Father and son fishing

Humans have been using fish as a source of food since our cave dwelling days, but for some, catching fish is much more than a means to obtaining food and is a pleasurable way to pass the time. Recreational fishing typically involves using a rod with a reel, line, hook and bait. Bait – usually some sort of dried insect or worm – is attached to the hook, which is connected to the reel on the rod via the fishing line. Fish are drawn to the bait and when they attempt to eat it they become caught on the hook.

In the Lake District, the rivers and lakes are brimming with trout, salmon, and pike amongst other species. Furthermore, if you have never fished before and do not have the equipment, you will still find opportunities to try recreational fishing in the Lake District.

What Fishing Involves

Fishing typically involves sitting quietly for long periods of time whilst you wait for fish to take on your bait. For this reason, you will probably need to allow yourself a few hours to ensure you have time to catch something. A book or magazine will help you to while away the hours.

What to Wear and Bring

You don’t need any special clothes to go fishing, however, waterproofs are essential in wet weather as you may be sitting outside for a long period of time. During the summer, you will need sun cream and a sun hat to prevent sunburn. Wearing layers will allow you to add and take away as required.

You will need a rod with a reel, line, and hook. You will also need a landing net to catch the fish in once they have been caught on your hook. You will need a disgorger, which is a tool that removes the fish from the hook, and a pair of scissors for cutting the line if required. In addition, you will need something to put your fish in once caught, such as a coolbox.

You will probably want to bring something to sit on, such as a foldaway stool, and if you are planning on being out all day, you could bring a pop up shelter. You will also need plenty of food and water for the day.

In the England and Wales, it is a legal requirement to hold a rod licence to fish with a rod and line for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt, and eel. Children under 12 do not need a licence but an accompanying adult who assists the child will need one. You can buy licences at your local post office for as little as £3.75 for one day. Failure to obtain a licence can result in a fine of up to £2,500.

Where to Go Fishing in the Lake District

In the Lake District, you can bring your own tackle and fish in one of the three lakes open to public fishing: Windermere, Ullswater, and Coniston Water.

Alternatively, you can get a permit for fishing in a specific area through a local angling club. The Angling Trust has a searchable directory of local angling clubs. You must ensure that you adhere to all Environment Agency byelaws when fishing, and you must not use live bait.

If you do not own your own tackle and would simply like to do a fishing taster session, then there are two organisations that offer this.

Rookin House

Overlooked by Blencathra, Rookin House is a self-contained activity centre with a fishing pond stocked with rainbow trout. All equipment is provided and you can keep your catch for an additional charge.

  • Address: Rookin House Farm, Troutbeck, Ullswater, Penrith, CA11 0SS
  • Tel: 01768483561
  • Website:
  • Cost: £8.50 per person

Esthwaite Water Trout Fishery

Offering fishing on Esthwaite Water, which is stocked with trout throughout the year. All equipment can be provided, as well as tuition.

  • Address: The Boat House, Ridding Wood, Hawkshead, Ambleside, LA22 0QF
  • Tel: 01539436541
  • Website:
  • Cost: From £25, including rod hire