Dig out your diary and get the New Year off to a flying start with The Field’s ultimate month-by-month fishing guide to what to fish, when and where to stay


There is little doubt that the UK offers some of the most fascinating fishing in the most wonderful of settings, if you know where to look. Getting away from life’s stresses for just a couple of days of angling is calming, restorative and is a bubble of contentment. It provides something to look forward to, plans to make and tackle to sort. Then, after it all, you’ll have shining memories of screaming reels and leaping, silver fish. Go alone, or with pals or a partner, and enjoy an angling adventure with roaring fires and fine wines when the casting is done. We have looked for great, thrilling action along with the most fishing-friendly accommodation. All our suggestions offer unique selling points: great fishing guide options, special fish stocks or rivers to take your breath away. We’ve tried to match each venue with the best time to wet a line, and we have spread our net across the whole country. The Field team has fished every water on the list, leaving your only task to get out that diary.

KEY: £ £50-£100 / ££ £100-£150 / £££: £150+




Start the salmon season in style on 15 January (unless that falls on a Sunday) at the famous Meikleour beat on the River Tay. You’ll find two miles of majestic water with legendary pools and just about the most welcoming gillies in Scotland: Calum McRoberts and Ian Jones. They will advise on flies (generally serious tube flies this early when there’s ice in the water) but they’ll also take you spinning or even harling if conditions are ferocious.

fishing guide

It can be tough stuff but the potential rewards are immense and you’ll be blowing away the Christmas cobwebs. Food at the nearby Meikleour Arms is renowned and you can stay there or in the wonderfully renovated cottages dotted around the estate.

Fishing: £ from the bank; ££ with boat and gillie. 

Rooms: ££; meikleourarms.co.uk; 01250 883424



What a combination: the beguiling Welsh Dee grayling and the haunting beauty of Crogen Hall in its upper reaches. Here the river runs from grayling-rich glides into deeper pools, providing untold opportunities for fly anglers and float fishers alike, although note that trotting maggots is not allowed this high up the river. The grayling are numerous, sometimes large and they feed in the coldest of conditions, no matter how thickly the frost lies on the adjoining fields.

Staying at Crogen Hall has many advantages. The river runs through the grounds and is exclusive to guests. The rooms are baronial and the food, prepared by the enchanting Sarah Robertson, is fabulous. Put together a party of grayling aficionados or rent a cottage on the estate if you are fishing alone or as a couple.

Fishing: £ 

Rooms: ££; crogenestate.com; 07714 337003



The Usk has been regarded as a premiership brown trout river since time immemorial and while its salmon stocks are in jeopardy, the brown trout thrive, with fish weighing 2lb and over in serious numbers. The season begins on the third of the month, so the best approach is to fish deep along the estate’s six beats, which offer a truly magnificent cascade of riffles and pools amid spectacular scenery.

Glanusk is a wild, challenging fishery, so it might be wise for a first trip to consider a fishing guide, and owner Harry Legge-Bourke is as accomplished and fun as a fishing guide can get. There is fantastic accommodation on the estate itself. You might consider the main house, Penmyarth, which sleeps a minimum of 10 catered or take it self-catering as you can the rest of the accommodation. Choose from The Tower for two next to the Bridge pool or The Library opposite the estate’s rod room, which sleeps up to four. A far-out fly-fishing adventure, yet easily accessible from the nearby M4.

Fishing: £ 

Tuition: £££ 

Rooms: ££-£££; glanuskestate.com; 01873 810414



The crystal waters of the Wye and the Derwent were beloved by Walton and Cotton. By a fluke of nature, the Wye is just about the only river in the country where the exquisite wild rainbow trout spawns and is self-sustaining. Fishing for them is generally with the dry-fly, while there are serious wild browns if the rainbows are coy.

fishing guide

Jan Hobot is chief fishing guide and instructor here, and his input makes these days even more special. Fishing the upstream dry is a true piscatorial art form and Hobot is the perfect mentor if you need one. The place to stay is The Peacock at Rowsley, where residents can buy day tickets for these revered stretches of river. Fascinating fishing, breathtaking landscapes and great accommodation make this adventure a sure-fire winner.

Fishing: ££ 

Guiding: £££ 

Rooms: £££; thepeacockatrowsley.com; 01629 733518 

Read our hotel review of The Peacock at Rowsley.



The mayfly hatch, generally later in the month, can be explosive on so many rivers and still waters, but the Test is the eternal go-to if you want to witness those clouds of hatching, gossamer insects and gorging brown trout. Perhaps the most exciting way to fish the mayfly is on the clearest of waters, where the trout can be seen approaching your imitation and you experience every second of that nerve-tingling ‘gotcha’ moment.

There’s nowhere better than the Wherwell estate to give you this classic floating-fly experience in water like crystal. There’s also the bonus of guidance from James Buckley, one of the brightest young keepers in the whole valley. After the evening rise, you have the picturesque town of Stockbridge to look forward to, where The Grosvenor or The Greyhound beckon weary heads after a splendid meal and perhaps a little mayfly chat in the bar.

Fishing: £££; wherwellestate.co.uk; 01264 860243

Rooms: £££; thegreyhoundonthetest.co.uk; 01264 810833

Rooms: £££; thegrosvenorstockbridge.com; 01264 810606



The Wye valley in June is a delight but nowhere more so than along the upper river, above Hay-on-Wye. Here the river is a beguiling sequence of rapids and vibrant pools, all set in tree-clad hills. After 16 June an exciting opportunity exists: you can fish the fly for big brown trout, grayling, salmon (perhaps) but also chub and even barbel. Hook a 7lb barbel on nymph gear and you’ll never want to go bonefishing again.

The Wye Usk Foundation offers a great selection of beats on its Fishing Passport Scheme, and Fishing Breaks can fix you up with a guided fly-caught barbel session if you are brave enough. The excellent Llangoed Hall hotel nestles right by the river and its tranquil gardens are the ideal setting for an evening discussion on fly choice for the next day.

Fishing: £; wyeuskfoundation.org; 01874 711714

Fishing: £££; fishingbreaks.co.uk; 01264 781988

Rooms: ££; llangoedhall.co.uk; 01874 754525



Lochmaddy Hotel has been the centre of island fishing here since 1863, and John and Lorna Doherty carry on the tradition of top-notch fishing and welcoming accommodation. Fishing the sea pools is an absorbing, deliciously anticipatory experience, and it doesn’t get better than in July, especially when a good moon lights up a late-evening tide. Sea-trout hit with adrenaline-fuelled ferocity in water often knee-deep, and power off into a distance where sky and sea meet in glorious harmony.

This is untamed fishing of a sort increasingly difficult to find in modern Britain and, if the tides don’t fall right for you, there are secretive hill lochs to discover where wild browns can grow to a serious size. John Doherty can sort out the fishing for you and act as fishing guide if you require. Fine meals of locally sourced ingredients cooked to perfection are a treat to come back to. The Outer Hebrides might be our furthest-flung venue but the anglers who return year after year believe every mile is worth it.

Fishing: £ (without fishing guide) 

Rooms: ££; lochmaddyhotel.co.uk; 01876 500331



The Arundell Arms has been a fly-fisher’s paradise since time immemorial. Today it controls some 20 miles of bankside over five rivers; some grand like the Tamar, others intimate like the Wolf and the Carey. There are runs of sea-trout but the pristine wild browns are everywhere and demand the most delicate of approaches. There is a crystal lake if rainbows are more your thing, while expeditions for bass can be arranged.

fishing guide

Residents meet up at the ancient Cockpit, scene of feather-flying fights in the past, and plan their day’s adventure in consultation with long-time head of fishing David Pilkington. Beautiful countryside, countless fishing opportunities and famed accommodation combine to make this month’s choice special indeed.

Fishing: £ 

Rooms: ££; thearundell.com; 01566 784666



This stretch of unspoiled coastline is a mix of shingle banks, sandy beaches, marshland lagoons, estuaries and rocky outcrops, and best after the summer holiday crowds have left. Late in the summer the sea is generally clear, and fly and lure are both thrilling and productive approaches. The pretty village of Cley-next-the-Sea has its own gravel beach and often the seals, razorbills, terns and gulls will show you where the mackerel and bass are present and feeding, but this is hard territory to read for newcomers.

Calum Lamont and his team are the experts, real bass whisperers, sensing where the tides and winds will be concentrating the bass in their thousands. Time with them either on the shore or in the boat is a magical experience. The George and Dragon is a locals’ pub with plenty of country talk, fine food and cosy rooms.

Fishing: free off the shore. 

Guided fishing: £££; northnorfolkinshore.co.uk; 07970 908767

Rooms: ££; georgeanddragoncley.co.uk; 01263 741578



Those first two weeks of October that see out the salmon season on the Dee are simply hallowed, blessed for potentially glorious fishing set in wondrous landscapes. For many, including salmon-obsessed Paul Whitehouse, the Park fishery is as good as it gets.

There are three miles of double-bank water here with terrific vehicle access to the pools, many of which are legendary: the Durris Stream right outside the characterful hut simply screams to be fished. Keith Cromar is head gillie here, one of those river maestros who becomes a friend in minutes. He’ll never see you struggle and if anyone can put you on to a fabulous late-run fish, then it’s Cromar.

Fishing: ££ 

Rooms: ££ (Lime Tree Cottage) parkdee.co.uk; 01330 810203

Rooms: ££; maryculterhouse.com; 01224 732124



As the colours of autumn deepen and the mercury falls, the middle Tees is the place to be, grayling wand in hand. The fish here might average a pound or so but they are plentiful and can reach three times that figure. Grayling fishing is accessible and reasonably priced. Any newcomer will benefit hugely from a fishing guide and they don’t come more knowledgeable than Olly Shepherd.

A 10ft 3wt rod is ideal and neoprene waders keep out the cold on a long day before warming up at The Rose and Crown, 10 minutes from the market town of Barnard Castle.

Fishing: £££; flyfishingyorkshire.co.uk; 07850 506870

Rooms: ££; rose-and-crown.co.uk; 01833 650213



Hickling, Horsey, the Bure and the Thurne: the roll call of historic Broadland pike venues is almost endless and now is the time to visit. The tourists have gone and these wild and beautiful waters are yours to explore with lure or fly as the mood takes you. Big pike and staggering perch are the target but to get the best out of your stay you really do need to go afloat and there’s no better captain than Robbie Northman, the acknowledged master of these challenging waters.

Forget normal watercraft – these nomadic predators are moved around by tides and winds, and it needs an expert to locate them. Bring your own fly tackle certainly but Northman has all the gear and plenty of idea to match. We suggest the Norfolk Mead hotel as your base, handily situated in Coltishall and with its own stretch on the Bure that you can fish from the bank before breakfast.

Fishing (with Robbie Northman): £££; norfolkboathire.co.uk; 07398 970734

Rooms: ££; norfolkmead.co.uk; 01603 737531