Although Windermere's trout and char might be struggling the same cannot be said for its coarse fish population. Roach are now prolific and perch are back in numbers. There are reliable sightings of carp, reports of chub and even dark rumours of catfish. Who knows what else lurks in the depths? All of this adds up to a feast for the top predator and pike are the number one target for most anglers on the lake. Windermere now offers some of the best pike fishing in the country, twenty pounders are not unusual and in most seasons a thirty pound fish will turn up somewhere.
But at ten miles in length Englands largest lake can look daunting to the newcomer and faced with so much water it can be difficult to know how best to tackle it. A period of apprenticeship is almost a necessity but there are one or two pointers.
The most productive period to tackle the pike is in the winter months from October to March. The North basin tends to be more popular than the South basin and generally more productive. Boats will be dotted around the lake and Keeping an eye on them will give the newcomer an insight into the most productive areas.
If bait fishing it always pays to find a drop off where the lake bed slopes away from about 10 feet down to 20 feet and fish your baits at different depths positioned along it, give it an hour or so and move along a hundred metres and repeat this pattern until you contact fish. Saltwater deadbaits only are permitted on Windermere but herring, smelt, mackerel, sardines all work well. Livebaiting is illegal.
Lures can also be very productive on Windermere and they will all work on their day, with rubber shads, swimbaits, and plastic crankbaits up to 7 inches in length in natural colours are preferable. Trolling is well worth the effort even in the depths of winter and large crankbaits from 6-10 inches in length diving from 10-20 feet should result in some action.
Windermere can get busy with other craft and there are commercial boats cruising up and down on a regular basis. Avoid anchoring or trolling in the busy shipping lanes and around the popular bank areas. Please also consider your safety, conditions can change very rapidly on the lake. Lifejackets, a good look at the weather forecast and a healthy margin for error will all help to keep you out of harms way.
Windermere is ten miles long and in places over half a mile wide. Easy to find but not easy to find somewhere to fish. Much of the eastern shore is private land with limited public access and during the busier months these areas tend to be crowded with visitors. A better bet for bank anglers is the quieter western shore between the Ferry and Wray Castle.
Boat anglers can launch at Fell Foot, Ferry Nab or Waterhead.
Anglers should note that a number of the quieter bays are designated as refuges for wintering wildfowl from 1st November through to 1st March. These are clearly identified on the map and should be avoided during the winter period.
Fishing is free on Windermere, all you need is your rod licence.
If you use a boat with an engine you will first need to register it for use on the lake.