Researched and compiled by Bob Roberts
The River Trent is arguably the UK’s finest coarse fishery and certainly a magnet for barbel anglers from far and wide. As its popularity grows, so the thirst for knowledge becomes insatiable, particularly for information about who controls the fishing. This guide is an attempt to put that information at your fingertips and provide clarity.
Its scope is limited to the middle, lower and tidal river. From the challenging tidal reaches near Gainsborough working upstream to Shardlow, the upstream limit of navigation, the text is interspersed with a little history and light relief thrown into the mix for good measure.
To have reached this far would not have been possible without the input of kindly folk like Tim Aplin, Mark Perkins, Nev Fickling, the two Simon’s, (Bettis and Matheson) and a few others. But there’s still a way to go and should always be treated as a draft document.
TOP TIP: Fisheries constantly change hands, clubs fold, syndicates snatch bits here and there, new fisheries become available. Scroll to the bottom of the guide if you want to check on the most recent changes listed in order that the information was received.
For the time being at least the lower tidal stretches remain a little sketchy and require more work. It may well be the areas where no club details are available is because the land owners have no desire lease the fishing rights. It may be that access isn’t viable, but I would welcome any help with improving the accuracy of these details.
Same goes with a few spots in and around Nottingham, an area I’m less familiar with than, say, the upper tidal and middle reaches.
TOP TIP: Scroll toward the end of the guide for an index of club web sites and details of stretches offering day tickets. What I have learned from compiling this resource is there are some very good, informative web sites and some that aren’t! And some clubs who have no presence at all.
I’m struck by how the amount of available day ticket fishing has shrunk since the match fishing scene died. Then again, the average price of joining a club is cheap, generally between 30 and 60 pounds with reductions for concessions, and that’s for the whole season – so join (at least) one!
Of course, the success of any guide relies upon it being a ‘live’, continuously updated document and this can only work when fellow anglers, club secretaries and fishery owners are willing to participate by sharing their knowledge. Each and every one of you has a role to play in updating the guide.
HELP ME: If you spot an error or omission (and inevitably there will be some to start with!) don’t be shy, simply get in touch and make a difference. If you feel you can help with updates, please don’t hesitate to use the site’s CONTACT ME facility or message me via Facebook.
It is not my intention to include ticket prices as these are subject to change but you can simply follow the web links to where the most recent details should be available.
With no further ado, let’s hit the river.
Map 1. Gainsborough to Knaith
We begin our journey near Gainsborough. Fishing below this point is challenging and borderline dangerous with muddy banks and a significant tidal effect. I was catching fish below here nigh-on 40 years ago. It can be done. No clubs to my knowledge run fisheries below this point. You will be on your own in the pioneering boondocks and good luck with that! But stay safe if you do.
When it comes to big fish potential only a fool would rule out the lowest reaches. It’s an area that receives next to no pressure compared with the rest of the river. Powerful, twisting and turning, it picks up a tinge of colour with the tides. You would expect big zander, barbel, bream and carp to find it to their liking.
The fish are strong and athletic, as you would expect in the strong current. Heavy leads may be essential depending on the tides.
Throughout this guide you will find lots of information and snippets of history, geography, archeology and culture, much of which will have little or no relevance to fishing whatsoever. River based, they may entertain or even educate you, but without researching them I might have lost interest in the project. Feel free to enjoy or ignore as you will. They appear beneath each map, starting with this little gem…
Did you know that when King Canute performed his unsuccessful attempt to turn back the tide in the 11th Century it may have been in the River Trent at Gainsborough? Historians believe he may have been demonstrating on the aegir, a tidal bore. He and his supporters would have known Gainsborough was the furthest reach of the aegir, and ideal for his demonstration.
Sadly the story was not written down until a century later (by Henry of Huntingdon) who gives no location and it may even have been a myth or a fable.
Canute was also known as Cnut the Great. Similar titles have been bestowed upon anglers hurling heavy feeders in my direction from the opposite bank.
Map 2. Knaith to Littleborough
Whilst the river here is still massively tidal and the fishing a challenge, it’s not too difficult providing you take care and watch out for the tides which rise and fall twice each day. The river will lift and fall considerably dependant upon the tide cycle and invariably flow in both directions. Some areas are quite muddy but the rewards are certainly there for the taking.
If you fancy something a little bit different the historic Grade II listed Burton Chateau sleeps just two people can be rented out from as little as £43.13p per person, per night and sits right on the riverbank. Hmmm, be rude not to chuck out a rod, wouldn’t it? 😉
Crossing the Trent was dangerous and challenging in historical times. The ferry at Gainsborough was not replaced by a bridge until 1787. There was a second ferry connecting Littleborough with Marton which is quite obvious from the above map and the aptly named Ferry Farm.
Map 3. Littleborough to Torksey
Limited access but home to some big fish. You’ll find plenty of elbow room here. Unfortunately access is rather limited.
Boats from the Trent traded across the world in times gone by and if you’re looking for tangible evidence of ‘port’ Marton’s nautical past then check out the church yard where you’ll find a “Millennium” anchor dredged from the Trent.
Less tangible is the legend that Dick Turpin once lodged at the former Black Swan Inn.
True or not, the Romans were certainly here. Till Bridge Lane is a Roman road that ran down to the Trent where a stone-paved ford allowed people to cross the river to Littleborough. One wonders if the remains are still there creating a fish-holding feature?
A ferry operated here until the late 1920’s.
Map 4. Torksey to Laughterton
The river begins to get more popular with anglers from here on upstream. There’s still a big tidal influence but it’s manageable with care.
Worth noting is the cut-off channel on the East bank at Torksey where the Fossedyke begins. The Dyke is believed to be Britain’s oldest canal, dug by the Romans around 120AD and links the Trent and the River Witham at Lincoln. It provides a winter flood refuge for many species.
Map 5. Laughterton to Dunham Dubs
A popular match area in times gone by, now home to some massive specimens of several species.
Anglers who cherish a sense of history might wish to go scouting the banks of Dunham Dubbs where there is a plaque to be found dedicated to J W Martin, the Trent Otter.
He wrote of the Dubbs: “Charlie Hudson, who lives somewhere against Dunham Bridge, within easy distance of one of the deepest, if not the
deepest, bream swims on the Trent, viz., the celebrated Dunham
Dubs, is about as good a bream fisher as any I know.”
Map 6. Dunham Dubs to South Clifton
Bream and skimmers abound but there are also plenty of barbel. Those prepared to walk will find all the peace and solitude they might crave.
Fledborough Viaduct is without doubt one of, if not THE most imposing structures to cross the River Trent. Opened in 1897, it consists of 59 arches spread either side of four metal girder spans which cross the river itself. NINE MILLION bricks were used in its construction.
Today it carries bicycles.
Map 7. South Clifton to Girton
Away from the access points you will probably have all the room you could wish for but that goes for practically anywhere on the lower tidal river.
Update on the Right Bank stretch above South Clifton: The access/ parking dispute has now been legally resolved and the water will continue to be controlled by Scunthorpe Amalgamated Anglers (members only) as per the previous agreement. Please park at right angles to the road to maximise the parking area and minimise disruption to local residents
It is believed the Trent derived it’s name from two Celtic words – ʻtrosʼ (over) and ʻhyntʼ (way) or ʻtroshyntʼ (over-way). Because of the riverʼs tendency to flood and alter its course, this has been interpreted as meaning ʻstrong floodingʼ or more directly ʻThe Trespasserʼ (see footnote).
To understand fully the meaning of ‘Trespasser’ one only needs to see how the course has wandered here. Can you spot the course of the Old Trent?
Man has intervened to prevent further trespassing by the river. You will notice how the inside of bends are natural banks of shallow, gradually deepening water over hard packed gravel whereas the outside of the bends are all stoned to prevent erosion and probably explains the current fashion for using rod pods on the river.
Footnote: There are alternative theories as to where the name Trent is derived. Some attribute Isaac Walton with it having 30 species (French: trente). Others have suggested it derives from the Romano-British ‘trisantona’.
Map 8. Girton to Besthorpe
We’re getting into prime tidal territory now where big barbel are frequent visitors to the bankside, but in the case of the Barbel Society, only from the West Bank. Although they partly rent both banks, fishing is only allowed from one side.
Up until 1596 the main channel of the Trent below Newark ran along what is now known as the Fleet and the Slough Dike (to the right of the above map close to the A1133 Gainsborough Road).
At Carlton-on-Trent the channel had not yet developed the meander between the Ferry there and Carlton Rack, and occupied a course slightly to the south. From Carlton Rack the channel ran on the east side of Meering along the Fleet, past Girton and joined its present position at Lower Girton Stakes.
In 1596 (some say 1600) a flood occasioned a change to the present channel to the West of Holme. During the medieval period also it seems likely that the meander at Carlton developed to near its present state, and also possibly double channels became established on either side of Smithy Marsh, between Girton Grange and Clifton Hill and also at Dunham.”
Map 9. Besthorpe to Carlton
Proper barbel country now, popularised but not necessarily as heavily fished as you may have been led to believe.
Map 9 (Updated 2022.06.25)
From June 16th 2022 Collingham AA decided to no longer allow night fishing on a day ticket. Night fishing is now members only with the exception that a 50 yard stretch at Salmon Farm, Carlton Ferry Lane, Collingham NG23 7LZ, controlled by Rob Lee (07740074033). It can accommodate 2 anglers Monday to Friday/ Friday to Monday. Worth noting that anglers must bring their own portable toilets, a first in the ever changing scene that is the River Trent.
At times of high flood the Trent reaches out almost to the A1 At Carlton.
Visit Collingham Church on the opposite bank and you will see the heights of historical floods carved into the churchyard wall. Other high level markings can be found at Girton and on the Trent Bridge in Nottingham.
Be aware if you should ever attempt to fish this stretch from either bank on a rising river, it is easily possible to get cut off and stranded.
Map 10. Carlton to Holme Marsh
A prime fishing location. This is where it’s possible to (book Peg 1A) turn up having never seen the river in your life and go home a Trent legend (in your own mind) having bagged a shedful of doubles. In reality the situation is likely to end soon when work on the proposed hydro-power station is completed.
A bridge spanning the river connecting Cromwell and Collingham was destroyed before the end of the 18th Century. Apparently the river was so low in 1792 the remains could be seen. Anyone looking for this feature today should have little difficulty identifying the location if they study the map below.
A Century later when work was done to improve navigation the piers of the bridge were found.
Cromwell lock is significant in that it is the first lock working upstream and the weir forms a structural barrier between the tidal and non-tidal reaches.
It should be recognised that the Trent’s weirs are not natural features. They were created to deepen the river and enable commercial navigation with larger boats. An act was passed in 1906 allowing construction of the locks along the middle river that are in use today.
Construction commenced at Cromwell, in 1908 and the lock opened on 22nd May, 2011. The First World War hindered progress and it wasn’t until 1921 that the second, Holme Lock was completed. The final lock at Hazelford was opened in 1926.
Map 11. Holme Marsh to Winthorpe
If anywhere typifies the Trent, this is it. Gravel galore, wide sweeping bends, good depth and flow, stuffed with fish and the chance of a real big one. Twenty pounders have been reported here on numerous occasions. Sadly no-one ever manages to share the photographs!
What have been landed and photographed from here are some pretty impressive catfish.
It’s possibly hard to believe but Holme Marsh village was once situated on the West bank of the River Trent until the cataclysmic flood of 1575 which changed the course of the river. Indeed Holme was the crossing point to Langford (long ford) but today they are both on the East bank.
Map 12. Winthorpe to Newark
The river here splits. To the west we have the ‘old river’. To the South we have the Newark Dyke. Ironically it’s the old river that is actually a new river, created in the 16th Century when the landowners diverted the old river course by lowering the left hand bank near Staythorpe to increase the flow of an existing stream.
The Dyke itself is heavily modified and was rerouted and canalised in 1772. Originally the River Devon ran alongside the castle walls with the Trent itself some 345 yards away.
The Dyke has the same species of fish and carries the same water as the Trent but is much smaller, more intimate than the main river.
Running parallel with the Dyke, just behind Northgate lies Lovers Lane. Around 1880’s a gentleman called ‘Jack’ Martin set up a fishing rod and tackle manufacturing business at 4, Northern Buildings, Lover’s Lane in partnership with a man called Openshaw.
Christened John William, J W Martin was a prolific writer using the nom de plume of ‘Trent Otter’. Though famed as a Trent legend he only actually fished the river for 13 years.
Martin claims to have walked from his birthplace in the Lincolnshire Fens to start afresh in Newark where he became an accomplished angler learning much from anglers like Charlie Hudson (the old Dunham professional) and ‘Nottingham’ George Holland. He became an institution, fishing alongside Jack Bailey (son of William Bailey), David Slater (the Newark reel maker), Henry Coxon (inventor of the Aerial reel), and F W K Wallis (joint holder of the barbel record in the 1930s).
Later he moved to Huntingdon and so became even more famous for his exploits on the Ouse and the Fens describing his fishing life thus: ‘During 46 years I have roamed 16 counties, have cast my lines in the waters of 25 rivers, and have seen much to instruct and very much to interest.’
How different it must gave been in those days when the mode of transport was train, or horse and carriage?
Hang on a minute, when I first fished the Trent with my old man we caught the train to Newark Northgate and then walked with our tackle on our backs to Winthorpe. A horse would have been brlliant!
*** Note: Maltkiln Lane Fishery (Summer 2020). Newark Piscatorial Society has lodged a legal complaint through the Angling Trust/ Fish Legal department regarding their ownership of the fishing rights to this stretch of water. Until as such time this matter is resolved do not be surprised if you are asked to pay twice to fish there.
Map 13. Newark (Dyke)
The upper section of the Dyke sweeps away from Newark in open countryside. A delightful stretch of water that holds a fair few carp as well as the usual whiskery suspects.
The locks on the Dyke are unique in that they were originally built 150 years earlier than those on most other parts of the river in 1773.
Those who exhibit a taste for the macabre might wish to check out the Just Beer Micropub in Swan and Salmon Yard. This is the spot where notorious kidnapper Michael Sams held estate agent Stephanie Slater in a coffin-like box inside a wheelie-bin for eight days in 1992, demanding a ransom of £140,000. He kidnapped her after posing as a house-buyer in Birmingham.
Earliern 1991 he had kidnapped Julie Dart, a prostitute, and later murdered her when she tried to escape.
Sams was identified when his third wife recognised his voice on the BBC TV programme Crimewatch.
Map 14. The ‘Old’ River
Known as ‘the old river’, the natural-looking stretch of river between Staythorpe and Crankley Point was created when the left bank of the Trent was deliberately breached at Staythorpe. The surge of water was so great it washed away the old road bridge at Kelham. This is now a dreamy stretch of mostly natural river, controlled almost exclusively by the Nottingham Piscatorial Society. There is just one tightly pegged and heavily pressured day ticket stretch at Smeatons where 6 or 7 pegs are squeezed into a 90 metre stretch of bank.
Fishing at Kelham Hall is now not allowed and is unlikely to be again in the near future.
Map 15. Staythorpe to East Stoke
If it’s bream you are seeking then look no further. This area can be bream city in the right pegs but if you target them rest assured you will also cross paths with some big barbel. The same area has also produced a number of catfish.
In August 1948 the title ‘Little Hero of Farndon’ was bestowed upon 12-year-old Ronnie Ward after he rescued a four-year-old child from the river at Farndon Ferry. Seeing the boy in deep water, Ronnie swam out to him and pulled him to the landing stage from where he was carried back to his mother. Amazingly, Ronnie’s parents knew nothing about the rescue until they heard the story from eye-witnesses, because their son was too modest to tell them.
Imagine that these days, eh? It would be all over social media before he dried his hair!
Map 16. East Stoke to Flintham
Wide and majestic, barbel, chub and bream galore, the river is split at the upstream end around Nabb’s Island. On the North side we have ‘the syndicate that must not be named!’ (Hazelford Piscatorials). To the South we find the most picturesque section of the middle Trent. Narrow, shallow, crystal clear, a delight to fish and so radically different you will not even recognise it as the Trent.
Barnsley DAA purchased the Fiskerton stretch of the Trent in the early 1980s (I believe) for what, at the time, was rumoured to be the king’s ransom of around a quarter of a million pounds.
At the time BDAA was a rich, forward looking club. Owning Fiskerton and also Worsborough Reservoir was almost as good as having permission to print it’s own money.
Day (only) tickets and Barnsley club books can be purchased for this fishery but the most prolific barbel pegs are currently let out to a syndicate. A different night syndicate operates on the rest of the stretch. Contact The Association of Barbel Fishers for further details.
The length is also subject to match bookings, particularly at weekends. Several sturgeon have been caught from here, the best around 17lbs, I believe.
Below Fiskerton on the North bank is a day ticket stretch controlled by the NPS, tickets in advance from the Post Office on Main Street.
The fields to the East of the river staged the final engagement of the War Of The Roses in 1487 when 12,000 Lancastrians overcame 8,000 Yorkists and secured the future of King Henry and his Tudor Dynasty.
Most of the Yorkists were mercenaries from Germany, Switzerland and Ireland. I shall resist the temptation to draw comparisons with Brexit!
By coincidence the West bank was a fetid breeding ground for discontent that sparked the great Barbel Wars in 2002, a conflict that has endured to this day. A group of nere-do-wells attempted to wreck the Barbel Society and depose it’s leader but the campaign proved to be a miserable failure. Both have survived imperiously though no truce has ever been drawn.
Many of the malcontents operate furtively in the shadows to this day but their rumblings and mutterings now tend to fall on stony ground. Echoes of the past perhaps, or dreary forebodings of more strife ahead? Time will tell.
Interestingly I’ve had a very useful message from Dave McCreath, Chaiman of both BDAAS and the ABF, regarding the fishing around Hazelford weir. He informs me:
The stretch above BDAAS/ABF is indeed private, only 3 pegs though before the wharf stretch. The riparian rights belonged to a retired clergy from Fiskerton who sadly passed away a number of years ago, so presume the rights have passed to his heirs.
The island between the two weirs (Nabb’s Island) is C&RT owned but fishing rights belong to Scunthorpe who do not allow fishing from the island at all (to protect Ladypits to the south of the island).
There is a small stretch running alongside the northern weir bank from ///quilt.oven.whisker to ///minds.magnum.tungsten (use the What 3 Words APP to interpret) between BDAAS/Notts Fed that is also signed by the C&RT as no fishing due to the presence/danger of the weir and height of the bank above the river (from the weir barrier to the west to the exit of the basin on the eastern edge).
Map 17. Flintham to Hoveringham
At the foot of the Flintham Hills you can watch gliders soring on thermals in the sky above. One of the prettier reaches of the middle Trent. Numerous adjacent gravel workings should tell you everything you need to know. This is archetypical barbel country in a wide open landscape.
In 1939 gravel extraction from alongside the river Trent was begun by the Hoveringham Gravel company. The operations were periodically halted by the discovery of the tusks and teeth of mammoths which had to be recorded by palaeontologists before digging could continue. Many of these remains are now in the Natural History Museum at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham.
The company adopted the mammoth as its ‘logo’ and for many years its lorries with their mammoth symbols were a familiar sight in the district.
Map 18. Hoveringham to Gunthorpe
When barbel first began to show in the 1980s, the pegs in front of the then Star and Garter pub were a hot spot, as was the Dover Beck mouth area. The roadside, Peg 70-ish, won a 960-peg National Championships. Need I say more?
Search for information about Caythorpe and there’s little to be found. A mysterious sleepy hamlet founded by a Dane named Kati but there’s no mention as to whether this was a he, a she, or perhaps even a pioneering non-binary.
There was once a working mill, the lowest of a dozen or so on the Dover Beck and there is a micro brewery, so that will have to do. Mines a pint!
It perhaps says everything that I discovered a book called ‘Not Forgetting Caythorpe’ by Anne Sharp, but it appears history indeed has done just that, unless there’s a hidden dark story about which non shall speak!
Map 19. Gunthorpe
Contrasting styles with fast streamy water below the weir, slow, steady water up to the road bridge and then the pace picks up again as you head upstream. Once a very famous match length. The pegs either side of the bridge winning countless matches in their day.
Prior to the mid-18th Century there were only two bridge crossings of the river through the entire thirty maps featured here, one at Newark and one at Nottingham (Hethbeth Bridge). There were, however, over thirty ferries that operated along its course, and numerous fords, where passage was possible, hence the names Hazelford, Wilford and the village at the bottom of this map, East Bridgeford. The late Jan Porter once ran a tackle shop there called Redfin Sports.
Gunthorpe has its own ‘henge’ (like Stonehenge but without the stones!) located behind the garage on the A6097, 120 metres South of Lodge Farm dating back to the Late Neolithic period (2800-2000 BC).
Map 20. Burton Joyce and Shelford
Arguably one of the most famous match lengths not just on the Trent but nationwide. Who hasn’t heard of the Ferry Field, Nelson Field, Peg 187, Gunthorpe Bridge, the Cherry Orchard or the Shelford Shallows? The stretch alongside the Stoke Road was not called The Golden Mile for nothing.
There are few clearer examples of how the Trent’s course has changed through history than at Shelford. The original course (in medieval times can clearly be seen today. What cannot be seen is that this used to be the southernmost boundary of Sherwood Forest.
In the 1500s there were actually two channels and in 1592 these channels would be the cause of a dispute taken all the way to the Star Chamber of Elizabeth 1 due to damming of the northern channel with a wier by Sir Thomas Stanhope. The associated locks are the oldest example known on the Trent.
The southern channel at this point was used for powering mills as it became too shallow for navigation. Throughout the 16th and 17th Century it became known as the ‘old’ course.
Map 21. Stoke Bardolph and Ratcliffe
From the streamy runs below Stoke Bardolph weir to the deep bend at Radcliffe on and upwards to the viaduct we are talking a fabulous and varied stretch with great potential for all the river’s popular species.
The river alongside the red cliffs gives Radcliffe on Trent its name. From early times it has been important for fishing. The Domesday survey of 1086 records half a fishery and a third part of another in the Radcliffe manor held by William Peverel, while other records refer to salmon, barbel and eels caught locally.
Map 22. Colwick and Holme Pierrepont
Regatta Lake remains the only venue where England has won the World Angling Championships on home soil (so to speak). From the giant sluice at Cowick, down through the canoe slalom course and onto the gravels below, this is barbel country and practically in the heart of Nottingham.
Oh, and the car park near the rowing centre is reputedly popular with the dogging fraternity!
As we enter Nottingham this is perhaps the perfect opportunity to point out that the folk of this fair city, once famous for its lace industry, and John Player cigarettes, have only recently stopped living in caves.
There is a vast network of caves beneath the city, carved out by hand in the soft sandstone rock by prospective dwellers. The oldest date back to 1250AD and the city lays claim to having more man-made caves than anywhere else in the country.
The cave network has Scheduled Ancient Monument protection equal to that of Stonehenge, making Nottingham Caves a site of vast importance to the heritage of the United Kingdom.
The caves were still inhabited until around 1924 when the last family (the Shore family) moved out.
Map 23. Long Higgin
Made famous in the days of Frank Barlow, Dean, Warren, Slaymaker, Toone and the other highly skilled Trentmen. Wide and deep, it has in the past produced some huge carp and is still an excellent area to fish for roach and bream. Like all the slower, deeper stretches you will find huge specimens but don’t expect them to crawl up your rod.
An extract from Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence:
The Trent ran dark and full under the bridge. Away towards Colwick all was black night. He lived down Holme Road, on the naked edge of town, facing across the river meadows towards Sneinton Hermitage and the steep scarp of Colwick Wood. The floods were out. The silent water and the darkness spread away on their left. Almost afraid, they hurried along by the houses.
Yes, that’s Holme Road, south of the river, below The Hook. Not much has changed since 1913, has it? Except perhaps that 30 years earlier, the Trent had a thriving Salmon run.
Map 24. Nottingham
Beginning at Lady Bay Bridge, past Nottingham Forest’s City Ground, Under Trent Bridge, past the Embankment Steps, under Wilford Bridge, and on up to Clifton Bridge. It may be slow and deep compared with other areas but be in no doubt there are some absolutely huge chub and barbel in these reaches.
Shortly before 1800 an attempt was made to create a canal ‘by-pass’ running parallel to the Trent around Trent Bridge. This was thwarted by a bill to create a cut and lock at Cranfleet, a cut, locks and weirs at Beeston and a lock at Holme Pierrepont. The aim of the improvements was to increase the minimum depth from a mere 2 feet (0.6 m) to 3 feet (0.9 m).
You’ll find a bit more depth than that here today.
What is worth noting is that there is a demolished railway bridge approximately 200 metres below Toll Bridge. The bridge columns are submerged but still exist above the river bed to about a meter below the surface.
Local legend tells how there was once a fisherman on the River Trent who, after fishing for a while and catching a few carp and other fish, had his bait taken by a monster pike.
For some time, man and fish struggled but eventually the fish tired, but as the man was about to land it a wild goose flying overhead swooped down and seized the fish. The goose flew high into the air with his prize, but the pike still had the baited hook in its mouth and the man refused to give line.
Imagine the scene when the goose flew over Nottingham’s Market Square with pike, rod and man dangling from its beak! Alas the burden was too great for the bird and it released its grip. Down tumbled the angler and his fish.
An astonished crowd in the Square rushed to the man’s aid only to find him standing unhurt in the middle of the Square – and in celebration of this wonderful event it was decided to hold a fair on the very spot where the man had landed and it was to be known as the Goose Fair.
The tale may sound rather far fetched but the Goose Fair is still held on the same spot every year at the beginning of October some four Centuries later.
Map 25. Clifton Bridge To Clifton Grove
The long straight behind Nottingham’s University campus is fast and fairly shallow. Access is poor but the rewards can make the effort worthwhile.
If you happen to be fishing from the west bank around half way along the straight, don’t be too surprised if you encounter a snag or two. In 1938, workmen from the Trent Navigation Company were dredging gravel when their progress was stopped by wooden stakes or piles driven into the river bed. At the same time, human remains – in the form of a skull – and bronze spearheads were brought to the surface.
Turns out they had discovered the site of a 3,000 year-old Bronze Age Pile Settlement, effectively a village on stilts, known of in Europe but practically unheard of in the UK. More than 100 piles were discovered and the settlement extended over 100 yards downstream on the Clifton side and two-thirds of the way across the river.
Map 26. Attenborough
The run below Beeston weir is prime chub and barbel territory and gets even more interesting above. Attenborough’s sprawling nature reserve presents access problems on the North bank where the majority of deeper water and flow lies.
The name of the village at the southern end of this stretch has changed through history. To avoid confusion with Burton On Trent. The name was first changed to ‘Barton in the Beans’ which was a staple crop grown there. Later it was gentrified as Barton in Fabis; Fabis being the Latin translation of ‘bean’.
In 1676, despite only having 86 inhabitants, Barton had two pubs! Today there is no pub as such but the Farmer’s Arms Bar in the village hall is opened every Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon and features guest craft beers across the year. Worth noting if you fancy a swift half after a hard session on the river.
Map 27. Thrumpton
More classic barbel water where the river meanders between the nature reserve and open countryside.
[Please Note: Spring Lakes is a new leisure complex offering day and night fishing tickets. The boundary markers are yet to be confirmed absolutely so please be aware they may be a few swims out either way at this moment in time. Please abide by the signs on site. Long Eaton Victoria AC control two meadows down from Cranfleet Lock. The downstream border from Springfield Lakes is in the ownership of a company that does not appear to want anyone on their land. Beyond that is Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust who may deny it, but elements within in hold an anti-angling stance.
As we leave Nottingham behind us it would be a missed opportunity not to share a few weird tales. For example, did you know that the Great Nottingham Cheese Riot took place in 1764 and that the mayor was knocked over by a large cheese? Thought not.
Or that Nottingham was originally called Snotengaham? It was ruled by a Saxon chief named Snot. The name means ‘the homestead of Snot’s people’.
How about the People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals (PETA) trying to get Nottingham to change its name to ‘Not-Eating-Ham’?
Bet you didn’t know that every single Bramley apple is descended from the same tree in a Nottinghamshire garden.
We’ll wrap this dalliance with a nod to Lord Biro. An eccentric would-be politician who, in 2014, received more votes than the Lib Dems in a by-election in Nottingham. One of his policies was a 30% discount for OAPs in brothels.
Map 28. Trent Lock
Another fascinating stretch of water starting immediately below Thrumpton weir, it heads under the Midland Main Railway viaduct past the River Soar confluence, joins up with the Erewash and Cranfleet canals, flows along a golf course, goes beneath the Donnington railway bridge and the lower entrance to the Sawley Cut. It’s an area often referred to as ‘waters meet’.
Not surprisingly this was an area prone to flooding in times past. Here’s an extract from a poem describing the great flood of 1875.
T’was a night to be remembered, not a night to go to bed,
Men were watching full of restlessness and fear,
For the angry skies were roaring loud and moonless overhead,
And the river sounding nearer and more near.
Now the river’s voice was ominous, for none the fact could blink
That it ought not to be audible at all,
Since the houses lay a measured mile above the nearest brink,
And the railway ran between them like a wall.
But again the sullen morning broke and the mystery was cleared,
As far as the astonished eye could strain
All the bounds had vanished utterly, and the Thrumpton woods appeared
Like an island in the wild and stormy rain.
From the Charnwood Forest rainfall had come racing down the Soar,
And the Derwent brought the soakings from The Peak,
With Why’s white waters mingled, rushing streamlets by the score,
And Trent’s vast volume made the tale complete.
Map 29 Sawley
A fascinating and challenging stretch of water containing a weir, islands, the Sawley Cut, River Derwent confluence, the Trent and Mersey Canal junction plus the start of what some deem to be the upper Trent (personally I feel it starts at the point beyond which navigation is no longer allowed, but that’s a personal whim). Big fish of every species can be caught in close proximity to the constant drone of the M1 Motorway traffic.
Worth noting the Pride is a professional business rather than a member-owned Society. Very well run, it offers secure parking or parking next to pegs, security fenced fishing plus a variety of other waters including the Derwent, canal and lakes, much of which is available round-the-clock.
Map 30. Shardlow
The opening of the Trent and Mersey Canal in 1777 signalled the end of legal navigation beyond Cavendish Bridge, where the B5010 London Road crosses and where we reach the upstream limit of this project. The map is basically simply here for completeness.
The river upstream of Cavendish Bridge takes on a character of its own, narrower, wild and untamed with shallow gravel runs, deep holes, fallen trees, back eddies, streamer weed, indeed it’s a whole different animal and worthy of a project of its own. Perhaps another time…
And so we have reached the end of our journey. I hope it has helped you find the information you were looking for and some you perhaps weren’t.
A big thanks to everyone who helped and to those who I hope will now refine it going forwards.
The maps are provided courtesy of Open Street Map. I have simply added layers indicating boundaries and ownership.
Now imagine if there was a guide like this for every major river in the country…
Links To Fishery Web Sites And Facebook Pages
Collectively the clubs listed below manage fishing rights on the majority of the river covered by this guide. Some restrict fishing to members only, some offer temporary memberships for fishing in daylight hours and a small number allow night fishing. Some areas host matches so it pays to check for signs at access points prior to starting, particularly at weekends.
Whichever water you decide to fish please respect the club rules and wherever you can, please support these clubs by becoming a member.
Trent Fishing Club (Email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ferryboat Angling Club, Church Laneham (No contact details available)
For fishery limits, rules, prices, how to obtain tickets, match details, etc, for the above mentioned clubs please visit the respective web sites.
Clubs Offering Day Only Tickets
If you control a water that has been missed in this list, or you have not included day ticket information on your web site, please contact me and I will update the directory.
A1 pits, North Muskham
Ashfield Angling: Burton Joyce Ferry Field, Roadside, Nelson Field
Clifton Bridge AC, Clifton
Collingham Angling Association
Colwick Country Park
Barnsley And District AS: Fiskerton
Holme Pierrepont: Below slalom course
Newark Piscatorial Society: Farndon, parts of Newark Dyke
Nottingham Piscatorial Society: Rolleston and Fiskerton only
Midland Angling: Hoveringham and Caythorpe
Nottingham Federation Of Anglers: All stretches(?)
Please use the club web sites listed above to check the limits of access, parking restrictions and whether permits are available on the bank or must be purchased in advance/ where from/ prices/ etc.
Stretches Offering Day And Night Tickets
Trent Fishing Club (Dunham – left bank only), A1 Pits, Smeatons Caravan Park, Bob’s Island and Spring Lakes (Attenborough). A 2-peg (50 yards) stretch at Salmon Farm, Carlton Ferry Lane, Collingham NG23 7LZ, controlled by Rob Lee (07740074033) is new on the guide for 2022/23. Clifton Grove Angling Club.
For boundaries, venue specific rules, Booking/ obtaining tickets/ prices, etc, please visit the respective web sites. Contact in advance is always recommended with the exception of Collingham and A1 Pits.
Nearby Tackle Shops
Bridge Tackle Shop, 30 Derby Rd. NG10 1PD. Tel: 01159 728338
Eastwood Angling Centre, 91 Nottingham Rd, Eastwood. NG16 3GH. Tel: NG16 3GH 01773 710775
Gerry’s Of Nottingham, 96-100 Radford Blvd. NG7 3BN. Tel: 01159 781695
Go Fishing Tackle, 5 Bannerman Rd. NG6 9JA. Tel: 01159 278859
Matchman Supplies, 4 Ella Rd, West Bridgford. NG2 5GW. Tel: 01159 140210
Stapleford Angling, 8 Archer Rd, Stapleford. NG9 7EP. Tel: 0115 949 1812
Walkers Of Trowell, 9-13 Nottingham Rd, Trowell. NG9 3PA. Tel: 01159 301816
Bennington Bait, Valley Ln, Long Bennington. NG23 5EE. Tel: 01400 281525
Future Fishing, Hardy’s Business Park, Unit 17, Hawton Ln, Farndon.. NG24 3SD. Tel: 01636 612654
The Tackle Shop, 2 Bridge Rd. DN211JU. Tel: 01427 613002
Retford Angling Supplies, St John Street, Retford. Tel: 01777 717286
The details contained in this guide are provided with good intention but are subject to change without notice. If you are planning a visit to the Trent it is recommended that you check for recent updates on the fishery owner’s own web site before setting out.
The author of this web site accepts no responsibility for errors or omission.
Many anglers are drawn to the Trent by the phenomenal catches reported in the press, on social media, web forums and clips on YouTube. Please try and keep your feet planted firmly on the ground. It is not as easy away from a few heavily publicised hotspots as you may have been led to believe. Many leave disappointed, never to return.
It is like any other barbel river. You will have good days and bad days. The best anglers catch more consistently whatever the conditions. It’s not about magic baits or fancy rigs. Baits don’t ‘blow’. Maggots and casters still catch fish. So does luncheon meat and corn. Hemp is still a terrific attractor. Just remember, every swim is not an aquarium stocked like a commercial fishery.
In normal conditions you don’t need 2.75lb test carp rods and 50lb braid. That’s pure horse manure. Nor do you always have to cast to the far bank! And plenty of fish are caught in daylight.
The following articles, written a while ago, still stand the test of time. If you are paying your first visit to the river, or planning a future trip it might be worth your while having a read. It certainly won’t hurt.
And of course, if you are completely new to barbel fishing or want to learn from a variety of experts then the finest collection of DVDs ever produced on the subject are available here:
Judging by the number of requests I get for information about float fishing for barbel it seems there’s a demand, arguably a thirst for information about this technique. You can find a full instructional sequence in the autumn disk of the Caught In The Act series of DVDs.
2019.03.15: Map 19 updated to include APG. Link to club FB page site added, day/ night ticket list amended (details courtesy of Stuart Brookes).
2019.03.15: Map 24 updated to include Clifton Bridge AC. Link to FB page added. Day ticket list amended. Clifton Bridge (right bank) no fishing identified. Free Fishing along the Embankment and opposite bank included (details courtesy of Rich Hall).
2019.03.15: Map 7 updated regarding private stretch on West bank (details courtesy of Jon Jess)
2019.03.15 Maps 8 & 9 updated. Stretch identified as Sheffield Waltonians AC (details courtesy of John Feltrup)
2019.03.17: Map 2 updated at Littleborough and opposite at Gate Burton (details courtesy of Jon Jess)
2019.03.17: Map 17 updated boundary details at Hoveringham (details courtesy of Jon Jess)
2019.03.17 Information and link added to text regarding Burton Chateau rental availability
2019.03.19: Map 23 Information added to Colwick Park Fishery (details courtesy of Alan Courtney)
2019.03.19: Map 24 Information added relating to free fishing (details courtesy of Alan Courtney)
2019.03.19: Map 25 Information added relating to free fishing and day tickets (details courtesy of Alan Courtney)
2019.06.24: Map 7 Scunthorpe Amalgamated access and parking issues now resolved. (Details from SAA Facebook page)
2019.06.26 Map 24 Updated to include Southside FC syndicate water (details courtesy of Steve Boamy)
2019.06.30 Map 11. Boundary change. A1 Pits fishery extended northwards (downstream) towards North Muskham (Details supplied by Ricky Jordan via Facebook. Confirmed by fishery)
2020.06.13 Map 19. Boundary change. Ashfield Angling water extended to Gunthorpe Bridge. Apologies to the reader who sent me details, I’ve lost your name. Send me your details and I’ll happily credit you accordingly.
2020.06.14 Maps 4 and 5. Updated to include Ferryboat Angling Club. Details courtesy of Andrew Rouse. No contact details available for this club at the present time.
2020.06.17 Map 15. Updated to include short stretch of Nottingham Piscatorial water adjacent Farndon Power Station. Details courtesy of Kevin Stevenson.
2020.06.28 Map 12. Regarding Maltkiln Lane Fishery above Nether Lock, Newark. I have received information from Len Duckworth (NPS Bailiff) that Newark Piscatorial Society has expressed their right to the ownership of fishing rights at this site and are pursuing their claim via the Angling Trust/ Fish Legal department to resolve the matter.
2020.07.25 Maps 2 & 3. Updated to include newly opened stretch, Trent Point Fishery. Details courtesy of Ian Cougil and John at Retford Angling Supplies. For further details contact John on 01777 717286. No day tickets. Limited number of season permits only. http://www.facebook.com/retfordanglingsupplies/posts/255098682573003
2020.07.26 Maps 1 & 2. Updated to include transfer of control of a 3.5 mile stretch from South Yorkshire Police Angling Club to Ashfield Angling. For the current 2020/21 season the fishery will be shared between the two clubs but as of the 2021/22 season the fishery will be wholly controlled by Ashfield Angling, members only. Details courtesy of Marc Steven Foy.
2020.07.28 Maps 26 & 27 Updated to reflect the extended rights of Long Eaton Victoria AC fishing at Attenborough. Details courtesy of Scott Bradley.
2020.07.26 Map 26 Updated to show short stretch of water above Beeston Weir controlled by Trent Valley Angling. Details courtesy of Kevin Stephenson.
2021.11.10 Map 2 Updated to show change of control from South Yorkshire Police to Ashfield Angling. Details courtesy of Phil Blackburn.
2022.02.08 Maps 26 and 27 updated to show Spring Lakes’ water, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and a stretch owned by a company that appear not to want anglers on their land. Great eh? Many thanks to Spring Lakes and David Kent at LEVAS for their kind help in compiling this update. The boundaries shown may be slightly out by a few metres but if anyone wishes to contact me through the web site contact form with more accurate details I will be happy to refine those details.
2022.02.08 Map 14. Fishing is no longer permitted at Kelham Hall and is unlikely to resume in the future.
2022.06.15 Map 16. Update on fishing around Hazelford Weir courtesy of Dave McCreath.
2022.06.25 Map 9. Salmon Farm fishery added to the Collingham Stretch.
2022.06.25 Map 19. APG Fishery (Gunthorpe Lock) reverted to a members only water on this date. Day tickets are no longer issued.
2022.06.25 Map 25 South bank now controlled by Clifton Grove Angling Club. Details courtesy of Greg Wardak. Day, night and season tickets available.