The mighty Thames is one of the most important rivers in England for anglers, stretching as it does from the foothills of the Cotswolds near Cirencester eastwards to London and its busy estuary. The Thames is the second longest river in England, the longest being the Severn. For visiting anglers, the Thames has always seemed somehow different to most other major rivers simply because many of the customs governing fishing there were different. Those customs are now changing to bring fishing more in line with the rest of the country, moves which have been the subject of often bitter controversy. However strongly anglers may feel about this, the die of change is now cast. Mostly respon-sible has been the Thames Water Authority, the body which took over from the former Thames Conservancy, and, by the time this Guide appears, their new thinking will already be operative along the whole of the river and its tributaries. The first major change – and it is one of particular importance to the visitor- is that as from June 16 1976 all anglers fishing the Thames are required to have a rod licence. In the past, a rod licence was not obligatory. Another which will be welcomed or loathed depending on your particular personal opinion is an end to the system of size limits on the river, requirements which seemed specially strange to anglers elsewhere. Under this system, size limits were laid down for all species and, below the given size, fish had to be returned immediately to the water. Now, under new by-laws which were still awaiting final approval as this Guide went to press, there isto be an end to size limit fishing. Water Authority spokesmen assured us there was no chance of this part of their new legislation being changed.
There are other unique customs on the Thames. The first is the fact that fishing in weirpools on the river is controlled by the issue of a permit specifically for these places. It is well worth knowing about, for in the summer, when the ever-increasing boat traffic is having its usual devastating effect on fishing results, the weirs often offer the least chance of interference. This permit is issued by the Water Authority and is valid from Jan 1 in any given year to Dec 31 . .. unlike the rod licence which runs from
Apr 1 to Mar 31 the following year. The permit costs £1.20p (inc. VAT). This is the only figure of this kind quoted in this Guide and it appears simply because we are assured it is unlikely to change in what one official described as ‘the foreseeable future’. Applications for weir permits should be sent with a stamped addressed envelope to ADM (Finance), Nugent House, Vastern Road, Reading, Berks. There is no limit on the number of permits issued. The weirs they give access to, reading from upstream down river, are: Grafton, Radcot, Rushey, Shifford, Eynsham, Sand-ford, Sutton, Day’s, Goring, Ship-lake, Marsh, Hambledon, Marlow, Bray, Boveney, Bell, Shepperton, Sunbury, Molesey Main. Weirs not mentioned are omitted because of access problems or the danger of accident.
Another difference istheamount of free fishing available on the river. From the City Stone at Staines, the whole of the river downstream is free fishing, a dispensation guaranteed underthe Magna Carta. There are other free fishings above this point . In all instances, a rod licence is still required.
In its upper reaches, the river tends to be strictly private with trout fishing the main sport. Below
Cricklade and on to Lechlade, coarse fish, especially roach and chub, begin to take over though there is still good trout water in this area. Further down, towards
Radcot, bream begin to be taken and below, barbel. The latter fish are specially prolific below Rushey
Weir though other species, like chub and roach, are also present.
From Newbridge down, the roach fishing is rated specially good and there is more chance of bream here. By the time Oxford is reached, the river has become more general in its appeal as a coarse fishery though it should be added that bream are a particular feature of this area with fish of 6 lb not uncommon. The visitor should note that some associations in this area cater specially for them with weekly tickets issued very much with them in mind. From Oxford, the Thames flows down into Berk shire through Reading and
Maidenhead to Windsor.
Throughout, it offers fine coarse fishing with some species pre-dominating more than others in certain areas, with barbel or bream often considered the special attrac-tion. Below Windsor, the river passes through Staines, Shep- perton and Kingston before reaching Teddington Lock, the point which marks the division between the tidal and non-tidal Thames. Below the lock the river is still fishable on down to Chiswick though the lower the angler travels the more likely it is that roach or dace will be his main reward.
Throughout its length, the Thames produces results all season though it must be emphasised that, just like the Norfolk Broads, boat traffic can seriously hamper the angler during the holiday months. For this reason, the fishing is considered at its best in the autumn. In winter, many sections of the river are subject to flooding resulting in long stretches of normally accessible bank being under water. At such times, it can often be difficult to find somewhere to fish.
Though serious trouting is generally confined to the upper reaches, it should be added that these fish – often extremely big -are found well down river, too. The giant trout of the Thames have something of a legendary reputation with anglers and are rated difficult to catch, the best chance being in the weir pools. Salmon and sea trout are not found in the Thames despite recent lively rumours surrounding their possible return.
Access for the visitor is generally good, except for the upper reaches. In the middle and lower reaches apart from the free fishing, the majority is controlled by associations, most of whom, if they do not sell tickets, operate memberships open to all. The biggest holdings are those of the London and Oxford associations and, as such, these must be rated an excellent proposition for any angler based in these areas who intends to fish the river regularly. Rod Licence: TWA
Abingdon, OxonC3 miles from Nuneham Railway Bridge to Culham FootbridgeBB DT: ARO (Abingdon Town Council, Stratton Lodge, 52, Bath Street, Abingdon)-x j.
Abingdon, OxonCFrom 200yards below Sandford Lock to the old boathouseat RadleyRB No DT but weekly and fortnightly holiday anglers’ tickets may be obtained by advance application to Oxford A. and PS. Or Abingdon Angling and Re-Stocking Association
Bablock Hythe, OxonC 1i miles from Chequers Inn downstreamLB
DT: AP(Chequers Inn, Bablock
Bablock Hythe, OxonC2J miles from Bablock Hythe down to
No Dtare issued but special weekly and fortnightly holiday anglers’ tickets may be obtained by advance application to Oxford A. and PS.
Bourne End, BerksC1i miles from opposite Wootton’s Boathouseto
Buscot, BerksCAbove and below
Clifton Hampden, OxonC1j miles extending downstream from third meadow below Clifton Hampden
DT:AAA (Oxford AA)
Clifton Hampden, OxonC13 miles from Clifton Hampden Bridge down to Clifton Hampden Lock; alsol mile on the backwater above Clifton Hampden LockLB No DT but weekly or fortnightly holiday anglers’ tickets may be obtained by advance application to Oxford A. and PS. Or Clifton Hampden PS
Cookham, BerksC1 mile from Slogrove Island to Bray LockBB DT: ATS (S. Smith, 5, High Street, Maidenhead)
Cookham, BerksjCJ milefrom My Lady Ferry down to Slogrove lslandRB Freefishing Dorchester, OxonC1 milefrom notice board to Ferry GardenLB DT: B or AP (Cricketers Arms, Warborough) Dorchester, OxonC2 miles from
Day’s Lock to point } mile below junction with RiverThameLB
DT: AP (Dorchester) or AAA (Dorchester AA)
Eaton Hastings, OxonC3 miles at
DT: BorAH(Anchorlnn, Eaton
Eton, BerksC400 yards at Clewer Meadow (from Relief Road Bridge to Cuckoo Bridge)LB DT:Be Eton Wick, BerksC1 milefrom Boveney Church to Cuckoo Bridge (excluding Boveney Lock) LB DT:B Eynsham, OxonC3 miles from Pinkhill down to EynshamRB No DT but special weekly and fortnightly holiday anglers’ tickets may be obtained by advance application to Oxford A. and PS.
Hannington,WiltsCT1} miles from Kempsford down to Radpool
No DT but visiting anglers or groups may apply for permission for a day’s fishing to Haydon Street
Henley on Thames, OxonC2J miles from Henley Bridge to below
Temple Island (known as
Hurley Flats, BerksCAbove and below Hurley LockRB
DT:B lnglesham,WiltsCT3 miles from
No DT but visiting anglers or groups may apply for permission for a day’s fishing to Haydon Street
Lechlade, GlosC2 miles from
Inglesham (Round House)toTrout lnnRB
DT:BorAP(Trout Inn, Lechlade) orAAA(lsisAC)
Lechlade, GlosM2j miles from St John’s Lockto Round HouseRB DT: B or AH (Trout Inn, Lechlade) Maidenhead, BerksC2i miles from last garden at Dorney to BoveneyLock LB DT: ATS (J. Smith, 5, High Street, Maidenhead)
Match Catch Record: 86-4-
P Stone in club match 1
Barbel:’ 13-8-0 J Ginifer (meat & blood) Sept 1
Bream: 11-4-0 S Martin (lob) March 1
Carp: 31 -0-0 J Cadd (flake) Sept 1
Chub: 7-1-OS Mead (livefrog) Sept 1
Dace: 1 -0-0 J Smith Jan 1
Perch: 4-5-4 G B Irons (livebait) Dec 1
Pike: 30-0-0 J Cadd (livebait) Mar 1
Roach: 3-9-12TG Player June 1
Rudd: 3-13-0 Wtucker (bread) Jan 1
Tench: 8-8-0 J Searson Oct 1
Trout:216-15-0 captorunknown 1 ‘a barbel of 14-6-0, taken at Molesey in 1888, shared the British record for many years before being removed from the list in 1968. Another was reported (in a book by John Bickerdyke, a well-known writer of the day) at 14-8-0, caug ht at Radcot Bridge in 1909. trout of 17-3-0 was reported taken on a night line.
Maidenhead, BerksC200 yards from Sounding Arches, Maidenhead (known locally as The Wall) LB Free fishing
Maidenhead, Berks C1 mile from point above Boulter’s Lock down to Maidenhead BridgeRB Free fishing Marlow, BucksCRB ,arCompleat Angler. T:Marlow4444.42 rooms (all l) Marlow, BucksC200 yards extending immediately below Marlow Bridge LB Free fishing
Newbridge, OxonC2J miles at
DT: AH (Maybush Inn, Newbridge)
Newbridge, OxonC) mile extending from Newbridge
DT: AH (Rose Revived,
Newbridge, OxonC 1J miles above and b8lowbridgeRB
DT:AH (Maybush Inn,
Northmoor,OxonC1 mile extending upstream for 3 meadows from Northmoor LockLB No DT but special weekly and fortnightly holiday anglers’ tickets may be obtained by advance application to Oxford A. and PS.
Oxford, OxonC3J miles from Godstow Lock to Port Meadow, on to Osney Bridge through to Sandford and Kennington, with some gaps as signpostedAB DT:AAA (Oxford AA)
Pangbourne, BerksCJ mile extending upstream from Pangbourne Weir Free fishing Pangbourne, BerksC1 mile downstream from Whitchurch
Pangbourne, BerksC400 yards on
Child BealTrust land above car park atPangbourneRB
Radcot, OxonM4 miles from Grafton Lock to Richens BrookBB DT: KorAAA (Radcot APC)TSP (Swan Hotel, Radcot Bridge) Reading, BerksC3 miles from Thameside Promenade to King’s MeadowBB DT:ATS (Reading) Runnymede, SurreyC 11 miles in section downstream from Bell WeirRB Free fishing
Rushey Weir, OxonCT2 miles from Radcot Lock down to Rushey Weir LB DT:AAA(ClanfieldAC) Shillingford. Oxon C mile from two meadows below Shillingford Bridge almost to Benson WeirLB DT: AG (Crown Square Garage, Benson) or AAA (Benson AA) Sonning, BerksC2J miles from junction with River Kennet down to Sonning BridgeRB Free fishing Sonning, BerksC3 mile from Power Station above Sonning Lock down to lock (except section reserved for public moorings) RB Free fishing Sonning, Berks C1 mile extending upstream from Sonning BridgeLB DT:B Staines, Surrey C From the City
Stone (just below Staines Bridge) to the sea, a section which includes such popular centres as Laleham,
Chertsey, Shepperton, Walton-on-
Thames, Sunbury, Molesey,
Hampton Court, Kingston,
Richmond, Kew and Chiswick
Tadpole Bridge, Oxon M12 m I les from Road Bridge to Tenfoot
DT: AH (Trout Inn, Tadpole)
Tilehurst, BerksC2 miles from
Roebuck Inn down to Reading
Waltingford, OxonCl mile extending downstream from
Wallingford Bridge (known as
Wallingford, OxonC3 miles from
Benson Weirto Wallingford Bridge (known as Benson Reach) continuing, after a gap, to point J mile below Bow Bridge (lower section known as Chalmore
DT: ATS (Wallingford) or AAA (Wallingford Jolly Anglers AC)
Wallingford, OxonC3 miles from
Cholsey to Benson BB
DT: ATS (Wallingford Sports, 71,
High Street, Wallingford) x
Windsor, BerksC3 mile from
Windsor Bridge down to Albert
Bridge in Home ParkRB
Windsor, BerksCThe Romney
Island Fishery which includes all banks on island and 500 yards (RB) on meadow opposite island extending from the boat yard to
Black Potts Bridge
Windsor, BerksCJ mile from
Cuckoo Bridge to first backwater above Windsor Road Bridget LB
Windsor, BerksC J mile from first backwater above Windsor Road
Bridge down to bridgeLB
Windsor. BerksC3 milefrom railway bridge down to Victoria bridge (section known as The Royal
Old Windsor, BerksC500 yards from Albert Bridge to Old Windsor
AC notice boards above weirRB
Wolvercote,OxonC1 milefrom Godstow Bridge to King’s Lock BB DT: (L 10)ATS (Waltonian Tackle, 30a, Observatory Street, Oxford)
Note: a section of fishing near Bray Lock is available on season ticket through the privately operated Boyer Angling Scheme. All enquiries to William Boyer (Fishing), Trout Road, West Drayton, Middlesex UB7 7SN Associations: In addition to their DT fishing (included above) London AA also have extensive fishing for members only at Hambledon, Hurley, Sonning, Purley, Goring, Streatley, South Stoke, Cholsey, Moulsford, Little Wittenham, Appleford, Sonning Island and Hennerton Backwater. Other assns: Birmingham AA; Coventry AA; Fair Mile AC; Dorchester AA; Benson AA; Oxford & District AA; Oxford Alliance; Clifton Hampden PS; Abingdon & District Angling & Restocking Assn: Radcot AA; Clanfield AC; Shiplake& Binfield Heath.