This is one of the biggest river net-works in England, draining as it does most of this great county, exceptions being the eastern area on the north bank of the Humber and, in the extreme north east of Yorkshire, the moors drained by the Whitby Esk. The main artery is the Ouse itself, usually known as the Yorkshire Ouse to prevent confusion with other rivers of the same name. The seven major rivers and their tributaries which flow into the Ouse are of varying quality, because of pollution. The worst is the River Don and its tributary, the Rother. These are among the most polluted waterways in Britain. Brave efforts by Sheffield and District AA to bring trout fishing back to the higher reaches of the Don in the hills above this extremely industrialised city have recently suffered a serious setback due to yet another pollution and so the river remains an angling write-off. Also bad is the Aire in its lower reaches and a great deal of that Aire tributary, the Calder. It should be added that considerable progress is being made in re-stocking the upper part of the Aire. Of the other rivers, the Wharfe, Nidd, Ure (or Yore as it is sometimes called). Swale, and Der-went offer reasonable to good fishing though even some of these are not without their problems. Though most of the fishable parts of the Yorkshire rivers are described as mixed fisheries, it would be fairer to add that trout fishing predominates (and tends to be better) in the higher reaches of all of them. It is equally true to add that fly only becomes a more likely requirement the further you travel up any of these rivers. Salmon, common 100 years ago, are rarely caught on rod and line and those that are tend to remain a closely guarded secret.
Some years ago, the former Yorkshire River Authority began an attempt to re-stock this river network with salmon in the hope of repeating the success they had had on the Esk, currently Yorkshire’s only recognised salmon river . They hoped that by hatching eyed salmon ova in the upper Ure and trapping migrating fish on their way downstream, they could be transported overland by road to enable them to miss the belt of pollution standing between them and the Humber and the open sea. The hope was that once released in the Humber, these fish would go to sea and, later, ‘home’ on Yorkshire. Though some salmon did do just that, it would seem the numbers were not as high as hoped and the Yorkshire Water Authority have now officially announced the abandonment of the planting scheme though they are still trapping fish at Mickleyand transporting them to the sea.
At one time, the Yorkshire rivers were the only waters in Britain -apart from the Thames and Hampshire Avon systems – where barbel were to be found. Though other rivers, notably the Severn, have now been successfully stocked with barbel, these fish remain one of Yorkshire’s greatest angling attractions even though double figure barbel are much rarer here than elsewhere. Nevertheless, there are some as the report of a potential British record barbel of 14 lb 5 ozfrom the Ure above Ripon in the 1976 coarse fish close season demonstrates.
Of the other coarse fish, the big-gest question mark hangs over the roach. Decimated here, as elsewhere, by the fish disease, UDN, which struck in 1966, Yorkshire’s rivers seem to have recovered much more slowly from this scourge than some others and though sizeable roach are reported, their smaller brothers remain conspicuously absent in terms of numbers in spite of Water Authority attempts to reverse this situation by importing literally tons of them from Holland a few years ago.
The standard of coarse fishing in the middle lower reaches of the rivers is best described as reasonable to good. It is here, of course, that there is the greatest angling pressure. In the upper reaches where the fishing becomes much more private, the coarse fishing is magnificent and compares favourably with similar rivers elsewhere.
The newcomer to Yorkshire -whether he is fishing a river or still water – should note that the coarse fish season here is the only one to vary from the national norm in Eng-land and Wales. Elsewhere, the normal coarse fishing season is June 16 to March 14. In Yorkshire, thanks to dispensations sought way back in the ‘twenties, coarse fishing is from June 1 to Feb 27. When you add the fact that the trout season in Yorkshire runs from April 1 to Sept 30, it can be auickly deduced that the period Feb 28 to March 31 inclusive is the only time when the Yorkshire rivers are com-pletely closed to anglers. During the part of the coarse fish close season which falls during this period (Apr 1 to May 31 inc.), coarse fish, not surprisingly, are caught. Some, it must be said, even fish deliberately forthem underthe guise of going trout fishing at this time. It should be added that special regulations relating to coarse fish – like, for instance, a ban on keepnets – operate in April and May. Fuller details can be found on a Yorkshire rod licence. It is emphasised that these dates apply to the rivers in the Yorkshire Ouse system.
More detailed comment on the various rivers is given below. Rod Licence: YWA Ouse (Yorks)
A common argument among anglers is where, exactly, does the Ouse begin? That is because the river is simply a southward continuation of the River Ure a short distance below the latter’s junction with the Swale. The Ouse, in fact, begins about two miles below Aldwark Bridge where the little Ouseburn Beck flows in from the right bank. A sign on the riverside marks the exact dividing line ‘twixt Ouse and Ure. From this point, the Ouse flows south across the Yorkshire plain, getting deeper and deeper as it does so. From York, the river flows on through Selby and Goole to meet with the Trent to form the Humber. Though some big trout have been reported from the Ouse, it is best thought of as a coarse fish river. Big catches of barbel in excess of 100 lb have been taken and it would be true to
Yorkshire Ouse Records
Match Catch Record: 110-14-
J Jordan in open match Aug 1
Barbel: 12-1-8 MrRogers July 1
Bream:110-4-0 E Harrison (flake)
Chub: 7-15-0 P Minton (cheese) Oct 1
Perch: 3-3-0 E Downes 1
Pike: 24-0-0 P Bailey (livebait) Aug 1
Roach: 2-15-5 D Wakefield (slug)
Tench: 5-2-3 D Wakefield (lob) Aug 1
Trout: 11-4-0 captor & date unknown ‘this is the biggest bream reported anywhere in Yorkshire add that most reckon the biggest barbel in Yorkshire are to be found in the Ouse .. .difficult though they can be to locate. Another feature are big bream shoals containing big fish. These seem rare feeders in the mass and, usually, they hit the angling headlines only once or twice a season. At one time, the Ouse teemed with small roach, especially around York. Now they are less plentiful though big ones are sometimes taken. Add other coarse fish like chub and dace and the true character of the Ouse can be seen.
Acaster, N YorksC2 mile below Acaster Weir(withgaps)RB DT:APO (Acaster) Fulford, N YorksC 1} miles from boat moorings below Fulford
Pumping Station to Naburn
DT: A (Hoe’s Bakery, Main Street,
Fulford)June 1-Feb 27e
Low Dunsforth, N YorksC4 miles from Holbeck Drain down to Morgan’s DrainRB DT:AP(Anchorlnn, Dunsforth)Jun 1-Feb 27e
Nether Poppleton, N YorksC 3 milesfrom Nether Poppleton railway bridgedownstreamRB DT: A AA (Leeds Amalgamated AS)Jun 1-Feb 27e
Newton on Ouse, N YorksC6] miles from lodge gates at Newton down to Clifton Ings below
Rawcliffe (NB. Small gap in fishing atBusheyClose)LB
DT: ATS (York)Jun 1-Feb 27 e
Newton on Ouse, N YorksC2 mile upstream of River Kyle to Linton
DT: AG (Fotherby’s Garage,
Newton on Ouse)-Jun 1-Feb27
Ouseburn, N YorksC3 milesfrom
Aldwark Bridge upstreamRB
Widdington, N YorksC’ mile from fish passatweirtoa point opposite
Kyle Mouth (accessfrom Nun
DT: ATS (York)-Jun 1-Feb27
Poppleton, N YorksC3i miles from Nidd Mouth (including 225 yards of River Nidd) to Nether PoppletonRB DT:APO (Nether Poppleton)=Jun 1-Feb 27e York, N YorksC1J miles on banks within city boundaryBB Free fishing -Associations: Goole & District Angling Association, Leeds ASA; York and District Amalgamation.
Ouse (Yorks) Tributaries and associated waters