Fishing the Middle Thames

Lying between castle towers and spires, long lawns and playing fields, the lovely middle reaches of the Thames have something for club angler, trout man, weir specialist and visitor alike Anglers have many opportunities for free and permit fishing along the middle reaches of Englnd’s major coarse fishing river—the Thames. From Oxford to Teddington, fishing is controlled by a number of clubs and includes the longest free-fishing stretch to be found in the area.

The London Anglers’ Association has the biggest holding. Their waters are available to members of the many affiliated clubs, and for associate members—for which the fee is £10. Membership also gives admission to many other fisheries in and around London.

The middle reaches of the Thames hold large shoals of big bream, fine roach, dace, barbel and good chub. Trout, tench, perch, pike, bleak, gudgeon, eels, ruffe and, in several areas, carp are also found.

Much of the fishing from Oxford to Sandford is controlled by Oxford and District Association, and regular visitors enjoy excellent sport, often taking big catches of bream and roach. Visitors must have a permit. Below Sandford the fishing is held by the Oxford Alliance, and much of this extends through Radley and Pumney Farm, and is reserved for members of affiliated clubs.

One of the most popular permit fisheries is at Abingdon where the local Borough Council controls 1 miles from Nuneham Railway Bridge downstream to Culham foot- ££ -LAX bridge. Known as the Corporate Fishery, it includes a fine weir pool that has produced barbel to 10lb. Residents living within three miles of Abingdon enjoy free fishing and the exclusive use of Abbey Meadow Island. Moreover, a resident’s permit is overstamped by the Corporation so the holder does not need a Thames Water Authority licence.

Permits for Abingdon

A visitor’s day permit, for adults or minors, costs 50p. A season permit costs £5 for adults, £1 for juniors and £2.50 for OAPs. A club party wanting to fish must pay an initial £5 plus 50p per angler, and there is a limit of 30 pegs—and the total payable is subject to VAT. Club bookings must be made well in advance, to the Town Clerk, Abingdon Town Council, Stratton Lodge, 52 Bath Street, Abingdon, Oxon.

Downstream, the river sweeps round a sharp bend into the attrac-tive Sutton Courtenay reach with its weirs and pools. It offers excellent fishing to members of Culham AA and can be reached from the A415 and B4016. The London Angler’s Association have double-bank fishing available from the railway bridge at Appleford to Long Wit- tenham, plus a further section at Little Wittenham.

From Long Wittenham, Clifton Hampden PS, a member club of the Oxford Alliance, has the fishing along the north bank for about 1 miles from the weir to Clifton Hamp-den weir. Then at Dorchester, the Dorchester AA controls the water. This is reached from the A423.

Warborough and Shillingford club members have a mile of water to Benson, and downstream the Jolly Angler AC has a stretch from Benson to below Wallingford, noted for shoals of big bream. Day and week tickets are available and the water is easily reached via the A423, A4130 and A329.

Bath Road PS holds the rights to the Mungewell Park Farm stretch where bream, chub, roach, dace and gudgeon figure chiefly in the catches—unfortunately available to members only. Members of the Hanwell Prince of Wales AC then have the fishing at Little Stoke, the LAA from here to Goring.

The opposite bank, from Basildon to Pangbourne, is controlled by Ye Olde Thames AC and is noted for bream, with a former world match record of 175lb 4£oz taken in 1977. Access is easy from the A329, but the water is strictly reserved for members only.

Downstream there is some free fishing along Pangbourne Meadows, and in this area the National Trust has permit water along the Whit-church meadows, reached from Pangbourne village.

The next noted section is at Mapledurham where large pike are taken. The water is controlled to below the weirpool by the LAA and the Elthorne AA. The latter is for members only, but membership is available. Downstream, the Chazey Farm fishery is controlled by Reading and District AA and offers chub, bream, roach and dace.

Tilehurst to Caversham Bridge

Popular with visiting anglers is the long stretch of free fishing on the opposite bank, extending from Tilehurst down through Caversham Reach, offering fine mixed catches of roach, chub, dace and bream, plus fine pike in season. Reading Council controls King’s Meadow and Christchurch meadow along this bank, both easily reached from Caversham Bridge. Clubs can book the meadows and most weekdays anglers enjoy free fishing. There is more free fishing on the towpath bank downstream of Caversham Weir and below Reading Bridge through the Dreadnought stretch to Sonning Bridge. On the opposite bank the LAA hold the rights to an exclusive fishery, and downstream the fishing is controlled by the Reading and District AA.

At Shiplake, the Shiplake and Bin-field Heath AC has a fishery for members, with fine bream, chub, roach and dace.

The next popular day-ticket stretch is at Remenham where the local club’s water extends to Hambledon Lock which is easily reached from the A423.

The LAA has another interesting fishery from Medmenham to Temple ferry which has a number of varied swims and holds most species of coarse fish. section of this stretch is available on a £1 day ticket.

Marlow is noted for excellent fishing, and the Marlow AC has water from Temple Lock down-stream to near the road bridge, and then from Marlow Lock to a point opposite Wootton’s boathouse. This includes the Marlow Race.

The adjoining Bourne End fishery, noted particularly for chub, with good shoals of roach and dace, is for LAA members only and tickets have now been discontinued.

A long and exclusive fishery at Cookham is controlled by the local Cookham and District AC for members only, while downstream there are free and day-ticket stret-ches through to Boulter’s Lock. Maidenhead AC bailiffs issue day tickets along the bank from Monday to Friday costing £1.

Free fishing is to be found down the river to Bray where a mile-long stretch is reserved for Boyer’s Angling Scheme permit-holders.

One of the finest sections of the middle Thames is the Maidenhead AC-controlled Dorney Reach exten-ding down to Boveney Church. Excellent catches of barbel and chub are made here, and £1 day tickets are issued from Monday to Friday. Fishing rights on the exclusive Racecourse Island at Windsor and on the opposite bank are held by the Civil Service AS which also has a fine stretch for members at Datchet.

Boveney Lock to Windsor

From Boveney Lock the LAA has fishing along the towpath to Cuckoo footbridge, and below this it is Salt Hill Club’s water. The river here flows along Clewer Meadow, rounding Clewer Point and on towards Windsor Bridge. Day tickets are issued here and some big bream, chub and other specimen sized coarse species have been taken.

Between the Salt Hill water and Windsor Bridge lies Brocas Meadow, overshadowed by Windsor Castle on the opposite side of the river. Fishing here is free and is situated just a short walk from the council car park, being easily reached from Eton High Street.

The Romney weir and lock cut are controlled by the Old Windsor Angling Club, which issues day tickets for this, and for the single bank bet-ween Albert Bridge and Old Windsor Lock. Fishing is free, in this long lock cutting.

Downstream at Runnymede there is free fishing along the National Trust bank and from here, past Egham recreation ground with its large car park, to Staines road bridge. Fine barbel and carp are also to be found here.

The towpath switches to the opposite bank below Staines bridge, and fishing is free along the re-mainder of the river through Penton Hook, Laleham, Chertsey and Shep-perton, in Middlesex.

On the south bank, the Des-borough Channel forms a large island that is well used by contest and casual visiting anglers, and is easily reached from the large car park by Walton bridge. From the Desborough Channel the towpath bank extends through Sunbury and Molesey to Hampton Court Bridge, where it switches to the opposite bank down to Kingston.

Canbury Gardens at Kingston, on the Surrey bank, provide one of the most popular sections in this part of the river, yielding mainly bream and roach. In fact, the fishing continues to be good right through to Teddington weir, below which the river is tidal and holds extremely fine shoals of dace.

Weir fishing is available all year round, for there are big trout in addition to the coarse species. In this part of the Thames 14 weirs are available to holders of the Thames Water Authority annual weir permit costing £5. The permit allows the holder to fish on 19 weirs through the river.

Working downstream from Oxford, the weirs available to the permit holder are Sandford, Sutton, Day’s, Goring, Shiplake, Marsh, Hambledon, Marlow, Bray, Boveney, Bell, Shepperton, Sunbury and Molesey. In addition to these, there are weirs not included in the permit where it is possible to fish after having obtained the permission from lock-keeper and clubs holding fishing rights.

In all, the Middle Thames probably offers the greatest single complex of coarse fishing in the British Isles.