Catch me while you can...

Most serious fishermen would love a home with its own fishery, but they often get snapped up the minute they come on the market. Mary Wilson casts her net for some top positions
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The Independent Online

Spending just one day on one of Britain's prime fishing rivers will set you back a couple of hundred pounds. Taking a week on a premier salmon river could cost up to £1,000 - so what could be better value for a keen fisherman than to look for a property with its own fishing rights?

Spending just one day on one of Britain's prime fishing rivers will set you back a couple of hundred pounds. Taking a week on a premier salmon river could cost up to £1,000 - so what could be better value for a keen fisherman than to look for a property with its own fishing rights?

The official start to the fly fishing season was back in April, but in Hampshire the rods are not cast until the first mayfly hatches. "This usually happens in the second week of May," says Matthew Hallett of John D Wood's Winchester office. "Then people swarm in from all over the world, the fishing is so good. But this year the water temperature wasn't high enough, so the rods were out a bit later this year."

That didn't stop some early-bird buyers snapping up aptly named Fishing Cottage in Goodworth Clatford, near Andover, a period house with 1.61 acres of gardens and double bank fishing of 112 yards. "This is on the banks of the River Anton, which is connected with the River Trent, one of Britain's best trout rivers and where fly fishing was invented," says Hallet. "On this stretch of river you could catch mainly brown trout and grayling."

You would have to pay £150 a day to fish on the River Trent - if you can get a booking, that is; the most popular stretches are booked up to a year ahead. The house, with three bedrooms, games room, sitting/dining room and conservatory, is under offer with John D Wood. The guide price was £1m; quite a catch for a keen fisherman.

"Five years ago we would probably see only purchasers who were interested in fishing looking at this house, but now there are so many Londoners searching for a weekend home with a pleasant environment, potential buyers would be 50/50 anglers and second home-buyers," says Hallet.

Serious fishermen would not have to worry about competition from "weekenders" for one stretch of the river Frome in Dorset that is on FPDSavills' books; there is no house. The Kingston Maurward fishing rights, about 1.5 miles east of Dorchester, have a guide price of £150,000.

This is a rare opportunity to buy a wild brown trout fishery, with more than 3.5 miles for riverbank fishing (1,976 yards of double and 2,403 yards of single-bank fishing). The Kingston Maurward fishings cover about 115 acres of access rights for fishing and maintaining the fishery. In more recent years the river has been lightly stocked with brown trout, with fish up to 3.5lbs being caught; the light stocking helps preserve the wild stock. Grayling provides good fly fishing in winter. FPDSavills' Salisbury office is handling the sale.

When it comes to buying a home, though, proximity to water can be seen as a drawback to families with small children. Jackson-Stops & Staff's Midhurst office in West Sussex has sold several houses with fishing rights on the river Rother, and say that although fishing can be a plus point, it can also reduce the market dramatically if the home is sold as a specialist property.

That is unlikely to happen with Stedham Mill, which nestles picturesquely in the Rother valley about 2.5 miles west of Midhurst. The house has just come on to the market for the first time in 50 years and stands on the raised banks of the Rother, surrounded by 24 acres of land. More crucial for any keen fishing buyer, the river runs literally through the middle of the property for about 300 yards, then follows a boundary for about another 500ft, with both trout and coarse fishing.

Set in formal garden, with paddock and woodlands, stone outbuildings including a mill race and staff cottage, the house, being marketed by Monkhouse and Bannisters with a guide price of £2.3m, dates from about 1720. Accommodation includes a 25ft square drawing room, reception hall with inglenook, seven bedrooms including a master suite of bedroom, bathroom, dressing lobby and dressing room, as well as the usual offices and good cellars.

Scotland's Tay, Tweed, Dee and Spey rivers are the best known for salmon fishing. "These are the biggest," says John Coleman of Knight Frank, "but the smaller, better quality rivers are the Oykel, the Findhorn, the Halladale and the Helmsdale." A day's salmon fishing permit on the Tay might cost between £100 and £150, or you could buy a week's timeshare, which could set you back anything from £5,000 to £9,000.

So a property with land backing onto one of the prime salmon rivers, not surprisingly, comes with a premium of around 10 to 20 per cent. "Although someone owning such a property can fish for trout, for example, from his land, he may not own the rights to catch salmon," says Coleman, who sold a couple of properties with salmon fishing rights last year. This year he has had nothing with fishing rights on the market, which explains why buyers pay top dollar when such a property comes up for sale.

Salmon can appear in Loch Assapol, in the south-west of the Isle of Mull, during the summer months, so keen salmon fishers should inspect the particulars for Tigh na Lochan, a house set on the loch banks with fishing rights for one boat and two rods. The loch fishing from April is for brown trout and sea trout; grilse join the salmon through the summer months.

The house, on the market through Strutt & Parker's Glasgow office with a guide price of £325,000, is currently run as a B&B, hence the six bedrooms (four en-suite) as well as living rooms and conservatory.

The same agent also has a semi-detached Victorian house with astounding views of the Firth of Clyde in the pretty coastal village of Kilcreggan. The three-bedroom house, Osborne East, on the market for offers over £185,000 has fishing rights for one line and rod, and mooring rights, from the foreshore high tide mark.

Agents Reeds Rains' Abergele office in Conwy has already had offers for Glen Aled in Llanfair Tal Haiarn Conwy - a pretty three-bedroom house with half an acre of grounds at the end of which you can fish in a stream linked to the River Aled, good for both trout and salmon. The property had a guide price of £300,000. "We do occasionally get homes with fishing rights," a spokesman said. "It's worth registering an interest with us."

Strutt & Parker's Chester office had a similar message for would-be fishing property owners - tell us what you're looking for, because such properties are selling briskly. They have offers on Hafod Elwy Hall, a Victorian former shooting lodge with 59 acres and both fishing and shooting rights. Close to the Alwen Reservoir, in Bylchau, the house comes with the ownership of two rods on the reservoir where brown trout can be caught. The six-bedroom, three-reception room house, plus three bedroom cottage, was on the market for £575,000.

John D Wood, Winchester: 01962 863131

FPDSavills, Salisbury: 01722 426812

Monkhouse and Bannisters, Pulborough: 01798 872081

Strutt & Parker, Glasgow: 0141 2253880

Reeds Rains, Abergele: 01745 832150

Strutt & Parker, Chester: 01244 220500

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