Rising in the Pennines, the Upper Wear runs largely through moorland and upland pasture. The water is 'thin' but there are good pools throughout its length. Brown Trout are present in significant numbers but are generally small. They can be caught from the beginning of the season until the end, giving good sport on light tackle.
Migratory fish begin to appear in late Summer, usually during spate conditions. It is in these upper reaches that most of the spawning takes place and hence the numbers of fish present increases steadily as the season progresses. Inevitably a lot of them are coloured but, if a flood is prolonged for a few days, many will reach the pools of the Upper River in good condition.
Much of the finest fishing is to be found in the Middle Reaches where the Wear winds its way through rich pastures and arable land. Deep holding pools are interspersed with long gravelly runs that make fly fishing so rewarding and productive. The gravel substrate means that wading in this part of the river is generally safe and easy.
Good Brown Trout fishing can be enjoyed throughout the season with small North Country Spiders being very effective flies. Many of the fish are young and small
but there is a good head of large fish to be found in the better lies.
However, the Wear is most famous for its Sea Trout fishing which, in the Middle Reaches, begins to be significant from May onwards, the period when many of the larger fish are caught. Fishing the fly at night is, without doubt, the most productive method. However, many fish are caught during daylight hours, by stealthy anglers, on both fly and small spinners.
Salmon appear from June onwards, numbers increasing steadily as the season progresses. Few local anglers fish specifically for these enigmatic fish, most being taken incidentally during Sea Trout forays. Those anglers who focus specifically on Salmo salar often have red letter days.
The best time for both types of migratory fish is when the river is clearing after a flood.
In the early months of the season the Lower Reaches give anglers the best opportunity to catch migratory fish. Salmon can be present from March onwards and the opening of the Sea Trout season in April often finds these fish in reasonable numbers on the Lower Beats. If fresh water spates coincide with the high Spring tides then it is very likely that the fish will be encouraged to enter the river.
From June onwards one can expect the pools of the lower river to be constantly restocked with fresh fish, whilst any rise in the river level will encourage them to move onwards to the Middle Beats. Runs of migratory fish will continue up to, and beyond, the end of the season on October 31st.