Fly Friendly Coarse Fisheries
There are countless waters in the UK that offer rich pickings and often untapped sport for the coarse fly angler. While we couldn’t hope to cover them all here, our aim is build a reference source for great places to cast a line in every region.
It’s certainly fair to say that some fisheries are more amenable than others- but there are many, many waters out there where fly fishing is not only possible, but could be highly productive. This is where you can help! Whether you’re a keen angler or a fishery owner, contributions are most welcome and can be emailed to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
A few ground rules cover all waters:
-If in doubt, do politely ask permission. Most fisheries are welcoming if you are courteous.
-On busy or free stretches of water, do be aware of other water users and watch your back cast.
-Always follow fishery rules. A generous, long handled landing net and unhooking mat are essential on many waters, especially where carp and pike are the target.
-Always give other anglers space and respect and you’ll find most are friendly- and often curious about the art of fly fishing!
Exeter and District Angling Association
A range of waters in Devon can be fished on both a day and season ticket basis. See www.exeteranglingassociation.co.uk for further details on rules and tickets.
Exeter Ship Canal is perhaps the most notable water. Pike and perch fishing can be good (and perch to over three pounds have been tamed on the fly here!). It’s a deep, formidable water, so while floating lines are ideal in milder times, an intermediate is also a worth packing. In the summer you’ll also catch rudd, roach and the odd dace in balmy conditions (try small emergers).
The River Exe is another worthwhile place to try. The river right through the town has some nice dace and chub (try near Mill on Exe), as well as pike and odd perch. Out of town, the river becomes tidal and much more muddy and imposing. Again, you can expect dace, along with small chub, the odd large carp and plenty of mullet!
The River Culm, also on the same ticket, has stocks of both chub to 3lbs plus and pike to low double figures- you might have to rove to find the best spots, but this is a very pretty river.
The River Exe Mill Leat (Free Fishing): Accessed at Mill Lane near the Tally Ho Inn (EX2 6LG), this is a cracking little stream anyone with an EA license can try. Expect fairly bushy, very shallow water with hordes of dace and small chub, plus occasional perch. Casting can be tight, so pack a short rod (7-8ft 2-4 weight is ideal) and try small dry flies or nymphs fished New Zealand style.
Newcourt Barton Ponds (near Cullompton). Roach, rudd and tench but you’re most likely to get carp. Fly anglers welcome as long as you’re taking care of the fish and use an unhooking mat and barbless hooks. Plenty of fish, with the strong possibility of a double. www.newcourtbarton-devon.co.uk
The Grand Western Canal is controlled by Tiverton and District AA (no site, but permits easily obtained just of the M5 at Cullompton Carp and Coarse (EX15 1BW 01884 839273), or in Exe Valley Angling in Tiverton itself.
There are over ten miles of pretty, often aquarium clear water here to explore, but the best bits are out of town. The cream of the fishing is for spring and summer rudd and roach. Banks can be bushy, so try a long rod if you have one, such as a 10 ft 3 or 4 weight, and pack a long handled net. Plenty of pound plus fish can be had on smallish wet flies such as traditional spiders or tiny Hares Ears, or try a small, dark dry fly in hot weather.
Winter sport for pike is also great fun: don’t expect monsters, but there are plenty of jacks to offer cold water thrills. An eight weight and smaller pike flies are terrific fun.
The canal is so clear and rich in natural food that other, more unusual catches are also possible- and both tench and bream have been caught here on the fly!
South View Farm lies just outside Exeter and is best known for stocks of quality carp which average 4-5lbs but also push well into double figures. Casting space varies, but on a quiet day there’s tons of room and many fish are to be found close to the bank. The easiest way to proceed is with “bait” style deer hair mixers and some loose feed- but at quieter times the fish will also accept a more traditional dry or nymph (do remove any barbs!). Also some roach and rudd, best sought in hot weather when you’ll see shoals basking just at the surface- try a light set up to avoid spooking. More details at: www.southviewfishery.co.uk
Stafford Moor Fishery is a good option for anyone visiting north Devon, with several well-stocked coarse fishing lakes on a day ticket basis. The carp are the most viable option on the fly (and in fact this is where the carp section on the “Flyfishing For Coarse Fish” DVD was filmed). Try a deer hair mixer on the smaller lakes- or a large dry such as a beetle or hopper around tree cover. www.staffordmoor.co.uk
West Pitt Farm, not far from J27 on the M5 has more carp than a Polish fishmonger and would be an ideal place to take a newcomer to fly fishing. You simply can’t go wrong with deer hair mixers, or indeed bread type copies. Natural it isn’t, but you could easily pick off a dozen carp in an afternoon. www.westpittfarm.co.uk
The Taunton to Bridgwater Canal is another belter of a water for the fly angler, with plenty to explore. For the roving angler there are a big range of species. Roach and silver bream will take a nymph (try small gold bead wets), while the rudd fishing can be exceptional, with fish touching 2 lbs a possibility if you’re prepared to walk!
Pike are also a feature and winter sport is great on an eight or nine weight for many jacks but also the occasional double. Other possibles include some cracking chub to four pounds that love a wet fly, or even the occasional tench!
Try at Creech St Michael or North Newton on the Taunton AA ticket (tickets can be bought online at www.taunton-angling.co.uk), or near the Boat and Anchor Inn or close to Bridgwater itself on the Bridgwater AA ticket (www.bridgwaterangling.co.uk).
Also on the Bridgwater AA ticket, this pretty lake offers some good mixed fishing. There are some winter pike, but perhaps the best fishing is in the summer where the bushier corners of the fishery have both decent roach and rudd which take small nymphs and dries eagerly.
River Tone (Free Fishing/ Taunton AA)
Through the middle of the town to French Weir, there is some excellent, free chub fishing –to say nothing of the head of trout and grayling. Other oddballs sighted include carp and goldfish! The chub are the real highlight though- and they love a big dry fly in the summer.
Out of town, the fishing is also interesting on the Taunton AA ticket (www.taunton-angling.co.uk). Several stretches worth exploring here for chub to three or four pounds on streamers or dries. The “Fast Stretch” near Creech Castle is especially good, with plenty of casting room and lots of chub, dace, roach and bleak. The New Zealand method works well. Slower water out of town can also be good for pike fishing.
Chew Valley Lake is no secret whatsoever when it comes to pike fishing. There are some crackers here, with the chance of a fish of a lifetime. Don’t expect easy fishing however- tackle up tough (nine weight minimum) and be prepared to search high and low! My most successful flies have been either a large roach copy, or smaller, black pike flies such as the “Black Beast”. Perch are also worth a shout here with smaller lures and run to over four pounds. And if that fails, the place also holds good stocks of nuisance fish known to locals as “rainbow trout”.
Somerset Levels: Both Taunton and Bridgwater clubs have access to some excellent fishing on these beautiful wetlands. Pike fishing is perhaps the biggest highlight on various drains and rivers, but even less exploited is the sport for rudd, roach and some surprisingly big perch. Recommended waters include The Kings Sedgemoor Drain, South Drain, Cripps River (Free Fishing) and West Sedgmoor Drain
LONDON & SOUTH
Arlington Reservoir: Best known for its trout stocks, there are also some decent coarse fish is this lake, notably bream which have been caught in shallow water to buzzers in warm conditions. www.southeastwater.co.uk
The Cotswold Water Park has various gravel pits that offer fishing for various species, with cracking pike and carp, as well as some nice rudd, roach and perch susceptible to a well aimed fly. Time your visit right and you’ll also find lots of room. Spring can be great, when the carp are eating natural food (ie: before the carp anglers arrive en masse) can be worthwhile. For pike, Feb/March time sees plenty of fish close to the bank on many pits.
South Cerney Angling Club (www.scac.org.uk) offers both day and season ticket fishing on some terrific lakes. Carp are the main feature- and although you’ll want to give the bivvy boys a wide berth, the quieter corners are excellent for the roving angler. The carp here will take bait style flies, but have also succumbed to naturals such as daddy longlegs and slow sinking Hares Ears, or even the dreaded Blob. Arm yourself with tough gear- an eight weight at least with leaders no lighter than 8lbs.
Do also keep an eye out for rudd- if you can find the shoals these pretty fish can offer bite-a-cast sport on a light outfit. Small spiders and buzzers work nicely either sight fished or suspended a foot or so beneath an indicator.
Ashton Keynes Angling Club (ashtonkeynesanglingclub.co.uk) is a decent option for pike fly fishing, with day as well as season tickets available. The spectacularly unimaginatively titled “Large Pit” has several areas to cast or carefully wade and some fine pike. Cokes Pit is trickier to cast, but you’ll often find pike close in. There are also several Thamesmead Pits that have pike and large perch, as well as the nearby Upper River Thames which is a pokey affair in places, but well worth a cast for chub, dace and pike in particular.
Watermark Fisheries(www.watermarkfisheries.com) also have some fertile places to cast a fly. Bradleys Lake is a good pike water, with plenty of space to roam. Fish it late in the season to find the fish close in the margins, or just where the water drops away. Wood Pool is a much smaller option next door, but has some nice carp that fall to mixer type flies, as well as some decent rudd to target with small dries or slow sinking wets.
FLE Fishery, Hampshire (www.forlifeexp.com) Has various coarse species, including some cracking carp, plus ide, roach and rudd, and welcomes fly anglers. There are a range of lakes and ticket options.
The Kennet and Avon Canal: Has excellent stocks of coarse species and plenty of space to roam. Bleak and roach can be willing on ultralight tackle (try small nymphs in the upper layers), but perhaps the real highlight is the predator fishing. Pike to double figures possible here, along with some cracking perch and the genuine chance of a fly caught two-pounder. Try Reading AA (www.rdaa.co.uk)
Richworth Linear Fisheries (www.linear-fisheries.co.uk) offer a wide range of lakes, many with day ticket options. They welcome considerate fly anglers and as well as the expected carp (which run from fun sized to bloody huge!) you’ll find plenty of traditional favourites such as roach, rudd and perch to try with lighter tackle.
River Stour: Classic water on the Throop fisheries 1, 2 and 3. Can be popular with bait anglers, but the fly is deadly and underused here! Take waders and prepare to walk to hit the spots the conventional anglers avoid. With a cautious approach, some cracking chub can be targeted here in very shallow water in the summer. Also expect some lovely dace, as well as pike and perch for the winter visitor. Oh, and gudgeon! www.ringwoodfishing.co.uk
River Wandle (Free Fishing): Surprisingly good fishing right in the capital, this restored river represents a real mixture of species, with roach, dace, chub, trout, perch and even the occasional goldfish to target on the fly! One reliable location to park is at Merton Abbey Mills.
Slap bang next to the supermarkets is a good place to find roach and chub and a small Pink Shrimp or GRHE will tempt them.
It’s also well worth taking a looking up the Wandle Piscators (www.wandlepiscators.net), an excellent conservation-minded organisation in the area.
Bax Farm Fishery, Kent is a day ticket venue made up of 4 fishing lakes located in Sittingbourne , Kent on a peaceful country farm estate. The fishery is popular with both carp and coarse anglers and holds a good head of carp to around 30lb (Specimen Lake). Waters also contain roach, rudd and perch, with the stream also holding Barbel and Chub. Further info: 01795 520887 www.baxfarm.co.uk
Bewl Water Country Park ranks highly amongst UK’s top stillwater fly-fisheries and has stocks of coarse fish including good sized rudd and perch. Bookings for boats and permits may be made by telephoning the Bewl Fishing Lodge on 01892 890352. Please note if you want to fish three in a boat you must ensure you book in advance and state this at the time. www.bewlwater.co.uk
Bury Hill Fisheries are nationally renowned venue for fine coarse fishing, in particular predators (zander, pike, perch) but also carp, roach and rudd. The predator fishing must be booked in advance. Further info: www.buryhillfisheries.co.uk
Cromarty Pond, Southampton (Free Fishing) This council owned pond is located Off Cromarty Road north of Lords Hill roundabout to Rounhams, Southampton. The pond has wooden platform swims and a concrete swim for disabled anglers. It holds tench, but the main species of interest to the fly angler will be the rudd. Try a light outfit such as a three or four weight and smallish, dark flies. Tel. 02380 671921or Email: email@example.com
Dean House Farm Fishing Lakes | Newdigate Estate, Surrey: Some cracking mixed coarse stocks over nine lakes. With species including pike, rudd, carp, roach and orfe you could try anything from deer hair mixers to pike flies and small naturals here. Contact: 01306 631573 (Calls taken between 9.00am – 7.00pm) www.newdigate-estates.co.uk
Millers Pond, Southampton (Free Fishing) Millers Pond is within a nature reserve where that holds some great wildlife. The council owned pond is located in Sholing, Southampton, access to the water is off of Spring Road, just prior to the railway bridge. There is a map detailing the fishing area near the entrance. Stocks include carp, perch, roach and rudd Tel. 02380 671921 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Birmingham Anglers Association (www.baa.com) offer a great value ticket and have various stretches of river on the Avon, Lugg, Severn and Trent where you can target predators, chub, roach and other species. The Teme is perhaps the best of the lot- with some excellent chub and even possible barbel if you can hit the river when it’s low and clear.
Don’t forget the canals either- The Birmingham and Fazely Canal has Zander and perch if you fancy a challenge, while several others are worth a crack for roach and other species. Early sessions help avoid boats, while warm weather should be best to tackle silver fish up in the water.
In Shropshire, the BAA’s Nordley Pools, near Bridgnorth, are former trout lakes so there’s plenty of room for casting! They contain most species including carp, chub, roach and rudd. Day tickets also available.
Docklow Pools (www.docklowpools.com) have a fantastic complex of fishing lakes near Hereford, with carp, tench, roach and stacks of other species. The carp in particular should offer great fishing in the warmer months- and fly anglers are welcome provided they respect other visitors and give others ample space. The complex also has the rights to private fishing on the River Wye and River Teme for some superb chub, dace, barbel and pike fishing.
Gloucester Angling Club (www.gloucesteranglingclub.co.uk) have five miles of water on the River Leadon, a pretty tributary of the River Severn. A small but enthusiastic band of anglers catch several species here. Besides the trout that are right at home in these waters, there are also some nice chub including some real net fillers that show up in the summer.
Grand Union Canal: Loads of water to explore (my book “Canal Fishing: A Practical Guide” has stacks of locations in more detail!) , and while some of it can be busy or murky there are still fly fishing possibilities.
Silver fish can still be tempted on warm days with small nymphs and dries, but perhaps the most exciting prospect are the zander. The area around Leamington Spa has good stocks and is run by the excellent Lure Anglers Canal Club, with tickets available online. Try jig style flies with plenty of movement- and don’t be afraid to try right by the bank. These fish have an amazing ability to hit a fly in murky water, so don’t be put off by less than great visibility- that said early sessions and times outside the holidays are more peaceful. (www.lureanglerscanalclub.co.uk).
Newport Canal, Shropshire: This is a really pretty slice of canal history with some interesting mixed stocks. Various coarse species, but the most catchable are the roach and rudd here. Pick a sunny day and try dark flies in the top foot or two of water (Spiders, PTN, Black Gnat). AUDCO AC control a scenic stretch available on a day ticket: www.audcoac.co.uk
Pridewood Hops Fishery: An excellent destination for carp. Nor is it all dog biscuit fishing, as ace Welsh fly fisher and friend of Fly For Coarse Nick Thomas reports in his article for “Eat, Sleep, Fish”, which also contains a neat “Furry Dragon” pattern. www.eat-sleep-fish.co.uk/content/2014/10/ideal-carp-fishery
Rea Brook, Shrewsbury (Shropshire Anglers Federation www.shropshireanglersfederation.in) –Don’t be deceived by its’ small size, this river has pike, perch, roach, dace, chub and barbel join game species here. River Teme, Ludlow (some Free Fishing): Try near the “Bread Walk” (between Ludford and Dinham Bridges) in Ludlow, which has chub, dace and occasional barbel as well as game fish.
Lots of good water for chub, dace and barbel in particular. Fly For Coarse can also offer guided trips on an exclusive stretch of river, where catches of up to a dozen chub averaging 2-3lbs are possible on dry flies and streamers! You’ll also find day ticket fishing here: www.wyeuskfoundation.org
Rutland and Grafham Reservoirs need no introduction for their pike, perch and zander fishing. Pack a strong outfit here, because a twenty-pound pike is a distinct possibility. Zander are also viable, usually with quite specialised tackle- such as a fast sink line and jig style flies.
You’ll also find occasional huge bream, and fish such as roach and rudd close to the surface in warm conditions.
For ticket details and rules: www.anglianwater.co.uk
Seighford Lakes: Fly friendly, mixed fishing on several lakes with not only trout, but the usual coarse species (roach, rudd, perch) and some excellent carp that have succumbed to natural flies.
Try small emergers or spiders for the silvers, or a slow sinking mouthful such as a Hare’s Ear, Blob or Apps Bloodworm for the carp.
The venue also offers guiding from England International fly angler Phil Dixon www.seighfordlakes.com
Stafford’s Izaak Walton Club is fly-friendly. It’s £27 a year and they have 3 or 4 pools, 2 stretches of the river Sow and miles and miles of the Staffs Union and Trent and Mersey canals. www.iwsaa.co.uk
You may well have heard of the trout and pike fishing at Blithfield Reservoir , but it also contains huge numbers and sizes of roach, bream and perch. Fly For Coarse 2013 winner Geoff Hadley has caught bream on buzzers and mini damsels! www.blithfield.com/anglers/
Also near Bridgnorth is Octoplus Boldings at Astley Abbotts. Pick a quiet day and you can cast for several coarse species, notably carp: http://boldingspools.blogspot.co.uk
(With thanks to Nick Thomas)
Llangorse Lake: Year round fishing for pike on the fly in beautiful surroundings. You can hire a boat or even try kayak or float tube here.
Sometimes tricky in rough conditions, but a breeze can be great for drifting and casting juicy pike flies into likely places.
Also worth a try for the perch. www.llangorselake.co.uk
The Montgomery Canal is a beautifully restored slice of classic British canal, with stocks of various species- in particular excellent for roach and pike.
The fishing in the town of Welshpool can be good early in the day before the boats move, but otherwise the areas out of town are clear, weedy and boat free.
Fish can be patchy, so expect a healthy walk! As well as the other suspects, there are rudd here and even the occasional big chub to over five pounds.
Buy day tickets at the Tourist Info Centre in Welshpool (SY21 7DD 01938 552043)
Deep in the countryside of Camarthenshire; used to be a trout fishery (so they are used to fluff flying around), now predominantly carp, but I’ve had bream and roach on nymphs.
It’s a lovely lake to fish with lots of bankside trees and bays to fish into.www.sylenlakes-fishing.co.uk
Lots of water for the fly fisher here in what can be an imposing but very productive venue. Look for low, clear water in the summer and the chub fishing in particular can be superb.
Try big, bushy dry flies- or if nothing is showing, throwing streamers such as a Woolly Bugger close to cover. In the early season, barbel are also possible on heavy nymphs, while large dace and some cracking pike also feature in the calendar. Tackle up tough for the bigger species! The best source for day ticket fishing and info is www.wyeuskfoundation.org
No web site, but you can find it on google maps; north of Caerphilly by Llanbradach. Another ex-trout fishery with two lakes with a good stock of carp and silver fish. The carp are mostly commons and run like hell – I’ve had many yards of backing out here more times than anywhere else I’ve fished.
The average carp weight is pretty high and when your arms hurt you can switch to catching roach or perch on a nymph or streamer. A day ticket is £6. The lake by the river is more suited to fly fishing as there are less trees to snag your back cast.
A big complex of coarse fishing lakes that started as a couple of trout lakes.
The website is pretty comprehensive with maps and pictures of all the lakes.www.whitespringsfishery.co.uk/
Driffield Canal (Hull DAA www.hdaafishing.co.uk) This historic water has some amazing fishing for trout and grayling- but you’ll also find some nice roach, pike and carp in clear water that is ideal to cast a fly.
Ladywood Lakes, Mirfield: Two lakes here, with carp the dominant species. The smaller lake is just £5 per day ticket with plenty of fish. Bonio type flies will work, but buzzers have also proved successful for visitors. There are also some bream and roach worth a shot in warm weather. www.ladywoodlakes.co.uk
River Dove: Classic and varied river fishing, with some fine dace, roach, chub and pike among other fish. Could easily be one of the locations a certain Izaak Walton cast a fly for chub. A few clubs and tickets exist, but Burton Angling Association offers good value and variety: www.burtonmutual.co.uk
River Calder and River Dearne: The Calder is a great mixed fishery with mixed stocks of many species (roach, chub, perch, pike, trout and even Ide!). We would recommend Wakefield Angling Club (www.wakefieldac.co.uk) and in particular the shallower, faster stretches of river. The club also have fishing on the River Dearne; this smaller cuter, winding river is great for the roving fly rod with dace, chub, perch and even the odd “nuisance” trout!
Huddersfield Broad Canal (www.mirfieldac.co.uk) A good bet for plenty of hits from perch and jack pike here- or try small nymphs and dries for the roach and some chub too.
Lancaster Canal (www.kdac.webeden.co.uk) This is a scenic, often clear and weedy water with some excellent fly potential. Pike and perch are highly likely, as are roach, but perhaps the ultimate challenge are the grass carp which run to over 20lbs! Try
Raeburn and Halifax AS (www.ryburnandhalifax.com) Are a fly friendly club with plenty of water- and also friendly guiding services (contact our guiding section for more details).
You can expect coarse species such as roach, perch and pike on the Calder and Hebble Canal– as well as river fishing for both coarse and game species.
Walton Hall Fly Fishery: (WF2 6PW / 07772 311475) Good pike, perch and some cracking tench and carp in clear water here- and
Monklands Canal, Glasgow (Free Fishing): This restored waterway has some excellent free fishing with a real range of species. AN eight weight outfit would be spot on for the numerous jack pike and perch, but this is also a great place to try spotting and casting to some fine roach on a warm day. Try small spiders or a Hares Ear. Suburban fishing at its best- but do watch your back cast!
Forth and Clyde Canal (www.sfca.co.uk): Various stretches have all the usual coarse species, but perhaps the best target are the pike, with jacks but also the chance of a double. You can also expect silver fish in the summer, take a good walk and polarizing glasses, along with small wet and dry flies. Early starts and out of town areas offer less boat traffic.
Loch Lomond: The largest body of freshwater in the UK has many species, but will be of most interest to those with a taste for pike fly fishing. There are plenty of areas to try. For tackle shops , tickets and other info, try the following site: www.lochlomondangling.com
Lochnaw Loch: With a huge amount of natural food and no pike, the roach and perch of this now famous water grow to huge sizes. A 3lb 7oz roach was taken in 2011 on a goldhead fritz fly. Trout are the usual target for fly anglers, but how might the intrepid coarse fly fisher do? That part could be up to you! Further info: www.lochnawcastle.co.uk/fishery.html