For many Brits, there is no richer experience than simply going fishing. The equipment may have become more sophisticated in recent decades, but fishing still elicits feelings of tradition, heritage and unbroken, unparalleled calm.
It’s little wonder, then, that fishing is among the most popular participation sports in Britain today. On a once-per-month participation basis, angling is the sixth most popular in Britain. Environment Agency figures suggested in 2010 that more than six million people had gone fishing in the previous two years – and that participation was on the up. With this in mind, it’s reasonable to believe that even more people have taken up the sport.
Even though fishing might seem like a leisurely, incredibly personal way to spend an afternoon, the benefits of doing so are very tangible indeed. Reports have even suggested that fishing could generate up to £3.5 billion for the British economy every single year.
So where are the most idyllic spots in which to set up and while away most of the day reeling in a fresh catch.
Those looking to catch themselves a carp, perch, bream or chub find themselves in good company. Coarse angling, which takes in rivers, lakes and ponds, is the most popular form of fishing in Britain. Whilst there are too many idyllic coarse fishing spots around the country to name, here are some of the best.
Situated within Wombwell Woods near Barnsley, the two main lakes of Wombwell Dam offer ticketed fishing in lush surroundings. When there’s nothing biting, anglers can take in the sights of the surrounding woodland, as well as the skylarks, woodpeckers and kestrels which have set up a habitat in the area.
It shouldn’t be too long before attention turns back to the job at hand, though, with carp, bream and roach all said to be in plentiful quantities. Not only that, numerous reports of 25lb-plus catches show there could be more on offer than just the idyllic surrounds.
Cornwall’s White Acres has had a rough time of late, after being hit with potentially devastating sanctions back in 2008 after it was hit with the Koi Herpes Virus. Now, more than six years on, the restrictions have been lifted and the site is able to introduce live fish back to its waters.
Whilst the damage from its restrictions may be felt for many years to come, White Acres could soon be elevated back to its previously-held status as the UK’s most popular fishing holiday destination. Popularity may not equate to overcrowding, though, as the ten pleasure lakes should ensure that every angler easily manages to find a quiet retreat of their very own.
Game anglers are those who head out with salmon, trout or char on their minds. Sometimes called fly fishing, this typically involves casting in long lines and luring fish with live bait or synthetic ‘flies’ made from hair and feathers.
For salmon fishing in the British Isles, you’d be hard pushed to find anywhere that can give Scotland a run for its money. With Scottish salmon enjoying a global reputation (and price tag to match), it’s little wonder that game anglers view the waterways north of the border as their own personal Mecca.
Despite there being an embarrassment of riches on offer, it’s the River Dee which is perhaps most deserving of praise. Nestled in amongst the imposing Cairngorm mountains, the river is open for fishing between February and October. Then, anglers can enjoy the huge volumes of salmon on offer there, thanks to a catch-and-release policy introduced 15 years ago that is still providing benefits even today.
South of the border it would be hard to compete with the River Wye for idyllic game angling. Wending its way through Wales and England before emptying into the Severn, the Wye takes in some of the almost-legendary scenery on and around Offa’s Dyke. Once anglers have obtained their permit to fish on certain stretches of the river, they can enjoy an abundance of salmon, especially at medium or low water levels.
Even on a quiet day for catches, it’s nigh on impossible to get bored on the River Wye. Sections passing through the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Forest of Dean are real highlights, as they offer tranquillity beyond measure. This is especially true for early risers, who can enjoy the thick mists that really foster the feelings of being miles away from all humanity.
As the name suggests, sea anglers head to Britain’s coastlines with a view to catching bass, cod, plaice, millet, pollack, flounder and bream.
For picturesque, chocolate box coastal towns, St Ives takes some beating. The old cobbled streets and stunning harbour are responsible for bringing thousands of tourists to the area every year. Not all of them are there for a spot of shopping or relaxing on the beach, though, but a spot of fishing instead.
One item which sea anglers at St Ives need to pack, almost without fail, is a pair of sunglasses. The clear, glassy sea is the kind which many people have long given up hoping was still in existence on the British coast. This also means the fish stock should be top quality as well, with cod, haddock, mackerel, pollock and other fish n’ chip favourites all on offer.
For sheer variety alone, the famous Chesil Beach is renowned among sea anglers. Even the most subtle geographical changes can bring about huge variations in the fish stock on offer – in terms of both size and diversity, so no two trips will ever be the same.
The fish stock isn’t everything that Chesil Beach offers, though. Anglers can also take in the miles of pristine coastline that can lay deserted for hours at a time. Not only that, in being a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its rich stock of dinosaur fossils, Chesil Beach could even provide anglers with something a little more Jurassic to take home than just their bass and plaice.