Nationally renowned four reservoir fishery near Marsworth in Hertfordshire which has been home to British Record bream, catfish and tench.
Facts and features of Tring Reservoirs
Mention Tring Reservoirs to many anglers and their minds instantly turn to specimen tench, bream, perch, roach and catfish; legendary specimen hunters from Richard Walker to Alan Wilson and modern day big fish men such as Andy Nellist. They are famous because the reservoirs have held the British Records for bream, catfish and tench – whilst many anglers believe that they are currently capable of producing record perch and tench.
The Canal and River Trust
Tring incorporates four separate reservoirs which were built over several phases between 1800 and 1838 to supply water to the nearby Grand Union Canal on land owned by the famous Rothschild family who retained the sporting rights with the waters being bailiffed by four generations of the Double family. The sporting rights were put up for sale in 2007 and the rights to the fishing on Startops, Marsworth and Wilstone were acquired by The Canal and River Trust who are continuing to make coarse fishing available on day ticket in association with Tring Anglers.
The Canal and River Trust has also introduced a new Season Ticket which incorporates fishing on the three coarse reservoirs at Tring together with angling on the delightful Clattercote Reservoir near Banbury. Biggest of the four Tring Reservoirs is Wilstone (left) at 119 acres followed by Startops – pronounced ‘Starrups’ by the locals – at 26 acres and then Marsworth at 24 acres. The smallest water on the complex is the Tringford trout fishery which is still an impressive 20 acres and is best fished from one of the four boats which are available to members of the Trout Syndicate.
17lb 4oz Bream
Tring has for more than 80 years been renowned for its big bream with Startops at one time holding the British Record and Wilstone being widely acclaimed as the best bream water in the country from the mid-70s to the early 80s. Today the Wilstone fish are long gone but those in Startops are proving bigger than ever with the record held by a fish of 17lb 4oz and double figure fish being relatively common.
Wilstone was made one of the most famous bream waters in the country by the exploits of anglers such as Dick Walker and Fred J Taylor. Whilst the bream prospered in Startops the fish in Wilstone dwindled in numbers and were replaced by tench which, along with perch, continue to dominate the reservoir. There are also reed bed pegs on Tring’s Marsworth ReservoirTring remains an enigma. Natural waters which have produced huge fish by national standards for more than 80 years, they continue to do so even today. Indeed the catches and the potential for the reservoirs are probably better today than ever before.
Tench to over 14lb!
Tring is most famous in recent times for its monster tench with fish up to 14lbs having been landed from Wilstone and a fish of 14lb 14 oz being found dead on Startops. Both reservoirs have produced multiple fish over 12lbs and in the last two seasons both have produced fish over that weight.
Massive Perch and Roach too
Startops and Wilstone have for some years produced large perch with the best from Wilstone being a fish of 4lbs 13oz and the best from Startops was a fish caught in April last year by local angler Tony Ward which tipped the scales at just over 5lbs 9oz – just five and a half ounces short of the British record! Tony was fishing the Marsworth side of Startops with a maggot feeder.
Although bream, tench and perch head the big fish league at Tring, the reservoirs are also home to some large carp with Startops having produced fish to nearly 40lbs. In addition, all three of the coarse reservoirs hold large pike with Wilstone and Startops both having produced fish over 30lbs. Startops also had a reputation for very large roach having produced specimens up to 3lbs 13oz. However, the reservoir is very open and the roach fishing has been poor in recent years probably as a result of predation by cormorants.
Marsworth is a good mixed fishery with carp, tench, bream, roach, perch and large catfish. It has more accessible banks and is a much easier water to fish than either Wilstone or Startops. The banks also provide more convenient access to the water either from spacious open pegs or more secluded swims tucked away in the trees down the path which runs along the left hand side of the low dam wall.
A fantastic natural habitat for birds
Although keepnets are not allowed on the waters, night fishing is permitted for season ticket holders. Tring Reservoir are not only a prolific and famous venue for anglers but also have a national reputation among a large number of bird watchers for whom Tring is one of the most popular and prolific sites in the country. It is also very popular at weekends with walkers and families who want to enjoy the beauty of the reservoirs.
With Wilstone, Startops is perhaps the best known of the Tring waters offering the opportunity of catching potentially record-breaking bream and tench. However, because of its size, the fishing can be challenging – although having produced carp to 42lbs; roach to 3lbs 13oz; perch of 5lbs 9oz; tench to 12lbs 12oz; bream of 17lbs 4oz; and pike of 32lbs it is undoubtedly a fantastic big fish water.
Because the dam walls are sheer sided anglers have to fish from the grass bank at the top of the dam when the water level is up, although they can get down the steps to the waters edge in high to late summer when the water has been drawn off to feed the Grand Union Canal.
Divided from the easier-to-fish Marsworth Reservoir by a tree-lined causeway with a clear path walkway on top, Startops is deeper than Marsworth with about 10 feet of water being found out from the causeway dropping to about 22 feet off the main dam wall to the right as you come onto the reservoir from the main car park.
As with the other Tring Reservoirs, Startops tends to fish best when there is a wind blowing across the water or when there is cloud cover. A feature of Startops are a couple of floating reed beds out from the right hand dam wall which are anchored to the bottom of the reservoir. These are known to attract the fish but anglers must be careful not to snag the anchoring chains which hold the reed beds in position.
Not as easy to fish as most commercial day-ticket venues, the most popular techniques for all species on Startops tend to be fishing traditional swimfeeder packed with groundbait and maggots or ledgering tackle over a bed of dead maggots or pellets for the tench and bream.
For those not using a swimfeeder, a pva pag or stocking filled with pellets and hook samples is a good way of getting your feed and hookbait to the bottom in a confined area, but to build up a concentrated swim accurate casting is called for. A spod can be useful for building up a baited area.
Those going after the perch tend to use either maggots or worm, again fishing a swimfeeder packed with a mix of hook samples and groundbait, whilst a similar technique or fairly light ledger rig with maggots, tail end of worm or casters can account for decent catches of roach.
A few anglers target the carp and these are best fished for using either traditional or modern carping techniques with the method feeder and pva bags being good ways to get a concentration of feed onto the bottom over a small area. Most commonly used baits tend to be small boilies or particle baits
However, if fishing for the carp anglers need to be aware they are more likely to pick up bags of bream and tench – but a double figure fish of either species should not be regarded as a ‘nuisance’ fish!
Without doubt the most popular Tring water for pleasure anglers, Marsworth is less intimidating than the other two coarse reservoirs having low dam wall banks which give direct access to the waterside and a mix of both wide open and specious grassy bank pegs and more intimate sheltered pegs among the trees.
Because the far side of the reservoir is densely fringed with reeds, angling is allowed only from the dam wall, but there is still plenty of variety of pegs and swims to fish.
And although the fish in Marsworth are not thought to run to the potentially record-breaking size of those in Startops or Wilstone, they are not to be scoffed as the water holds a good mix of tench and bream averaging about 5lbs and running to 9lbs as well as perch to 3lbs, roach to 2lbs, carp to the mid 30s and pike to 20lbs.
However, one of the other attractions of Marsworth are a good head of catfish, the biggest of which to come to the net so far weighed 60lbs 2oz, whilst 2008 has already seen a specimen weighing 45lbs come to the net.
Good catches can be taken by fishing a swimfeeder off the dam wall at short to medium range using a mix of groundbait and pellets with maggots, casters, tail end of worm, bread, sweetcorn and meat baits all being productive on their day – casters and bread being particulartly appealing to the tench.
Anglers fishing the pegs furthest from the entrance can generally reach the fish with a reasonably loaded waggler which, when combined with caster on the hook, can produce nice bags of quality roach.
Those going after the carp use a single bait with a pva bag filled with a few large offering. However, they don’t bait up the swim heavily as this can attract the bream and tench. They also tend to steer clear of smaller baits for the same reason, preferring instead to fish with a 22mm halibut pellet or larger boilies.
Out by the reeds the water is shallow with only four or five feet being found. The bottom shelves gradually deeper towards the dam wall with a maximum depth of 12 feet generally being found just out from the concrete. Normally anglers would expect to find the tench by fishing close to the reeds, but on Marsworth this is not necessarily the case with good catches often being taken by anglers fishing close in to the side from the dam wall.
By and large the bream tend to roam more freely and these can be found virtually anywhere on the water. As with fishing Startops, the most popular baits for all species tend to be live or dead maggots, pellets, casters, sweetcorn and worm whilst bread is also always worth trying.
Wilstone Reservoir is renowned for its big tench which run to over 14lbs. Indeed, the fishery once held the UK record for the species with a fish of 12lb 8oz 11dr caught by Alan Wilson in 1985 and produced the UK’s first brace of double-figure tench to Andy Nellist in 1991. It continues to be an excellent tench water and is capable of producing a tench over the existing record.
Wilstone also holds the record for perch with a specimen weighing 6lb 3oz 12drams which was caught by local angler Ken Brown in autumn 2011. Ken also caught a number of 5lb plus fish in 2012. Head bailiff Dick Pilkinton has also helped anglers to land a number of 4lb plus fish giving many of them their personal best for the species.
Covering a massive 119 acres, Wilstone is divided roughly into two main areas, the original reservoir being shielded from the remainder of the water by the remains of a causeway on top of which are trees and shrubs. This causeway, together with this part of the reservoir’s sheer distance from the dam wall, means it is impossible to reach this part of the water.
Wilstone was once nationally famous as a big bream water with specimens running well into double figures, but these died out a decade ago and were replaced by the tench. In addition to the tench, there are still other decent fish to be caught including a good head of perch over 4lbs plus some large carp with fish over 35lbs having been seen but never caught.
The reservoir also once held the record for catfish with a fish of 43lbs 8oz caught in 1970. This fish was set up and is still on display in the nearby Tring Museum. Whilst there are still known to be large catfish in Wilstone, these are rarely fished for let alone caught.
Part of the mystery of Wilstone is that, because all the Tring reservoirs are interconnected by a maze of underground waterways, no one really knows what is in Wilstone.
Because Wilstone and Startops are similar in character, the techniques for fishing them are much the same with a swimfeeder packed with groundbait and maggots or ledgering tackle fished over a bed of dead maggots or pellets bneing the most popular way of catching the tench. An alternative is to use a pva bag or stocking filled with pellets and hook samples or a method feeder packed with method mix into which the hook and bait are buried.
One of the major problems with fishing Wilstone is that it has a reputation of being hard, but this need not necessarily be the case if you go back to angling basics and keep things simple. If there are obvious signs that the fish are feeding such as the tench rolling, then fish where you see them. If not, build up an easily reachable swim over a period of time and wait for the fish to come to you.
According to Wilstone tench specialist Andy Nellist, the reason the fish can be elusive is in part due to the massive amount of natural food in the water and to the fact that two thirds of the bank and virtually all of the shallow water are out of bounds to anglers. Andy has had a great deal of success fishing the old submerged bank that used to separate Wilstone Reservoir from Little Tring Reservoir, using a two-ounce feeder and fishing 80 yards out to an area of firm chalk and flint in depths ranging from six to 11 feet with hair rigged casters.
And when it comes to baiting up his swim, Andy doesn’t do things by half, using up to two gallons of maggots and four pints of casters in a day when the fish are present in numbers. Maybe it goes to show that when you are fishing big waters for big tench – you need to think big. In Andy’s case it has paid off as he’s had 20 double figure tench and 11 perch over 4lbs from Wilstone!
Twenty acres in size, Tringford Reservoir is the only trout fishery on the Tring Reservoirs complex and offers fishing for rainbows from one grass bank or from seven boats which are available for hire.
Fishing on Tringford is available by day ticket or season ticket. Day tickets must be booked in advance by telephoning Bob Menzies, the Head Bailiff, on 0780 280 5236. Four-hour sessions with three fish cost £20.00 or £25.00 with a boat whilst a full day session with five fish is £30.00 or £35.00 with a boat.
A six fish day tickets cost £25.00 including the hire of a boat with anglers allowed to keep two of their fish. Season tickets cost £225.00 for half membership and £450.00 a year for full membership. For further details of these or other possible tickets please contact Bob directly.
Please note that the Season Tickets also cover holders to fish Clattercote Reservoir. This ticket is only available from Dick Pilkinton, Head Bailiff (Tel:01582 841985 between 8.00am and 9.00pm). Dick Pilkinton is a qualified Professional Anglers’ Association Level 2 Coach (Angling).
|Adults||OAP / Junior||Under 14s||Day - dawn to dusk (one / two rods)|
6.00 / 10.00
4.00 / 8.00
4.00 / 8.00
|Day - dawn to dusk (one / two rods)||6.00 / 10.00||4.00 / 8.00||4.00 / 8.00||Evening - 5.00pm to dusk (one / two rods)|
4.00 / 8.00
4.00 / 8.00
4.00 / 8.00
|Evening - 5.00pm to dusk (one / two rods)||4.00 / 8.00||4.00 / 8.00||4.00 / 8.00||Day only season ticket|
|Day only season ticket||120.00||120.00||120.00||Day and night season ticket|
|Day and night season ticket||200.00||100.00||50.00||Marsworth Only Day and Night Season Ticket|
|Marsworth Only Day and Night Season Ticket||120.00||120.00||120.00|
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