Following my visit to Raygill I was more than a little exited about my trip to Kilnsey Park. This has nothing to do with the size of the fish or the stocking density, Kilnsey is simply the most beautiful fishery in the UK. Set in the shadow of Kilnsey Crag and surrounded by some of the best scenery that North Yorkshire has to offer. The water flowing off Howgill make a brief stop at the fisheries two lakes then continues into the River Wharf so there is always cool clean water flowing allowing for some hard fighting brown and rainbow trout.
I like to fish light at Kilnsey so arrived at 09:00 with my 9ft 5/6 travel rod. A quick chat at the ticket office told me that sport had been a little slow due to the hot weather and the overnight rain had turned the feeder stream into a raging torrent. Still this did not dampen my enthusiasm as I walked around the lakes remembering past catches and taking in the improvements that have been made to the waters over the last few years.
I had the lower lake to myself on the first cast, so I moved to the inflow where I could see a group of around ten browns and rainbow feeding in the fast water. What fly should I use? I tried to remember what had worked in the past. Sedge and Buzzers are always a good standby as is the Montana Nymph but on seeing a number of dead beetles floating on the water I opted for a Black and Peacock. First cast and the fly swept past the fish without as much as a sniff! This continued for the next four casts. The fly had been in the box for many years and seemed to be riding very high on the water. I always use copper wire to make the fly sink slowly but even this failed to sink the fly, So on the next retrieve I held the fly under the water and squeezed the air out... Perfect I now had a slow sink every time it hit the water.
Next cast and a small rainbow nosed the fly as it passed. The next cast saw the same fish take the fly with a smash, scattering the bigger fish to the four corners of the lake. Even a lighter set-up was too much for this trout and it soon came to the bank at about 7in but splendid in the morning sunshine. Time to move on, My thrashing had undoubtedly spooked any self respecting fish in this part of the lake.
A few other fishermen had arrived and I was happy to see that the good manners were still in use here. It can get very busy at times and people always check their spacings and back cast to avoid causing problems to others. This had always been the case and it was lovely to see that there had been no change in attitudes over the years.
A young boy with his Dad was into a large rainbow and the squeals of delight from both told me that this was his first fish. I watched with a little envy as the trout was many times bigger than my first 40 years ago on the River Aire in Keighley. The boy brought the trout to the net very well and dad scooped the fish without any trouble. I wandered over to congratulate the boy and used their camera to give them the “farther and son” shot that they wanted. I was pleased to see the boy holding the fish in the water and dad instructing how to revive the fish prior to release. It would seem that another generation of catch and release fishermen is well under way in the UK.
The day was getting hot and true to the bailiffs word the sport was a little slow. I chose to have a long lunch so Janice and I had a pick nick and watched the other anglers having as little success as myself. The only exception was the little boy who landed two more fish of a good size before demanding an ice cream from his dad as payment for being the best fisherman on the water.
A little cloud cover came in around 3pm and I moved over to the top lake to try my luck. There had been a good midge hatch and the light breeze was blowing the discarded shuck into the reeds where they collected in mass for the trout to sip in at will. This time I attached a small black buzzer size 18 to my line and cast out into the ripple that was starting across the lake. A couple of casts were rewarded by little pulls and one huge swirl at the end of my retrieve.
This left me wondering, was the fly too small? too big? wrong colour? wrong retrieve speed?
All the usual doubts ran through my mind. Then without warning the line tightens and the rod bent over as a lively rainbow ran for the safety of the far bank. Not a huge fish but a lovely fight on a light rod and was soon in the net. Seeing the fish swim of strongly after release I was happy to break the rod down and call it a day. I had promised Janice a walk around the park and who knows? It may be another 12 years before we come this way again.