Three of London's finest fisheries
There are plenty of fly fishing opportunities to be enjoyed just a stone's throw from Central London. We speak to four Capital-based anglers who highlight three of their favourite haunts.
With so many species and endless destinations to explore worldwide, the keen angler often forgets the great locations one can enjoy on their doorstep, with many London-based anglers travelling endless miles to fulfil their fishing fix. But that needn't be the case. The dream of having a few casts after a long day in the office can certainly be realised.
We chat to four anglers – John and Fergus Kelley, Marina Gibson and Damon Valentine – who regularly visit destinations within the Capital such as Syon Park, The River Wandle and Walthamstow Reservoirs to enjoy their favourite pastime.
“London is my home and I was eager to find spots that were easily accessible where I could continue to fish when I wasn’t travelling,” says Fergus Kelley, co-founder of The London Fly Fishing Fair (the two-day event held on March 10–11 at the Business Design Centre, Islington, London). “Even experienced anglers will be surprised to know there is excellent fishing on hand in our great city.”
Fergus and his father John, also a founder of the Fair, have been fishing together since Fergus was old enough to wield a fly rod. “It is our biggest passion,” explains John, “the romantic idea of hunting fish in remote destinations has been a powerful element of our involvement in the sport, and to share this among more people in the UK (in particular London dwellers) and show how readily available it is for everyone to enjoy is so important to us.”
A favourite location for John, Fergus and Orvis brand ambassador and keen lady fisher Marina Gibson, is Syon Park Fishery – situated just across the River Thames from Kew Gardens and only eight miles west from Marble Arch.
Syon Park Fishery comprises of a six-acre elongated lake regularly stocked with both brown and rainbow trout. The average weight of fish is 2lb, with the largest stretching the scales to a whopping 10lb. The clarity of water is excellent, too, as you can see fish sitting in their lies or swimming nonchalantly passed you.
“I’ve fished Syon extensively over the last two years and have caught many great fish on Damsels, Montanas and Buzzers,” explains Marina. “As it doesn’t close until dusk, it is possible to have a quick cast after a day's work in the summer – the best way to rid yourself of the stresses that accompany a city job. It has become a reliable and most pleasurable go-to destination, and is, more often than not, rather fruitful.”
Venture south-east toward Croydon and Carshalton and you will find the River Wandle, a unique and excellent chalkstream which spills into the Thames at Wandsworth. This little river was once an open sewer, and is now in great condition and provides anglers with a plethora of quarry species – including barbel, chub, carp, roach, dace, gudgeon and wild brown trout – along its 11-mile course.
The Wandle is the inspiration behind Yorkshire-born Damon Valentine's obsession with fly fishing, who relocated to London six years ago and is now devoted to discovering different species within its perimeters. “The river is close to my heart, and is the most charming yet challenging water I have ever fished,” he admits. “Being totally overgrown in places, it is very easy to feel like you're lost along one of Hampshire's prestigious chalkstreams. In terms of kit, I have found a pair of chest waders, a 7ft fly rod, and a box brimming with Peeping Caddis and various shrimp patterns to be a must, along with a very stealthy approach; trout are ridiculously wary in the clear water.”
For the north Londoners eager to fish closer to home, a visit to Walthamstow Reservoirs is a must. A three-minute walk from Tottenham Hale Underground station, you don’t even need a car to reach this trout fishery. “This was the first fishery I visited after relocating from Yorkshire,” says Damon. “It is a great place to head to if you want to connect with good-sized rainbows and browns. It offers all you would expect from a typical trout fishery, with regular stocking and competitions, a good head of over-wintered fish, and a great community feel.
“I'm yet to meet anyone that hasn't offered up some sound advice or a friendly chat on my visits – whether it is one of the many members of the Walthamstow Fly Fishers' Club (who can be found regularly here) or the friendly warden at the office,” adds Damon. “Hence why I return back there again, and again. There is also a big focus on bringing in newcomers at the fishery, with regular 'Introduction to Fly Fishing' days throughout the year and a half-priced season ticket afterwards.”
Something else you will want to visit in the northern reaches of the Capital is the The London Fly Fishing Fair! See you in March.
For full details CLICK HERE.
Or visit the Fair's social media pages:
Twitter – @londonflyfish
Instagram – @thelondonflyfishingfair
Facebook – @thelondonflyfishingfair