At around 14.8 sq km, 11 miles (18 km) long and 1 mile (1.5km) at its widest point and with depths at times over 250ft (76 metres) Windermere holds a jaw dropping 300 Billion litres of water. It is no wonder this is England’s largest and most visited body of freshwater.

So often inaccurately called Lake Windermere (which is like saying Lake Winder Lake!), its perhaps best to avoid making this common error through fear of being thrown into ‘Windy’ by one of the locals! 

Windermere has exceptional wild fish stocks. Brown Trout and Arctic Char numbers have declined over recent years as has the water quality; however specimen size fish of all species are still caught. The relative absence of smaller Salmonid fish has seen less Anglers targeting these species; top lining (trolling) with fly April-May may bank a few fish. Salmon and sea trout also run through Windermere as with the large Ferox-trout (which run to good doubles) the Salmonids tend to be caught on tackle aimed at the Coarse and Pike populations which are prolific in Windermere these days.

Specimen Pike (30lbs+) Roach (3lbs+), Perch (3lbs+), Eels and Bream can be found in good numbers, with some Carp, Chub and a large catfish being reliably reported as present. Who knows what else lurks in the depths, Bow-Nessy perhaps?  All of this adds up to a well stocked larder for the apex predator – The Northern Pike (Esox Lucius) which is now without doubt the number one target for most anglers on Windermere. Windermere offers you some of the finest Pike fishing in England. There are plenty of jacks and double figure fish caught regularly, with 20 to 30 pound plus fish showing every year and multiple unconfirmed 40lb plus captures, it is clear to see the potential here.

England’s largest lake can look daunting to the newcomer, faced with so much water it can be difficult to know how best to tackle it. A period of apprenticeship and bite less hours is almost a necessity, however, if you are willing to try there are one or two pointers which should hopefully help you.

The most productive period to tackle Windermere Pike is in the winter months from October to March. The North basin tends to be more popular than the South basin and as a result is generally more productive. There are many bays, tree-lined banks and underwater features to hold fish which can be caught from the bank, however most of Windermere is private shoreline so bank fishing, particularly the convenient type is at a premium. For those willing to walk, more options are created and a roving approach with lures and sea dead-baits (wobbled) or float fished drifter style should produce if you are willing to put the hours and miles in, it is a very rewarding way to catch fish.

If boat fishing, a fish finder is essential to find the drop offs, channels and features holding bait fish. Find the bait fish and/or features and there is a good chance of picking up the predators. Work differing baits at differing depths to find feeding fish, if a spot is unproductive give it an hour or so and move along, targeting a manageable section of water to fish each time you visit will help build your understanding of the many features and moods of Windermere. Saltwater dead-baits are permitted on Windermere all other baits, Coarse fish (live or dead) Salmonids and Eels are banned. Saltwater dead-baits do work well; try herring, smelt, mackerel, sardines and a range of sizes to see what fish are taking on the day. Please check the regional and national byelaws to ensure you stay legal on Windermere as prosecutions for law breakers are well publicised.

Trolled lures 5-40ft (depending on the time of year) can also be very productive on Windermere, with spinners, spoons, rubber shads, swim-baits, and plastic crank-baits 6-10 inches in length in natural colours with all types accounting for good fish in numbers throughout the year. 

Coarse fish will fall to long range feeder tactics from the bank, maggot and ground-bait fed regular to build your swim should eventually bring them on larger baits such as sweet-corn, bread and worm, 4pm is a noted time for catching, perhaps this is when the numerous Cormorants go to bed? From the boat slider float over ground-bait is probably easiest with the usual natural classic type baits. Maggot and Caster are only permitted outside of the closed season dates.

Windermere does get busy with holiday makers, various water craft and commercial boats cruising up and down on a regular basis. Obtain a map and safety advice from the Lake Wardens office at Ferry Nab or online and avoid anchoring near or trolling in the busy shipping lanes and around the busy bank areas. Stay safe, conditions can change very rapidly on the water with shallow shorelines and underwater obstructions being extremely hazardous. Lifejackets are essential, keep updated with the weather forecast and allow a healthy margin for error in your decision making. Following this advice should ensure you have a memorable day fishing Windermere for all the right reasons. 

Camping and lighting fires is not permitted on the shoreline much of which can be fished is National Trust accessible land. Boats can be hired from several points however they are costly and generally poorly equipped for Anglers needs, particularly when looking to fish static baits so it’s worth taking your own essentials (or boat if you have one) to get the most out of fishing Windermere. Even blank days are enjoyable learning days on Windermere, tight-lines.

If you would like to enjoy some guided fishing on Windermere, please call Neil 07973752204 to arrange this for you.