Kennetand its Canal

Acclaimed by some anglers as one of the finest rivers in Southern England, the Kennet flows through 44 miles of gentle rolling countryside offering good stocks of specimen coarse fish.

Acknowledged as one of the finest coarse and trout rivers in the South of England, the River Kennet rises near Avebury in Wiltshire and flows due east for 44 miles until it joins the River Thames at Reading. The river is often confused with the Kennet and Avon Canal because at most places along its length the canal flows close and parallel to it, sometimes mingling with it for long stretches, so that the two waters temporarily become one. Locals refer to such stretches as ‘the river’. From the source downstream through Marlborough to Hungerford, the water is principally a private trout and grayling fishery, controlled by various local riparian owners and the local Piscatorial Society. No day tickets or permits are issued. However, some limited coarse, trout and grayling fishing is available in the Hungerford area, on both river and canal, on a day or season-ticket basis. For further details enquire at Newton’s (Newsagents), 6 High St, Hungerford, Berkshire. From Hungerford the river and canal flow to Kintbury where the waters are controlled for members only by the Kintbury Angling Club.

From Kintbury the waters flow to the tiny village of Hamstead Mar-shall, where 3£ miles of river and canal are owned by the Craven Estate. This stretch was private for years, but was first opened to coarse anglers in October 1977. As in most parts of the Kennet, the coarse fishing here is excellent. It has so far yielded roach to 2£lb, dace to 1lb 3oz (very near the British record), chub to 6 lb, perch to 3£lb and carp to 18 lb, plus pike to 28lb.

The Craven Estate

The Craven Estate is now a day-ticket fishery. Enquiries should be directed to the Head Bailiff Bob Edwards whose lodge is situated on the riverbank just 100 yards down-stream from Hamstead Marshall lock. It is the most recent and longest day-ticket stretch of river and canal to be made available and totals some 3i miles. The estate’s trout and coarse water runs past the lodge and downstream to a fine weirpool. After the weirpool comes a short stretch of the Kennet and Avon canal, with another weirpool nearby which marks the most downstream section of the fishery. Moving upstream from the lodge there are two miles of river incor-porating several straights and bends, with Kintbury Lock at the halfway mark. A black railway bridge marks the most upstream end of this section, but there is more water to be fished above the railway bridge, and this is best reached from the lane which runs through the Craven Estate.

From Hamstead Marshall the river flows through private estate fishing until its reaches Newbury. Here much of the water is controlled by various clubs and associations including the Newbury Angling Club where the fishing is for members only. There is a 12-mile stretch of day-ticket water available at Newbury and anglers should apply to the White House Inn.

At Thatcham, the waters are con-trolled by the London Anglers’ Association, Thatcham Angling Association and various riparian owners. The LAA and the various riparian owners do not issue day tickets, but Thatcham AA do issue a limited number each season on a first come, first served basis.

From Thatcham the river and canal flow to Woolhampton. This is the uppermost of all the stretches of the River Kennet controlled by Glendale Angling Club which administers much of the water from here down to Reading.

Downstream from lies Aldermaston Mill pool which is famed for its barbel fishing. Some of the bank fishing in the area is con-trolled by Reading and District Angling Association and by the Feltham Piscatorial Society, but the mill pool is available for fishing on day ticket, with tickets issued at the Mill House.

From Aldermaston, the waters flow to Padworth. Here is the noted Benyon Estate fishery, a two-mile stretch held by the Reading and District Angling Association which also controls the adjoining East Towney and Padworth Mill fisheries. Remaining Padworth stretches are held by the Central Association of London and Provincial Angling Clubs, but are available to members-only.

Both day and season-ticket fishing are available at Theale on a stretch known as the Back Water Stream. This is a Leisure Sport water, and permits are issued by Leisure Sport, RMC House, High St, Feltham, Middlesex. The stretch known as Cumbers Meadow is held by the Reading and District Angling Association, and a one-mile private syndicate stretch is controlled by Mike Stratton of T Turner & Sons, Whiteley St, Reading, Berks.

From Theale, the waters run to Calcot where the fishing is entirely controlled by the Reading and District Angling Association. After Calcot comes Sulhamstead. Here the Tyle Mill stretch is controlled by the British Waterways Board. This stretch includes river and canal, and day tickets can be obtained from Mrs A Bartlett, Canal Cottage, Sulhamstead, Berks.

From Sulhamstead, the river and canal flow to Burghfield. Some of the waters here are controlled by the Reading and District Angling Association, but day and season-ticket fishing on the river (including Burghfield weirpool) is also available from Leisure Sport in Feltham. Around Burghfield Island, bank fishing is controlled by the British Waterways Board.

Downstream from Burghfield, fishing in the Fobney area is con-trolled by the Reading and District Angling Association, and from Fobney the Kennet flows into Reading, where it eventually joins the Thames. Although the Reading and District Angling Association controls the fishing from Fobney downstream to County Weir in Reading, fishing on the Kennet from County Weir downstream to the Thames is free, and apart from that which is granted by some riparian owners, it is the only free fishing on the River Kennet.

The Rennet’s species

The river in general holds good stocks of specimen coarse fish in-cluding bleak, gudgeon, dace, roach, bream, chub, barbel, perch, pike, trout and grayling. There are even a few big carp and tench. Barbel are not found above Thatcham, but from Thatcham downstream to Reading they are plentiful. The canal holds all the above river species except barbel, trout and grayling. These are compensated for by carp and tench, which prefer the canal’s slower pace.

The most reliable bait for fishing the Kennet is the caster. It is a telling bait all through the season and most local anglers use hempseed as a backing-up groundbait. Tares are very good too, but they are most effective between June and Sept-ember. Breadflake ‘laid-on’ with float tackle, or ledgered with an Arlesey bomb will not always catch Kennet fish, but at times it will attract roach, dace and chub.

The best method for the area, however, is trotting. Kennet fish are accustomed to taking their food ‘on the run’ in these fast-flowing waters. Ledgering is also effective.