As the nation obsesses over the return of Premier League football and mourns the loss of an Olympic Games, you would be forgiven for not noticing that some of the quieter sports are back.
Fishing has been allowed since the first phase of lockdown. In attics and garages across the land rods are being dug out, reels are being dusted off and fly tying vices are being oiled. Having not been on a river bank, or sampled the delights of a well stocked stillwater for several months, where to start?
Below are a few of my favourites; any one of which would be the perfect spot to feel that heartstopping tug, battle a big fish or simply enjoy the peace and beauty of a quiet bankside. With our larger reservoirs still out of action there are plenty of rivers as well as smaller, more intimate stillwaters waiting for you to winkle out a rainbow or stalk a brown trout. Who knows? You might even catch that fish of a lifetime…
Please note: these are all fly fishing venues. Other methods are not permitted. Payments are now being taken online, there are visitor limits and social distancing of 15 metres between anglers will be enforced. Always check fishery websites for the latest news and I would recommend making contact with the venue before travelling. For general information on fishing and the latest guidelines go to the Angling Trust.
Kimbridge on the River Test and Abbots Worthy on the River Itchen are just a couple of the prime beats Orvis has on offer, on two of the finest chalk streams in the land. With trout and grayling galore, none of which have seen a fly since lockdown, these will be sure to make for some explosive fishing in idyllic surroundings. Numbers are limited and slots are in demand but the friendly staff at Orvis will do their utmost to hook you up with a day at one of their stretches of water. Orvis have also kept their online store stocked up throughout and a full range of tackle is available if you need that killer fly or a new set of waders before your trip.
A short drive up the M11 is the gem that is Thornwood Springs. With several lakes to choose from, catering for all levels of fly fisher, there really is something for everyone to enjoy here. There is even a child friendly heavily stocked area that would be ideal as a place to first wet a line for someone completely new to fly fishing. Meanwhile there are also plenty of big fish for the more experienced fly fisher to target and the evening rise here has to be seen to be believed. With deep water and fed by springs even in the hottest days of summer there is fly fishing to be done here, all in a beautifully landscaped environment.
Head west and you might be surprised to find a fantastic fishery less than ten miles from Marble Arch. Set in the grounds of Syon House, Syon Park Fishery is an amazing water – blink and you would think you are deep in the shires. The gin clear water makes this a perfect spot to stalk the double figure trout that lurk in its margins. Syon will be operating a season ticket system until October so this would appeal to anyone planning on a weekly trip. If you are in the market for a one-off experience then its sister venue has three lakes to choose from, and Albury Estate is offering limited day tickets.
Head out east to Chigborough Farm and Fisheries, for a mixed trout and carp venue. They have two trout lakes and a beginners pond. These have been stocked throughout lockdown and should offer some fantastic fly fishing only opportunities. With a maximum of twenty five fly fishing anglers permitted for the foreseeable future there will be ample opportunity to find a peaceful corner and connect with some prime trout.
Finally, if you’re really pining for a boat on a bigger water the option that comes closest would be Elinor Trout Reservoir near Thrapston, Northamptonshire. At 50 acres it offers a wonderful day on the water and there are boats for hire. For those wishing to stay on land there is also plenty of bankside to explore with a fly rod. Once again please book and pay in advance.
So come on, what’s your excuse? Get out there and put a bend in your rod and support our tireless fishery owners and tackle stores. And, as that fish of a lifetime slips the hook at the net and lives to fight another day – think for a moment of the next phase, when you can go to a busy pub and tell all your friends about it. Now that would be the icing on the fishing cake.