Since embarking upon the construction of this website and gathering its content, Stonebridge had always
been high up the list of ‘must visit’ venues. Its reputation for big fish was the main reason
for this but because it’s quite a distance from Leeds we had put it off for some time.
Located in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, the fishery is in quite a picturesque part of the world and there
were no heart-sinking moments as we pulled into the car park, the view of the first lake proving to be quite
promising. One of the fishery’s new owners greeted us at the lodge and was very friendly, giving us a
background to the history of Stonebridge and their plans for its future.
The lodge echoes this warm welcome, providing shelter from the inevitable bad weather, facilities for making
hot drinks and a spotlessly clean toilet! It was quite a while before we actually started fishing, the temptation
to sit back in the sunshine and raid our lunch on the picnic table getting the better of us.
When we did get round to wetting a line, we started off on the specimen lake in front of the lodge – can
you blame us?! There was a strong breeze on the day in question which made accurate and delicate presentation a
tad difficult and there weren’t many fish rising but our excitement was difficult to conceal.
The disturbed water around the aerator seems to be a good fish holding area and within a few minutes of fishing
it several large rainbows had made their presence known. The possibility of catching a big fish seemed very
real – you can’t help but imagine that in such a small area of water your flies are never very
far from a fish and it’s just a matter of time.
After two hours of dropping countless flies in front of countless fish I remembered that this theory is complete
toss. Neither of us had received any interest from the Stonebridge leviathans despite using a variety of fly
patterns at various depths and on the advice of the owners decided to tackle the second, bigger lake where the
trout would be smaller but hopefully more obliging. Incidentally, it’s quite a distance up to the second
lake so drive up to it rather than walking.
Hergill Lake is not as pretty or as manicured as the specimen lake, and has a concrete path all the way round
which is good for access but detracts somewhat from the scenery. An island sits in the middle and between this
and the bank fish were rising freely, along with our hopes, but we carried on to the far end of the lake to get
The water is quite shallow here and some fish were moving among the weeds which made for tricky casting and
retrieval. There also seemed to be a kind of scum on the surface of most of the water. Various dries, emergers
or buzzers failed to generate much interest and eventually our clumsy casts seemed to put the fish down. I
decided to wander around the bank and try my luck elsewhere and eventually found myself back at the first part
of the lake where we had seen the most activity.
The fish were still moving, a few feet in front of the island and on a whim I tied on a size 12 Adams and
dropped it amongst them. Nothing. Second cast, just in the outer rings of a previous rise and this time
the connection was made! A spirited and prolonged fight from a rainbow followed, despite my playing it
quite hard on a powerful rod. It was never really a fair fight though and soon a fine looking rainbow of
around 2 _ 1b was in the net (please note, don’t bother with your own net as you have to make
use of the long handled fishery nets). What followed next is a cautionary tale.
I carefully removed the barbless hook out of the fish’s scissors whilst it was still in the net, in the
water, and supported it gently for maybe 30 seconds, whilst it regained its strength. Suddenly the fish
propelled itself from my grip and darted off……for all of about 2 feet then went belly up and
sank to the bottom amongst the weeds. After a good minute of dredging with the net I finally located the fish
and managed to nudge it back to life, but I wouldn’t be too sure it survived the day. I genuinely
thought I’d taken good care of this fish but still may have caused its demise which does tend to
strengthen the argument that high water temperatures and catch and release don’t mix.
Another fish came a few casts later, this time to my trusty hopper and Stu took this as his cue to join me to
get a piece of the action! He arrived just at the right time because the next 20 or so minutes were fast and
furious with several more fish coming to the net, along with repeated hook-ups and missed swirls. All were
good conditioned, well marked rainbows and the average weight was probably around 2 _ lb. A couple had slightly
ragged tails but they were still in a different class to some of the horrors I’ve seen over the years.
As light faded we begrudgingly decided to tackle down and met the owners again as they did their rounds before
presumably shutting up ‘shop’ and a long chat ensued. These people are really keen to make a go
of the fishery and I have to say we’ve never come across such friendly and enthusiastic hosts to a
Stonebridge Trout Lakes
Two man-made lakes, the specimen lake is 3 acres and stocked with rainbows from 4lb to 30lb plus browns, blues and goldens.
Hergill lake is 7 acres and stocked with rainbows, blues, browns and goldens from 2lb to 15lb.
Rainbow 28lb 8oz
Golden 19lb 10oz
Brown 21lb 4oz
Day tickets from between £14 to £20.
Each lake has its own lodge with refreshments and toilets.