Where is Helwith Bridge Fly Fishery?
Helwith Bridge Fly Fishery, as the name suggests, is in the village of Helwith Bridge, not far from Settle in the stunning Yorkshire Dales National Park.
It's a former quarry that's been flooded and run as a trout fishery for many years, but it's not really that well known, even in the surrounding area.
Although it's fairly large, it's quite a good venue for the novice as the water is deep close in, so you don't need to be able to cast far to catch a fish.
What was it like on your visit?
I visited Helwith Bridge with George during a short trip back to the Dales in Spring 2015. Although it was June, it was cold, wet and very windy at times, so Helwith wasn't looking as nice as it probably would in more pleasant weather.
While the open side of Helwith gets the full force of the wind, making casting quite a challenge, the benefit of it being a former quarry means that you can find shelter on the other side. We managed to find a sheltered spot where the water was calmer and where there were a few trout rising.
Is Helwith Bridge well stocked with trout?
Yes, we saw loads of fish rising and caught perhaps a dozen between us, so there are definitely plenty in there.
Helwith Bridge rears its own fish in some cages on the far side of the lake - you might spot the owner rowing out to the cages to feed them every so often.
As you'd expect for fish reared on site, they were all in great condition. They're not large fish - averaging about a pound - but if they're strong fighters and a good size for eating.
We also lost a couple of much bigger fish around the four or five pound mark, so there are big ones here too.
How deep is the water?
The water goes straight down right at the edge, so you do need to take care not to fall in here. It's a quarry so the water is very deep - definitely tens of feet.
The deep water close in meant that trout were rising up from the depths just a foot from the bank to take olives and buzzers as they flittered about on the surface. George had several smack his F flies as he dangled them just over the edge, but found it a challenge to get them to stick.
What line is required?
A floating line was all that was needed when we visited, but you'll probably want to take an intermediate with you, just in case the fish are deeper down.
What size rod will I need?
Depending on the weather, anything between a four and six weight ought to be fine. We were fishing quite delicately with dry flies when the wind dropped, so a bendy four weight was fine. However, in the face of the wind you'll need something sturdier, like a six or seven.
What flies work well at Helwith?
When we visited in the late Spring, the fish were feeding on buzzers, but during warm spells we watched lake olives hatching so switched to F flies and had plenty of fish off the top.
Spooning one of the rainbow trout we were taking home for tea showed that buzzers had been their main diet, and the olive buzzers I'd been catching on were a pretty close match for these.
As with any rainbow trout fishery though, the fish will take almost anything if you can persuade them. We had some on nymphs and small lures too, so they weren't really fussy.
Where do I get tickets?
When you arrive, park in the car park in front of the shed, then tap on the door. The chap inside will sell you the ticket you need so you can go off and fish.
I think we paid about £25-30 for one adult and one junior for a full day with several fish, which is not bad for the Dales. Cheaper than Kilnsey Park and more expensive than Raygill Lakes or Swinsty, but a different experience too.