NB The Royaly has changed hands since this article was written but this should give you a good idea what to expect.
|If you are looking to catch one of the venue’s big barbel roving tactics are often needed.|
THE Royalty Fishery situated at the lower end of the Hampshire Avon where it runs through Christchurch in Dorset could claim to be the country’s most famous river venue.
The venue is steeped in history and in its time has produced British record barbel and chub, a possible English record salmon, and 30lb-plus pike and carp. Some of the sport’s best-known names have frequented its banks, from F W K Wallis through to Ray Walton. Even individual swims, such as the Railway, Parlour and Pipes, are legendary. What other river venue can match these credentials? The fishing is now under the control of Christchurch Angling Club, but day ticket anglers still take priority, with the number of club members being allowed to fish strictly limited.
The venue is ideally suited to the holidaying angler, with Bournemouth’s sandy beaches and the New Forest close by, providing entertainment opportunities for the whole family.
The Royalty has long been associated with barbel and jointly held the British record for many years – along with a fish from the Thames – with two fish of 14lb 6oz.
With the record now standing at more than 20lb, these fish sound relatively small beer, but those Ouse barbel have distorted national specimen weights, and the Royalty’s recent fishery and river record of 15lb 7oz to Will Ward is a monster by any standards – other than those of Adams Mill.
While the barbel fishing on the Royalty nowadays is nowhere near as prolific as it was in the 1970s, the average size of the fish has increased dramatically and the fishery now holds several barbel that weigh in excess of 14lb in the autumn and winter months.
It could be argued that catching that magical ‘double’ is easier than ever before, which is ideal for the specimen hunters among you.
|Tim Lennon with a Parlour Pool pike.|
The barbel live throughout the fishery, but their numbers thin out considerably below the dual-carriageway bridge. Areas that I would recommend include the swims immediately below Waters Meet, and downstream of the Railway to the Piles, along with the swims around the main car park.
Successful baits for the barbel include large lumps of meat (so long as they’re on the move!), pellets, boilies, maggots and casters. Be aware, though, that these are some of the most often-caught and highly educated barbel in the country.
You may need to give careful thought to your methods, presentation and bait selection in order to catch consistently. This is the one place on the Hampshire Avon where I would consider float fishing, one of the more efficient methods of catching barbel.
The Royalty holds massive specimens of species other than barbel. Fairly recent captures include chub to 8lb, carp and pike to well over 30lb and perch over 4lb.
While the specimen hunter is well catered for, the pleasure angler can find fairly consistent sport with silver fish and among the large shoals of bream that contain individual specimens running close to double figures.
Fish the feeder for the chub and bream and the float for bags of silver fish with the occasional bonus grayling. While the chub fishing on the fishery seems to have deteriorated in the last few years, hotspots to try include the runoff from the Great Weir, Trammels, Barlins and Johnson’s below the dual carriageway.
The shoals of bream are easily visible when fish-spotting conditions are good, and they can usually be found around the Trammels, Green Banks, Fiddlers and above the dual-carriageway bridge.
Fish boilies or pellets for the carp that run to well in excess of 30lb. A particularly notable recent capture was a 32lb 3oz common to Mike Thompson.
Areas to try include, Waters Meet, the Railway slack, the Piles and the Clockhouse stream.
All the usual ‘deads’ produce the pike, but if live baiting you must strictly adhere to the rule that no ‘lives’ are to be brought onto the fishery, and a maximum of six fish caught on the day from the Royalty can be used.
Remember that spinning is prohibited. Productive areas are the same as those for the carp, along with the Compound, Parlour and mouth to the Little Weir.
• Tim Lennon
“Where else could you get barbel over 15lb and carp and pike over 30lb on a day ticket?” Nigel Gray from Davis Tackle.
Fishery Fact File
The Royalty Fishery, Christchurch, Dorset
Day tickets: Awaiting details
Annual membership: No longer in the hands of the Christchurch but day tickets are available from Davis Tackle
Facilities: The fishery has two car parks, limited disabled access, and toilets
Nearby tackle shop: Davis Tackle, Bargates, Christchurch. Contact Nigel on 01202 485169
Nearby pub: The Royalty Inn, Christchurch. Accommodation is also available, contact Don Nias on 01202 486310
Accommodation: Royalty View Guesthouse. Contact Joe Harrop on 01202 485362
How to get there: From the main Fountain roundabout in Christchurch take the Bargates’ exit that is signposted for the airport and station. Turn right into Avon Buildings and the side of Davis Tackle, and the entrance to the fishery’s main car park, can be found at the end of the cul-de-sac on the right-hand side