Is the Trent the UK's finest river?

‘Fishing on the River Trent has never been so good.’ This is the claim being made by anglers following last week’s venue record match weight.

The huge haul by Sutton-on-Trent angler Toby Bunting saw him land around 40 bream from the  Holme Marsh stretch in Nottinghamshire to weigh in a staggering 167lb 6oz.

Another recent Division One National on the river at Newark saw nearly all of the 420 competitors weigh in and the top six recorded nearly 200lb between them.

70-year-old Stewart Goulding, match organiser for Worksop District Anglers Association, the scene of last week’s record weight told Angling Times that he can’t remember the fishing ever being so good. “I have fished this part of the river since I was a lad and it’s better now than in its heyday,” he said. “Back then it was just roach and chub but now it’s other species too - this year we have had numerous 100lb-plus match nets of big barbel and bream.”

Chris Shaw, President of Midlands Angling Society, a club which runs a stretch of the river at Caythorpe in Nottinghamshire, has also sang the river’s praises: “As well as specimen fish we have seen a notable improvement in match catches over the past five years or so with roach, dace and chub being caught in huge numbers,” he explained.

It’s not only matchmen enjoying the quality of the fishing, however, as specimen anglers are also reporting bumper catches. Numerous barbel captures over 16lb have been recorded in the last month in what has been a bountiful year for the Midlands waterway which has also seen zander to over 16lb, carp of more than 30lb and chub to 7lb-plus banked.

One of the anglers cashing in on the superb sport is big-fish man Lee Swords, who netted a 7lb 4oz chub from the river in June. He told Angling Times: “The river has been improving year-on-year and this season has been one of the best, especially for chub. There has also been some huge barbel caught too so I wouldn’t be surprised if a record fish emerged in the next five years.”

The excellent fishing has also seen an increase in sales of traditional running water baits like hemp, maggots and casters. Tim Aplin, who runs Nottingham’s Matchmen Supplies, said: “Takings from baits like maggots have definitely been up this year as more anglers have been visiting the river. Not just those who have fished it before but new and young anglers are trying it for the first time which is such a positive sight.”

A multitude of reasons has been cited for the upturn in sport, much of which can be linked with work carried out by the Environment Agency. They have made numerous restocking’s on Trent stretches including immediately after pollution incidents. In 2009 thousands of fish were killed after cyanide leaked into the river in Staffordshire but in response the EA stocked over 50,000 coarse fish the following winter. The quality of the water in the Trent has also been steadily improving since the 1970s and work has been carried out at numerous places across the Midlands to reconnect the river with the floodplain which helps to boost fish populations by providing shelter in high flows, as well as creating a productive environment in which juvenile fish can grow rapidly during the summer months.

Sarah Chare, the Environment Agency’s new head of fisheries, said: “The River Trent is the healthiest it has been for many years and a popular place to go fishing. Not wanting to rest on our successes, we are doing even more to further improve water quality and biodiversity. This is a great example of how rod licence income is used to protect and improve fisheries.”


River Trent, Burton Joyce, Notts 

20lb roach nets on the pole or stick float.

Contact: 01159 870525, Victoria Tackle 

Prices: £6 a day on the bank, Ashfield AC

River Trent, Burton on Trent, Staffs 

Roach nets to over 20lb falling to stick float and maggot tactics.

Contact: 01283 512711, Coors AC 

Prices: £35 a season Coors AC

River Trent, Caythorpe, Notts 

Barbel to 14lb and chub to over 6lb have been caught here this season.

Contact: Midland AS, 01773 784840 

Prices: £3.50 on the bank, Midland AS

River Trent, Holme, Newark, Notts 

Barbel and bream bags to over 100lb featuring in catches here with the groundbait feeder working well.

Contact: Worksop DAA, 01909 486350 

Prices: £4 a day on the bank, Worksop DAA

River Trent, North Clifton, N Lincs 

This tidal stretch has been in great form for bream, barbel, chub and roach with match anglers and specimen boys enjoying good sport.

Contact: Harrison’s Tackle, 01522 523834 

Prices: £4 on the bank, Lincoln DAA

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