Lincolnshire Fishing

The Witham with its prized head of trout has often in the past overshadowed its own rich stocks of coarse fish and the acres of fen drain and canal water which make up Lincolnshire fishing _w.’

The Lincolnshire Fenland offers well over 200 miles of bank fishing, most of which is easily accessible and available to all anglers upon the purchase of the appropriate fishing licence and permit.

The Fens have been reclaimed by land drainage over hundreds of years, and now drained and tamed, they represent some of the richest farming land in Britain, as well as providing some of the finest fishing. Often represented as flat, uninteresting country, there are nevertheless areas where angling is the principal recreation. The Lincolnshire Fens are a patchwork of navigable drains and rivers, most of which offer an abundance of coarse fishing comparatively free of boat traffic.

The River Witham, the county’s principal river, runs for a distance of 80 miles, rising at South Witham, some 10 miles from Grantham, in the iron mining district of Rutland. From its source to Grantham the river is a preserved trout fishery— and strictly private. The river runs through the town of Grantham and free fishing is available to licence holders in the park.

Members’ privileges

Immediately downstream of Grantham the local angling association control the fishing which begins on the Belton Trust Estate at Man-thorpe village and continues downstream for approximately 9 miles to the village of Long Bennington. This section of river is narrow with a depth of between 1ft and 3ft. It holds a good head of roach, dace, fine chub and also a few trout. Membership of the Grantham AA is open to all and costs £5 per annum (ladies and juniors £3; OAPs £2).

From Long Bennington downstream the river forms a canal and has a much reduced flow. Much of the water down as far as Aubourn is leased to small angling clubs and fishing is restricted to club members. Lincoln and District AA control both banks between Beckingham and Stapleford for four miles and the left bank from Stapleford to Bassingham Church footbridge for VA miles.

The river along this stretch, renowned for its chub, varies from 2 to 4ft deep. No day tickets are issued on this length, but membership is open to everyone. Membership books are available at all Lincoln tackle shops and from fishery bailiffs at a cost of £5.

The Witham to Lincoln

Fishing is private between Bassingham and the confluence with the River Brant. The River Brant runs into the Witham a couple of miles below the village of Aubourn and from that point to the centre of Lincoln it is much more sluggish and almost wide enough to support dou-ble bank fishing. The depth of water is about 5ft, and the fish population includes pike, bream, roach, chub, dace, ruffe and gudgeon. Lincoln and District AA control both banks to Lincoln and match fishing is permitted. (Enquiries to F Butler, 47 Nelthorpe St, Lincoln. Tel 34174.) Day tickets are available on this length at a cost of 70p from tackle shops and fishery bailiffs. On the Upper Witham access is good at all villages and indicated by notice boards. Float fishing is the best method, close to the clumps of moderately heavy weed growth.

The Witham and Fossdyke Canals flow into the Brayford Pool in the centre of Lincoln before flowing under the city’s main shopping street and on to Stamp End Lock. From this point the next 31 miles to Boston are well known to many of the angling fraternity as one of the finest coarse fisheries in the country providing coarse fishing of all types, and are extremely popular with match anglers. The vast majority of the fishing from both banks is controlled by the Witham and District Joint Anglers Federation. Membership is open to all and temporary membership tickets indicated by notice boards are available all along the river at 70p (80p in 1982).

The river is heavily booked for matches on all weekends throughout the summer and autumn until at least the end of October, but the Federation reserves areas solely for the non-competition angler.

Not match-pegged The areas not match-pegged are currently found immediately downstream of Lincoln to half a mile past Washingborough station (approx-imately 3 1/2 miles); Bardney Dead-water and Branston Island on the inside bank from the local (3 miles), Stixwould on both banks (200 rods) Kirkstead on the left bank downstream of bridge (2 miles); Tattershall bridge upstream on both banks to the confluence with Billinghay Skirth (50 rods), and Anton Gowt to Boston (3 miles). In addition to these lengths of the main river, there is fishing on the Sincil Drain, which runs parallel for 9 miles from Lincoln before joining it at Bardney (a favourite spot during the late part of the season).

Martin Delph, a 2-mile length of straight water joining the Witham half a mile downstream of Kirkstead Bridge on the right bank, provides good early season bream fishing and large pike. The area from Lincoln past Washingborough and Five Mile House to Bardney is a popular float fishing stretch, with plenty of weed cover and a water depth of between 5 and 8ft. Access is good and the fish population includes bream to 4lb and a few fine tench. There are also roach in quantity and bleak, as well as good ruffe, silver bream, gudgeon and pike.

From Bardney the river widens and deepens and is renowned for its large bream shoals along the whole of its length to Boston. Access is good at Bardney, Southrey, Stixwould and Kirkstead—and the river varies in depth between 7 and 14ft. Float tactics are favoured by the vast majority of match anglers. Worms, casters, maggots and breadflake make the best baits for the larger bream. The best pike fishing available is to be found at the Bardney Lock area of the Dead-water, Old River and Sincil Drain.

Black Horse, White House

Kirkstead is the Mecca of the big open match angler and is the location of many competitions. This length of the Witham houses the famous bream spots such as ‘Black Horse Bend’ and ‘Ivy Cottage’, both upstream of the bridge. Downstream of the bridge is a 6-mile length of road running parallel and close to the river and ending midway between Dog Dyke and Chapel Hill.

Timberland Lane End, White House Corner, Reedy Bay and also the famous Sandholes up to Tattershall. At Dog Dyke a tremendous shoal of bream congregate each winter on either side of the confluence with the River Bain. At Chapel Hill the Kyme Eau joins the Witham—this area is popular with pleasure anglers. Downstream of Chapel Hill to Langrick Bridge there is no access other than along the bank, except with permission from the land owners. For the more energetic anglers, who are prepared to walk 1 % miles downstream of Chapel or a similar distance upstream of Langrick, the rewards may be remarkable as this area is among the best on the river. Langrick is the widest and deepest part of the Witham. Here there are plenty of weeds out from the bank and anglers can fish on either side without interfering with those on the opposite side. In this area huge catches of roach are taken on creed wheat, and bream catches often exceed 50lb. From Langrick to Boston the river runs a dogleg course with good fishing all the way, although the only good access points are at Anton Gowt on the left bank and Boston West on the right bank and the Road End at Boston.

Trout fishing

Until recently the county had only a sprinkling of small landlocked waters on which to practise fly fishing. However, a first class fly-only water, administered by the Anglian Water Authority, opened in 1975 and has proved to be a tremen-dous attraction, not only to Lincolnshire anglers, but also to those from Midlands and South Yorkshire.

Landlocked trout fishing is also available at Lincoln on a complex of lakes leased by the Witham and District Joint Anglers’ Federation (opened in 1978). They are situated off the Doddington Road, Lincoln, and known as the Swanholme Lakes. The complex comprises three lakes totalling 20 acres of fly-only trout water available at a cost of £4.50 a day between April 1 and the end of October. Boats are for hire, too. In addition, there is a 28.7 acre coarse fishery open all year round.

Sea angling

Sea angling on the coast of Lincolnshire between the Humber and the Wash is probably the worst in Britain. The water is very shallow and 2 miles offshore at Skegness it is only 12ft deep, while at V% mile off-shore one can stand up comfortably. It is therefore wise to fish off one of the points to get any sort of success. North to south these are at Chapel St Leonards, Ingoldmells, Skegness Pier (open summer season only) and Gibraltar Point.

Cod are the predominant species caught, but there is also a sprinkling of bass, thornback skate, flounders and dabs. The baits to use are lugworm, ragworm, and mackerel strip. Tackle may be hired, bait obtained, and a mine of local infor-mation to be had from Pete Gibson, Roman Bank, Skegness.