Where will you spend June 16th and the early season this year? Whether you return to the rivers or get out on a beautiful wild lake, this time of year brings such a potent mix of anticipation, excitement and nostalgia. We know that last year’s early season special was one of our most popular fishing blog posts, so we’ve tracked down a host of star anglers and Angling Trust supporters sonce again to give their thoughts on June 16th and hopefully the start of a great summer of fishing.
Top river angler and Angling Times columnist
The recent heavy rain has scuppered some of my opening week plans but I’m still hopeful of some good sport. I’m kicking off the season on the River Calder where I’ll be hoping to qualify for the Angling Trust RiverFest 2019 final. It’s a great competition and this year the winner will collect £14,000 from a prize pot of £50,000.
Once the weekend is out of the way, I’m hoping to get on the River Thames next week in pursuit of some big bream. After that, I’ve got sessions planned all over the place, including the Severn, Trent, Soar, Warwickshire Avon and Bristol Avon. And that’s just the first few weeks! Good luck to all you river anglers for the nine months ahead. We share the same passion!
You can catch Dave’s recent mini interview with us on YouTube HERE, while you’ll also find his latest river fishing tips and adventures every week in the Angling Times.
Award-winning filmmaker and Angling Trust Ambassador
Whether you believe in a closed season or not, there is no denying that the 16th June is a special day in every angler’s calendar, as it finally releases the shackles that deny access to our rivers and many still waters. That is part of the magic and for me at least, it will be a sad day if we have eventually have 365 day access to every bit of water in the country.
I’ll be heading for a peaceful lake with a strict closure in the hope of tench and big roach. I’ve caught two pounders there in the past, but regardless of what I and pal Chris catch, the day will be magical because we’ll be fishing on the glorious 16th and it’s that which makes the day so special. Surrounded by wildlife in a tranquil corner of Wessex, what could be better? Here’s hoping that your special day is as enjoyable as ours.
Top specimen angler & former Drennan Cup winner
I think despite the abolition of the Close Season on most waters, the 16th of June is still a special day to most anglers, and certainly these old enough to remember when trout fishing was the only option for three months of the year. My first clear memory of fishing on June 16th is rushing back home from an exam at school to grab my gear and cycle to the local canal to fish for tench in about 1977.
I have spent about 25 of the last 30 years fishing my syndicate lake in Staffordshire on 16th June. The Close Season is still in place on Copmere as it is an SSSI and listed in the local bylaws so it still retains that special feel of having to wait in anticipation. Nowadays most of my tench fishing is on large gravel pits using swim feeders so being able to end my tench fishing float fishing off a punt is a great change. Whereas in the past we spent days or even weeks preparing the swim and pre-baiting, these days I tend to rake a couple of small holes in the weed and bait for just a day or two. I still leger off the boat but more exciting is waiting for it to get light enough to make the first cast with a float. If that ever goes it will be time to pack up fishing!
This season the weather has been pretty dire in the run up to the Sixteenth but with luck it will be dry and not too windy at dawn and I can bag a few tincas on the float. It’s no fun in the rain on a boat so fingers crossed. After the tench fishing I hope to combine eel fishing on a gravel pit – where hopefully I can better my recent one of 5lb 12oz – with guiding for barbel on the River Wye. Good luck whatever you’re chasing on the Sixteenth and into the early season!
Passionate angling all rounder
June 16th always brings back so many memories. Back in the late 80s, I remember disaster struck for me, when opening of the fishing season fell on a school day. My request for the day off was declined. Luckily my Dad knew my teacher from the local Cricket club and reminded him of the days off he’d taken to watch a test match. Unsurprisingly my request got rubber stamped soon after!
The close season was harsh for an eager young coarse angler back then. It has left me with a aptitude for fly fishing, though, which many people turned to before lakes and canals stayed open. The opening day doesn’t carry the gravitas it once did but in general fish grow bigger and with modern tackle advances, are slightly easier to catch.
Falling on a Sunday I’ll give opening day a miss this year but I have booked some weekdays off to enjoy a quiet session or two. The lowland rivers of Lincolnshire tend to flourish with weed, especially the crystal clear ones that run off the chalk substrate of the nearby Wolds. With this in mind I’ll probably head over to the Trent to target barbel and chub. I will still keep an eye on my local venues, too, spotting fish and holding spots, ready to exploit any opportunities later in the year. It’s a magical time.
Dr Mark Everard
Environmentalist, fish expert and author
Ah, the Glorious 16th! May it remain with us long into the future. Back in the 1960s, and right through to the early 1980s, this date in the angling calendar was unmissable. Generally, this was by a secluded pool (back then, the Closed Season applied to still waters too across most of the UK). Actually, with river levels increasingly rather low and sluggish, I can just as often be found by a lake these days, too.
Getting to your vernue at or before first light after a short mid-summer night, the excitement or trudging down a farm path to a tree-lined swim from which early mist was rising in spirals, like the march of ghostly soldiers, was quite irresistible. Putting together the rods and rigging up a porcupine quill lift method-style, one might spot a fine fizz of pin bubbles from tench or crucians, or perhaps hear a ‘clooping’ out in the haze to intoxicate the senses and raise anticipation even higher. In my memory, the euphoria of that first season’s cast into the margins, float slightly cocked against a lily fringe, is undimmed with the passing of many years. The float might twitch, and perhaps then rise and tip…
Lure fishing fanatic
Over the past few weeks I’ve really begun to look forward to June 16th, especially after recently watching chub gorge themselves on Mayflies on my local rivers. Last summer, I had some very exciting fishing targeting the species on tiny floating wake baits. This style of lure fishing is very visual, and some of the takes were so explosive, they reminded me of tropical species I’ve fished for abroad!
Hopefully the rain we’ve experienced over the last week or so will have passed and conditions will be just right for stalking chub on surface lures at the start of the season. Tightlines and good luck to everyone heading out on June 16th!
Angling Heritage Project Founder (www.anglingheritage.org)
June 16th always brings back so many memories. I used to spend the opening week on the River Wye fishing for barbel, starting at 12 midnight. I remember one year I was sitting on the pontoon on the bottom of a bridge touch legering, rolling meat down the flow when a big dog otter came up. It really didn’t like my presence and started hissing at me, until he realised I wasn’t going to move and gave up! I still caught chub, though, before the sun came up
These days, though, now that I have retired, I guess I am as likely to be thinking of travels as I have the time to go further afield. As the 16th and Father’s Day coincide this year, my wife Sandy has booked a week in the Azores this year, where I can take my travel rod and spend time fishing off rocks or quays, bringing back the thrill of childhood. Wherever I fish these days, I no longer am driven by size, the enjoyment is everything, especially when an exotic fish conmes to the surface.
Author, Angling Trust blogger and Angling Times columnist
The first trip back on the rivers is always such a treat. Of course, if you like trout fly fishing there are opportunities in March, April and May, but now we reach mid June the possibilities grow so much wider. Perhaps the one fish I’ve really missed and am dreaming of most, however, is the grayling.
I certainly enjoy trotting for these fish, but it’s a method I tend to save for the winter, so it’ll be fly fishing all the way until then. My best ever grayling came from the River Irfon, but closer to home there are Upper Exe tributaries at the foot of Exmoor with plenty of these lovely fish (such as Westons, which is fishable to anyone on the Westcountry Angling Passport scheme). With the lightest little wand of a rod and small dry flies, it can be real daydream fishing in beautiful surroundings. The two things I’ll relish most will be turning my mobile phone off and watching the fish rise!
The Angling Trust is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year!
Did you know that the Angling Trust has now been active for 10 years? From landmark competitions, to massive wins against polluters and the recruitment of hundreds of new coaches and voluntary bailiffs, we’ve achieved a huge amount in the past decade. However, our work is never done and there’s still so much more we can do for angling! So much of our activity is dependent on our members, however, so in 2019 more than ever we would urge all anglers to join us. Our ethos in this regard is the same as it has ben from day one: it’s only by working together that we can get the best for fishing.
See our membership section for further details and the wide range of benefits and discounts available.