Northumberland’s Top Fishing Hotspots

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Boat sailing out of a harbour
Whether river, lake or coast, Northumberland is the place to be for aspiring anglers

Northumberland has long been famed for its fishing hotspots, with the River Tyne considered one of the best salmon fishing rivers in the country. Our dramatic coastline and numerous rivers and lakes make it an ideal destination for a fishing weekend away, offering a variety of opportunities to cast your line and appealing to anglers of all types.

Beyond its rich waters, the region offers the ultimate rural escape – from the rolling Cheviot Hills to the dense forest of Northumberland National Park, the landscape is as diverse as the fishing opportunities. That’s not to mention the region’s award-winning golden beaches and numerous historic sights – whichever takes your fancy, you’re guaranteed a day’s fishing with a spectacular view.

Here, local angler and blogger Adam Hope guides you through some of the county’s finest fishing hot spots – providing you with plenty of inspiration for a weekend break spent shoreside.

River fishing in Northumberland

The River Tyne is famously hailed as one of England’s best salmon fishing rivers, with fish weighing in at over 30lbs, however, you’ll also find plenty of trout and coarse fishing opportunities in these hallowed waters. Gudgeon, roach and perch all make a regular appearance on the end of fishing lines – alongside rarer predator catches, such as pike.

The Tyne is divided into three strands, each popular with local anglers and visitors alike. The North and South Tyne converge on the outskirts of the historic market town of Hexham, forming the River Tyne which flows east to the coast. Salmon and trout are regularly caught on all three rivers, with the North Tyne and River Tyne catering to coarse fishing. Prime locations for fishing the River Tyne can be found upstream of Wylam, with a number of idyllic banks and pebble beaches stretching all the way to Hexham. All of the Tyne’s fishing spots can be reached via the A69, connecting Newcastle and Carlisle – following the historic ruins of Hadrian’s Wall.

Beyond the Tyne, Northumberland offers a number of alternative river fishing opportunities. From the River Tweed just below the Scottish Borders (yet another popular salmon fishing destination) to the River Wansbeck in central Northumberland, there’s an abundance of secluded and gentle waters for fly fishing. Running through the heart of Morpeth, the River Wansbeck is famed for its brown trout fishing among local anglers – with lucrative waters just a short stroll from the town centre. This smaller river has a mix of fast running rapids and deeper, calmer stretches. While getting down to its muddy banks can be challenging in wet weather, the waters hold plenty of reward – so wherever you pitch up, you’ll never be short of spots to fish. 

Still water fishing in Northumberland

If you prefer calmer waters, Northumberland’s numerous still water fishing hotspots offer plenty of excitement for both fly and line fishing. What the county is lacking in natural lakes, it more than makes up for with its plentiful reservoirs and fisheries.

For a spectacular day out, no trip to the region is complete without a day spent at Kielder Water. This is the region's largest body of water, with 27 miles of shoreline to enjoy – 20 of which you can cast your line from! In the heart of Northumberland National Park, Kielder Water is the UK’s largest reservoir, with its dam feeding the North Tyne. The reservoir is regularly stocked with both rainbow and brown trout, with the tree-lined shores offering lucrative angling as the fish hang around looking for insects falling from the overhanging foliage.

Open between March and November, Leaplish Waterside Park is a dedicated visitor centre for Kielder, where anglers can obtain Environment Agency fishing licences and even rent a boat for the day (booking required) if you prefer to fish away from the water’s edge. The A68 and A696 connect Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water to the A69 and A1, with the drive from Newcastle upon Tyne to Leaplish Waterside Park taking just over an hour. 

Fontburn Reservoir is perhaps the region’s most popular fishery due to its high numbers of sizable rainbow trout. With its own on-site tackle shop, café, picnic park and walking trails, it’s ideal for a family visit. Day passes can be bought from the visitor centre and all types of fishing are allowed here (from fly to bait) and the fishery welcomes everyone from novices to more experienced anglers. Located just a 30-minute drive from the A1, Fontburn Reservoir is particularly accessible, with on-site facilities for disabled anglers.

If you prefer coarse fishing to game, Felton Fence Fishery is the region’s premiere coarse fishing hotspot, with four well-stocked lakes offering fishing round the clock. With an angler’s cabin and bathroom facilities on site, this fishery attracts serious anglers looking for competition carp. While the small lakes are regularly stocked, this fishery is keen to promote the conservation of its prize carp – so anglers should be aware of the on-site rules in order to preserve the stock for future fishing enjoyment. Just a few minutes’ drive from the A1 on the outskirts of Morpeth, it’s a must for any keen coarse fisherman.

Coastal fishing in Northumberland

While the paths of sea and freshwater anglers rarely meet, a trip to Northumberland’s stunning coastline is a must. With more than 30 miles of pristine sandy beaches, craggy outcrops, piers and harbours, it offers a diverse coastal fishing scene.

Amble is one of the region’s most popular coastal hotspots, and is a regular for local fishermen. This established harbour town is a hive of fishing activity with its own angling centre and numerous boat charter companies offering cod fishing day trips from the marina. Head to Amble Angling Centre on Newburgh Street to stock up on lures and bait before trying your luck on Amble Pier – a popular spot for catching plaice and mackerel in the summer months.

If you prefer to cast your line from the beach, nearby Alnmouth allows anglers to fish without the need for a licence from the beach or in the River Aln’s estuary, right up to the Duchess Bridge. If you prefer to fish further upstream, you’ll need to obtain a licence – these are available from one of the many angling shops in the region. However, the beach and estuary offer fantastic flounder fishing and, if you’re lucky, you may even hook a rare atlantic salmon or sea trout.

As one of Northumberland’s most iconic seaside towns, Seahouses offers a lively and diverse scene for anglers and holidaymakers alike. Here, there are numerous fishing charter boats and day trips on offer. Keen sea anglers can look forward to hooking mackerel, pollack and cod, all while catching a glimpse of the famous Farne Islands’ grey seal and puffin colonies. Many fishing trips cater to beginners with tackle and bait included (alongside some tuition), making it an ideal family activity, however, longer trips are available too, catering to experienced sport fishermen.

There you have it, a handpicked selection of Northumberland’s finest fishing hotspots. Whether you want to take on the salmon challenge of the River Tyne or try your luck on the coast, Northumberland’s diverse range of game and coarse fishing opportunities make it an angler’s dream.

Adam Hope is a local angler, as well as a travel and leisure blogger for Cottages in Northumberland, who offer access to a wide selection of self-catering holiday cottages throughout the region.

Published in: May 2016

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