Blackwater Valley Countryside

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Angling on the River Blackwater

For the first few miles, until it passes underneath the Basingstoke Canal, the river is just a shallow stream and has little to offer the angler.

Further downstream, the river reaches a width of 10 metres after it passes through Sandhurst. At just past Thatcher’s Ford (near Eversley), the River Whitewater joins the Blackwater and approximately 3km downstream from this point is the confluence of the Blackwater with the River Loddon.

The northern sections of the River Blackwater offer good fishing and are popular in the autumn as the river’s flow increases.

Folklore indicates the River Blackwater was clean and supported fish life at the turn of the century. Industrial impact on the river lowered the fish stocks. Recent environmental awareness, coupled with the stocking policy of the Environment Agency, has ensured a continued improvement in the quality of the river and the return of indigenous and introduced species.

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What might you catch?

On the upper stretches of the River fish recently caught include:

  • Chub
  • Roach
  • Perch
  • Dace
  • Gudgeon
  • Rudd
  • Skimmer Bream

As you progress further downstream Pike, Barbel and even the occasional native Brown Trout may be caught.

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Riparian ownership

From its source until it passes through Sandhurst the River Blackwater is largely in public ownership. After Sandhurst, the River flows through privately owned land. Please note that the stretches where the River is in private ownership you will need to obtain the owner’s permission to fish.

Where the River is in public ownership the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership are responsible for its management, with the exception of Blackwater Park which is managed by Surrey Heath Borough Council and Shepherd Meadows, which are managed by Bracknell Forest Council.

Apart from Hawley Meadows (leased to Hartley Wintney Angling Society), the sections controlled by the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership have no designated swims.

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Fishing rights

At present the fishing rights of both Hawley Meadows and most of Shepherd Meadows are leased to Hartley Wintney Angling Society. However, the three most southerly fields of Shepherd Meadows that lie between the railway and the River Blackwater, immediately north of The Meadows Business Park, belong to Blackwater & Hawley Town Council and fishing from the west bank along this section is open to all (see details).

Upstream of these two sites there are no designated swims, just informal access to the River where it can be reached directly from the Blackwater Valley Path. It is not necessary to obtain a permit to fish these stretches (i.e. free fishing), as there has been little demand. The Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership have no immediate plans to introduce a permit system, but we will continue to monitor the effects of anglers upon the waterside environment and adjacent footpath.

Free fishing

Free fishing means there is no fee to fish at a particular location, although you must obey the byelaws that apply within Thames Region and be in possession of a valid Environment Agency rod licence. These are available from:

  • Every Post Office in England and Wales.
  • Environment Agency Telesales Service: 0870 166 2662 (for full and junior concessionary licences)
  • The Environment Agency website.
    Only applicants aged between 12-16 can obtain concessionary licences on-line at present

Close season

From March 15th to June 15th in the Blackwater Valley the close season applies to:

  • River Blackwater
  • Basingstoke Canal
  • Some still waters - decided at club or fishery level

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Blackwater stretches

The following sites have organised angling on the River Blackwater: