The Nene above Peterborough has started to fish really well again – it holds lots of roach and skimmers, plus big perch and a big head of carp and tench. This is Oundle, upstream of the stone bridge.









THE River Nene has come in for a bit of stick in recent years but those in the know will tell you that there is still some great pleasure and match fishing to be had if you know where to go and how to fish it. The fishing at Oundle has been excellent this year and has continued its form right into the winter. I should know, as I live next to the place, writes Gareth Purnell of

You can take your pick on what kind of fishing you would like to do here. There are plenty of roach, skimmers and hybrids to target on pole or waggler and in winter when there is water on, you can get enough pace for stick-float fishing as well.

There are loads of carp in the stretch too with the best going nearly 40lb, plus pegs holding shoals of bream with some areas home to big chub going to nearly 6lb. There are also tench to over 7lb (I know of a nine-pounder caught next to the stone bridge this season) and there are also stacks of perch going to over 3lb, which can be targeted just over the near shelf on chopped-worm tactics. In December one angler had 80lb of chub from a noted swim at a place called Bushey Corner and I’ve had tench to over 5lb and perch to 2lb 4oz from the stretch this season.

In this piece I will deal with the silver fish sport, as it’s what I know about. In summer there tends to be a lot of bleak about and you need plenty of weight down the rig to get through them. Depths vary along the stretch but in general you will have six feet or more down the middle, which is where you want to be fishing. Most of the Oundle AS water is on the town side of the river and a lot of anglers fish the stretch close

The Nene at Oundle looking downstream from the stone bridge.

to the stone bridge on the road into the town. Above this bridge it’s quite deep and, as a result, fishing can be very good here, particularly in the colder months.

To make the most of the fishing you need to fish light and not feed too heavily. Unless you are bagging, treat it in a similar way to fishing a drain or canal, despite the extra depth. I start a session feeding three or four medium-sized balls of dark groundbait laced with plenty of hemp plus a few squatts and/or pinkies. I like to start by fishing a bronze maggot over the top, moving to single or double fluoro pinkie and perhaps squatt later on.

As for top-up feed, it depends on the condition of the river. If it’s crystal clear, topping up with groundbait is a bad idea as it can kill the swim. You may get away with it once and it can sometimes kick-start things again, but you are taking a risk by doing it. Instead I like to loose feed with hemp and a few maggots. In summer you may get ‘bleaked out’ if you loose feed any live baits – there are times when you can really only loose feed hemp.

In clear water the line you use and hook size is very important. On the pole I prefer to use 0.07mm or even 0.06mm hooklengths and fine-wired 22 hooks, unless I’m fishing hemp on the hook when I’ll fish a wide-gaped size 20. Elastics should be No3 and a No4 if you are bagging, which is possible on this river. If you are fishing a running line, fish 0.08mm hooklength if you can get away without cracking off on the strike.

In coloured water things change and you need to get the bait down in a tighter area. Under these conditions I will regularly top up with nuggets of groundbait through a pole cup, each containing a few white squatts and/or fluoro pinkies. I always use a dark mix with some soil in it to harden things up. I also always sieve off any large particles before mixing it.
Your first hour is often the best on this river and there have been times this year when I have done 5lb in an hour, but ended up with about 10lb. Feed it right though and you can keep the bites coming and if you fish light you can pick up some very high-quality roach. I’ve had several nudging the 1lb mark this season.

Float-size-wise, you need to fish as light as you can (4×14 or 4×16 are good sizes unless it’s pulling through) although if there are lots of bleak in your swim it’s better to fish heavy to get through them. I usually start two inches overdepth, but will come up to five inches off the deck during the session as roach will be coming off the bottom to intercept the loose feed.

As well as the maggot/pinkie float I will have a hemp rig set to fish anything from two inches off the bottom to half depth, depending how the fish are responding. I had one session in the summer when the roach were flashing just under the surface to take the hemp and I was catching them two feet deep. Again, it’s important to fish a light hooklength and a light float with 4×12 or 4×14 my preferred choice. But the most important thing to know is where to fish.

For the bream and chub I’d suggest giving the club a call for details of the best pegs and where to park. There are stacks of chub at a place called Bushey Corner including lots from 4lb 8oz to 6lb and these can provide brilliant sport on the waggler. I’m told they can be caught on a 16m pole as well, fishing shallow with a long line but fishing very heavy with carp elastics, which sounds like amazing sport. It’s a bit of a walk but sounds like it’s worth it.


There are still a lot of carp in the river, but a lot died at spawning time in 2005.

There is a big shoal of bream close to Cheremy Bridge at the cattle drink too, and they stay there all year. There are also plenty of bream in the wooded section about half a mile downstream of the stone bridge, with fish averaging about 5lb.

For general pleasure sport my advice at present would be to park in the rugby club car park and walk (with a trolley) downstream into the Cotterstock Wood section. This area is sheltered from the cold winds and has dominated recent matches with plenty of double-figure weights. If the river is flooded, lots of fish pack into the ‘dead water’ cut just downstream of the stone bridge. This is also where a lot of fish spawn in the early summer.

I really do recommend this stretch of river, but only if you do it right, and in terms of silver fish sport that means fishing lighter than you may want to.


River Nene, Oundle, Northants
Controlling Club: Oundle AS.

Membership details: The river can be fished on a day ticket costing £3, which can be bought on the bank. A club book for the winter is only £7 per year.
Matches: Oundle AS run a series of opens throughout the year. There are also plenty of club matches for Oundle AS members. The water can be booked by clubs at £3 per peg. Draws for matches are often held at the derelict Riverside pub car park.
Restrictions: Strictly no litter. You will be walking across farmland, so close all gates behind you and respect the farmer’s interests.
How to get there: Oundle is dead easy to find on the A605 west of Peterborough. For the Cheremy Bridge and Ashton footbridge sections there is some parking on the A605, but this is a very busy road so please call the club for instructions. If fishing close to the stone bridge, you can park at the Riverside pub, which you can’t miss as you turn off the A605 roundabout into Oundle. Then you just walk over the bridge and through a gate. For fishing the Cotterstock Wood section, go over the stone bridge and take the right-hand turn at the petrol station. Bear right at the bend and this takes you to the rugby club car park – park here. You will need a trolley.