What's the Catch? Coarse season could throw up some surprises

At long last the new coarse-fishing season on Britain's rivers is upon us and there will be enthusiastic anglers hoping to get the new season off to a flying start, writes Roger Poole, chairman of Petworth and Bognor Angling Club.

Wednesday, 4th July 2018, 10:00 am
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 4:53 pm
The River Rother at Stedham / Picture by reader Diana Challen

Experience led me to realise that a river last fished in March was very different in June: the baits, the tactics, the swims needed re-appraisal rather than expectation that what worked three months ago would work again, so now a different approach is well worth the effort and time just looking and watching is time well spent.

The legal close season is there for a purpose, the main one being time for fish to spawn. Having done so their natural desire is to build their strength and for anglers this means using baits to suit that purpose, so it’s worth offering a variety to test what bait takes their fancy, depending on the variety of fish the angler is hoping to catch.

The one thing you can be certain of is nature providing a wide variety of natural foods – bugs, worms, flies and grubs are close to the river in bankside shrubs and trees.

Let’s hope for another good fishing season, not only on the rivers but on the ponds and lakes throughout our lovely county.

We are blessed with both and my club (www.sussexangling.co.uk) along with others would like to see more people taking up angling as a pastime.

To encourage them we have the National Fishing Month led by author and TV presenter of River Monsters Jeremy Wade and TV presenter and angler Nick Hancock, who together with the angling trade are backing more than 250 events across the UK targeting youngsters and adults.

The scheme is backed by the Environment Agency and if you are interested visit www.nationalfishingmonth.com – remember, children under 16 can enjoy a free fishing licence – check www.gov.uk/fishing-licences/buy-a-fishing-licence.

National Fishing Month actually runs from July 27 to September 2 to coincide with the school holidays.

Petworth and Bognor Angling Club are always looking for youngsters to join and enjoy a pastime that gets you out in the countryside and away from those screens that are taking over our lives.

When my club ran a couple of events for children to try fishing from one of our ponds at Walberton, they went wild with excitement and pleasure when handling a small rudd with its lovely red dorsal fins, and after putting them back in the water unharmed they couldn’t wait to catch another.

Sadly we can’t arrange weekend events for children throughout the year, but it’s certainly something today’s adult anglers need to consider to help ensure the survival of angling as well as the clubs themselves.

Fortunately my club retain and grow our membership through the dedicated effort in looking after our venues on both still waters and stretches of the Rother and Arun to ensure there’s good reason to enjoy a day’s fishing.

What’s out there to tempt these early-season anglers? Well the tench are certainly active in the early morning from our ponds, but on the rivers chub seem to dominate at the moment and are always active especially in the margins.

Under tree and shrub cover they take most baits and last year soft cheese caught a good number of quality chub especially from the Rother.

Light tackle float trotting mid-stream with a size 16/18 hook with a single maggot should catch dace, roach and the occasional perch, ideal on the Rother but on the Arun the same tactics work the opposite and best in the margins, while mid-water on the Arun using a feeder or ledger is more likely to find bream and chub and, if you are really lucky, a barbel.

You need to experiment with your choice of baits in these early days – remember, the river is full of natural food.

Tight lines and enjoy your fishing.

Roger Poole

Chairman, Petworth & Bognor Angling Club