Though the UK has many lakes & rivers for fishing I’d like to focus a little on England’s ‘Lake District’. Cumbria (Lake District) is located in the north west of England close to the Scottish border. Cumbria is a favourite of mine, some of the best scenery England has to offer with some fantastic fishing to boot. There is some excellent game fishing on offer but I’d like to focus on the Perch & Pike fishing a couple of the lakes have to offer.
Below is a general guide for anyone visiting the UK’s Lake District.
First of all to fish England’s lakes and rivers you require a rod license which allow you to use up to two rods. 1 day, 8 day and year tickets can be bought online here https://www.gov.uk/fishing-licences/buy-a-fishing-licence
Once you have your license you may need a permit depending on where you are fishing, fortunately the Lake District have a website where you can buy permits for most of the main lakes http://www.lakedistrictfishing.com/ Some venues are privately owned so a permit would be bought on location, some are actually free! I’ll go through the details on a few of the lakes.
Derwent Water nr Keswick
Derwent Water is one of my favourites, surrounded by beautiful mountains it is a fantastic place for a days fishing. Derwent Water has many shallow bays, islands and dropoffs so you are never far away from features to fish. Main target here are Pike and Perch which are in good numbers. Like most places in the winter months the first are located in the deeper water, look for the dropoffs in 20ft+. Float fished deadbaits (livebaiting is banned in all of Cumbria) are normally the way to go during winter Pike fishing with dropshot worm for Perch working best.
Come summer though the fish move into the shallow bays and surrounding water, lures come into their own and even a basic small spinner will catch you anything from 4” Perch to 100cm+ Pike! Derwent Water does have a little bit of boat traffic to watch out for but generally not a great deal but do keep an eye out for the small ferries moving up and down the lake.
There are 4 main launch sites for Derwent. The Keswick campsite on the north shore, ‘Nichol Ends Marina’ on the north west shore, the Keswick ferry jetties on the north east shore or the main one I use ‘Kettlewell Car Park’ (£6 per day) located on the south east corner (all easy to find with Google).
Bassenthwaite is located 2-3 miles north of Derwent Water, same as Derwent Water your main target here are Pike & Perch. There is a 50ft deep basin down the centre of the lake but with plenty of shallow bays to go at, both the north and south are mainly 12-4ft deep which are where much of the fish are in the summer months. The Pike seem to be on a bit of a decline over recent years but that means the Perch are thriving! Perch will fall to dropshot lure and worm, 5g jigheads with small 2” curltails/shads work wonders as do small crankbaits.
There is one main launch site for Bassenthwaite, a slipway is located under the A66 main road near The Pheasant Inn Hotel on the north east bank. If you miss the turning there is another left turn shortly after. Permits can be purchased from Youdales Newsagents in the centre of Keswick just down the road.
Esthwaite is where to go for bigger Pike, it’s a relatively small lake compared to the main lakes in Cumbria but it holds a large number of 100cm+/20lb+ Pike. This is a privately owned lake, day tickets are more expensive at around £25/30euros for kayaks or £45/50euros for boat hire.
Though Esthwaite does cost more it is a well run venue, they have a lovely little cafe providing a ‘full english’ breakfast plus they run a bed & breakfast if you need somewhere to stay. The Pike fishing here can be excellent, their Pike season runs from October to March so much of the fish fall to deadbaits. The summer months are mainly Trout and Perch fishing though there is an annual kayak competition held at the end of May where summer Pike fishing is allowed.
If Pike fishing in the colder months then as with other venues you are looking for the dropoffs to around 18-25ft. As well as deadbaits they will hit lures, big softbaits/swimbaits working well.
Full details here http://www.hawksheadtrout.com/
Ullswater is one of the bigger lakes in Cumbria, unfortunately I’m not an expert when it comes to this venue! I’m told it has zero Pike so your main target is Perch and wild Brown Trout using small spinners and dropshot worm. The best area being near Pooley Bridge at the top north east corner of the lake.
Launching can be done from any car park along the shores or at Park Foot campsite.
Tickets are FREE (my kind of price!)
Windermere is probably the best known lake in the area, large (by England standards!) with some excellent Pike and Perch fishing. Beware you do get quite a bit of boat traffic here but there are many quiet bays to fish. Pike will fall to big softbaits/swimbaits, trolling big crankbaits to 15ft is well worth a try. Perch fall to the usual tactics with dropshot worm and small 2” shads working well.
Launching. There are many lakeside campsites which if you are camping will provide the easiest launch. If just for the day then there are number of slipways though the car park/launch located at the very far north at Waterhead is probably the most straightforward.
As well as kayak fishing some venues have easy access for shore fishing. Again you would need a permit on most of them but you can check that on the website mentioned at the start.
Derwent Water has a lot of bank access, again using the Kettlewell Carp Park as mentioned earlier. Lots of space to go for a wander with the lures. Grasmere and Rydal Water located a few miles north of Ambleside both have excellent shore access with a very good head of Pike & Perch in both. There are free layby car parking by both Rydal and Grasmere though limited space (so get there early!). Rydal does have a carpark on the north shore but costs around £6 per day.
One thing the Lake District isn’t short of is hotels, bed & breakfasts and campsites! They are everywhere, you would have to be doing something wrong to not find somewhere to stay! Now I couldn’t recommend any really posh hotels as I’m more a sleep in the back of the van kinda guy but I can recommend what I’ve used.
Belle Green B&B located just south of Esthwaite http://www.bellegreenbedandbreakfast.co.uk/ very good rooms and a nice breakfast.
Red Lion Inn at Hawkshead http://www.redlionhawkshead.co.uk/ north of Esthwaite with nice food and drink.
Low Wray Campsite, north west shore of Windermere https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays/low-wray-campsite-lake-district
Glen Rothay Hotel, Rydal Water http://www.theglenrothay.co.uk/
Lanefoot Farm Campsite between Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite https://stayinthornthwaite.co.uk/
Whatever you do and wherever you fish in the Lake District you will enjoy it, really is a beautiful part of the world with some excellent fishing. Tight lines!
Text and Photo Sam Baxter