If I was ever fortunate enough to win the lottery I would be looking to buy somewhere very similar to Coniston Hall. If you are sat in a boat fishing the lake at Coniston Hall and not dreaming about what it would be like to have this as your own estate then you either do own the place or have very little ambition.
Coniston was one of the earliest venues I went to and to be fair, nearly ended my interest in flyfishing due to the immense
frustration it caused me on my first visit – my boat partner found himself willing fish to fall off his hook just to appease
my growing anger. However, don’t be put off because this is definitely one place I’d recommend.
Coniston Hall is situated near the village of Gargrave just off the A65 which makes it relatively easy to find. The lake
is man made but looks very picturesque with its surrounding woodland and well kept lawns and at 24 acres is not too daunting in size. Upon arrival your first port of call is the hotel reception to purchase a ticket then head down the long driveway to the mansion to park up just along from the stables. Facilities are limited, but there is a boathouse with 3 or 4 boats (I suggest booking in advance) and a little shelter to have your lunch in along with a picnic table outside.
The boats have improved recently and are now equipped with anchors at either end to stop you spinning around at the mercy of the wind/fish/vigorous casting of your boat partner. They are not suitable for more than 2 people and make sure you bring a lifejacket because the fishery does not provide them. I also suggest you bring waterproof clothing as the weather can be quite changeable and when it rains it really does a good job of it out here!
There are both rainbows and browns in here and all are generally in superb condition with muscular bodies and full fins. The latter don’t tend to show themselves until they’re nearing exhaustion and often make use of the lake’s deep water by sitting tight rather than running you onto the backing. The deepest part of the lake is at the dam where it reaches almost 30ft and this can sometimes be a productive area but fight your temptation to drag a cat’s whisker along the bottom on the business end of your Di-7 because no lures are allowed! I must confess to breaking this rule on several occasions in the past but to say this gave me any kind of advantage over more traditional patterns would be a lie. Crime never pays, as they say.
There are several other ‘hotspots’ as well as the damn but really fish can be found across most of the lake. One good place to try is the reedbed which will be on your right as you come out of the boathouse. Anchor yourself here about 20 yards off the reeds and try fishing small olive wet flies or buzzers using a floating line. If you have no success here then the area of water immediately behind you (assuming you were facing broadside onto the bank) can be productive as well. I’d recommend an intermediate line as it’s quite deep and the aforementioned olive patterns coupled with hare’s ear nymphs often work here. You can also try fishing the opposite side of the lake under the trees where terrestrial patterns can tempt the odd fish as they cruise around picking off hapless insects dropping out of the foliage.
Coniston fishes well from around early May until high summer when the weed and algae growth make things a little difficult but as summer turns to autumn things pick up again. In recent years however water clarity has deteriorated and the water can be rather murky at times, even into late September. This doesn’t seem to have affected the fishing too much though, and if you catch it on the right day you can have a day’s fishing to remember!
On one occasion myself and my boat partner must have caught and released over 15 fish in the space of an hour, all fin-perfect brown trout ranging from 1 _ lb to 4lb in size. Tickets for a 2 mile stretch of the river Aire which runs through the estate can also be purchased but as yet I have never fished this beat and would be interested to hear from anyone who has.
The Coniston Hotel
North Yorkshire BD23 4EB
Telephone 01756 748080
Fax 01756 749487
24-acre lake is stocked with brown and rainbow trout. Boats
are available for the lake and the Estate Gamekeeper offers
tuition in casting skills.
Also available to fish is a 2.5 mile stretch of the River
Aire which flows through the estate grounds.
We normally pay £20 per person sharing a one boat, ring
the number above for more details.