I must confess that my last fishing trip to Kilnsey Park was February 14th way back in 1998 and was a sorry reminder that fishing and Valentine’s Day do not mix (long story). The actual day’s fishing though was most enjoyable and I’m surprised that I have not yet returned armed with rod and tackle. I have, however, been to Kilnsey 3 or 4 times since then just to enjoy the non-fishing activities. Situated north of Kettlwell in the Yorkshire Dales and blessed with an impressive overhanging limestone crag as a backdrop, Kilnsey Park is on to a winner in terms of location. There are 2 spring-fed lakes, both approximately 1 acre in size, which are well stocked with good quality fish and the water is normally clear enough to see some of the larger residents cruising around.
So, ok…perhaps you like the sound of Kilnsey already and fancy a day’s fishing but family commitments make getting away difficult. Leaving the wife (or husband!) and kids at home whilst you bugger off for a day’s fishing can sometimes lead to a lengthy session in the doghouse. Worry no more! As well as the main trout lakes, Kilnsey Park has fun fishing for kids, a nature trail, red squirrels (no, you can’t have their tails) , pygmy goats, an aquarium (complete with pike!), adventure playground, café/restaurant, farm shop and delicatessen! What more can you ask for!? The nature trail also takes you past several ponds which contain trout at various stages of development and trout pellets can be purchased to feed them. It’s actually more fun than it sounds, especially when you’re watching a couple of double figure trout swirling at your high protein offerings.
My actual ‘tooled up’ visit was a long time ago,as mentioned previously, but thankfully I keep a fishing diary which I can refer to for more details. Good job really, considering I can barely remember something I’ve done a week ago. The day was remarkably warm for February with temperatures that were putting Cairo to shame and consequently water temp
was very reasonable. The original destination was to have been the River Wharfe at Arthington but bank topping water the colour of builders tea put paid to that and necessitated a trip to a stillwater. We did a lightning tour of the nature trail before getting down to business and trying to forget we’d been feeding the relatives of our intended quarry minutes earlier. At least we knew the calibre of fish in the lake.
I was still fairly new to fly-fishing at the time and my entomology was somewhat lacking but I’d read somewhere that the
March Brown was a good early season pattern. The fact that the nearest live March Brown was probably on the River Wharfe had eluded me but ignorance is bliss and I soon had a size 12 Silver March Brown pattern on the end of my leader. Letting the fly sink about a foot then drift round with the wind (along with the occasional steady pull) seemed to do the trick because within minutes I felt a solid pull. It was the prelude to a spirited fight but eventually a chunky 2 lb rainbow was banked. A couple more casts later and another fish was on but this one proved to be more brutal and snapped my 5lb leader with alarming ease. “Oh dear” said I…or words to that effect, knowing I’d just lost my only Silver March Brown. I hate to think what the fish was saying – air bubbles packed with piscatorial expletives were no doubt drifting to the surface at that very same moment.
A perusal of my wet fly box did however turn up a ‘normal’ March Brown of the same size so this was quickly tied on and
re-cast, with almost instant success. This time the fish, a 3 lb rainbow, stayed on and I slipped the net under it with a broad grin on my face having just caught my then biggest fish since taking up fly-fishing. Hundreds of years ago the
land now occupied by Kilnsey Park had a lake used by monks to rear fish – I wonder if they had this much fun!
The fun continued and I left Kilnsey having caught 6 fish, all between 1lb to 3lb and lost another 3 or 4. March Brown
variants did the damage all day for me whereas my fishing partner managed to land his 6 fish on the ubiquitous Gold
Ribbed Hare’s Ear. Pretty good sport in my book and although you have the complexities of a working trout farm/tourist
attraction going on around you the spectacular backdrop and surrounding countryside compensate for these potential distractions. Besides, these ‘distractions’ can easily be seen as an added bonus to your day. As always, I suggest you telephone in advance of your visit.
Kilnsey near Skipton
(on the B6160 Threshfield and Kettlewell)
Tel: Grassington (01756) 752150
Fax: (01756) 752224