Of the many fantastic leisure opportunities available in the National Park, Lake District fishing is one of the very best. With a little research before you go, you could spend weeks angling to your heart's content. The larger lakes are known for their excellent coarse and pike fishing, while the many rivers carry brown trout, salmon and sea trout. There are also local species to be found, if you know where to look.
Discover the very best fishing in the Lake District
With so much choice available, it really does pay to know where you want to go fishing before you arrive in the National Park. As it is such a vast site, there are many local Angling Associations governing rivers and smaller lakes. These will help you with any specific questions you might have, such as your chances of catching particular fish species in the Lake District.
To give you a head start, we've gathered a list of the 22 best fishing spots in the Lakes. Subject to availability, these should give you the chance of spending the perfect fishing holiday in the fabulous Lake District.
Fishing Lake Windermere (Game and Pike)
There are char and trout available in Windermere, although these are not as abundant as they used to be. Pike fishing, however, is excellent here all year round, and is regarded by many anglers as the best use of the lake. Not for new starters, the north end of Windermere is excellent for pike from October to March. As this is boat fishing, there are other users to consider, as well as the bankside habitat.
Thirlmere (Game and Pike)
Thirlmere is one of the most scenic of the Lakes, and very accessible. It is home to brown trout, char, perch and pike. Unlike other lakes, Thirlmere does not have an abundance of fish. Its levels drop quite markedly at certain times of the year, and its fish have to fight hard to survive. This, of course, makes them excellent sport. The pike might not be the biggest, but they do what pike do best; fight.
Esthwaite Water (Pike and Trout) – the best fishing in Ambleside
Esthwaite Water is great for anglers with varying levels of confidence. It is the largest stocked brown trout fishing Lake in the area, which is great for the local pike. There is bank and boat fishing available here all year round, with wheelchair friendly boats available for hire. The north side of the Water is kept for fly fishing only, but all angling methods are allowed in its southern basin.
The second largest of the Lakes, Ullswater has quite a few opportunities for good fishing. This is mainly for its brown trout, which are here in abundance, although the season is quite short, only lasting from March to late June. There is bankside and boat fishing on Ullswater, although there are precious few boats available for hire on the Lake. As well as trout, Ullswater in the Lake District is home to the endangered and protected schelley, a fish unique to this part of the world. Perch and pike are here, although in quite small numbers.
This is a long Lake of the Lake District, at over 5 miles, and is about half a mile wide. It is home to the Coniston Boating Centre, which has excellent disabled facilities. The fish available here are char, perch, pike and trout. Most of the fishing here has dropped off in recent years, especially trout. Coniston anglers mainly target the pike nowadays, with 20 pounders usually caught every year. The best pike fishing here is in the winter, using dead bait.
This coastal spot can be quite challenging, but the rewards can be well worth it. The area from Dubmill Point to Crosscanonby is low lying and floods over a large area. Especially with a south westerly wind, the flood tide can bring bass, codling, dabs, dogfish, flounder, plaice and whiting. Local crab, lug and rag are perfect bait. Safety restrictions apply, as this coast floods quickly.
This is a unique body of water, even for the Lake District. It is best known for pike fishing, but there are restrictions in place as to how to go about angling here. The shoreline can only be accessed near the A66 laybys. Pike fishing is best done by boat, but these are not for hire. You can take your own, but you must have a permit to use it on the Lake. As well as pike, there are stocks of eels, perch and roach, with some salmon and trout fishing at Ouse Bridge.
Arnside and Sandside
These spots are located in the estuary of the River Kent, which flows south from the Lakes. Arnside is at the mouth of the estuary, while Sandside is further inland. Both have excellent opportunities to get your car parked for some excellent fishing. The main catch here is flounder, while there are bass and mullet available from May to September.
DON'T FORGET THIS
There is a tidal bore in this estuary, which can catch you unawares. Sirens operate in this area of the Lake District, so listen for them, get packed up and in your car quickly.
This tarn is the deepest of its kind in the Lake District and is situated in probably the most dramatic setting. It has very steep banks around much of it, with the fellside dropping away on one edge. It is excellent for trout, using the fly. As the tarn does not have much in the way of food for the fish, they are on the small side, but fighting fit. They are also extremely beautiful fish and must be put back.
This is WADAA's most popular fishing spot and has been specially designed and laid out for superb angling. The waterways and bankside features tempt the trout throughout the year, and present excellent opportunities for all ages and abilities. The trout in the fishery move around during the year, from the shallows in April to all parts of the water in May and June. There is no stocking from November to February.
Beckfoot – One Of The Top Fishing Spots in The Lakes
This stretch of coastline has very wide, shallow tides along large areas of beach, which are easily accessible by car. South westerly winds bring in bass from May to late autumn, while winter anglers come here for codling, flounder and whiting. As with other coastal fishing spots, the tide can take you by surprise here, so take care.
This is a relatively small Lake, in the centre of the National Park between Windermere and Keswick. It is less than a mile long, and splits into two sections, with islands in the middle. Rydal Water offers some spectacular, peaceful fishing, with eels, perch, pike and roach there for the sport. Pike especially are numerous here, and average at 8lbs a catch.
WOW THERE'S SOME BIG PIKE HERE
There have been many double figure pike caught here, including a record 31 pounder in 2005.
Atkinson's Tarn – hidden gem of Windermere fishing spots – top fishing in Ambleside
This is a private fishing and beauty spot which is not covered by the Windermere, Ambleside and District Angling Association (WADAA). The Tarn is to the west of Kendal, near Crook Church. It has still water, stocked coarse fish, is ideal for beginners and has disabled access.
This fishery is run by the Furness Fishing Association and lies to the south of the National Park. Both Burlington Lake and the nearby Nigel Lake are bodies of water created from old iron ore mining sites. The complex offers bait, fly and spinning fishing, for both rainbow and stocked trout. The fishing here is very competitively priced, and away from the tourist traps of the National Park.
Yew Tree Tarn
DON'T MISS THIS
Perfect for a spot of peaceful contemplation in beautiful surroundings, Yew Tree Tarn is truly idyllic. It has a layby area which is perfect for getting set up and is full of stocked brown trout. The average catch is 1lb, and the fish rise freely, especially in the evenings. This beauty spot is run by the Coniston, Torver and District Angling Association, who have season passes available. Not only can you relax in peace here, you can also catch your supper.
Bessy Beck Trout Fishery
This specialist fishery is located just off the A685, not far from the M6 motorway. It is actually a complex of three small lakes and is designed to cater for anglers of all ages and abilities. As such, it is one of the few places specially designed for fishing in Cumbria. It has a working trout farm, with several fishing options. The largest lake is solely for fly fishing, and lessons are available. The centre also has restaurant and other facilities for visitors and tourists.
A recently refurbished fishery, Cleabarrow Tarn is regaining its reputation for carp. It was once a thriving waterway, but its fishing was decimated by otters. WADAA have spent a lot of time and money restoring this unique tarn, and fish numbers are rising. The re introduced carp are now averaging in the low teens in weight, and there are also bream, golden rudd and tench available here.
Blea Tarn one of the top fishing spots in the lakes for trout
This is one of many fishing spots in the Lakes with the same name and lies between Borrowdale and Thirlmere. It is excellent for trout fishing at all times of the year but is also exposed and hard to access. Although the fish here are larger than in other tarns, they are still too small to be killed. They will bite quickly, providing excellent sport; but they must all be put back. This remote spot is only recommended for committed anglers.
This tarn is WADAA's most popular fishing spot for coarse sport and is full to the brim with some excellent fish. These include bream, carp, perch, roach and tench, with the bream and roach fishing some of the very best in the Lake District.
THIS IS AMAZING
Many anglers come here for the carp, however. During the winter months, double figure fish can be found near the surface, offering some truly excellent fishing.
This is a WADAA owned and run fishing tourist attraction, which farms its own trout. It is specially laid out for anglers of all abilities to have the best chance of netting. September onwards is recommended as the best time to fish here, and there are all sorts of trout in various stages of development here for the catching. Float tubing is allowed on Fridays, and some Saturdays during the tourist season. Bigland is designed to give the wider public a taste for angling.
High Fairbanks Tarn
This fishery has been recently opened by WADAA and is specially designed to be a catch and release waterway. It is very well managed and stocked, with both brown and rainbow trout rising freely on the lake. Rainbow especially thrive here, and the record for a catch here is a whopping 9lb. The land around the tarn is privately owned, so the area is very quiet.
River Eden (Go Wild Scheme)
This is an innovative fishing opportunity set up by the Eden Rivers Trust. It combines beats which people don't really know about, around tributaries that suffer as a consequence. There is excellent wild trout fishing to be had here, and some adventure. Some of the banksides are overgrown and need cutting back. This is of benefit to local farmers, who run the Trust, and it also offers some truly unique Cumbrian fishing.
What type of fish can you catch?
The most common fish to catch in the Lake District are brown and rainbow trout. These can be found wild in the rivers or stocked in the Lakes. Perch and pike are also quite common in the area. Apart from these, other species available are Arctic charr, European eel, common minnow, Atlantic salmon, carp, tench, bass and roach and golden rudd. Sea fishing is good for flounder and mullet.
Are there rules for fishing in the Lake District?
Here are a few rules you must abide by to fish in the Lake District:
What equipment do you need for fishing?
Obviously, you'll need rods, reels, spare lines and lures. You will need nets and waders, and possibly equipment such as a torch if you plan on night fishing. Some areas in the Lake District which are ideal for pike fishing do not hire boats. In this case, you will need your own. Do not use live bait when fishing in the Lakes. For sea fishing on the Cumbrian coast, local crab, lug and rag are perfect.
What type of fishing is allowed
Fly fishing is the most common type of angling used in the Lake District. This is because it does not risk losing weights or spinners in the water. These types of fishing are allowed in certain parts of some larger Lakes. Bank access is not always possible; you need to check with each individual angling authority. Boat access is similarly restricted, both by size of waterway and availability. Make sure you check before planning your fishing trip.
Where to go fishing in the Lakes?
You really are spoilt for choice, depending on where you stay and any accessibility issues you might have. You may want to get in touch with one of the angling associations which cover the National Park. However, fishing is free on Coniston Water, Ullswater and Windermere. Coniston Boating Centre also has a wheelchair accessible boat specially designed for anglers.
Do you need a permit to fish in the Lake District?
Not necessarily. Most of the fishing is free, but you should check with any angling associations for local restrictions. Bigland Trout, Ghyll Head and High Newton require £20 per day permits, while Grasmere, Rydal Water and WADAA Coarse Fisheries sell permits for £8 per day.
Are there rules for fishing Lake Windermere?
As well as following good conduct rules for anglers throughout the Lakes, Windermere anglers must:
• have a current Environment Agency rod licence
• follow Environmental Agency Byelaws
• follow any local and/or seasonal restrictions
• not use live bait, as this banned by the Environment Agency.
There are way more than 22 great fishing spots in the Lake District. There are so many opportunities, the list could be almost endless. From sea fishing for the experts to wheelchair friendly boat clubs, Cumbria and the Lakes have options there for all.
Freshwater coarse fishing in the Lake District has some truly excellent rewards, from bankside to knee deep in your waders. Pike fishing is there for the brave; just take your boat and make sure you have a permit.
We hope our review of 22 has given you a taste for what's available for anglers in this part of the world. Go out and enjoy!
Video: Pike Fishing in the Lake District