The Craig y Heul Fishery – Waterscross Pool

Craig y Heul Fishery Waterscross Pool

Craig y Heul Fishery

There is an abundance of great and wonderful salmon lies and swims throughout the Wyebank, Courtfield, Home and Thomas Wood fisheries. However everyone who has fished Courtfield for salmon will probably know that the no fishing private bank at Craig y Heul aka The Fishing Lodge, harbours a salmon pool of magnetic fascination which on occasion seems to be full of salmon and tantalisingly out of casting reach. As recently as 2011 the Waterscross pool at Craig y Heul, in June of that year, was full of salmon and seemingly some evenings appeared to have 2 dozen or so fish resident in it. What must have it have been like in the old days.

So prolific a pool was this for salmon that it became a highly contentious issue, when in 1986 the new Fishing Lodge was built. The ghillie at the time is no longer with us as neither is Mr Phillips the fishing tenant of the Courtfield. It did not break out into war but I well remember being told of the threats of legal battle, as it was attempted to stop the fishing right claimed for Craig y Heul. Sense fortunately prevailed and as salmon stocks plummeted it no longer must have seemed important. Today the stocks are coming back and through the generosity and acumen of Mr and Mrs Peter  and Ange Dowle and the right bank tenancy held by myself we have the first opportunity in a very long time to fish the Waterscross Pool as an exclusive double bank fishery.

When I say exclusive I mean just that. The Craig y Heul Fishery is 225 yards of double bank taking in all the lies and runs known as the Waterscross Pool, and it is available only for day tickets and a maximum of two rods throughout the salmon season. There will be no coarse fishing tickets sold on this water. It is managed entirely for the salmon fisherman from the 3rd of March until the 17th of October. The only caveat is that those same salmon rod ticket holders may fish for the wonderful shoals of barbel and chub, during the coarse season, when the salmon are not obliging!

The Waterscross was the site of an old ferry at the junction of Vention lane and the Ross to Lydbrook road, where a small stream runs into the river which flows down from the Royal Spring Inn, which incidentally is a great watering hole and place to stay, located a short walk up the lane in a wonderfully hidden spot. The word Vention sounds like it could relate to Venator, the word for the Royal huntsmen of the middle ages. It is in fact a little more mundane but equally romantic. It is almost certainly from a freeminers coalmine known in the 17th century as the New Invention mine. The Forest dialect turned it into Vention and the name stuck to the road that presumably led to it! The Fishing Lodge called Craig y Heul is equally romantic as it is Welsh for the Sun Rock. As the house is in shade much of the time I am not sure what this signifies. The point is made however that the location is rather lovely and with the views across the ancient Courtfield to the Courtfield mansion on the hill, the setting could really not be much better.

The Royal spring Inn


There will be a boat provided at the wooden jetty.

A fishing hut is planned for the lower end, situated on the top of the bank so that fishermen can watch the pool and lies during breaks for picnic lunch or supper, with views up and down river.

Car parking right on site at the gate adjacent to where the hut will be located, at the end of the green lane, off the Lydbrook road a couple of hundred yards from the Courtfield Inn, another great historic Inn.

Fishing is restricted to two rods per day at £50 per rod.


The Waterscross Pool is a river feature resulting from the industrial age of barge traffic, the constancy of which created deep cut channels in the river bed. Craig y Heul stands overlooking deepwater of an old quay, parts of the wall of which can still be seen in the banks along the river edge. The salmon lie in this wide trench in the river here and are best covered from the near left bank. However many fish also lie on the clean gravels of the far right bank and, although they can be covered from the near side, it is best to fish for them from the right bank. There are three cribs called Craig y Heul crib, Lower crib and Upper Boat Pool crib.

The salmon lies, pools and catches starting at the top end left bank.

1. The Stream Mouth from the Royal spring brook. The fishery starts just upriver from the small stream mouth. It is a wadeable gravel bank here for fly fishing,  caused by a natural moraine from the stream mouth which has extended the bank out making a good gravel run ideal for the fly. Fish lie under the far bank and anywhere across the stream of the river and it is possible to cover the top end of the Waterscross pool

2. The Waterscross Pool extends along the frontage of the gardens to the Lodge, from the wooden jetty to the Craig y Heul crib. It is a large eddy caused by the natural moraine from the stream mouth which has formed a natural croy. Spinning is probably the most productive early season technique although fly should be used with equal vigour. Expect to have the opportunity of very large springers during March to May, particularly in March and April. It is an easy bank to fish from with good camouflage behind from the rising gardens up towards the Lodge.

The waterscross Pool

3.Craig y Heul crib is a small but well positioned crib near the foot of the steps and produces a good catch off it’s point. The potential for this catch is obvious as is lies at the bottom end of the Waterscross Pool.

Craig y Heul pool

4. The Lower crib is a good sized crib producing a good  lie in front and plenty of fish lies out in mid water. It is an old crib, well positioned to catch the full thrust of the flow as it hits the bend of the river here. Fish are likely to lie between the cribs 3 and 4.

Looking down to Lower crib Craig y Heul

5.Upper Boat Pool crib is the boundary mark between Craig y Heul fishery and Courtfield. Fish can be taken from the end of the crib and also in the top end of the deeper water leading into the boat pool. It has always been a good crib from which to try for a salmon. Please do not fish from the crib if fishermen are fishing the boat pool immediately below.

The salmon pools,lies and catches starting at the top end right bank.

Cross the river in the boat moored at the Jetty. On occasion and depending on river conditions this boat maybe a canoe.

The right bank, between the top and bottom marker posts, is tree lined and fishermen should cover the water from top to bottom wherever access allows. Salmon will lie all along the right bank in the numerous lies and eddies. Tree management of this bank is ongoing to enable maximum fishing access although it is likely that this program will take a couple of seasons to complete due to restrictions on bank works during the nesting season.


A.Bookings should be made at least one week in advance by email and will be paid for by cheque, which must be received by post prior to the day of fishing.

B.Bookings can be made at short notice and paid for on the bank. These will attract a £20 surcharge whether for one or two rods and will include an half to one hour introduction to the water.

C.Bookings for more than one day to run consecutively are charged pro rata.

D.Bookings can be taken for a fishing holiday to fish Craig y Heul and Wyebank and/or Courtfield Email for details.