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Most stretches of the Wear hold a good head of natural wild fish and introduced stock fish but many of these are young and small for this is a 'freestone river' - a water which has a stony bed with a limited amount of aquatic food. Water levels change rapidly - from flood to low levels in a few days.

Trout living in such an environment find life hard and many take the option of 'going to sea' once they find it difficult to obtain enough food from the river itself to satisfy their growing appetite. They eventually return, as the Sea Trout for which the Wear is famous, to spawn in their native habitat.

Catching these fish before they migrate to sea is not difficult. The shortage of food means that they are nearly always willing to feed and if they are presented with a small North-Country wet fly they usually take it with relish. A cast of three wet flies - choose from Greenwell Glory, William's Favourite, Snipe and Purple, Water-Hen Bloa or Partridge and Orange - in size sixteen or less and fished down and across, will usually guarantee a most enjoyable day of good sport.

If you are lucky enough to be on the water when there is a 'rise' take advantage of the opportunity it offers. Identify the type of fly that is hatching - usually Olives, Sedges or Stoneflies - and put on a general pattern to match.. Hungry fish are not very choosy - if the profile, colour and size are right they will take it.

However, some fish do stay in the River, having found a niche where food is plentiful and the living is good. Such fish do well, growing into fine fish of four pounds or more. How, then, can the angler find these fish and have a truly memorable day?

Here is where water-craft scores. The large fish will be where casting is difficult and predators such as Cormorants cannot reach. There will a constant supply of food - brought to the fish by the current, or falling into the lie from the vegetation above. Such lies will be behind rocks, under bushes or in sheltered situations just off strong currents. Think like a fish - where would you choose to live? Make the cast of a lifetime and present your fly perfectly. The pattern is seldom relevant, as long as it is realistic.It may be your day. There is always the chance of a fish of a lifetime on the Wear






Other Fishing


The Grayling is a European fish and was probably introduced by man into England. Not all rivers are to its liking for it prefers fast running water, well supplied with oxygen, little pollution and a prolific weed growth. The Wear satisfies three of these requirements but is limited in the presence of weed beds, hence there are not large numbers of Grayling but there are sufficient to make angling for them worthwhile.

They are nomadic fish, especially in Winter, and hence the angler should be mobile and go in search of them. In Summer they tend to be found in shallower, streamy water, lying just off the main flow, whereas in Winter they tend to move to deeper pools where they can often be found in significant numbers. They are omnivorous feeders, eating weed as well as the full range of aquatic invertebrates. During the winter months Witton Park down, Escomb Flats Farm and Vinovium beats are noted for grayling.

Grayling can be caught by both fly and bait. The bulk of the Grayling's diet consists of Gammarus, snails, midge larvae and Ephemeropteran nymphs, all being bottom dwelling forms. Hence, any flies used to target Grayling should be weighted imitations on these. For many years English anglers used the typical wet fly approach, casting across and down with flies such as the Red Tag and Treacle Parkin, together with standard trout wet fly patterns. Nowadays there is a greater tendency to 'Czech nymph', using heavily weighted patterns of shrimps and caddis larvae.

In the Winter, long trotting with a natural bait such as redworms is probably the best way to locate the fish in the deeper pools. Do, though, check local rules to ascertain which natural baits are allowed. Some Clubs ban the use of maggots and do not allow groundbaiting or loose feeding. Once located, they can be fished for with flies, if that is the anglers preferred method.

Grayling do take hatching flies, even in the middle of Winter, so carry a few floating patterns such as dark Klinkhammers and CDCs. However, if no fish are rising there is little chance of 'bringing them up'. The fish, if present, will probably be pre-occupied with feeding on the bottom.

Finally, as Grayling in the Wear are not numerous, it is unwritten policy to return all fish caught so that stocks can be maintained.


The River Wear is renowned as a first class game angling river, but it is also excellent for sea angling. Summer months can produce good bags of flounders and eels and in the winter other species can be caught.

Cod are present all year round, but the winter months tend to give the bigger fish, with cod to 7lb plus. Flounders up to 2lb and eels are probably the most prolific species present.

Baits for the cod tend to be peeler crab and for the eels and flounders rag worm or lug worm, coupled with strips of mackerel.

Best times to fish the river are either the last hour of the ebb and the first two hours of the flood, or one hour before top of the tide and one hour after top water.

When the tide is flooding hard, spiders are advisable as plain leads tend to roll with the tide. Hooks need not be big, with a 2.0 quite big enough.

Main lines vary, depending on the skill of the angler, but for safety reasons it is advisable to use a shock leader with a breaking strain of at least 10 lbs per 1 oz. of sinker - i.e. 6 oz sinker = 60 lbs. shock leader.

Long casting is not necessary as the majority of fish tend to feed close in to the jetties and river bank. There have been double-figure cod taken in the past, so there is always the chance of one of these.


Most of the Coarse Fish in the River Wear are to be found in the Lower Reaches and some of the deeper pools on the Middle Reaches. Some of these fish grow to specimen sizes. A British record Dace was caught on the Wear as it passes through Durham City whilst Chub to 8 lb and Barbel to double figure weights can be seen in some of the pools.

The resident fish stocks have been recently supplemented by the Environment Agency with the addition of 3,000 Dace and 3,000 Chub. Plans for 2011 include stocking with 180 lb of 2 lb+ Bream, 2,000 Chub, 5,000 dace 3,000 Roach and 2,000 Barbel. The E.A. has also been constructing purpose-built pegs on some of the more popular stretches.

The Coarse Fish in the Wear respond to all the regular baits but anglers should be aware that, as the river is better known as a Game Fish River, several clubs have specific rules on the use of certain baits (e.g.maggots) and ground baiting in order to protect the Game Fish stocks. Hence anglers should make themselves aware of the club rules for stretches that they wish to fish.

As the Wear is a comparatively narrow river there is no need for special equipment. Twelve foot float rods and ten foot ledger rods will be suitable. Do remember, though, that there are some big fish in the river and hence use line of suitable breaking strain. Do not have your day ruined by breaking on the fish of a lifetime!