*Please note this fishery is no longer open*
Have you ever become disillusioned with flyfishing? Chances are that if you’ve been
flinging fluff for a few years you’ve probably reached a point at some time or other where
you wonder if you’re losing some of your enthusiasm for the sport. The trials and tribulations
associated with gathering content for this website have certainly led me to wonder what it’s all
about, this flyfishing malarkey.
Whilst it’s fair to say that going fishing is rarely a bad thing, there have been times when
I’ve found myself stood next to a lake, rhythmically casting and retrieving my fly with about as
much enthusiasm as someone doing the washing up.
A couple of weeks prior to visiting Kiplin Hall I’d been to one of my regular venues which never
fails to lift my spirits and remind me what it’s all about. Well, it failed miserably this time. No
fish, no rises, no sunshine and no let up in the rain made for a miserable day, so it was with a certain
amount of trepidation that I agreed to spend a day at Kiplin Hall the following week. Another unknown
venue that could potentially chip away at my enthusiasm for fly-fishing and drive me to take up another,
less taxing hobby like golf or knitting fog.
Kiplin Hall is in the Vale of Mowbray, between the Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorkshire Moors. The most striking feature of course is the Jacobean Hall which dates back to the 1620s but luckily for us it also has a sizeable lake stocked with trout. There is no boat fishing but plenty of bankspace , although careful backcasts are sometimes required. Kiplin is stocked with rainbows, blues and browns as well as having a smattering of wild browns and the odd pike which you are encouraged to return.
Driving into the grounds of the estate I immediately had a good feeling despite the weather trying its best to dampen my spirits. After filling out the registration form in the little fishing hut we walked along the bank until we found a corner that allowed some respite from the incessant wind which is where Steve, the third (and earlier rising) member of our party had made a start.
Moments before our arrival he’d landed a fine looking rainbow of around 3lb which now resided on the bank and was busily recasting to try and connect with another. Steve, along with another couple of anglers we’d had a brief chat with, had caught his fish on lures but I decided to save my box of long shank horrors for when the desperation kicked in.
I tackled up with a size 12 Goldhead Hare’s Ear on the point and a size 14 unweighted Hare’s Ear on the dropper and fished them with a slow retrieve. Three or four casts later it seemed I’d made the right choice as the line went tight and I struck into a fish. After several short but violent runs the fish, a nice rainbow of about 2lbs, found itself in my net with a Goldhead lightly hooked in its top lip.
This opening success was followed by another rainbow (along with expletives from Stu) about 10 minutes later, this time on the dropper, but then the takes dried up. The fish had either disappeared or stopped feeding because there were very few signs of activity and various buzzers and nymphs failed to produce results.
I wandered along the bank a bit and had a cast here and there but things remained very quiet for the next hour or so, apart from Stu managing to hook into a fish which escaped just before it came to the net. However, after a brief spell of sunshine fish were starting to move again so I returned to my original location and cast out with a size 14 Black and Peacock on the point and a size 14 Black Buzzer on the dropper.
First cast attracted a swirl, second cast a tug and third cast resulted in a fish on the end! Again, short but powerful surges dominated the struggle until finally another handsome rainbow of about 2lb came to the net. Over the next hour or so the Black and Peacock seemed to really do the job in attracting the fish but they just kept coming off – Kiplin Hall trout appear to be a little on the crafty side (or my hooks are blunt!).
I did however manage to land a magnificent blue trout of about 3 1/2lb during this busy little session. It’s a long time since I’ve seen a fish as well defined as this with its aluminium flanks contrasted against the deep blue on its back. Although its excellent condition suggested it would have made very good eating this fish so impressed me I couldn’t bring myself to administer the priest and instead slipped it back into the clear water. I guess that’s the kind of hackneyed logic that plays right in the hands of the antis but I don’t really care.
Whilst I was having all this sport on floating line and imitative patterns Stu was having his own purple patch further along the bank from me. It seemed that every time I looked across his rod was bent double. Later interrogation revealed that lures had done most of the damage although a size 12 Pearly Bibio did account for a couple. Steve also landed a couple of good fish on white lures which seem to be very popular with the regulars here at Kiplin.
The tactic on the day (for me) appeared to cast out something fairly imitative and fish it almost static apart from the odd twitch. I’m not sure what was going on down there but it felt like the fish would often sit and watch the fly until I came to lift off at which point it became irresistible and they lunged at it! Probably just coincidence but the number of times something had a go at the same time as I lifted off seemed rather high.
What they were feeding on remains a mystery. Not having a spoon meant I had to wait until I gutted the fish at home to see what the contents of the stomach were but it all just seemed like sludge with random shapes. They may have been remains of sedge pupae but then again they could have been partially digested trout pellets!
The day of our visit was very, very windy so most of the lake was pretty much unfishable which is unfortunate as it means I am unable to give you a ‘holistic’ review of Kiplin. I was forced to stay on the same bank most of the day but still managed to catch a few fish and get a ‘flavour’ for the place. The owner (or rather the person leasing the lake from the estate’s owner) came around to collect our money and gave us the lowdown on his fishery and potential long term plans. He seemed genuinely enthusiastic about Kiplin and those who fish it, but also very keen to clamp down on the minority who abuse the rules so you have been warned!
I really enjoyed Kiplin Hall despite the irritations of incessant wind and trying to give up smoking! It’s a very attractive fishery and has plenty of top notch fish in it, especially the blues. This place reminded me what I like about flyfishing and despite being quite a long way from Leeds I’ll definitely be paying a return visit.
30 acre estate lake within the grounds of the hall stocked with Rainbows, Browns, Golden and Blue trout.
A Day ticket is £15 with four fish limit.