Every major river in South Yorkshire has been polluted beyond a certain point by industry. But there is good fishing in the upper reaches; and clean-up measures are taking effect.
The Aire, Calder, Don and Went are the major rivers in heavily industrialized West Yorkshire. The upper reaches support a fair head of fish, but steel works, heavy engineering and wool mills built during the Industrial Revolution, have caused pollution in the middle and lower reaches.
The Yorkshire Water Authority has instigated a vast clean-up campaign, and limited progress has been made to date.
The source of the Aire is in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales at Aire Head, half a mile from Malham village. The river meanders its way through Airedale to Skipton and all fishing rights are held in private hands. Angling clubs do not issue day tickets, even though the fishing is reported to be some of the best in the North.
At Skipton, the Skipton Angling Club controls stretches of river with excellent fishing for trout and grayling. Details can be obtained from the Secretary. Bradford Angling Club also has stretches of river between Skipton and Bingley, with day tickets available from tackle shops in the area. These reaches provide the best winter roach fishing with 2lb fish recorded every year. Similarly, Bingley Angling Club controls some quite productive stretches of water in and around the town.
For years fishing ended at Bradford Beck, but new sewage plants at Bradford have improved the river as far as Leeds, and it is now possible to catch fish in the centre of town for the first time in decades. The rest of the Aire is polluted down to the sea. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal runs parallel with the River Aire from Leeds to Skipton where it crosses the border into Lancashire. Most sections have been restocked, resulting in improved catches, and bream and quality perch have provided anglers with excellent sport. Local clubs have formed an association which controls the fishing rights on most of the canal, and permits can be obtained from local tackle shops or from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Association.
Rising near Todmorden high in the Pennines, the River Calder flows only a few miles before it is troubled with pollution from wool mills. From Todmorden to Sowerby Bridge the fish have been able to re-establish themselves despite the amount of effluent discharged into the river. Today, trout are being caught in everincreasing numbers.
The best stretch of river in South -Yorkshire is from Elland to Cooper r Bridge in Huddersfield. Here roach, c bream, perch, dace and gudgeon are | to be found, with catches up to 35lb x recorded. There are no day tickets.
From Cooper Bridge the River
Colne joins the Calder but, owing to the level of pollution, fish are unable to survive. Slaithwaite and District Angling Club have numerous small dams, reservoirs and stretches of canal, some of which are open to day-permit-holders, available from Huddersfield tackle dealers.
Near Wakefield, Walton Hall Country Club have a 40-acre trout lake (which is stocked weekly) available on day, half-day and season tickets, fly only. Access is off the A61 Barnsley road.
Rising in the Pennines to the west of Sheffield the River Don increases in size, swollen by the waters of the Little Don, Loxley and Rivelin. Fishing rights are controlled by Sheffield and District Angling Society and Salmon and Trout Association, who restock with trout annually. Below Sheffield the river is grossly polluted: once rated the most polluted river in the country.
The headwaters of the Don are tributaries to several reservoirs which are controlled by the Yorkshire Water Authority. Four of them are open to the angler on a day-ticket basis.
Scout Dyke reservoir
Scout Dyke, off the A629 Penistone road, has trout only and is restocked annually. Permits, at £1.50, are available from the hut which is situated at the entrance to the dam.
Underbank and Dam Flask lie off the A616 and B6077 roads. Both are mixed fisheries restocked annually with trout, and contain a good head of roach, perch, bream, tench and pike. Day tickets at £1.50 (half-day 90p) are available from the hut on the dam wall. Moorhall, a trout fishery (fly only), has limited day tickets at £1.50. Anglers are advised to apply in advance to the Yorkshire Water Authority. There are numerous small Stillwater fisheries in Sheffield, but the majority are controlled by private clubs.
The River Went rises near Wakefield and flows westwards through open farmland to its confluence with the River Don. It is a little river which has been troubled by pollution for years and only recently have fish re-established themselves. Today, trout, perch, roach and tench are found in most stretches. The only fishable reaches are between Wentbridge and Askern, but permission to fish must be obtained from the local land owners. Local angling clubs are now taking interest in the waters, however.
Nostell Priory lakes
At the headwaters of the Little Went, Nostell Priory Estate has its three ornamental lakes open to the angling public. These are situated five miles east of Wakefield on the A638 Doncaster road.
The top lake, of 26 acres, offers some of the best fishing in the area with tench and bream catches over 100lb and pike to 28lb. Roach, perch and carp also abound in the lake. Season tickets only are available for this lake. Day tickets are available for the smaller, middle lake of seven acres which contains tench, bream, roach, perch and pike. The bottom lake, 4 1/2 acres, is a carp fishery operating on a season permit only.
Full camping and caravan facilities are available on the Estate. Further details may be obtained by telephoning Wakefield 863938.