Opportunities for the winter coarse angler used to be few and far between up here in the North East, but fortunately there are now options aplenty for cold weather anglers keen to wet a line. This article is a brief guide to places to go coarse fishing in the area in winter, along with a few tips included in some of the examples.
As is the way with such a broad and diverse group as the coarse fish, not all species will respond in the typically cold weather of a North East winter. For example, even if the lake or pond they inhabit doesn’t completely freeze over, you can pretty much rule out carp and tench from late-September onwards. The same thing goes for the barbel in those rivers in the area that do contain them, however there are plenty of coarse species that do still respond to anglers’ baits once the warm weather has ended.
In lakes and large ponds, pike will usually become the main quarry of the specimen hunter (see here for information on how to fish for them), and while big pike are also found in running water if you know where to look, chub are generally the mainstay of the river angler looking to tangle with larger species. Dace, meanwhile, will provide winter sport on rivers to anglers prefering lighter tackle (typically stick float tactics), while roach and perch are found in both still and running water – and though both will ordinarily be caught at weights similar to the dace, a few specimens will occasionally run to a pound or even two!
It goes without saying that tactics for all these different species vary – as do baits – and with regard to river fishing it is worth bearing in mind that not all rivers in the area are coarse fisheries. Basically, in the Northumbria area, only the Tyne, Wear and Tees contain coarse species, while in North Yorkshire, it’s the Swale, Ure and the relatively small Tees tributary, the Leven.
The best way of finding a stretch of river, a lake, or a pond in this region that is open to coarse fishing is to look at the website of those local angling clubs that cater for coarse anglers – a list of which (with direct links) can be found at the foot of this article. There’s actually a lot of water that can be fished at this time of year for the price of a day ticket, although some of the clubs do only offer angling to full members.
There are also a few ‘free fishing’ venues on the River Wear and Tees and these include:
Feren’s Park (also called the Sands on its upper part) stretches for about half a mile on the right bank of the Wear, looking downstream, from a couple of hundred yards downstream of Framwellgate Dam in Durham. Access is by turning down the hill at the traffic lights on Claypath and parking by the roadside where it comes alongside the river (there is a charge for parking). The deeper water down at the bottom end of the beat (where the road is right on the bank top) is best for chub fishing in winter, with feeder fished breadflake or maggot the most likely way to get a bite. Dace will respond to stick float and maggot when they’re in the mood, and a legered worm, maggot (or minnow if you can catch one) placed down by one of the overhanging bushes that are found in a lot of spots all the way down the Sands & Ferens Park may well tempt a perch.
The Bath’s stretch of the Wear in Durham is less than quarter of a mile from Ferens Park (as the crow flies) but if you followed the river upstream you’d have to walk more than a mile, owning to the city’s famous meander. This stretch is slow and fishes best in winter, with roach and dace often responding to a stick float or light feeder fished maggot. This stretch runs along the left bank from the Durham Amateur Rowing Club, alongside the park, past the bandstand and bath’s bridge to Elvet Bridge. Parking is available in Old Elvet, which is reached by turning off the A690 at the roundabout right in front of the Prince Bishops Shopping Centre, and turning first left at the lights just over the New Elvet Bridge.
The River Tees at Yarm has an excellent reputation as a mixed coarse fishery, and given the languid pace of the river here – owing to the presence of the Tees Barrage about four miles downstream – it is favoured by pike anglers. Fishing is from the Yorkshire (south, or right bank) from a point about a mile upstream of the main road bridge at Yarm to 400 yards downstream of it. Anglers must have a valid Environment Agency Rod Licence to fish this and all other free fishing venues.
Websites for North East & North Yorkshire Angling Clubs that offer Coarse Fishing: