Now when I decided to start this blog series about adventures in and around my home in Coniston, I have to admit it was all adrenalin this, running that, cycling here, canoeing there and all other manor of activities to get your heart racing. Don’t get me wrong. My next blog after this one is probably one of the toughest local challenges I’ve come up with, but for now, I fancied doing something a little more relaxing. OK, a lot more relaxing – fishing.
This came about because my brother-in-law happens to be a national fly-fishing champion and keeps pestering me to fish on Yew Tree Tarn. Today he joined me to do just that.
Yew Tree Tarn is located a few miles north of Coniston on the main road towards Ambleside. Its proximity to the road and idyllic settings make it one of the most photographed tarns in The Lake District – probably. It also has trout in it - the perfect place for a beginner like myself to have a go.
After getting our fishing permit from the tourist office we trundled along and managed to get a free space in the layby near the tarn. (If this is full there is a pay and display a few hundred meters back down the hill)
‘Damnit it’s low. Possibly too low for any fish’ is the first thing David says as we get out the car. This was not a good sign. I promised my wife dinner tonight. We’ve recently (a few years ago actually) decided to eat food that has the lowest food miles possible. That’s the number of miles food has to travel from source to our kitchen. Eating line-caught trout 3 miles from our home has to be one of the lowest ‘paid for’ food we could get. The desire to get food for my family became magnetic. The tarn was pulling me towards it. I needed to catch a fish. I needed to be a provider.
We set up near the wall and David said which fly to use. My casting is pretty pathetic but being 2 meters high on the wall helped a lot. I was just settling into a long day catching no fish when on my 3rd cast, bang, the line took and ran.
‘I’ve got one,’ I shouted excitedly. David hadn’t even done his first cast. He ran over with a net and we walking along the wall and down to the shore. I pulled the fish in. It was a beauty. Big enough to keep and eat. I was ecstatic. We would not starve tonight.
Now that we knew there were fish, and they were biting, we both upped our game. David soon caught a monster trout. The rules for Yew Tree are that you can only keep 2 fish and once you’ve kept your 2nd, you have to stop fishing. This meant we needed to be picky with the next catch. Put back the small ones and hopefully catch a bigger one next time, hopefully. There is always the risk the one you put back could have been the last one you catch.
I caught a few more within half an hour and put them back, as did David. We were about half an hour away from going home when I eventually caught another one that I felt was the biggest I was going to get. David, however, had other plans. He kept catching and releasing and eventually after his tally was around 12 he caught the last one and kept it.
We both gleamed with excitement at the day’s activities, a far cry from my standard Saturday busting my guts up a mountain, but no less rewarding. Fishing on Yew Tree is great. It’s near the road, you’re probably guaranteed to catch something (famous last words) and perfect for beginners or children. The only downside is that it’s almost impossible to cast on the far side because of the trees. This is probably a good time to apologise to David for loosing at least three of his flies that got caught in the branches behind me. Sorry, buddy!