Everything You Need to Know About Fishing on the Broads
The Broads is without doubt one of the most magical places within the UK and it is full of opportunities for those that enjoy a spot of fishing. And whether you are a serious angler who wants a new challenge or somebody who has never picked a rod up but fancies giving fishing a try, The Broads is the perfect place for you to wet a line.
So, if you’re hiring a boat for the day or here for a fishing holiday, browse our pages for all the tips and advice you need to get the most out of what the Broads have to offer!
For experts or casuals alike it is likely that their experience of fishing has primarily been in commercial waters that are typically man-made and dominated by carp fishing. While this is a great way to enjoy fishing, there is something special about taking a break and getting away to one of the most beautiful regions of the UK for a fishing holiday in Norfolk.
With over 200km of navigable waterways, the Broads offer a wide diversity of fresh water species including bream, roach, tench and perch. Alongside such variety comes the opportunity to test your range of angling styles and techniques. As a result, the Broads are one of the best freshwater fishing locations in the county.
Whether you’re an amateur or experienced angler, having the right fishing equipment is essential. From rods and licences to nets, baits and disgorgers, this guide will help you prepare for the perfect fishing trip to the Broads. Find out more...
Whether it’s coarse fish such as pike, bream and roach, or something else, our guide to the fish species of the Broads will help you make the most of the fishing season. Find out more...
The Norfolk Broads offers some of the best fishing in the UK, with hundreds of miles of rivers, lakes and waterways to choose from. This guide looks at some of the best rivers and fishing spots in the Broads and will help you decide which one is right for you. Find out more...
Whether you’re an experienced local, new to fishing, or just coming to the Broads for a fishing holiday, here’s a list of clubs and events where you can find out more information about local conditions and get involved with the angling community. Find out more...
Knowing where to fish and which fishing equipment to use is only half the battle! Getting the lowdown on which fish baits to use and local conditions or hotspots is the other half. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best ones for you! Find out more...
Embrace the currents
While there are the many peaceful areas to set up in the Broads, experienced angling writer John Nunn believes that, with the right tactics, there is much success to be had in tidal waters:
“The lower reaches of the Yare, Waveney and Bure have powerful currents that make legering with a heavy and open-end feeder the most successful tactic. Used in association with a stiffly mixed groundbait and large bait such as worm, sweetcorn or bread this is a good method for bream that inhabit these reaches.”
Use the boats to get around
The Broads are vast and varied. Angling Times writer Tony Grigorjevs recommends making the most of the Broads system by boat:
“The day boats also offered us the opportunity to make our way around the Broads system itself. Driving a boat may sound daunting to someone who has never ventured on to the water in anything more than a pedalo but believe me – you are missing out if you don’t have a go!“
Embrace the diversity
Norfolk born match fisherman Lee Kerry grew up catching roach and bream on the Broads. The diversity and challenge of the area means it is still one of his favourite places to fish:
“I love fishing the River Yare in Norfolk, decisions need to be made regarding your choice of tactics, what species will you target.”
Persistence is as important as practice
With all the research and preparation that go into planning a trip, it could be quite disheartening when nothing bites, especially for a novice. But with more than fifty years’ experience writing about fishing, John Bailey believes that determination can turn a bad session into a success:
“If plan A doesn’t work then move to plan B and if necessary, to plan Z. Fishing is all about controlled impatience. If you simply sit back with the line tied to your big toe, as it were, you are going to reap what you sew and catch not much at all.”
It isn’t always about the biggest catch
In July 2017, Harleston’s match fisherman Karl Redgrave won the fourth round of the Nisa Feeder League, but it wasn’t one remarkable catch that won the day. Instead, bringing in a mixed catch of smaller fish was enough to win:
“While most competitors concentrated on the barbel, I fished for every species and finished with a catch of small roach, perch, dace, barbel and bleak.”
Karl’s decision to go for bream in the tidal conditions of the Yare demonstrates that smaller fish are not just for beginners, and if you are prepared to be flexible and to fish for a number of species, you are more likely to find success than if you are chasing just one species.
Keep it simple
Professional Bass fishing might be a step up from bank fishing in the Broads, but Mark Menendez’s advice applies to all types of fishing, from the first-timer to match anglers:
“As I have gotten older I have realized that less is more a lot of times. It doesn’t have to be that hard to catch a bass. If the wind is blowing hard put the wind to your back and cover as much water as you can… If it is a day that is slick and high, blue skies, slow down.”
Do I need a fishing licence on the Norfolk Broads?
Every angler over the age of 12 is required to have a licence. During the open season, this allows angling on the free fishing areas of the Broads. Licences can be issued for 1-day, 8-day or 12-month periods from Environment Agency. Fishing without a rod fishing licence is an offence for which you can be fined up to £2,500.
Annual licences, which run from 1st April to 31st March, can be purchased online of at a Post Office. Children between 12 and 16 require a licence but it is free.
There are many areas that are privately controlled by angling clubs. If you are using these areas make sure you gain permission from the relevant organisation, which might require a permit.
When is the fishing season on the Norfolk Broads?
It is important to remember that coarse fishing is not allowed on any rivers, streams or waterways in England or Wales between March 15th and June 15th. Some reservoirs, lakes, ponds and areas classed at “enclosed stillwaters”might allow fishing all year, but it is important to check the local byelaws for the area you are visiting.
Environmental and conservation issues: Things to know when fishing on the Norfolk Broads
Certain areas of the Broads do not permit any fishing as they are designated as either conservation areas or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
For the protection of the environment and wildlife, make sure that fishing tackle is never discarded. This includes any tackle that gets caught in vegetation or low hanging branches.
Be aware that birds in the area might be used to feeding from visitors. Make sure that they do not try to feed on your bait or get close enough to your line to get tangled.
The Broads - river by river
1. River Bure
Flowing 51km before reaching the sea at Gorleston, the Bure is the longest of the rivers on the Broads. With such a length, there are some stretches that are challenging to fish, but there are also many excellent locations.
Coltishall Common is a great place to start. Even though it is on the lower Bure and tidal, don’t let the potential for challenging conditions put you off. With 300-yards of free fishing and steady flowing waters, this is the perfect location to use a stick float with a maggot to catch roach and perch.
During the summer months Wroxham attracts a lot of roach and bream thanks to the large number of people using bread to feed the ducks, with fish being attracted to the area by the bread that falls to the bottom of the river. As the fish begin to move upstream to avoid the salt tides, Wroxham also becomes an excellent location for early autumn fishing. As the weather turns colder, the boat yards become a good location to find silver fish seeking calm, warmer waters.
An exciting development came in March 2017 when a local chub specialist, Tom Martin, caught three chub over 7lb in the upper Bure. This area is rarely fished by professionals, but Tom’s effort proves that the rewards are there for those willing to seek them out.
2. River Ant
The Ant is quite a popular spot for both bank fishing and river traffic, so early mornings and evenings are the best times to visit the bankside. At Ludham Bridge there is a two mile stretch for free fishing. Here you will be able to fish for pike as well as bream, perch, roach and rudd. The area around the bridge is perfect for adding some variety to your fishing trip by hiring a day boat to explore the area.
Stick or pole fishing can have great rewards between Ant Mouth and How Hill, where there is a good head of bream reaching 8lb, and roach.
3. River Thurne
The Thurne is a short (11km) tidal river that flows through Potter Heigham and connects with Horsey Mere and Hickling Broad. Free fishing is available at both Martham Boatyard and Potter Heigham and wheelchair-friendly platforms can be found at Rollesby Bridge and Filby Broads.
Angling Times writer Tony Grigorjevs made his first visit to the Broads in 2014 and began near the bridge in Potter Heigham with a simple setup: a ground bait feeder and maggot hook bait. The result was double figures of roach and skimmers. Tony said himself: “If someone as out-of-tune with river fishing such as myself could catch that, I daren’t dream what a seasoned expert would put together!"
Between Thurne Mouth and Ant Mouth you will find constant colour. With some of the best daytime fishing the area has to offer, you are likely to have success catching bream and roach with a feeder or stick float respectively.
4. River Wensum
The Wensum is one of the most picturesque spots for fishing on the entire Broads. This is likely a result of whole river being protected as a Special Area of Conservation and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is a small river, no more than 20 feet across, with many tight bends (Wensum means ‘winding’ in Old English).
The source is in north-west Norfolk and flows through Fakenham and Taverham before heading into Norwich and out to Whitlingham to merge with the Yare.
The Wensum is at its best for fly fishing in the spring but there are many locations including Fakenham Mill, Riverside and Yacht Station that offer excellent opportunities for fishing across the whole season.
Large chub (6-7lb) are not uncommon here and, while barbel are thought to be increasingly common, they are still elusive and can prove to be quite a challenge to catch.
While it is an excellent location, expect to have to purchase a season or day ticket for some of the most scenic locations. Otherwise, free fishing is available at Fakenham Common.
5. River Yare
Fishing on the Yare can be some of the most challenging on the Broads. This is a strong tidal river that will require experience and skill to make for a successful day. The area is so highly regarded that is it used for match fishing, with anglers travelling across the country to take on the challenge.
The most popular techniques in this area are swim feeders and pole fishing. It is a powerful river, but if you are experienced and prepared with the right equipment and heavy ground bait, you are sure to have some great results. While many of the fish are smaller in the tidal sections, large roach are caught here regularly. It can also be good conditions for bream.
While there are many private sections, there is plenty of free bank fishing at the lower end of the non-tidal section. Try Surlingham Ferry, Buckenham Ferry and Cringleford Bridge, all of which can offer both dace and roach.