This dataset consists of an ecology-focused survey of stillwaters along the rivers Yure and Swale and sediment flux measurements recorded at sites along the river Esk. The dataset results from a study which was part of the Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) programme. The project analysed the complex network of natural and socio-economic relationships around angling in the river environment, including institutions of governance and land use practices at a range of interconnected scales. The sustainability, integrity and ecological value of river catchments are currently major issues for science. The management of freshwaters and their ecologies requires addressing processes that work across the boundaries between the natural environment, economy and society. This research focused upon these cross-cutting processes in an interdisciplinary, holistic assessment of river environments through the case of angling. Angling benefits from and influences river quality, design and management. It also links urban and rural environments and is an economic driver for the rural economy, involving about 4 million people in England and Wales and contributing 6 billion pounds to the economy through freshwater angling alone. This research aimed to provide insights into how environmental and socio-economic drivers for rural change work. This project therefore aimed to identify and analyse the complex network of influences and feedbacks around angling in the rural environment. These include natural and socio-economic influences, interdisciplinary research from both natural and social science disciplines (aquatic ecology, geomorphology, anthropology, sociology, human geography), as well as stakeholders from government, NGOs and the local community. This project focused upon three rivers in northern England - the Esk, Ure and Swale - in the course of an integrated and fine-grained study. The postal survey and business interviews from this study are available at the UK Data Archive under study number 6580 (see online resources). Further documentation for this study may be found through the RELU Knowledge Portal and the project's ESRC funding award web page (see online resources).