Historic Northumberland serves the angler well with its rivers and streams, offering beguiling salmon fishing on the Coquet to ledgering for flatfish below Wylam on the Tyne.
The Rivers Tyne, Aln, Blyth, Coquet, Rede and Wansbeck are all within the Northumbrian Water Authority area (Northern) and although a close season prohibits coarse fishing between March 15 and June 15, this does not apply to lakes, reservoirs, ponds or any water not considered to be a river or a stream in the area.
Once a famous salmon river, the River Tyne is regaining something of its former glory thanks to diversion sewers along both banks from Wylam downstream. As more sections of this costly scheme are phased in, so the clean-up achieves increasing success. Salmon ova have been introduced by the Water Authority to help boost stocks of migratory fish, with some success. The river holds brown trout to 5 lb, the wild fish stocks being boosted by annual restocking with hatchery trout. Dace shoals are numerous, in-dividual dace growing large, sometimes to a pound. Roach, making a slow comeback after virtually disappearing for some years, are difficult to locate. Two major rivers, the North and South Tyne, join at Waters Meet, above Hexham. The North Tyne flows through Kielder Forest where the largest man-made lake in Europe is being created, and already the smaller, upper reservoir at Bakethin is open to anglers on day permit. It holds both wild and hatchery trout.
The main river below Hexham runs nearly alongside the main A69 Carlisle-Newcastle road to Blaydon where pollution levels, coupled with heavy summer saltwater tide penetration, has made fishing virtually worthless.
The South Tyne
In its upper reaches the South Tyne is a fast bubbling river, fast falling and in places scarcely wider than a stream. Seven miles of trout fishing is available for Alston and District AA permit-holders. These may be obtained from Jackson’s Shop, next to the Post Office in Alston Market Square. Day permits cost £1, weekly permits £4 and 20 season tickets £8. Juniors may obtain permits at half price.
At Haltwhistle the river has widened, with some deep pools, a gravel bed and dace mingling with trout. Six miles of bank fishing is available to the visitor and week tickets, issued by the Haltwhistle and District Angling Association, may be obtained from Gregg’s Sport Shop for £6.
Below Haltwhistle, the South Tyne Angling Association restricts the issue of day tickets to visitors and holiday-makers staying in the village of Heydon Bridge.
The North Tyne
At Reedsmouth Junction, the North Tyne and the River Rede join, and Bellingham AC controls 412 miles of river holding trout, dace and pike. Visitors on holiday and staying at an address within the parish of Bellingham are eligible for a six day permit, costing £6, and while trout fishing is restricted to fly only on this Hesleyside Estate fishery, other methods are permitted for salmon.
By Chollerford the river is wide and quite shallow behind a dam below the roadbridge, where the A6079 crosses the old Newcastle to Carlisle military road. Trout are plentiful here and dace, while shy, sometimes weigh over a pound, plus the occasional roach. The George Hotel on the north side of the bridge issue only five permits daily for anglers to fish the south bank upstream at a cost of £1.50.
Downriver at Hexham, permits (fly only) to fish the streamy water at the top of Tyne Green down to the deeper steady swims and the dam below the roadbridge, are available from Tynedale District Council, Council Offices, Hexham, (Tel 0434 604011) or from a council officer on the riverbank at weekends. Tickets cost £1.30 day, £8 season, with a reduced fee for residents.
At Corbridge the river bends, coming through a pool 15ft deep or more, before shallowing over gravel. The streamy shallow section up and down from the Hexham-Corbridge roadbridges offers free fishing on both banks for a short distance, with signposts showing where private waters start. The swims in the trees upriver on the right bank are favoured for trout and dace.
For those who prefer stream fishing, the River Rede, main tributary of the North Tyne, is a fine trout fishery with the bonus of a good back end run of migratory fish as well as some scattered shoals of big dace and the odd pike to 10lb. There are several farmers along its length who are willing to allow the casual angler to fish, sometimes at no charge, following a polite request.
The Four-in-One Angling Club have the fishing on VA miles at East Woodburn, while the Percy Arms hotel at Otterburn Tel (0830) 20261, issue day tickets for fly fishing only at £5 for another section of 1Vi miles of the river.
The River Coquet is the major Nor-thumbrian salmon river, though brown trout also feature here. Nearly 16 miles of this lovely river, from Tosson Ford to the Brinkburn Estate, are owned by the Duke of Northumberland and fished by the Northumbrian Federation of Anglers which issues 14-day salmon, sea and brown trout fishing tickets to visitors. Fish in this river seem to have built up greater resistance to the killer disease UDN over the years, and incidence of the disease appears less each year, with fish reaching better sizes.
At Weldon Bridge, about VA miles above the Federation fishery, the Anglers Arms’ Hotel (Tel Long Framlington 271) stands by a bridge carrying the WoollerMorpeth road. No charge is made to residents for three rods on a short section of river. The Whitton Farm House Hotel at Rothbury makes VA miles of river available free to residents.
Rising near the River North Tyne, the Wansbeck supports a good population of brown trout, but does not have a run of migratory fish. Most fishing on this river is held in private hands or under club control with no visitors’ permits, and members are restricted to fly and upstream worming. A three mile stretch through Riverside Park, run-ning from Sheepwash Bridge to the Spine Road at Newbiggin, can be fished on a 60p adult, 30p junior, day permit, available in the Park from Mr Slaughter, Tel (0670) 812323. There are no bait restrictions on this section.
The River Blyth offers trout upriver and limited sport with roach, gudgeon and grayling in the middle and lower reaches. Blyth Council issues day tickets for the lower water, though pollution is a recurring problem. Permit fishing is available in Plessey Wood National Park, where the narrow river flows as a series of narrow pools under trees. Tickets can be bought from Bedlington and Blagdon Angling Club for £1 by genuine visitors from at least 60 miles away, by contacting Mr S Symons, Tel (0670) 822011.
The River Aln is a short river falling from the Cheviot Hills. It supports a head of brown trout, but has a salmon and sea trout run. Above the short tidal section, day tickets for trout fishing only with fly tackle can be bought at £1.25 day, £3.50 week, £5 month and £6 season from R L Jobson & Son (Sandlers) Ltd in Alnwick. This permit covers the section from Denwick Bridge down to Alnmouth. There is no Sunday fishing allowed.
The Northumbrian Federation of Anglers, who restrict membership to anglers living north of the River Tyne, control fishing on both banks on most of the river between Bywell and the old Pumping Station above Wylam. Easy access is provided by the B road running alongside the north bank for much of the way. By booking well in advance visitors can obtain a 14-day salmon permit (£20) or 7-day trout permit (£5) for both the Tyne and Coquet.
At Wylam, from the small north bank beck below the Pumping Station and from just above the old railway bridge on the south bank, Wylam Angling Club own some superb mixed fishing. Trout, perch, pike, roach, dace and gudgeon are present and a fine salmon pool ends the stretch just below the roadside small dam which prevents tidal penetration. Day tickets here cost £1 (half-price to juniors and OAPs) but there is a fly only rule during the trout season. Bait fishing is allowed after the end of September. Tickets are issued by Mr J Heeney, at 5 Jackson Road, Wylam.
On the north bank next to the river below Wylam Bridge is Wylam Rainbow Trout Fishery, a day per fish to 10lb. Tickets—£3.50 day or 1Z £2.30 afternoon session—are avail- o able on the bankside from the owner, Ig David Craggs. In summer the || fishery closes at 10pm. Sweetcorn is IJ? A good bait here, but remember that though groundbaiting is banned. The 5ft deep pond is shaped like a swimming bath, made with a huge polythene lining. A second pond is being made next to it, and may be turned into a coarse ticket water.
Below Wylam the river changes, deepens, widens, and at Newburn Bridge where West Denton AC claim the fishing rights but allow in-dividual anglers to fish at no charge, it is tidal. Visiting clubs can book matches on this water through the secretary. Bottom fishing produces the best results here, particularly in late autumn and winter with dace and roach, though eels and flatfish are sometimes available in large numbers. The lowest reaches worth fishing are below Newburn Bridge to Stella Power Station. Middlesborough Angling Club controls the fishing on the south bank looking down river from just below the Bridge, while the north bank is preserved for members of Big Waters AC.