Fishing the Nene and Welland

The rivers Nene and Welland flow parallel from Northamptonshire to the Wash, one watering Lincolnshire, the other winding a tangled course through Cambridgeshire.

Two great slow-moving rivers amble down from Leicestershire and Nor-thamptonshire to the Wash – the Welland and the Nene. The novice will find fishing easy here, while the massive bream, chub and huge roach shoals will tempt the expert.

Origins still visible

The Welland and Nene offer a huge expanse of water, it being impossible to cast from one side to the other in many sections. They are also two of Europe’s slowest rivers, their slowness a result of widening when the Fens were being drained. The former course .of the Welland is just discernible and it is generally no more than 7ft deep.

The River Nene rises near Northampton and reaches the tidal section below Peterborough at the Dog-in-a-Doublet. The best fishing is in the lower reaches, especially from Oundle downstream. Near the town, bream of 4 lb are common and fish of 8 lb not unknown. During summer, wheat accounts for many good bags < of roach, while casters sort out some class fish in autumn.

Oundle to Yarwell

Oundle Angling Association has the five miles of river looping round the town, and anglers can drive to within a field of the river. Day tickets and weekly permits are available from the secretary.

Below Oundle there is another mile of left-bank day ticket water from Cotterstock church to Perio Lock. Tickets must be obtained in advance from the bailiff, and there are certain restrictions operating. There is then a half mile of water at Fotheringhay with day tickets obtainable on the bank.

Near Elton Mill, Leicester and District Amalgamated Society of Anglers has the rights along a pleasant tree-lined stretch, with day tickets available at the Black Horse in Elton.

Downstream there is a four-mile day ticket stretch at Nassington on alternating banks extending as far as Yarwell, with tickets obtained on the bank. At Yarwell itself, there is nearly a mile of left-bank fishing below the mill, with day tickets available on the site.

Backwaters give the best fishing

From just past Wansford, most of the available water as far as the Dog-in-a-Doublet is controlled by the Peterborough and District Angling Association. Membership for those living outside a radius of 20 miles is £3, and tackle shops sell day tickets at 60p. Backwaters here offer the best-known fishing venues, including the one at Castor where chub and the occasional barbel are taken. Access is from the A47 near the village of Ailsworth.

Milton Ferry is noted for its large head of chub, only yards from the main road, and there is a small car park near the ancient three-arched bridge. Lower down, Orton Staunch is another favourite venue, with its large weirpool that holds chub, pike roach and bream.

This section runs down to the town, passing the ‘Electricity Cut’, once famed for its specimen carp. The cut is now silting up and carp have deserted the area for the north bank of the river.

Below the Town Bridge in Peterborough there is a short free stretch on the Embankment – a winter haunt of big bream shoals. Next come the four miles of the north bank. This is controlled by the Anglian Water Authority and booked at most weekends by match anglers, but short sections are set aside for pleasure fishing.

On the south side, fishing is again held by the Peterborough club. At the Fitzwilliam Bridge, most anglers will be looking for bream and roach. There is a further half mile of bream water below the embankment, between the rowing club and the bridge. Maggots, casters and bread are favoured, although hemp and tares sometimes account for heavy roach bags in summer. There is a tackle shop, Nene Sports, just over the Town Bridge, close to the football ground. And for anglers who prefer a quieter environment there is the loop of the old river. Peterborough District have the water from the Black Bridge at Stanground to the Horsey Toll, where Yaxley Angling Club take over.

Birth of the Welland

The River Welland starts its life near Market Harborough, and in its upper reaches holds a few dace and trout. Its middle reaches, starting around Stamford, are renowned for coarse fishing.

Three dace-populated streams tumble from the red lands of Rutland and slow down near the old stone-built town of Stamford, where chub and roach can be caught in the Meadows. The river slows and broadens here until, at Crowland Bridge, it is less than 3ft deep all the year. Shallowness and flow produce much weed growth. At times it reaches about 30ft from the bank, and there are often huge midstream islands. The river in parts is as much as 35 yards wide.

The deepest parts of the river are the Crowland bank – the old course of the River Welland – and the Coronation Channel, a horseshoe-shaped relief channel at Spalding.

The Stamford-Welland Angling Association has water at Barrowden and Collyweston, available on day ticket, and the Deeping St James Angling Club has day ticket water from Tallington, above Market Deeping, to Willow Drove, a short way upstream of Crowland. Tickets for the latter can be obtained from the tackle dealer J K O’Brien, in Deeping St James.

Fat Fenland bream

Beyond Willow Drove, as far as Little London, upstream of Spalding, almost all the bank is owned by the Anglian Water Authority. Anglers seeking fat Fenland bream will do best at the small section above Crowland. Every summer weekend, 4lb-plus specimens are taken there. Day tickets can be obtained at Parnell’s Pet Shop in Crowland.

Expect to find bream and roach all the way. The best roach show below Locks Mill at the Spalding end, where there are also some sizeable chub. Tickets for this stretch can be obtained from the Golden Ball, Hawthorn Road, Spalding.

Fishing the River Welland requires special techniques. It is a highly popular match river, and match anglers developed the zoomer float specially to cast across its wide water. This is an 8in float of cane with a bulbous balsa base. The smallest models generally take two and a half swan shot, the biggest, five and a half.

Shot is bulked 4-5ft below the float, with a small indicator shot near the hook. This rig, fished overdepth, takes bream. Roach men, however, will bulk their shot im-mediately under the float, adding more weight halfway down to get through the bleak, plus another indicator shot.

Swingtipping is the most successful method, with a long tail bet- ween bomb and hook. Roach like casters too, but will sometimes go crazy for tares in warm weather.

Bream abound at the Spalding end, and there is one very good area above Four Mile Bar – a footbridge near a pumphouse – marked by a concrete bay. The hottest swim for large numbers of bream is above Crowland, at a spot opposite a clump of willow trees. This swim, known as ‘The Willows’, regularly produces 40 lb bags, and in recent a. years the winner of the National J Championship was pegged there.