During a trip to London I started to think is it possible to catch a trout without leaving the city. So I asked around and did some research on the matter.
Short answer is yes, it is possible to catch trout in London City. The River Wandle in the Southwest offers the best sighted fishing for trout in the city. The small chalk stream offers some freely available sight fishing for wild brown trout.
There is a surprising amount of fishing available within the city boundaries. The three main styles of fishing are Rivers, Canals and Stillwater. Out of these the river and streams offer the best trout fishing opportunities.
The River Wandle | Brown trout fishing in London city
From the dozen rivers which flow through London, the River Wandle upstream of Poulter Park offers the most recommended fishing for wild trout. The Wandle does flow through some less than desirable areas, so caution must be noted if leaving a rental car or fishing the dusk hatch.
The prime time of year to target trout in the Wandle is between the months of May and September. Over these warmer months there is an abundance of aquatic and terrestrial insect life. Popular flies to fish are size 14-16 dries or emerges. Size 4-8 streamers can also be effective. Do not be afraid to try fishing a tiny nymph such as a Hare’s Ear beneath the dry.
A comprehensive trout fishing guide on the River Wandle can be found here.
How to access by public transport.
There are multiple routes by both bus and train. The best option really depends on the starting location. I highlighted a couple of options below.
River Wandle takes approximately an hour to access from central London taking public transport. The park is approximately a 20-minute walk from Mitcham Junction station on the Southern line.
Ravensbury Park can be accessed from the N44 bus. Get off at Belgrave Walk Tram Stop. The N44 has several stops in the central city, including Victoria Station.
The River Chess | Brown trout on the City outskirts
The river Chess has its origins in a series of springs in the Chiltern Hills. From there the chalk stream flows through Buckhamshire and Herfordshire just on the border with greater London. The Chess ends when it merges with the River Colne. Over the previous decades the once prized fishing has deteriorated in the River Chess, mainly due to a combination of abstraction, drought and overfishing. There over the warm summer months there is still a worthwhile evening rise.
The Rickmansworth Sports Ground provides access to the lower reaches of the River Chess. At times this normally shallow section of river holds a decent population of brown trout and chab. Although, in recent years, numbers have suffered due to overfishing. The River Chess used to contain Rainbow but that fishery has died out. The Sportsground are accessible by public transport by catching a train to the Rickmansworth station.
Further up stream most of the best beats are privately or club owned. Although some free fishing can be accessed along the 10 mile Chess Valley Walk. The Walk often follows the chalkstream and it goes all the way from Rickmansworth to Chesham. The walkway largely follows public footpaths, but there are some road sections.
Stock Trout Fisheries in London
While the River Wandle offers wild trout in a chalk stream, most London fishermen head to one of the more numerous stock fisheries. These privately operated stocked lakes offer the most consistent brown and rainbow trout fishing The most famous ones include the centrally located Walthamstow reservoir or Syron Park. Trout over ten pounds have been caught at Syron park. A day membership at the time of writing at Syron Park costs £14.00. While, Walthamstow reservoir charges £26.00 for 4 trout landed. Syron Park is a catch and keep only fishery. Catch and releases is allowed at Walthamstow.
How to access by public transport
There is good public transport connections to Walthamstow wetlands. The Victoria line on the tube stops at both Blackhorse Road and Tottenham Hale which is a 10-minute walk from the entrance. There is also a bus stop right by the entrance.
Syron Park is easily accessed from the Syon Lane station on the South Western Railway. The entrance is about a 10-minute walk from the station.
What are the regulations when fishing in London.
All trout fishermen must purchase a rod fishing licence before fishing for trout and other fish in England. The rod fishing licence must be carried at all times while fishing. Full regulations can be found here
There is a closed season for brown and rainbow trout in rivers and streams between the 1st of October and the 31st march every year.
Local areas and privately run fisheries often have additional requirements and restrictions.
Can you catch trout in the River Thames?
The River Thames dominates London City, over the past few decades the health of the river has improved significantly, which has seen the return of many fish species. A few sea run trout and salmon are reported entering the River Thames every year. Most sea runs are caught downstream of Reading which is some 40 miles upstream of London.
The numbers are still low, and it requires quite a bit of luck and dedication to catch. For a tourist in the city for only a few days the chance of catching one is almost null. Most of the fishing in the lower Thames is for Coarse and marine species.
The further upstream around Lechlade the trout fishing improves, but by then the river is nearly a 100 miles away from London. Trying to catch a Thames trout in London then fishing upstream from Twickenham where the water is less brackish and the river narrows.
Many of the upper tributaries also hold trout such as the River Chess on the city outskirts or the Loddon near Reading. Many more tributaries further away from the city also have trout population.
How much does trout fishing in London cost?
When fishing free access water for river trout then the only expense is the fishing licence which is £6 for a day. An 8 day licence is better value at $12, for extended stays a year licence is £30.
When targeting salmon or sea trout. The licence cost is £12/£27/£82 for the same amount of time.
If accessing private water then the cost does increase, like mentioned above, the stocked lakes can charge over £14 for a days fishing.
Fishing a private beat with a guide can be in excess of £300. For the most part they are outside of the city limits.