions in the winter – weed cutting, bank repairs, tree felling, stocking and mowing are just some of the tasks that fall to him in a typical week.
A dedicated coarse fisherman, Jonny is pretty adapt at turning his hand to fly fishing as the photo shows, so if you bump into him on the river he is sure to have some useful advice.
Click here to read more about the team of Fishing Guides.
I hope you enjoying browsing the web site and have time to come fishing with us sometime soon.