Coarse Fishing – Rivers

When I started fishing half a century ago almost all freshwater fishing was done on rivers and a small proportion was done on natural lakes. How things have changed!.

We can blame any number of things and people but those days are gone and will never return. In their infinite wisdom the EEC decided that cormorants should be a protected species and because the trawlers had caught all of the fish around our coasts the big black birds moved inland and feasted on our freshwater fish.

Cormorant eating a perch
This cormorant is in the process of devouring a very nice Perch

Fish filled venues such as the rowing course at Holme Pierpoint together with huge stretches of the major rivers such as the Thames were cleaned out. It’s not unusual these days to visit one of the lock cuttings on the Thames, such as  Teddington Lock and see a cormorant sitting on the top of each of the mooring poles, wings spread out to dry after their early morning fish catching activities. Inland cormorant population has increased dramatically since the late 1990’s and when you consider that each bird eats at least half a kilo of fish per day you don’t need to be Einstein to see the damage that they are doing.

Resting Cormorant
The typical cormorant pose – Wings spread as he dries them off after a fishing trip

Our cause wasn’t helped by the river authorities trying to save the homes of people foolish enough to build luxurious, expensive houses on a flood plain by running flood water off as soon as possible. One good downpour and the gates on all of the weirs are wide open. The rivers run as clear as tap water, making it easy for the cormorants and difficult for the anglers.

Add to these the problems of water abstraction, slurry seepage from farmers desperate to make a living but giving little thought to our waterways and a few other factors and we have the current situation where only tiny numbers of anglers are found on the river banks, they are all sitting on commercial fisheries that have been created in the last twenty or so years.

However, there are still plenty of anglers who like nothing more than spending a few hours on the banks of a flowing river, so we have a page dedicated to float fishing on rivers.