The Yorkshire Dales are well known for the quality of rivers and the trout fishing that can be found here, but we also have many lakes that have fly fishing for wild brown trout and rainbow trout. There are lakes to suit every taste ranging in size from very small to fairly large and to suit all abilities, from beginner to experienced. All the Yorkshire Dales stillwaters are set in outstanding surroundings, some are frequented by many anglers every week, but others are likely to only see a handful in a full trout season. Malham Tarn is described separately on its own page, but let's look at the other Yorkshire Dales stillwaters in order of size, starting with the smallest...
Kilnsey Park is set right in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales with Kilnsey Crag, a magnificent limestone crag, as the backdrop. This is small stillwater flyfishing in the best surroundings possible for hard fighting rainbow trout. There can't be a more scenic small stillwater in the country! Kilnsey Park is probably not the place for the more experienced fly fisher but it is particularly suitable for the beginner learning fly fishing for the first time and for this reason I like to teach my "Beginner's Fly Fishing Course" there. The two lakes at Kilnsey Park are sheltered from strong winds, have open banks for unrestricted casting, are very well stocked with rainbow trout and there are toilet and cafe facilities on site.
Helwith Bridge Fly Fishery
Helwith Bridge Fly Fishery is a 5 acre, spring fed lake, located a few miles northwest of the Yorkshire Dales market town of Settle, in the village of Helwith Bridge. The crystal clear water is a 30 foot deep former quarry, with views of Pen-y-ghent to the northeast. Helwith Bridge is well stocked with Rainbow Trout and is another venue I use for my "Beginner's Fly Fishing Courses" - the deep water straight off the bank gives trout the confidence to swim close, so long casts are not necessary. Helwith Bridge is a good buzzer water and also has a hatch of Lake Olives, which the trout are rather fond of. Another benefit of the deep, spring fed water, is that it stays relatively cool during the warm summer months and, therefore, continues to fish well. Nor does it suffer from weed growth which some shallower lakes can do. The lake is also good for stillwater bank fishing tuition, as a range of methods can be employed.
Coniston Hall Lake
In the southwest corner of the Yorkshire Dales we have a little known gem called Coniston Hall Lake, run by Coniston Hall Hotel and stocked with very hard fighting rainbow trout. There are also reasonable numbers of (reputedly) Wild Brown Trout. Coniston is very rich in fly life and is a buzzer or nymph fishers paradise. Early season buzzer (midge) hatches can be phenomenal! Coniston Hall is a perfect size to learn the art of loch style flyfishing (where we drift with the boat angled sideways to the direction of the drift). Coniston Hall is fairly sheltered and is generally quiet, with only two useable rowing boats. Though bank fishing is allowed, in reality a boat is a must, as shallow water extends for some distance from most banks. I use my own electric outboard when fishing there so we don't lose time rowing back and forth. From June to September Coniston Lake becomes too weedy in my opinion so I class it as an early season venue; the fishing April and May can be outstanding with huge buzzers hatching everywhere and the trout gorging on them!
Fewston Reservoir is one of four reservoirs on the impounded River Washburn, in the Washburn Valley, a tributary of the River Wharfe. The surrounding countryside provides a lovely backdrop to a day's fishing at Fewston with a mix of high moors, pine forests and farmland. It's a large reservoir at over 100 acres and may well appear daunting to the inexperienced fly angler - it's not a place I consider suitable for beginners and novices. The water at Fewston Reservoir is peat stained, as are many of our upland lakes and reservoirs. This is a result of the water draining from the surrounding moorland and is typical of upland trout fishing. The water is not the rich larder of food that our rivers and some lakes are, it is acidic and not very fertile, however, through stocking with good quality rainbow trout Fewston is a good fishery where I have had many an enjoyable day in the past. From a guiding and tuition point of view I use Fewston for teaching bank fishing techniques and casting lessons (there are no boats).
Fewston fishes well to a variety of tactics. Buzzers are always on the menu and a slowly drifted team of buzzers and/or nymphs can often be the key to some exciting sport. Lures and dry flies work well also. Orange is always a good colour to incorporate into your flies when fishing peat stained water. Fewston is well stocked and is the natural progression from small stillwaters for the inexperienced angler.
Scar House Reservoir
Scar House Reservoir is a remote Wild Brown Trout fishery located at the head of Nidderdale, the headwaters of the River Nidd. The surroundings are stunning with high moors, windswept hills and only the sound of moorland birds disturbing the silence. Scar House provides us with good wild fishing for brown trout from the bank only, but due to its position it is best fished on calmer days. Scar House trout are free rising and give good sport throughout the brown trout season. You can split your day here with fishing for Brown Trout and Grayling on the River Nidd in the valley below (the Nidderdale Angling Club day ticket includes both). Scar House Reservoir is well regarded by the few who fish it. This is the nearest we have in Yorkshire to fly fishing on a Scottish loch. I can guide you around Scar House and teach you the art of flyfishing for wild brown trout from the bank, perfect preparation if you are heading to fish some Scottish lochs for the first time. I am confident you will enjoy the fishing and the sense of solitude Scar House Reservoir gives you.
Stillwater Fly Fishing Instruction
Why not spend some time with me and let me introduce you to stillwater fly fishing in the Yorkshire Dales. The bigger lakes often require a long cast and are quite often windy. We can spend some time brushing up your fly casting skills before running through some stillwater bank fishing techniques. We will look at the places to fish, the features to look for and how to get the most from your day. We will cover many of the tactics employed on reservoirs and when to use each for better success. We can try fly fishing with a sinking line, casting, retrieving, flies, methods, re-casting, etc.
Loch Style Instruction & Guiding - Fly Fishing From A Drifting Boat
One of the most relaxing ways of flyfishing is from a drifting boat, especially when you have the Yorkshire Dales to admire all around. If you've not tried flyfishing from a drifting boat before (known as "loch style flyfishing") then you are missing one of the most enjoyable ways to spend a day's fishing. However, for the newcomer to boat fishing it is not that easy...
I offer instruction in fly fishing from a boat, starting with the flyfishing tackle required*, how to enter the boat and setting it up for your day afloat, casting off, motoring, rowing, safety considerations. All this before we even think about the fishing! Then what to look for when deciding where to have your first drift: wind direction/strength, wind lanes, slicks, rising fish, feeding birds, known hotspots, etc. Once we've decided on the first drift of the day we have to manoeuvre the boat into position without motoring over the fish we will be aiming to catch, set the boat up for the drift, discuss when, if and how to use a drogue, what fishing methods to employ... etc. Other considerations include, casting without hooking your boat partner, fish spotting in a wave, landing fish without them snagging the boat or drogue, boat etiquette, etc. Yes there's a lot to boat fishing, why not get started the right way?
*I provide everything required for a day afloat including:
- Electric outboard and battery
- Life jackets
- Hardy rods, reels, lines (including sinking lines)
- Anchor (never use & dislike the use of them for fishing but can be handy for a lunch stop)