The Wandle has been famous as a chalkstream fishery since the Middle Ages, with legendary anglers including Frederic Halford and even perhaps Lord Nelson.
During the mid-20th century, the river was classified as an open sewer, and most fishing rights passed to the local boroughs of Wandsworth, Merton and Sutton. From the 1980s until 2010, the Environment Agency stocked the river with cyprinid fish such as chub, barbel, roach and dace. Trout have been introduced more recently as part of the Wandle Trust’s Trout in the Classroom educational programme, and have now begun to breed in the upper river.
In recognition of angling’s very significant social benefits in urban regions like the Wandle Valley, the councils currently permit free fishing with a valid Environment Agency rod licence (available from all Post Offices) on many stretches of the river. Members of Morden Hall Park Angling Club may also fish in the National Trust’s Morden Hall Park and Watermeads nature reserve.
Because the Wandle has been so heavily modified over many centuries, it’s easy to find areas that are suitable for almost every technique, from trotting and ledgering to presenting a dry fly or nymph to fish of many species.
Thanks to ongoing improvements to habitat, fish passage, water quality and flow which have been identified by the Wandle Catchment Plan, fish stocks in many areas of the Wandle are increasingly healthy. However, you are encouraged to return all fish carefully to the water and not to eat them as they may hold high concentrations of heavy metals and other substances due to the river’s long industrial history. Please consider using barbless hooks and take any litter home with you.
In line with the Environment Agency’s South East Region byelaws, the following fishing seasons are observed on the Wandle:
- Game fishing: Open season 1 April to 30 September
- Coarse fishing: Open season 16 June to 14 March
For more information, please visit www.wandlepiscators.net