Urban fly-fishing report: Rea Brook, Shrewsbury

Urbantrout reader Spencer Clayton fishes many Borderland rivers including the Teme and Onny – and after reading chapter 21 of Trout in Dirty Places earlier this year, he’s been inspired to start exploring Shrewsbury’s magical little Rea Brook too.

At the end of last week he sent us this great catch report and selection of photos, which gave us a whole succession of shocks of nostalgic recognition, and reminded us forcibly how we’d only just scratched the surface, back in August 2010.

Some of those palmer-sipping grayling are growing up nicely… read on and enjoy!

Had a good day on the Rea Brook yesterday – on my second visit to this cracking little urban river controlled by the Shropshire Anglers Federation, I started fishing from the end of the White Hart cul de sac, and worked my way up to the golf course to fish a few runs there, and on up to Meole Brace Bridge. 

When I started fishing around 11.30am I noticed it was a cool day, a lot cooler than the last time I fished here in early August when I had another cracking day and caught a lot of fish.  

I started with a NZ setup on my go-to 3wt rod – Tan Klinkhamer #14 with a 2mm copper bead,  PTN #18  24″ below - and used a CDC Aphid #20 for the few rising fish.  Caught 16 grayling to 12″ and 4 wild brown trout to 10″, and lost a few as well. 

All day I only saw 4 rises to aphids and what looked like needle fly. Fly life was sparse, a sign that the end of the wild brown trout season isn’t far away, which is a sad feeling really, as high river levels due to the amounts of rain we’ve had have limited my days of river and stream fishing. But it’s rain we need for the rivers – last year it was gutting to see our rivers bare. 

The Himalayan balsam on the Rea Brook is a problem, with the worst of it being on the golf course making the river quite inaccessible. It needs volunteer days and some funding to clear and get rid of it. 

I ended the day at 5.30pm at Meole Brace, changed and packed all my gear into my back pack and walked back into Shrewsbury along the Hereford Road back to the train station – a lot of great buildings to see on the way and in the historic town, and also the River Severn where the Rea joins her.

If you fish an urban river that’s featured in Trout in Dirty Places – or even if it’s not – why not send us your own fishing report to let us know how it’s getting on?

(All photos: Spencer Clayton)


9 Responses to “Urban fly-fishing report: Rea Brook, Shrewsbury”

  1. Nice article and a lovely little brook with some nice looking fish. Very inspiring to the urban angler and hopefully will encourage others to explore a little known stream nearby.

    John Stephens

  2. Spencer Clayton says:

    Its an Hidden gem John and thank you for your Nice comments. Just to let anyone know who is thinking of fishing this Cracking Stream , I would be more than happy to show anyone the parts of the Rea brook that I have fished and I dare say I’m sure I will fish too. Just contact Theo and he will give you my contact Details.
    Spencer Clayton

  3. Charles W. says:

    Splendid to see an urban River getting back to a better state. I spoke to Spencer outside Farlows .I was amused as he called me “Your Honour”.
    I’m not a High Justice Judge, just part of the Crown.

    I will follow this thread


    • Theo says:

      Your Royal Highness, we’re delighted to see you dropping by… will certainly keep you in the loop of developments on the Rea Brook and your realm’s other urban rivers ;)

  4. David Robinson says:

    Great article – has really inspired me to try the brook.

    Would be interested if anyone has any tips for access, places to park, best spots to fish etc?

    Much obliged.

  5. Theo says:

    Hi David – it’s relatively easy to walk the Rea Brook from its confluence with the Severn, but if you’re in a car, you could check out access from the Laundry Lane area, which will give you a good sense of the river restoration work that’s taken place to re-route the brook through the railway arch (see p131 of Trout in Dirty Places!) There may also be parking and access via the golf course, but I haven’t tried that…

    Best of luck and let us know how you get on!


  6. Tom says:

    Hi everyone,

    I live in the Meole Brace area, with the Reabrook Nature Reserve a 5 min walk from my front door!!!!
    I used to fish there loads as a child, having some good memories of growing up, it’s also a place I like to go for some peace and mind clearing. It’s been this past few weeks that I’ve been wanting to get back into it, while especially fly fishing. But with the licence dates, equipment etc… before returning to Uni, It will be something I’ll be starting next year now (2015) :(

    If anyone has any advice or what flies to use, I would be more than grateful for some friendly advice & tips!!!!

    I look forward to hearing back from people!!


  7. Theo says:

    Hi Tom – there’s a full chapter on the Rea Brook in Trout in Dirty Places, and I’m sure Spencer and others will also chime in, but I’d recommend a fly rod of 8ft or shorter for a 4 weight line or lighter.

    Flies: very small palmered patterns worked for me to imitate gnats and aphids (by coincidence this tying style actually seems to have been invented for the Rea Brook a few hundred years ago).

    Thanks for dropping by, and hope you can get out there sooner rather than later!


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