Fishing reports

84 min read

All the latest news from our local experts. The only monthly record of catches and news from the major fisheries of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland

OPENING PAGE: ROBERT HARDY

England & Wales

BORDER ESK

THE 2023 season was a disappointment by Esk standards. Despite this, the lower river produced some good catches, particularly on the Burnfoot beat.

River levels remained inconsistent throughout the season. An early summer drought was followed by numerous spates, leaving the Esk unsettled for weeks. Anglers who found themselves in the right place at the right time enjoyed success, while many others struggled.

In the later weeks, there was an abundance of water, yet fish remained constantly on the move, mirroring the previous season's behaviour. November witnessed more rises in the Esk system, with salmon and sea-trout actively engaging on the redds.

Typically, spring fish are scarce on the Esk. Nonetheless, keen early-season anglers have managed to land a few in the past. Hopes are high for 2024 to bring more consistent river levels. Anglers would certainly welcome fewer drought conditions.

For those seeking an early Esk salmon, likely areas to target include Burnfoot, Metal Bridge, Longtown, Westalls, Netherby, and up to the Canonbie area.

BRISTOL WATERS

HERE is a brief summary of the 2023 season from manager, Luke Cox.

Early stocking carried out on the lakes involved high-quality fish of a very good average size. In total, over 24,000 fish were stocked pre-season, with the largest number, as usual, going into Chew – amounting to 10,700. These fish enter the lake once pike fishing finishes in late February, giving them time to disperse and, hopefully, become acquainted with natural food sources. Early on, the midge hatches were huge and trout quickly identified the best feeding areas.

At Chew, the average catch return in March was over 14 fish per angler visit, with numerous reports of vast numbers of fish being caught and released.

However, the early-season weather was challenging – Chew experienced heavy snow on opening day, and the planned opening of Blagdon was impossible for boats due to strong winds. While it's not confirmed, there's a sense that more days were lost to boat fishing during the season compared to previous years.

This year saw several double-figure brown trout caught by trout anglers, and even more by pike anglers using dead baits. Additionally, double-figure rainbow trout were reported throughout the season.

Bristol Water collaborated closely with the Bristol Reservoirs Fly Fishers’

Association to organize a successful Family Fun Day. Many youngsters got the chance to try fishing and even catch trout. The event received strong support from Dean Asplin, our local Angling Trust officer.

Water temperatures in 2023 rose above 30°c earlier than usua