Great news for those patient river anglers amongst us! The three months of the closed season for coarse river fishing is coming to an end and so the time is near for the new river season to begin! For those new to angling or not sure why we have a closed season for river fishing, as well as for some canals and still waters in the UK, it goes back to 1878. The Mundella Act was passed through Parliament over 140 years ago which would permit time for freshwater fish to complete the procreation of their species with minimal disruption or risk.
When Does River Fishing Season Start?
River season is due to kick off from Wednesday 16th June, so it is nearly upon us! Although there have been plenty of stillwaters open, there is still a certain magic about returning to running water. For the keen angler, it brings a real tingle of anticipation.
After June 16th, when the new season opens, you can return to a favourite spot on your local river or try somewhere completely new. After such a long break for the fish to spawn, they are likely to be hungry, making the chances for bites or net filling all the more likely.
We are sure that you are just excited as we are, with plans made many weeks previous to get back out there for the first day of the season. We thought we would create a little checklist for those getting ready for this magical day to come!
Top Tips for River Fishing Season
1) Early Bird Gets the Worm!
Or in this instance the fish. You’re more likely to get your favourite spot at the river and if the weather is hot, you may well find that the fish are more likely to bite before the sun gets too high in the sky. The blinding rays of sunlight and the warm temperatures tend to put fish off, especially if you are after bream and tench on the river. Early or late in the evening is a better choice. You’re far better off going early or late before the sun and mercury are at their highest point.
2) Service Your Fishing Tackle
It has likely been a good while since you last got your fishing gear out so it is worth taking the time between now and the 16th to service all the must-haves with you at the river bank. Whether it is re-spooling your reel with fresh line, cleaning your rods and guides, or patching up waders they are ready for you to take a dip when unhooking and releasing your catch.
3) Picking the Perfect Swim
When arriving, it is wise to take some time to walk the banks and find the best spot to get fishing. Make sure to walk to spots far are away from car parks and access areas. Try to choose somewhere on the river with some sort of features such as a reed bed or a tree on the far bank. Places like this are where fish tend to live close to, giving you more chance of getting a catch. Undercut banks are magnets for these finicky specimens such as big chub.
Remember that early-season rivers may have a reduced flow rate due to the lack of rain so seek out the shallowest swims that will generate faster, oxygenated water. You can also try to locate wider parts of the river where bream tend to sit but this in deeper parts, in the middle of the stream.
4) Get Your Bait Prepared
Once you pick the swim, you need to prebait the area. This will get fish into a swim, all lined up for you to catch! Fish would not have seen great bait for a few weeks and so introduce baiton a regular basis in the run-up to your session. You can try to use maggots and worms, enhance luncheon meat with a pungent flavour such as chilli powder or garlic salt or use small pellets, hemp and casters to keep the fish there.
Groundbait is also a real winner for bream but be sure to carefully consider the mix. Picking bait high in fishmeal and mixing it so that it is fairly heavy and sticky will make sure it doesn’t get washed out by the current.
5) Prioritise Fish Care
The warm weather means that the water temperature is already high and therefore fish will likely fight harder and get stressed quicker so make sure to always handle fish with wet hands and keep them in the water as much as possible so they can keep hydrated and cool. Only use that keep net for shorter periods. With a keep sack or net, make sure it is made from a soft, darkly coloured, non-abrasive and water permeable material that will keep the fish as safe as possible.
It is wise to have a set up ready for when you catch a fish so remember to pick up a bucketand collect some cool river water to add to the fish when they are laying on your unhooking mat. It may also be wise to set up the unhooking mat or cradle in the shade or purchase a cover for the fish.
As well as the fish make sure to grab yourself some shade whether it be a brollyset up or a bucket hat.
6) Check Local Byelaws
Across the rivers in England and Wales, there are many regions to which all have their own rules which all include the national rules. You must follow national and local rules (byelaws) when freshwater fishing with a rod and line in England and Wales. These rules are aimed at protecting fish stocks and making fisheries sustainable. In addition, there may also be rules for privately owned bodies of water, so check before heading out for a session.
7) Buy or Renew Your Rod Licence!
You must have a rod licence to fish in England and Wales if you’re aged 13 or older. Most licences run annually but it is worth checking yours is still in date before heading off for your long-awaited session. For those new to the sport, check out our guide to purchasing rod licences in the UK.