How to catch trout in London | The secret trout streams in the mega city
Is it possible to catch trout in London? In this article, I will answer exactly that.
Trout can be caught without leaving London. The River Wandle in the Southwest offers the best sight fishing for wild brown trout in the city. While several stock ponds also provide fishing for various species of trout.
It might come as a surprise to some, but there is a surprising amount of fishing available within the city boundaries. When most people think of trout fishing in a city, they will immediately think of stocked still water, yes these do exist in London but trout can also be caught in creeks such as the River Wandle and even occasionally in the canals.
Out of these the rivers and creeks offer the best fishing opportunities for wild fish.
The lower portions of the Thames, which I will discuss later. Does not contain many trout although Atlantic Salmon are occasionally caught.
The River Wandle | Brown trout fishing in London city
Out of the dozen or so rivers that flow through London, the River Wandle upstream of Poulter Park offers the most consistent fishing for wild brown trout in the city.
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 which the trout feed upon.
Popular flies to fish are size 14-16 mayfly and caddis imitations, bring a selection of both dun and emerger patterns. I like to drift a hare’s ear beneath my dry flies.
Size 4-8 streamers can also be effective, especially closer to Poulter Park where there is more volume in the river.
For the spin fisherman, any small in-line spinner or jerkbaits can be effective. Darker colours work well. They are particularly effective in targeting larger trout in the evening.
A comprehensive trout fishing guide on the River Wandle can be found here.
The Wandle does flow through some less affluent areas, so caution must be noted if leaving a rental car or fishing late into the evening.
How to access the River Wandle 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.
By public transport, the River Wandle takes approximately an hour to access from central London. The park is approximately a 20-minute walk from Mitcham Junction station on the Southern line.
Ravensbury Park can also be accessed from the N44 bus. Get off at Belgrave Walk Tram Stop. The N44 has several stops in the central city, including at 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 Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire bordering 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 the river holds a decent population of brown trout and chub. 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 is accessible by public transport by catching a train to the Rickmansworth station.
Further upstream 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 chalk stream 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 license before fishing for trout and other fish in England. The rod fishing license 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 of 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.
The numbers of sear un trout are still low, and they require quite a bit of dedication and luck 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.
Further upstream around Lechlade the trout fishing improves, but by then the river is nearly 100 miles away from London.
If you want to catch a Thames trout in London then fishing upstream from Twickenham where the water is less brackish and the river narrows is normally the best option.
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 populations.
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 (2021 prices). An 8 day licence is better valued 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 charge over £14 for a day of 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.