Whichever side of fishing’s traditional closed season debate you stand on, the 16th of June brings a keen sense of anticipation this week. But where will you head for your first fishing trip of the new season? We’ve tracked down a whole host of passionate anglers and key Angling Trust supporters to get their thoughts on the “glorious 16th”.
Angler’s Mail columnist, author and Norfolk based guide.
“Of course, I’ll be there on the banks of the River Wensum as the sun creeps up on the sixtenth. I’m hoping for a pewter, mist shrouded dawn when I might just see one of the mighty -and mightily elusive!- barbel break the surface in a boil of dark gold. I’ll expect chub, I’ll hope for roach and I’ll pray for a barbel, whilst they are still there, clinging to their river life. There have been over sixty sixteenths for me now and each one surpasses the last. It’s always a magical day in the life of a passionate angler- and long may it remain so!”
Top specimen angler, 2018 Drennan Cup champion and guide (www.daigribbleangling.com)
“For nearly half of my years I can tell you exactly where I was on the morning of 16th June – sat in a boat on Cop Mere in Staffordshire. The target was always tench and after struggling in the early years, once I got to grips with it I was successful more often than not. The build up is something young anglers nowadays will never experience. There was no coarse fishing in the closed season, so we would busy ourselves with meticulous swim preparation and pre-baiting prior to the big day and were like 5 year olds waiting for Christmas for the days leading up to the Glorious Sixteenth.
My friend Adrian and I soon learned that sitting in a boat all night was both cold and uncomfortable, so after a couple of years we sacrificed the traditional midnight start for arriving at dawn. An easy decision, given that we never had so much as a bite before first light! We would combine legering, with extended rod rests pushed into the deep silt, with float fishing. Invariably we landed more fish in the leger but watching a float was essential to the enjoyment of the occasion. Invariably we would see tench roll and patches of bubbles would erupt, heightening the sense of anticipation. When finally the red-topped float disappeared from sight and the strike met the resistance of a tench there was no better place to be. Nowadays I still fish Cop Mere (above), which retains the Close Season, as it is an SSSI, but less frequently as often I am targeting tench in gravel pits. Every so often I get drawn back though, and might even make it this year if the gravel pit tench are proving elusive.
Lure fishing expert and angling coach
“Although I love to fish all year round, the one day that I get really excited about and look forward to every year is June 16th. I love roving on the River Lea or parts of the Thames and my approach on the day is to travel light and arm myself with a selection of lures that resemble anything from frogs to dragonfly larvae, targeting as many different species as possible.
Stalking and watching a fish take your lure on a sunny day in a crystal clear river is pretty awesome! Last year I managed to catch my first lure-caught barbel and grayling on lures on the opening day of the season, and my best opening day tally for number of species caught on lures is eight. Best of luck to everyone heading out soon!”
Dr Mark Everard
Fisheries ecologist, author and passionate river angler
“I am a massive fan of the ‘Glorious 16th’ and the respect for all river life embedded in the closed season lay-off. So naturally, I will be out on my beloved local Bristol Avon. Usually, that means a midnight first cast touch legering for something mooching out there in the darkness – I really don’t care what! – perhaps with some pre-baiting if I can find the time.
One of the lovely things about the Bristol Avon is that you never know quite what will pick up your corn, maggot or worm: barbel, roach, dace, bream, eel, perch… and of course chub are all but guaranteed. Recent heavy rains have turned the river rather brown, so I hope that washes through before midnight on the 16th. Wherever you break your river angling fast, good luck!”
Lifelong fishing fanatic and Angling Trust National Campaigns and Policy Coordinator
“For me it’s been a long time since June 16th was about misty mornings, lily pads and bubbling tench. Since 1996 we’ve had great tench fishing in May, so I tend to look for something a bit different. As it happens, I’m not too keen on bothering chub and barbel if they’ve only just spawned, but this year’s warm spring means that their fishy nuptials should be long since done and dusted by opening day! Consequently, I’m joining some friends on a rather special stretch of the Wye below Fownhope. It’ll be available on the Wye and Usk Foundation Passport later this season, but we have been lucky enough to secure the opening weekend in a charity auction.
Although primarily a salmon fishery, I’ve coarse fished here before and it has all a river angler could want. Fast shallows at the top end, salmon pools with inviting croys to deflect the current and create near bank barbel lies, plus deeper, slower water at the bottom end for which we may need a machete to reach the water’s edge!
The fish here know just enough about anglers’ baits to respond but are not overly wary. I’m hoping to catch barbel on the float, trotting 8mm banded pellets and meat. I’m sure the feeder will play a part too, but there are more fun ways to get my rod bent! Hopefully there will be enough flow to roll some meat in the gravel runs too. Not only is this a great way to catch barbel in the daytime, but tells you where they’re holed up. My good friend and former barbel record holder Stuart Morgan did exactly this last time- and discovered two swims packed with fish for the advantage of us all.
Although my best float caught barbel of 9.06lbs could be improved, for me it won’t be about size. I’ll just be happy to be back on running water, catching fish in beautiful surroundings with good friends.”
Fishing writer, vintage tackle enthusiast & editor of Fallon’s Angler Quarterly
“June 16th will see me fish my favourite water, Wallers Haven, in East Sussex. It’s classed as a river, although in reality it’s a big, natural looking drain. I’ve walked its banks many times over the closed season and the excitement has been building for a proper season-opener with several fishing friends congregating at my caravan for a chance to catch some of the bream that are synonymous with this iconic water.
It reminds me greatly of the canals and slow Irish rivers I grew up on, so I will be fishing 1980’s style in homage to those times, while others use vintage or more modern tackle. There’s sure to be a friendly buzz, which will be accentuated by barbeques and a pint or two in a country pub once the day is done.”
Angling Trust Campaigns Officer & keen specimen angler
“Frankly, June 16th has tended to be a bit of an anti-climax in my personal fishing. As an all-round specimen hunter, for the last five years I’ve been preoccupied with fishing a big gravel pit come the middle of June. Generally, I’m in search of huge tench or bream and I’ve always thought the rivers could wait for a couple more months.
That’s not the case this year though, because hile I have been fishing hard recently in search of my first double-figure tench, I’m itching to get out on the rivers for opening day. What’s different about this year? Well, a few months ago I managed to secure a ticket on a rather famous syndicate stretch of the Hampshire Avon.
The last time I was at this particular fishery was October last year. During that trip, I witnessed one of the most impressive sights of my entire angling life. With very low water levels, the overflow from a small weir had been transformed into an almost entirely still pool, and in that deep water were three double-figure barbel, with their tails in the air feeding on my hemp and pellets. Without any flow to contend with they fed like carp in a lake, twisting and turning over the spot. It looked almost a foregone conclusion that I would catch – but could I hook one? Time and again they fed over the hard gravel spot, within inches of my hookbait, and yet somehow they managed to completely avoid it.
Maybe it was the lack of flow that gave the fish too long to examine the rig? All I know is that I’ve got unfinished business with that place – and June 16th will be when I try to settle the score! You never know, I might even beat my PB of 13lbs 8oz this season; barbel are definitely a species I intend to spend more time on.”
Fishing author, Angling Times columnist and Angling Trust Digital Content Creator
“While I fish canals and other waters right through the year these days, I still cannot wait to get back on the rivers for coarse fish. At this time of year, when they tend to be low and clear, I absolutely love stalking with light tackle. It will probably be the River Tone or River Culm for me with the fly rod for a shot at some chub, which offer such exciting and highly visual sport.
The chub in my rivers seem to be done with spawning now, but can still be found in shallow, well oxygenated water, where they will rise boldly to all sorts of flies. In fact, I often think that when levels are low and the fish are spooky, the fly is the method most likely to fool them.
Best fun of all is using really big, juicy dry flies such as a beetles or even grasshopper and caterpillar imitations. Even the wariest chub will have a look at a fly and a size 6 isn’t too big. Watching a big pair of lips come up and take a gulp is heart-stopping stuff! So often the key is getting stuck in and not being afraid of the undergrowth and tight swims; waders are a must.”
Where will you fish this season? Follow us and get involved…
Is June 16th still a special date in your fishing year? Wherever you’re headed, do make sure you renew your fishing license if it has been a while since you tackled up!
Meanwhile, for the latest news, free fishing articles and more, be sure to follow the Angling Trust Freshwater Team blog in the coming months by clicking the link on the right hand side of this page! Packed with inspirational stories, current talking points and the issues that matter to you, it’s an essential free fishing read each month. Don’t forget to check out the latest news from your region and follow the Angling Trust on Facebook too!