Fishing In The Lake District - Episode Seven of Twelve
Our summer holiday this year was to go camping in the Lake District and with their enthusiasm for their new hobby at an all time high, going on holiday without their fishing rods just wasn't an option for Sam and Alys .
So, fishing in the Lake District - “How do we go about it Dad?” they asked.
As usual, I didn't have the faintest notion of the merest hint of what might be described as a clue…
However, there is lots of information at hand these days, especially with the advent of the internet. Even better than the internet though, is to simply go to the lake in question and ask the locals how it's done…
The one recurring theme that surprised me about fishing in the Lake District is, unless you want to get in a boat and go out there onto the water, it's almost impossible unless you can cast out for miles. In my innocence and ignorance I kind of thought, yes, Lake District means lots of water, lots of water means lots of fish - but it doesn't seem to work out that way…
Take Coniston Water for example. Coniston Water is deep. And when I say deep, I mean DEEP. Older readers will remember Coniston Water is famous for Donald Campbell, Bluebird and the Land Speed Record back in 1967, if memory serves. Well, the lake is so deep that it took more than 30 years for them to locate and retrieve his remains and the cockpit. And without wishing to sound facetious or disrespectful to his memory in any way, I swim like a brick, so there is NO WAY I'm going out in a boat on water which is, to all intents and purposes, bottomless.
Coniston Water…deep and forbidding.
No problem, you might think, you just fish from the shore. However, I spoke to a local who assured me that Coniston is very shallow in the margins and to have a chance of catching anything, you need to be able to cast out 60 yards at least. Now, there is no way that is possible for a 9 year old armed with a 6 foot long Kingfisher junior rod. So we had to forget Coniston Water altogether.
The other extreme from Coniston is Loweswater , which I'm told is only 15 metres deep at its deepest point. When I first heard this, I thought this was the answer to our problems - comparatively very shallow so going out on a boat wouldn't be a hardship even for a hopeless swimmer like me. However, as unfeasible as it sounds when you look out over Loweswater , a poke around on the internet reveals the theory that Loweswater has almost nothing in the way of fish! Apart from the 'odd' Perch and the 'odd' Pike, there are lots of minnows (also known as 'Pike Food') and nothing else. So we had to scrub Loweswater from our list as well.
PUBLIC HEALTH WARNING: If you are persuaded to go out on any lake in the Lake District on any sort of boat, PLEASE PLEASE ENSURE YOU ARE WEARING A LIFEJACKET. IF THE BOAT HIRE PLACE DOESN'T OFFER THE USE OF LIFEJACKETS, PLEASE WALK AWAY AND TRY SOMEWHERE THAT DOES. You might be the best swimmer in the World, but you have to bear in mind that (a) these waters are very very cold, even in the height of Summer, so you WILL start to go numb quite quickly if you fall in, (b) when soaked, your clothing and shoes will become very heavy indeed and will drag you under the surface, and (c) it is likely that the shoreline, and safety, will be far, far away…
So, after considering one of the deepest and one of the shallowest of the Lakes and finding those unsuitable, I thought we'd try a compromise, so we went to Derwentwater , and to Keswick to buy some bait and have a chat about the fishing. For once the information on the internet was out of date, referring us to a shop which has closed long ago! The Tourist Information Centre told us to go to a newsagent's of all places, Yudales . Sure enough, I had a chat with Mr Yudale (I'm guessing at his name now, of course). He told me he has to cast out some 60 or 70 yards from the shore of Derwentwater to stand a chance of catching anything. So again, the most realistic chance of catching would be to hire a boat for about 3 or 4 hours. The only problem is , the cost of doing that would feed an entire Sudanese village for 6 months!
In the end, because the kids were desperate to fish, we went to the shore with a bomb on the line, and I cast out for them, as far as I could. Needless to say, we 'blanked'. However, no one minded. The fantastic scenery and the novelty of fishing in such a grand location was enough to keep everyone happy. Just yet another example of the old maxim that says you don't have to catch fish in order to enjoy fishing.
Fishing in such glorious surroundings - what does it matter if you blank?
I'm sure there are many readers out there who have had wonderful times fishing in the Lake District. From my own experiences though, I have to say - forget it, and leave the rods at home for once!
Col Robinson is a freelance writer who is looking for work because holidays in the Lake District aren't cheap - he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org unless you are his Bank Manager.