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River Wandle Fishing – A Guide to Fishing along the Wandle Trail

The River Wandle once had a reputation for being one of the best rivers in England to fish for trout. During the industrial revolution however, most of the fish died as the water became too polluted for them to live in. Now, after considerable effort to clean up the River Wandle, the waters are once again home to a variety of species of fish including trout, chub, barbel and roach. This post contains everything you need to know about fishing in the River Wandle.

River Wandle Fishing

River Wandle Fishing


River Wandle Fishing Clubs

The River Wandle has two fishing clubs:

There is also a River Wandle Fishing Facebook group.

Fishing License for the River Wandle

Fishing License for the River Wandle

If you want to fish in the River Wandle you will need to have a rod fishing licence.

Certain stretches of the river are free to anyone with a licence, but in other parts you will need to be a member of a club to fish there.

Morden Hall Park and Watermeads Nature Reserve are both owned by the National Trust who have leased the fishing rights to Morden Hall Park Angling Club. This includes the pool below the Snuff Mill.

River Wandle Fishing Rules – Byelaws Set by Local Councils

The fishing rights along the stretches of the Wandle that are not privately owned, are set by the local council. The Wandle flows through four council boroughs which includes Wandsworth, Croydon and Merton and Sutton. The only of the four which has byelaws which prevent fishing is Sutton, which has restrictions on fishing in parks.

In Sutton’s Byelaws for Pleasure Grounds, Public Walks and Open Spaces it states “No person shall in any waterway cast a net or line for the purpose of catching fish or other animals.” The parts of the Wandle that this law affects are Beddington Park, Grange Park and Wilderness Island.

When Can You Fish in the Wandle?

When Can You Fish in the Wandle?

The Rod fishing byelaws for the South East, which state when you can fish, are published on the Environment Agency website. The South East area is divided into two: the Thames and the Southern byelaw. The River Wandle comes under the Thames byelaw area.

The Thames byelaw area states you can fish at the following times.

  • 15 March to 15 June – National coarse fish close season (applies to rivers, streams and drains)
  • 1 October to 31 March – Close season for brown and rainbow trout (in rivers, streams and drains)
  • 1 October to 31 March – Close season for salmon and migratory trout (in all waters)
  • There is no close season for brown trout in fully enclosed waters or for rainbow trout in all still waters
Best Places to Fish on the River Wandle

Best Places to Fish on the River Wandle

The best stretch of the Wandle river for fishing is the middle section. This is the part that runs from Hackbridge to Colliers Wood.

Sections of this part of the river are only open to to members of Morden Hall Park Angling Club (Morden Hall Park and Watermeads), but most of it is free to anyone with an Environment Agency rod licence.

Below is a list of places along the Wandle where fish can be found.

1. The Spit/The Causeway

The stretch of river which runs along the Causeway to the Spit can be a good place to catch fish, although it’s not a popular place for fishing. There are major fluctuations in water depth at this point in the river, as well as lots of deep mud.

Fish Found Here: Eels, Pike, Carp and Trout

2. Trewint Street

At one end of Garrett Park, the river passes under a bridge on Trewint Street. Here the water splits into two and flows around a small island, which was the site of a former water mill. This is a popular fishing spot.

Fish Found Here: Dace and Trout

3. Garratt Park

The part of the river that runs alongside Garratt Park is wide, deep and slow. There are also lots of reeds in the river at this point.

Fish Found Here: Carp and Koi

4. Merton Abbey Mills

The stretch of river around Merton Abbey Mills and the site of the former William Morris factory, is a popular spot for fishermen. In the pool below the weir at Merton Abbey Mills you can find eels, roach, gudgeon and small barbel. Chub can be found in the river near to the William Morris site (by Sainsbury’s).

Fish Found Here: Eels, Roach, Gudgeon, Barbel and Chub

5. Deen City Farm

There is a deep pool in the stretch of river by Phipps Bridge Road, close to Homefield Gardens, which is popular for fishing. This is close to Deen City Farm.

Fish Found Here: Chub, Roach, Carp

6. Morden Hall Park

This section of the river is only open for fishing to the members of the Morden Hall Park Angling Club.

Fish Found Here: Large Barbel, Chub and Carp

7. Ravensbury Park

Ravensbury Park is a very popular place for fishing, and is free for anyone who has an Environment Agency rod licence. There are two deep pools close to Octavia Close which contain trout, chub and dace. There is also a fishing platform over the lake in Ravensbury Park.

Fish Found Here: Trout, Large Carp, Chub, Barbel, Dace, Roach and Gudgeon

8. Watermeads Nature Reserve

This section of the river is only open for fishing to the members of the Morden Hall Park Angling Club.

Fish Found Here: Trout and Chub

9. Poulter Park

The pools of water in the stretch of river alongside Poulter Park are popular for fishing.

Fish Found Here: Trout, Chub and Koi Carp

10. Goat Bridge

It is easy to enter the river at Goat Bridge to fish in the weir pool.

Fish Found Here: Large Trout and Chub

11. Buckhurst Avenue

The part of the river in between Culvers Island and Buckhurst Avenue often holds larger fish.

Fish Found Here: Large Trout, Chub and Carp

12. Hackbridge

The part of the river that flows under the bridge at Hackbridge Road is a good place to fish.

Fish Found Here: Trout, Dace, Chub and Roach

13. Restmor Way

The stretch of the Wandle at the top of Restmor Way is a popular fishing spot.

Fish Found Here: Chub and Trout

Can You Eat Fish From the River Wandle?

Can You Eat Fish From the River Wandle?

It is advised that you don’t eat fish from the Wandle. Although the water in the river is much cleaner today compared to fifty years ago, there may still be heavy metals on the river bed from the factories that once existed there. These pollutants could be passed onto the fish from insects that eat the contaminated silt on the river bed.

The Environment Agency’s website has a list of fish that you are allowed to take from the Wandle, but for safety reasons it is recommended that you catch and release.

What Fish are in the River Wandle?

Every year the Wandle Piscators have a competition called Species Hunt. The winner is the fisherman who manages to catch the most different species of fish.

The competition has revealed that the most common fish found in the River Wandle are chub, dace, brown trout, roach, gudgeon, stickleback, barbel, and rudd. Other fish that have been found include: bullhead, common carp, mirror carp, stone loach, eel, tench, grayling, perch and minnow.

There are other species which are believed to be in the Wandle but have not yet been caught. These include: bream, koi carp, ghost carp, goldfish, crucian carp, flounder, dab, pumpkinseed, ruff, and catfish.

How to Identify Fish From the River Wandle

The most common fish that are caught in the River Wandle are chub, dace, wild brown trout, roach, gudgeon, stickleback, barbel, and rudd. The photographs below will help you to identify each species.

Chub

Chub

The chub is a member of the carp family. They lurk in deep holes in the river. They like fast flowing, clean water with gravel or stone at on the river bed. Small sized chub are found in shoals which can contain roach and rudd. Larger chub are found in groups of 3-4.

Dace

Dace

Dace are slim fish with silver flanks and a white underbelly. They have a olive green colour on their backs. They like fast flowing rivers and are usually found close to the surface. Small dace are found in shoals but large dace are found in isolation.

Brown trout

Brown Trout

The River Wandle is famous for its wild brown trout. They come from the salmonid family and have a golden brown body with many black and red spots. Brown trout are one of the most genetically diverse vertebrates known.

Roach

Roach

Roches are thin fish with a grey-blue coloured body. They are often identified from their red or orange fins. Roaches are found in large shoals which can contain hundreds of fish.

Gudgeon

Gudgeon

The gudgeon is related to the barbel but it much smaller. It has a small, thin, straight body and a green-brown back. There are brown speckles along its fins. In comparison to its body, gudgeons have quite large heads. It can easily be identified by the whiskers found on either corner of its mouth.

Stickleback

Stickleback

Sticklebacks are small, elongated fish. They have visible spines, and their skin has no scales. In the spring, male Sticklebacks develop a red throat and belly, and bright green flanks. The three-spined stickleback is the most common fish caught when pond-dipping.

Barbel

Wandle Barbel

The barbel is a member of the Carp family. They are easy to identify from the four whiskers on their face (one on each corner of the mouth and two on the snout). They are very strong and powerful fish which like to lie on the bottom of the river facing the current.

Rudd

Rudd

The rudd has a green-bronze back with bright golden flanks. It has large golden coloured eyes and a smooth body. They are usually found in still waters like ponds, lakes and canals, but can also be found at slow moving parts of the river. They like large amounts of pondweed and clear water.

Can you fish in Morden Hall Park?

You can only fish in Morden Hall Park if you are a member of Morden Hall Park Angling Club. Members of the club get fishing access to the River Wandle at both Morden Hall Park, and Watermeads Lake.

Guidebooks for Fishing on the River Wandle

If you want to fish on the River Wandle I recommend an excellent book called An Anglers Guide to the River Wandle written by John O’Brien, with expert input from Theo Pike, Jason Hill and Stewart Ridgway.

History of Fishing on the River Wandle

The Wandle was once the best trout fishing river in the country. This was because the Wandle is a fast-flowing chalk stream with alkaline water. This environment is particularly favoured by brown trout, and other fish species like salmon and grayling.

The brown trout from the Wandle became famous, and were even mentioned in Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler as “the Wandle variety of Trout with marbled spots like a Tortoise”.

Many famous fishermen including Frederic Halford, Sir William Hamilton and Lord Nelson fished in the River Wandle, before the industrial revolution turned the river into an open sewer.

The amount of pollution in the river by the 1970s had a catastrophic impact on the wild trout, and soon all the wildlife that existed in the river was dead.

There has since been a number of projects to clean up the river in South London, and restore the fish that once lived there. The improved water quality has led to hundreds of fish being reintroduced to the river over the past decade.

There are now many points along the Wandle Trail which are ideal for urban fishing.

This Post Was About Fishing on the River Wandle

Thank you for reading my post about fishing on the River Wandle. This post is a work in progress and I will update this page as I gather more information about fishing on the river. If you are a fisherman and would like to contribute to this page, please leave me a comment below or get in touch by email.