Big Fish Column: New river season opens with challenging week

The new river season has just opened but it has been a very challenging week for all local anglers, it may not get an awful lot better in the short time either!

There‘s a lot of weather about…

It is a glorious summer. The temperature is delightfully warm, there is little wind, no rain, the sea is calm and the sun is shining. At least that is the picture if you are in the mid–Atlantic where the summer conditions we should currently be experiencing are being held off reaching us by a big loop in the Jet Stream.

As it is, we are experiencing one of the wettest starts to June on record, temperatures are below average for the time of year and the fishing is, well, I hesitate to use the word I want to use. Let‘s just say the fishing is poor.

On a slightly more positive note, locally we have not experienced the flooding that some areas of the UK have but we have had sufficient rainfall to give all local rivers a good flush and to get the water really flowing. As a prelude to the start of the season that really is no bad thing and once the weather, and indeed the spawning fish, get themselves sorted out there could be some great early returns.

Early river reports

I‘m writing this on the evening of opening day so it is a little too early for many reports to be in, but I did have a walk along a local beat of Thames earlier to catch up with a couple of friends who made the traditional midnight start. They were both sheltering from the wind and rain, warming themselves around a stove waiting for the kettle to boil, and indeed for a barbel to show.

No barbel had put in an appearance overnight but both had caught bream, several of them in fact, and it was pretty much the same story all along the stretch, where a surprising number of anglers had turned out for a match and indeed a pleasure session. It was reassuring to see so many still making an opening day start but the early results were not good.

With a good push of water the fishing may improve during the week ahead and I‘ll be back with a full update next week. The only cloud on the horizon is that the forecasters are suggesting more heavy rain and thunderstorms before conditions settle down. I may just wait another week before I hit the rivers again!

Trout reports

It may have been a tough start for coarse anglers on the rivers, but trout anglers have benefitted from the conditions and the fishing on Haywards Farm Lake continues to be excellent for the time of year with the water temperature remaining cool enough to keep the fish feeding.

Fishery manager, Jonno Randall, told me that mayflies accounted for a few fish early on in the week but the hatches have now all but finished and buzzers remain the ‘go to‘ pattern for many anglers, with both black and red variants accounting for fish. Daddies, blobs, cat‘s whiskers and damsels also all took plenty of fish last week. The best fish of the week weighed in at 8lb, the average weight was 3lb 6oz and the rod average 3.2.

The week ahead

Challenging conditions are likely to persist before summer ‘proper‘ arrives and we see some sort of consistency to the weather. It may not be the best of summer fishing but the rivers will certainly benefit from the extra water.

Any anglers wishing to report catches may contact me at

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