** For info this ‘review’ was written in about 2005! I’ve lost the original pics so have dug some others out from subsequent visits
Yorkshire has a variety of venues for those of us who care to pursue game fish. Some allow anglers a day of solitude, alone but for their thoughts and surroundings and catching fish is merely a bonus.Raygill is not one of these, but read on before dismissing this as a future venue, if you’re out to catch fish, with the potential for some monsters then this may place for you. Raygill is situated just outside of Lothersdale, near Skipton and can be a bit tricky to find if you’ve paid only a cursory glance at the map before setting off – make sure you have your route planned beforehand.
Entrance to the fishery is down a pothole strewn track (signposted to Raygill Fisheries) and I recommend you leave the Ferrari at home on this occasion, something with a little bit more ground clearance may be more appropriate. Parking shouldn’t be a problem unless you turn up on the busiest day of the year as there are two ‘car parks’, one of which is fairly spacious, then you simply make your way up to the shop and register your details before fishing. Some flies and a small selection of tackle/clothing can be bought from here, as well as hot and cold snacks and the staff are very friendly.
You may also want to browse through the photo albums of previous captures at Raygill – enough to inspire anyone! Raygill has 4 lakes but only 2 are of interest to the game angler – the Quarry Lake and Delf Lake. The nearest to the shop is Quarry Lake which is around 8 acres in size. As you may have guessed, it is in an old quarry, with steep vertical rock faces forming the backdrop to this very deep lake, reaching depths well over 30ft in places and what’s more, you’re covering these depths straight out from the bank.
However, the more nautically inclined angler may hire out one of the rowing boats and take up position at one of the buoys moored around the lake – this will allow you to fish some of the water that otherwise can’t be covered from the bank. This can also be a good move if the banks are filling up with anglers – Raygill is often quite busy and the concept of ‘fan-casting’
goes out of the window if there are anglers a few feet either side of you!
Despite my last visit being very early March there did seem to be occasional periods of surface activity on Quarry lake, big splashy rises, although what they were taking was difficult to tell, my guess was something fairly substantial for them to be expending that amount of energy. However, the fish we caught were generally deep down and sinking lines with lures seemed to be the most productive approach. I did try nymphs and buzzers on floating line with long leaders and even a twitched hopper on top but this produced little interest, and I found myself losing confidence in these methods and resorted to my friend Fritz. Raygill has a reputation as a big fish water and I have seen plenty of evidence of these monsters but the fish we caught were in the 2-3lb bracket. I wouldn’t go so far as to describe them as ‘fully-finned and fighting fit’ but these rainbows were in fairly good condition and provided good sport.
As an aside, if you fancy having a go at some of the brownies in Quarry lake, head for the ‘net/cage’ which sits in the water alongside the bank, in front of it you will see a kind of sandbar extending out into the lake – fish the drop off along this feature. The brownies seem to hang around here and can often be tempted with a slowly fished nymph (or what
the hell, maybe any old fluff you chuck in front of them will work!?)
Delf Lake (3 acres) is a short walk up from the Quarry Lake and again has a backdrop of a sheer rock face which, if you use your imagination a little, can maybe make you feel like you were fishing a remote hill loch – especially if you keep your eyes and ears open for the rather interesting feathered residents!
This lake has casting platforms extending out into the water on one bank which do help reduce the amount of times you deposit flies on the bank/in a bush etc and generally make casting a bit easier.
During January and February Delf is devoted to pike fishing – yup, that’s right I said pike, and you can pursue them with deadbaits and lures. The rest of the year Delf is restocked with trout but you may still pursue the pike with fly-rod and
there are some very big pike in here – 40lb plus. I did have a go for the pike myself with the ‘fly’ (I use that word in it’s very broadest meaning) but alas no interest.
I think other fishery owners should maybe take note of this refreshing approach taken by Raygill – remember, evidence seems
to point to the fact that pike are actually quite lazy and will tend to pick off the weak and sick fish rather than targetting
your healthy stock of big trout. Speaking of which, Delf Lake is supposed to be the ‘big fish’ lake for trout but we saw no sign of them. However, as mentioned earlier, I’m sure they’re in there – I think it’s more the case that I’m crap at catching them.
Raygill is a strange place and whilst like many small, man-made still waters it’s not exactly going to appeal to the purist, it does provide some exciting sport. Every time I go, I find myself rushing to get tackled up and start fishing, knowing what may be skulking around in the depths, and the place does have a certain rugged charm to it – at least its not just a couple of muddy puddles in a field. Another positive factor is the fact that there didn’t seem to be any litter around the lakes although plenty of discarded nylon, anglers really should learn to take it home with them.
On the whole, Raygill seems to be a well run fishery, stocked with plenty of fish and the potential for a personal best – I suggest you give this place a try. For further detail about Raygill, including ticket prices and fishery rules, visit http://www.raygillfisheries.co.uk
1 Raygill Cottage. Lothersdale, Keighley, BD20 8HH
Four Lakes (two of which are coarse lakes), one is a flooded
quarry of 8 acres, the other a purpose dug 3 acre lake stocked
with Rainbow, browns, blue nd golden trout, arctic char and pike.
Rainbow 22lb 8oz, Brown 15ib 5oz, Pike 37lb
£15 Adult Day Ticket (more than 6 hrs Catch & Release)
£2.50 per hour (Min charge is 2 hours)
£1.50 per hour Juniors (£8 day/ more than 6 hrs)
Fish can be taken (Blues and Rainbows only) at £1.75 per pound
Delf Lake Pike fishing
DEAD BAITING for Pike is only allowed up to the end of FEB. At all other times it is FLY ONLY! The cost for a days pike fishing Feb is just £10 per angler (2 rods) We do not allow more than 10 pike anglers on at a time so if you would like to book the entire lake for your own use this is possible and will cost just £85
(a £15 saving if you have 10.)
Boats may be available on the day but prior booking is advisable
Lodge with cafe, tackle shop, clothing and flies etc.