Over the next few months you may notice more anglers on the river, that's because the trout fishing season starts today.
The closed season in Yorkshire started on 1st October so fly fishing fans have been itching to get out on the water for a few weeks now. Last year there was great disappointment when the opening of the season coincided with the first lockdown, we were not able to get put fishing until May, it was hell! Closed seasons are there to give the fish a rest during spawning, which for our trout happens in the winter. Hopefully they will now have recovered from spawning and be able to withstand some fishing pressure.
Often people are surprised when I tell them that the River Worth has a good population of brown trout, there is actually a good head of fish from the confluence with the Aire right up to the waters above Haworth, I have also seen fish in North Beck up around Goose eye. There are also Grayling in the lower reaches, I have caught them up as far as Dalton Mill. Grayling are in the salmonid family (with trout and salmon), their spawning season is in the spring so the closed season for them is from March 16th to June 14th (the same as course fish such as roach, perch and pike). It can be complicated trying to catch trout but not grayling!
A fish population is only as good as the food available to it. The primary food of trout and grayling are the bugs that live on the river bottom. Most river flies, which usually hatch and die within a couple of days will have spent a year or more as larvae in the river, the fish eat these larvae and also take the flies when floating on the water on hatching. The bugs are very sensitive to pollution, in fact a decline in bug population can be a first indicator of a pollution problem. So the healthy fish population has only come about because of the vast improvement in river quality since the 70's which has increased the bug population to feed the fish.
The trout usually take a while to get going at the beginning of the season so fishing can be challenging early on, but by May they are much more active and good sport can be had. I fish catch and release and try to get the fish back in the water with as little handling as possible. I will certainly be down at the river in the next few weeks, if you see me give me a wave.