From Bretton the river flows under the M1 motorway and through the town of Barnsley collecting Cawthorne Dike and passing the Fleets lake over the old star paper mill weir and along towards Cudworth then the river meanders southwards near Little Houghton and over a 13 foot weir a major obstruction for fish, the River Dearne flows through Darfield and collects the river Dove on Broomhill ings. It is from Darfield downstream to Broomhill Bolton and Harlington that the river in recent years has become home to some large Barbel and some fine Chub.The river then enters the river Don at Denaby/Conisbrough near to where the Earth Center use to stand and less than a mile from Conisbrough Castle conisbroughcastle
In 1902 the West Ridding River Board in a document refer to improvements in the river with a chart showing mines glass works coal washing plants and others that were discharging effluents partially treated or not treated into the river.The river board describes the river as much polluted and this was to continue for a further 80 years.
The history of the river is one of pollution and the River Dearne had one unfortunate problem in that it lay totally within the coal measures of Yorkshire and the mines that were built in the mid 1800s added to the problem of the pollution that was already there caused by the mills in the upper reaches of the river.The mills were in the Denby Dale, Scissett, and Clayton West, area and as with the coal mines the woollen mills encouraged the development of worker population and therefore more pollution, there was no sewage disposal system in place and along with other domestic waste and caustic washing agents and dyes from the mills and the ochre from the mines the river was in a poor state.
In 1960 the Yorkshire Ouse River Board stated that the water quality of the Dearne was that of an open sewer With waste from mining, paper making, brewing, and textile manufacture, emptying into the river untreated, but due to pressure from the river board and local authorities most of the industries waste was receiving some treatment.
Chemically the river remained class E [poor quality] and in places class F [grossly polluted] But small isolated pockets of fish did begin to appear.
Unfortunately, this impetus to maintain these stocks of fish was not sustained and several incidents of pollution were reported well into the 1980s. One of the Dearne’s tributaries Cawthorn Beck did sustain a good stock of fish throughout mainly Brown Trout and this was mainly due to the Becks undisturbed rural location.
It was not until 1979 that all the rivers industrial companies discharges were redirected to the treatment works, although this did not eliminate the river’s problems. Land contaminated by years of spillage continued to leach mothproofing agents into the river and it was almost 10 years before the river began to show a measurable amount of success.
Over the years the continued effort by agency’s like the Environment Agency and others have continued to stride forward and secure the Dearne,s future, with the water quality now vastly improved
In 1981 when the Environment Agency first surveyed the lower Dearne they were presently surprised after finding a variety of species including Pike, Gudgeon, Tench, Roach, Perch, Eels, and Chub, Up to 1988 12.000 fish were released into the river in a bid to establish the fishes foothold within the river.
During the early 90s the river suffered a few early setback with some further pollution incidents but since then the river has gone from strength to strength and is rapidly becoming a river noted for its big Barbel.
By the 1950s, the course of the river at its mouth had been badly affected by subsidence from coal mining, and the lowering of the river channel resulted in much of the surrounding land is regularly flooded. To alleviate the problem and restore the gradient of the channel at this point, a new channel was constructed on the south side of the railway embankment, from near Harlington to the River Don. The old channel can still be seen on the north side of the embankment and connects to the Denaby Ings Nature Reserve.
As part of a full assessment of flood risks caused by the River Don and its tributaries, the River Dearne Improvement Scheme was implemented, work started in 1963 and finalized in 1973.
It was recognized that simple enlargement of the river channel would not provide a satisfactory solution, as it would just move the problem to the Don, and therefore a series of washlands were created, which could be progressively flooded if required, without affecting centers of population.
Near the mouth of the river, Dearne Mouth washland, which is now known as the Denaby Ings Nature Reserve, was created in 1963, and a manually operated sluice allowed the flow of the river to be diverted through the flood bank and into the washland when there were high levels at the junction with the River Don. The sluice was rebuilt in 1973. Additional washlands were created at Harlington and North Ings, and the river was straightened and realigned.
Further, upstream, a flood relief channel was built at Bolton upon Dearne, and more washlands were formed between Wath railway bridge and Adwick bridge.
The Bolton Ings and Old Moor washlands were next to be created, to be followed by those at Wombwell Ings, where the River Dove joins the Dearne, Darfield, Houghton and Cudworth.
Some of the storage capacity was lost as a result of mining schemes, and a regulator was installed at Bolton in 1972, allowing the flow to be restricted by a sluice gate. In the 2007 floods, all of the washlands filled to capacity, Some damage to the Houghton washlands resulted from the extremely high water levels, which overtopped the banks and caused erosion to take place.
Following the floods, a reassessment of the function of the regulators was carried out, and in view of the costs of maintaining them, the Environment Agency intend to remove them once the reforming of the river channel has been completed. This work will ensure that the washlands fill and empty at the appropriate points in a flood cycle.
See my good friend Dearne Chub and Barbel expert Russell Barker fish the River Dearne in the videos below.`
where to fish on the river Dearne
Surprisingly most of the River Dearne is free fishing [ with landowners consent where appropriate } Roach Dace Chub and the occasional trout are the order of the day but a stealthy roving approach is needed for this narrow upper stretch of the River Dearne.
American signal crayfish are in parts of the river and are an Invasive species regarded as a nuisance but could this be the reason why the Barbel and Chub have grown to large proportions ??
At Darfield, Houghton Main Anglers use to have a very good and well looked after stretch of river but the club along with the coal mine has disappeared, the fishing remains good, though, the small weir has been removed to aid the fish on their travels upstream,
River Dearne Barbel challenge video below
A mile further upstream from Darfield any migratory fish? come to a full stop when they meet the 13-foot weir that was built in the 80’s when the river was altered due to flood defenses,? I suppose in hindsight it’s easy to say things could have been different with a drop down sluice being installed instead, but I don’t suppose the environment agency could have foreseen the huge rise in the fishing and fish stocks in the River Dearne and the weir does, after all, provide itself as a very good oxygenator, The river fishes all the way down to the Don with big barbel coming out at Broomhill Bolton on Dearne and further down, but like most of the Dearne don’t expect to be pointed to the Barbel pegs its all about legwork and time on the river bank.
it is downstream from here that the fishing gets better, good Chub and Barbel to double figures have been taken. further downstream at Bolton Barbel have been reported well into double figures +rumorss of 16 1b fish have abounded but the Dearne is a small river and fishing pressure is bound to have an impact and barbel are very nomadic and anglers do report days and days of fishless sessions.
Indeed I have seen photos of fish said to come from the Dearne and they have been of huge proportions.but these may or may not be true but one thing is true that the lack of controlling clubs on the lower Dearne is a disadvantage, not only not being able to substantiate big fish claims but also the problem of some people in our society flaunting the close season law and fishing, especially during the night , lets hope the popularity of the river now spurns new clubs to take on the mantle. for further information on fishing and access contact us at River Angler.
Barbel record for the river Dearne is 15 1b 4 oz with larger fish reported.