From coveted upland trout waters to broken piers crumbling into the North Sea, the Derwent, Tees and Wear waters hold fishing prospects to please coarse, game and sea anglers alike.
The Rivers Derwent, Tees and Wear run eastwards through some of the finest scenery in the North of England. The Wear and Tees are gravel bottomed and have shallow streams with deeper pools suitable for fly and coarse fishing, both having at least one fishable main tributary. The Derwent, a trout stream, is narrow with a gravelled bed, and is quite a short river which becomes polluted in its lower reaches before running into the River Tyne at Blaydon.
The Wear, one of the best sea trout rivers in the North, has a small run of salmon and contains a good head of mixed coarse fish in the lower reaches below Durham city. The Tees holds good trout, especially above Croft, but the coarse fish stocks have been badly hit by pollution recently from Sockburn down to the tidal stretches. Much of the fishing on these rivers is controlled by landowners who do not give permits or by clubs who have bought or leased the water for members only.
The River Tees rises below Cross Fell in the Pennines and flows eastwards to the North Sea near Middlesbrough. For much of its length it forms the boundary between Yorkshire and Durham. At its head, between Cow Green where flow is controlled through the large reservoir, and Middleton-in-Teesdale, there is a seven mile stretch of trout fishing on the north bank from Broken Way to Cow Green.
Permits are issued by Raby Estate Office, Middleton-in-Teesdale, during office hours, at a cost of £12 (season), £5 (week), and £2.50 (day), or from the office in Staindrop: juniors and senior citizens half price. Fly fishing only is allowed on this bank.
On the south bank, Strathmore Estates issue permits for seven miles from Lune Foot to Cronkley Bridge, obtainable from the Cleveland Hotel, Middleton, at £12 (season) and £5 (week). The ‘fly only’ rule is relaxed here to allow worm bait when the water is low and clear.
Downstream there is good trout fishing at Lartington Hall water on the south bank from the old viaduct down to Barnard Castle Aqueduct. Permits can be obtained from Mi-Mike Innes, ‘Riversdale’, Lartington, near Barnard Castle, at a cost of £10 (season) or £1 (day). Nearby Lartington High Lake holds quality brown and rainbow trout and offers excellent fishing from bank and boat between April 1 and October 30. The cost is £6.50 per day or £3.50 evening only, boats £3 a day, and permits for this water are also available from Mike Innes (Tel. (0833) 50632).
In Barnard Castle there is free fishing on both banks between Stone Bridge and Thornton Bridge for trout and grayling. At Gainford a small section of north bank fishing offers good trout and coarse fishing with season permits £3.50 (trout) and £2 (coarse), obtainable from Mrs Raine, Eddleston House, School Lane, Gainford.
Darlington AC controls various waters between High Coniscliffe and Croft, and the Darlington Brown Trout AA has good trout and coarse fishing water on the north bank at Low Coniscliffe and on the south bank from Croft Bridge to Clow Beck. Both clubs issue day tickets for members’ visitors. Darlington Brown Trout AA charges £1 day when trout are in season and 50p for coarse fishing only.
At Croft there is about 300 yards of free fishing on the north bank from where the River Skerne enters the main river down to Croft road-bridge, and the streamy gravel swims here hold trout, grayling, dace, chub, roach and pike. The Thornaby AA owns six miles of
fishing between Croft Bridge and Hurworth, both banks. They do not issue permits, but members may sometimes obtain permission for a visitor to fish. At Neasham, downriver of Hurworth, is about 200 yards of single bank free fishing from the village green. At Middleton-on-Row there is a further 200 yards of free coarse fishing from the north bank of the river below the village green.
Tidal River at Yarm Darlington Brown Trout AA also has fishing on the north bank of the river between Dinsdale Spa and the end of the wood, and small clubs can fish this on Saturdays on application to Club Secretary Brian Longstaff who allows 25 visitors at one time at 25p each.
Below Worsall the river becomes increasingly tidal, and the horseshoe bend around Yarm is a wintering area for large shoals of dace, roach and chub. From Nellies Beck down to the roadbridge on the north bank, and the whole of the horseshoe on the south bank, fishing is free. Yarm AA controls six miles of water above and below Yarm and issues day tickets at 50p from F Flynn’s tackle shop, Stockton-on-Tees.
The River Wear rises in Co Durham on Kilhope Moors and flows into the North Sea at Sunderland. It was once noted for salmon but runs were decimated by pollution and are only now improving with restocking, helped by colliery closures. Upriver of Chester-Le-Street brown trout fishing, though difficult, is rewarding. Generally there are brown trout from club restockings, sea trout, and some salmon. At St John’s Chapel the Upper Weardale AA issues day tickets (except on Sundays) for a stretch from Long Lea Railway Bridge upstream, and downstream the Stanhope A A issues day tickets for two miles of fishing on both banks for large sea trout and brown trout. At Willington there is fishing for salmon and brown and sea trout, and the Willington & District AC controls fishing on waters running from Sunny brow Bridge down to Page Bank.
Further downstream, the Bishop Auckland and District Angling Club has 20 miles of water from Witton-le-Wear to Croxdale, and tickets can be obtained from Cable Bros, Bishop Auckland. At Durham there is free fishing from below the ice rink at Milburngate Bridge to the sewage works on the left bank, and down to Kepier Priory Farm on the right bank, but do not fish immediately below the dam. Durham City AC have two miles of water at Shincliffe and a shorter section below the Castle in Durham City where permits for a visitor accompanying a member cost £1. At Finchdale Abbey, below Durham, permits for over two miles of fishing on the south bank can be bought at the camping site. At Chester-Le-Street there are trout and coarse fish, and the angling club issues day tickets at 50p through local tackle shops. One winter hotspot is in the town park where barbel, chub, roach and dace shoal in the 12ft deep swims above the weir.
The River Derwent is a less exciting prospect, though the poor trout stock was boosted by heavy restocking to give one artificially good season. Now sport is declining again. The resident trout are rather small, averaging !/ilb, but the odd good grayling can be taken. A two-mile stretch from Winlaton Mill to Lintz Ford, under the control of Ax-well Park and Derwent Valley AC, offers the best sport. Then the river hits the pollution zone before entering the Tyne above Newcastle.
Along the coast from South Shields to Saltburn there is good rock, beach and pier fishing. At Sunderland, codling, mackerel, whiting, gurnard, flounder, dab, plaice, pouting and coalfish can be caught from Low Drum.
At Ryhope there is fishing from beach and rocks for plaice, sole, whiting and some skate, and Seaham with its sandy coast offers dogfish, codling and pouting, and good winter fishing for larger cod, coalfish, whiting and plaice. Hartlepool is good for all year round fishing and could improve when the new nuclear power station starts adding hot water to the bay. The Pilot, Banjo, Middleton and Skeleton Piers are all accessible, but the Heugh is officially closed following extensive storm damage.
North and South Gare, guarding opposite sides of the mouth of the River Tees, offer good winter fishing spots but can be dangerous in rough seas. Codling, dab, coalfish, plaice, flounder and summer mackerel can be taken. Tees and Hartlepool Port Authority charge anglers visiting the South Gare end, though fishing from the approach road is free, with the river basin one side and sandy Coatham beach the other.
The pier at Redcar is now little more than a stump supporting the ballroom and of no use to anglers, but the sandy beach with rock spurs attracts coalfish, dab and flounder to the shore while codling nose in following rough seas. The rock edges can be fished but access is difficult and anglers must take care not to be cut off by the flood tide.
Saltburn Pier has been shortened by storm damage but is again open, though shore rods can do as well fishing into the Halfpenny and Penny Holes near towering Huntcliffe. Summer mackerel shoal around the pier surging in on the flood tides.