Angling on the River Ivel


The Ivel is a small river both in terms of it’s length and the facts that it narrow and often very shallow. However it has many stretches where the water flows over gravel and this leads to well-oxygenated water and some big fish. The river also has a relatively large incline by the standards of lowland rivers and hence the flow-rate is quite fast on the shallower sections. There are still some deeper sections notably upstream of Broom Lock, Sandy New Rd both up and down stream of New Road Bridge, down stream from Girtford Bridge to the weir at Crossbones and from Blunham Twin Bridges to Tempsford Mill.
All sections of the river hold good chub and the faster sections tend to hold the barbel, which have become synonymous with the river over the past 20 years.
There are in addition some excellent perch, roach and on occasions surprises in the form of dace, pike, carp and bream.

The river for many years was the home to some huge roach and dace shoals and together with some bumper sized chub was a truly amazing river back in the 1950s and early 1960s. A truly catastrophic pollution incident in 1964 killed off the big dace shoals; the roach were also severely affected.

The river 25 years ago was often the host to some large match attendances targeting the large numbers of silver fish. However cormorant predation in the Ivel Valley has greatly reduced the numbers of silver fish and the match attendances have drastically fallen away.


The 2 most popular methods of fishing the river are using a pole or ledgering. Trotting through with a stick float or waggler can still be very effective and at one time was the chosen method of most anglers.
Pole fishing on the Ivel is a very effective method as 10 metres is about all that is needed on most stretches. Chopped worm or maggot/caster can be extremely effective in putting together a chub catch.
Ledgering is the popular method for chasing both the chub and barbel with some surprises coming out like a near 3 lb roach and a 10lb bream all on pellet chasing barbel.
Baits often long forgotten are a piece of bread in the winter months or even a bit of cheese may work very well

Where to Try

Barbel: Biggleswade Back Meadows and Common are the most heavily fished for barbel with fish being regularly caught in double figures. However there are other spots and the best advice is to go and walk the river, check it out, in truth there are barbel all along the river.

Chub: Fish to 8lbs have come out of the river and this species is common along the entire length of the river in both shallow and deeper parts. Biggleswade Common is the most popular venue for chub but the biggest ones often come out of the deeper stretches.

Silver Fish (Roach & Dace): There are still some good roach and dace in the river but not the numbers as in the past. Try the upper reaches beyond Biggleswade Mill have a walk and a look; there is an old towpath along this section. The deeper sections around Sandy New Rd Bridge are also worth a try.

Perch: Some big fish of over 3lbs can be caught at Broom upstream left bank from the mill. These fish have got fat on signal crayfish so prepare for some silly knocks on your line.

Finally try something a bit wild the IPA has a short stretch in Blunham Village you can find it on the map. Rarely fished it holds all species well worth a look.