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  3. When and where to fish

When to fish

As far as Salmon are concerned the Wear can be considered as a spate river with the majority of fish running during a flood or in the days following one. Sea Trout are likely to run throughout most of the season, moving upstream at night, often in only a few inches of water. However, the numbers of these migratory fish present in the river vary throughout the season, with the greatest numbers being present in the months of September and October.

Fishing seasons: These are:

  • Salmon: February 1st to October 31st. inclusive, including Sundays. All Salmon caught prior to June 16th. must be returned.
  • Sea Trout: April 3rd to October 31st inclusive.
  • Brown Trout: March 22nd to September 30th inclusive.
  • Grayling and other Coarse Fish: June 16th to March 14th inclusive.

Spring fishing

Sea Trout fishing begins in earnest during May with the largest fish of the season often being caught during this period. Night fishing can pay dividends at this time, especially on a warm, moonless evening following a period of settled weather.

Salmon fishing in the Spring tends to be limited to the lower river unless a series of floods have encouraged them to progress beyond Durham.

Summer fishing

The lower reaches of the river will be holding a considerable head of fish during this time, the fish having entered the River in numbers when there have been high Spring tides during darkness. Any floods will encourage upstream movement and soon fish will be found throughout the lower and middle beats. Salmon will appear in increasing numbers and most pools will hold sea trout.

This is the best time to have a go at night fishing. Seldom does it become really dark and the warmer weather encourages one to stay late on the river. Night fishing can be daunting for newcomers to the experience but the rewards can be life changing. There is little to beat the take of a large Sea Trout, followed by its cart-wheeling runs up and down the pool, all in almost total darkness. Night fishing can be truly addictive.

Autumn fishing

September and October are the months when the river holds large numbers of Salmon and Sea Trout, spread throughout its length. Fish can be caught by all legal methods but most anglers continue to use the fly. Night fishing can be particularly productive but with temperatures beginning to drop and the nights beginning to lengthen it is probably best to limit it to the first two hours of darkness.

Day-time fishing can be most enjoyable. The use of a little water-craft will highlight possible lies and a well placed fly or spinner will have the heart pounding in anticipation. There will be coloured fish present (please return these with care) but many will still be silver throughout the river's length, and even sea-liced as far upstream as Bishop Auckland.




Where to fish

Upper Wear

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.

Middle Wear

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.


Lower Wear

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.

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