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Coarse fishing

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Title: Coarse fishing  
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Subject: Welsh Federation of Coarse Anglers, Angling records of Europe, Federation of Welsh Anglers, Catch and release, Float tube
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Coarse fishing

An angler's catch of coarse fish—painting by Dean Wolstenholme, circa 1850

Coarse fishing is a term used in the United Kingdom and Ireland for angling for coarse fish, which are those types of freshwater fish other than game fish (trout, salmon and char). The sport and the techniques used are particularly popular in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe.

The term coarse fishing originated in the United Kingdom in the early 19th century. Prior to that time, recreational fishing was a sport of the gentry, who angled for salmon and trout which they called game fish. Other fish were disdained as coarse fish.[1]


A huge array of baits can be used for a huge variety of fish, baits used will vary on many factors. Some of these deciding factors will relate to the venue being fished, the species of fish targeted, time of year and water colour. Also moving or still water plays a part in the size, colour or style of bait being used.

When fishing on rivers, for game fish. I.e Brown, Rainbow, Brook & Sea Trout, Salmon and in some cases Grayling (coarse/game) artificial flies, small spinners and lures are a popular choice for many game anglers due to the way they intentionally mimic a fly or small fish on the surface and the top layers of the water, enticing the fish into feeding as it sits among actual live flies and fish fry. Both floating and sinking flies and lures can be used to fish either on the surface or in the upper layers of the water. Usually, in summer months, a spinner or fly manoeuvred across the surface will bring about a take from a fish, due to fish moving into the warmest part of the water being the surface and first 18" of water below. When fishing a river for coarse fish species such as Chub, Barbel, Roach, Dace and Bream. The favourite hook baits tend to be maggot (white,red, bronze) caster (maggot chrysalis), Worm, cheese, Pellet (halibut, trout and Carp), boilies (round balls made with fish meal, milk, soya) and Luncheon Meat (pork roll, Tinned chopped pork).

Loose-feed can be any of the above with a particle bait fed by hand, in a feeder or by catapult, sometimes in the form of hemp seed, Manufactured fishmeal ground-bait.

Stillwater and Commercial fisheries:

A huge array of baits for still waters angling are available. Many of the old favourites are still as potent today as they ever have been.

For most species, hook baits such as, Luncheon meat, Sweetcorn, Maggot, Worm and Pellets will work. When targeting more specific species such as specimen carp. Boilies, large pellets, large bunch of maggots, large Lobworm, tiger nuts and meat chunks from Cat food can work very well, micro pellets softened along with groundbait can be fed alongside all hook baits mentioned. In the summer months fish such as carp can be seen feeding off the surface, in this case a floating dog biscuit or piece of bread floated on the surface can be deadly.

Predator baits:

For predatory fish, usually either dead or live bait is used, in the form of small fish, such as a live roach, although many venues do not allow this practice, dead baiting is usually used for larger predators such as Pike, Zander, Perch and Eels. A piece of mackerel bought from the fishmongers can be used for example.

Spinning: The use of an artificial lure is also widely used for predators. These can come in all shapes, sizes and colours, to mimic injured fish and small fast fish, used at all depths, these can be an extremely fun way to catch Pike and Perch.

Rod Licences and Fishery fees

For all Anglers in the UK, anybody aged 12 and over must purchase a valid rod licence before fishing. This will enable anglers to legally fish in the UK and Wales for non migratory Trout and Coarse fish.

A single rod licence will enable an angler to fish with up to two rods at any one time. Many specimen Carp Anglers fish with 3 or 4 rods at once on large lakes to maximise lake coverage and give greater chance of catching. To fish with 3 or 4 rods you would need to purchase a second rod licence.

Most commercial fisheries, and some Rivers are operated on a day ticket basis. In the UK, these can range in price depending on the venue in question. They are usually paid on the bank with a representative of the venue collecting the fee's from anglers from the peg (fishing spot) at some stage through the day. In some cases, season tickets can be purchased.

Some lakes are operated as a syndicate, in this case you can not just turn up and fish, they are usually invite basis but can sometimes be joined by contacting a senior member of said syndicate.

Some lakes and river stretches are operated by Angling Clubs. These are available for anyone to join, and can be done so usually by picking up an application form from your local tackle shop. In some cases, location depending, there can be a waiting list to join a club. This is usually a sign that the waters operated by the club are sought after to fish by many anglers and are usually worth waiting for. A yearly fee is usually paid to the club for your membership. Angling clubs are a great way to get in to the sport for youngsters and adults alike. They offer members who have been in the sport for a long time, who usually don't mind offering sound advice to newcomers on where to fish and what to use etc. Also many clubs run junior days, this gives junior anglers a fantastic opportunity to mix with other young anglers who are new to the sport and learn from qualified angling coaches.

Tackle and technique

Depending on the situation, different types of fishing tackle can be used. Most common is the rod and reel, the rod being typically between 8 and 13 feet (4.0 m) long, and manufactured of tubular carbon fibre or splits of Tonkin bamboo. A reel is then attached near the base of the rod to hold a long length of line, which is run to the tip of the rod through eyelets. Once cast out, the line can be retrieved by winding a handle on the reel.

However, the use of "poles" is also now widespread. Here, the line is fixed to the very tip of the rod, with no reel used: in order to retrieve the line, the pole itself is taken apart until the line can be swung to hand. Poles are often very long in order to increase the angler's range—up to 16 metres.

The main techniques used are float fishing, legering and spinning.

  • In float fishing, the bait is suspended beneath a float made of hollow plastic, wood or quill. The top of the float is usually painted a bright colour and bites are indicated by the top of the float dipping under the surface of the water, or moving up in the water.
  • Legering does not use floats. Instead the bait is held on the bottom of the lake or river by a sinker or large weight. Bites are detected by watching the quiver tip of the rod for movement, or with the use of electronic bite alarms, and more advanced tackle such as polyvinyl alcohol bags, or mesh.
  • Spinning. Either a brightly coloured lure or a small fish attached to a hook is towed through the water to attract carnivorous fish such as pike, zander and perch.

Fly fishing techniques may also be used for certain species, such as grayling or chub.

For float and leger fishing, groundbait is usually thrown into the water to attract fish to the area. Typical baits include nightcrawlers, maggots, bread and sweet corn. Lately, advancements in technology and market competitiveness have led to many types of other ingredients being introduced, including chemicals, such as betaine, that stimulate the feeding response in fish. Boilies are popular baits for carp fishing.


The nature of coarse fishing varies with the dedication and attitude of the angler:

  • Pleasure angling: describes anglers who go out to enjoy a relaxing day's fishing, and are content to catch whatever fish they can.
  • Match angling: anglers, in teams or as individual entrants, gather together at a venue to catch either as many fish as possible in an allotted period of time, or the greatest total weight of fish. Contests are held at local, regional, national and international levels.
  • Specimen hunting: the aim is to catch a large fish of a specific species. Some specimen hunters will fish only for one particular species, with large carp or pike being popular targets in the UK.

Target species

The main target species for this type of angling include:
Name Image Variants
Carp Grass, Common, Crucian, Leather, Mirror
Wels catfish

There are also some lesser species that can be caught in the United Kingdom and are not normally sought after. These include:

A full list of the heaviest fish weights by species, caught on rod and line in the UK can be found at Rod Caught Fish Records UK.


  1. ^ Lowerson


  • Cooper, Dave (2004). "First Class Fishing". Fishing Magic.
  • Lowerson, John (1993). Sport and the English middle classes, 1870–1914. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-3777-8.
  • Tranter, Neil (1998). Sport, Economy and Society in Britain 1750–1914. Page 101. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57217-7.

Further reading

  • Bailey, John (2008). Where to Coarse Fish in Britain and Ireland. New Holland Publishers Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84537-934-6.
  • Partner, Steve (2007). Coarse Fishing Basics. ISBN 978-0-7537-1586-4.

External links

  • Coarse fishing at DMOZ
  • Coarse fishing: The sport of gentlemen
  • Fishing for fun
  • Henfold Lakes: Coarse Fishery Pictures from Surrey, England
  • Anglers net: Coarse fishing articles
  • Coarse fishing venues on google maps. Angling Social Networking
  • Some basic information on choosing coarse fishing tackle a.k.a. carp fishing tackle
  • Have questions about coarse fishing Coarse fishing questions
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