Time to get those thermals out – the temperature is plummeting and only the hardiest of anglers are now looking to wet a line! Already, the season for brown trout fishing on rivers has closed and that for salmon and sea trout will soon follow. And although you can still ‘officially’ fish for coarse species on both running water and still, you can effectively cross the barbel, tench and, to all intents and purposes, the carp off that list as well.
So what’s left for the cold weather fisherman up here in the North East? Well quite a lot in actual fact, whether your preference is for game fishing or coarse angling – and for the sea fisherman, this is arguably the best time of the year. This year, this article is going to be a rolling feature, and it will feature links to web articles, websites and even online reports of interest to any and all winter anglers, whatever their particular predilection.
To start with, we’ll look at game angling and the fly fisherman has two choices – he or she can go with running water and fish for the grayling, or opt for one of the many commercial stillwater trout fisheries that can be found around the region. The grayling is to be found in the rivers Till, Blyth, Derwent, Wear and Tees, as well as in the Swale and the Ure down in North Yorkshire. Fishing on the larger rivers can usually be done by either fly fishing or with ‘coarse angling’ tactics, the most effective of which is long trotting; however on the Derwent, Blyth and Till, fly only is the usual stipulation.
Aside of sea angling, winter trout fishing is easily the biggest cold weather branch of the sport in the North East – you only need to look in the angling columns of any of the local newspapers to show how many anglers are out there catching! And if it’s a screaming reel you’re after, this is certainly the thing for you. You’ll need to be able to fly fish, though, as the Northumbrian Water reservoirs will normally have closed by the end of November, leaving only the smaller commercial fisheries, few of which permit bait fishing. There are such commercial trout fisheries dotted throughout the region, many of which remain open for part or all of the autumn and winter. Contact details for most – which in many cases includes web links that tell you how long their season lasts – can be found by looking round on these pages:
The end of the summer traditionally sees the start of the Cod Fishing Season along the North East Coast. This kind of fishing is really only for the hardiest of souls and for the beginner, especially at night, it is something that should only be considered in the company of an experienced angler. There are numerous marks found along the Northumberland and Durham coast – a good many of which are listed here. Specialist websites and message boards for both the North East and the East Coast as a whole are always worth a look, the pick of which are:
Coarse Angling is possible on all rivers and stillwaters that contain these species, the season remaining open right through until mid-March. Rivers such as the Tyne, Wear Tees, Ure and Swale will all fish for chub, as well as roach, dace and perch, throughout the winter months. Specialist tactics include trotting and light feeder fishing for the smaller species and the same tactics with tackle strength stepped up a notch will work for chub. Grayling, as described above, will often be found on several of these rivers, in amongst the coarse fish. The new book The Lambton Worm: The Definitive Guide to Angling in North East England (link at the bottom of the page) has two detailed chapters outlining autumn and winter fishing tactics for both grayling and chub fishing in this region.
Stillwaters can also give frenetic sport, with the right conditions often marked by an upturn in the normal winter temperature. There are a number of commercial fisheries that fit the bill – look in the same stillwater sections of North East Fishing Marks & Venues linked above to find the place nearest to you. Some stillwaters (although not usually the commercial ones!) are excellent pike fishing venues as well. Venues such as Killingworth Lake on North Tyneside (Tyne Anglers Alliance), Bolam Lake in Northumberland and QE2 Lake near Ashington (Wansbeck & Cramlington A.C.) are among those with good local reputations. The best resource by far for any angler interested in pike fishing is the website of the Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain (North East Section)
There is much more detailed information on all aspects of North East Angling in the book, The Lambton Worm: The Definitive Guide to Angling in North East England by Pete McParlin, published by Amberley, and available at most branches of W.H.Smiths and Waterstones in the region – look under Sports (Angling) or Local Interest.
The sport of angling has a rich tradition in the North East of England. From the fabled salmon fishing of the Tweed and the Tyne, to the fine spate river and reservoir trout angling found throughout the area’s valleys and hills, taking in the beaches, rocks and piers of the Northumbrian coastline, and not forgetting North Yorkshire and some of the finest coarse angling the UK has to offer – this region is unsurpassed.
The Lambton Worm is both angling guide and handbook, while at the same time giving an insight into the very essence of the sport in this most northerly corner of England. Discover not only the best places to try for almost every kind of fish found in the area, but delve deep into the history and folklore of each angling discipline in turn. Find out how salmon returned to the Tyne after almost half a century away, how stillwater trout fishing became so popular and how some fish appeared in rivers and lakes in quite mysterious circumstances! If that’s not enough, there is also a look at the fishing from a seasonal perspective – for whatever the weather, the sport up here is only ever on your doorstep.
Also avaialable at Amazon.co.uk