‘Free Fishing’ stretches:
There are only a few stretches of ‘free fishing’ available in the North East and all are parts of rivers – details below.
‘Free Fishing’ means you can fish from a particular section of bank (or banks) without first having to get permission / a permit / a day ticket, provided you are in possession of a valid Environment Agency Rod Licence. Local Byelaws concerning seasons and rules that may apply at certain times of the year should always be consulted before fishing. Assume that the above does NOT apply on all other stretches of river in the region or on any stillwaters!*Note: The descriptions, “right bank” or “left bank” denote that particular bank when looking downstream.
Free Fishing on the River Wansbeck at Morpeth:This section basically incorporates all accessible banks on the Wansbeck in the vicinity of Morpeth Town Centre. It includes the whole of Carlisle Park, High Stanners and the accessible sections of bank up and downstream of Telford Bridge (the main road to Newcastle).
Beginning at Lady’s Walk, 100 yards upstream of the Skinnery footbridge, the right bank can be fished continuously downstream as far as the crest of the weir in Carlisle Park. The bank facing this is almost all private down as far as the Stepping Stones at High Stanners, except for a short section upstream of the stones that’s accessible from the public footpath. The left bank downstream of the stepping stones can be fished, but access is tricky, as can the continuation of that bank below Oldgate Bridge down as far as the pleasure boat landing about 200 yards upstream of the weir (access less tricky). The park side of this section (right bank – ‘The Prom’) is open to fishing too, but the number of tourists in the area during high summer may make it impractical!
Adjacent to Chantry Museum, both banks between the footbridge and the main Telford Bridge can be fished, as can the right bank below the road bridge as far as the flood wall.
At Low Stanners, the left bank (only) is fishable from a point approximately 100 yards upstream of the metal footbridge until the sharp bend in the river several hundred yards downstream. This is the downstream limit of free water on the Wansbeck.
Species: Brown Trout, Eels.
Season: March 22nd to September 30th inclusive.
Methods: Any, but no bait other than fly or worm before June 1st.
*See Spring Fishing Part One in “Where to Fish” for an in-depth article on the best way to fish this stretch.
Free Fishing on the River Wear at Durham (1):
The downstream section of free fishing on the river Wear at Durham is one of the most famous (and popular) sections of river fishing in the region. It is known locally as ‘Feren’s Park’ and consists of approximately 350 metres of the right bank, about quarter of a mile below below Framwellgate Dam.
*Please Note that owing to historical problems concerning the illegal taking of migratory fish in the area below Framwellgate Dam, fishing is now completely banned for 500 metres immediately below the obstruction.
Access is by going down Claypath to the lights and turning right down the hill. The road gradually comes alongside the river and parking is available all the way along (charges apply in daytime). The fishable stretch begins downstream of the point at which the road and river come alongside one another and the lower boundary is adjacent to the Kepier Farm gate where the river begins to swing round to the left.
The reputation of the Feren’s Park stretch for barbel fishing means it can get quite busy in the summer months!
Species: Barbel, Chub, Perch, Bream (all to specimen sizes), Brown Trout, Sea Trout, Pike, Dace, Eels, Tench (honest – I caught one here once!)
Seasons: Coarse species – June 16th to March 14th inclusive. Trout – March 22nd to September 30th.
Methods: Any, but no coarse fishing tactics or baits, other than worm, are permitted between March 15th & June 15th inclusive.
Free Fishing on the River Wear at Durham (2):
Generally known as ‘The Baths’ stretch, this section of free fishing on the Wear runs downstream along the left bank from Durham Amateur Rowing Club, alongside the park, past the bandstand and Baths Bridge, to Elvet Bridge. It is generally regarded as coarse fishing territory, being of slower pace, with dace and roach the main species.
Access: parking is available in Old Elvet.
Seasons & Methods: as for The Sands / Ferens Park.
Free Fishing on the River Tees (1):
Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, 480m from south bank downstream from stone bridge to Thorngate footbridge.
Species – Mixed Coarse and Brown Trout
The taking of Salmon prohibited!
Directions – Off A67 at Barnard Castle
References OS LR: T92, grid NZ 0516
Free Fishing on the River Tees (2):
Gainford, Co.Durham. Fishing from church property only.
Species – Mixed Coarse, Salmon and Brown Trout
Directions – Off A67 at Gainford
References – OS LR: T92, grid NZ 168167
Controlled by Church Commissioners
No fishing from Old Vicarage property!
Free Fishing on the River Tees (3):
Hurworth Place (Nr Darlington), North Yorkshire. Fishing from between Skerne mouth and Croft Bridge
Species – Mixed Coarse, Salmon and Brown Trout
Directions – Off A167 at Croft
References – OS LR: T93, grid NZ 289103
Free Fishing on the River Tees (4):
Yarm, North Yorkshire / Durham (Border). Fishing from Yorkshire bank side approximately 1.6km upstream from the Yarm road bridge to 400m downstream of road bridge
Species – Mixed coarse.
Directions – On A67 in Yarm
References – OS LR: T93, grid NZ 415123
Information about free fishing on the river Tees came from: http://www.dofreefishing.com/
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