Most of the time I love to fish by myself at some lake or reservoir away from the bustle of everyday working life. I do not mind sharing with the occasional angler but I really hate those crowded fisheries where the reservoir is ringed by wading fishermen with no more than ten yards between each one. Or worse still, a corporate day at a trout fishery! This would need to get past the censor, so I’ll discuss it with Graham and, if he agrees, I’ll give a report at a future date about a day last year when I experienced just such an event. It’s laughable now but it was not so funny “right in yer face!” (Go for it Eddie, warts and all! – Graham)

Last week I was at Churn Clough Reservoir in the hills on the eastern edge of Lancashire above the pretty village of Sabden. This is Witch Country on the western end of Pendle Hill and it certainly has a magical air about it. (A couple of hundred years ago, half a dozen of these unfortunate local women were executed at Lancaster for their alleged mystical activities).

The approach to the water is via a side-road out of the village and then through farm lands and over farm tracks. The reservoir was constructed in an upland valley that lies above Sabden and it’s ringed by forestry plantations and the high moors of Pendle. It is definitely a place of curlews and heather, sheep and foxes. Oh, and the water is crystal clear with no hint of peatiness. Over the valley a few miles away at Laneshaw Reservoir the water takes on a very reddish tint due to the peat content but by contrast Churn Clough is very clear indeed.

I arrived at nine thirty and was entranced by the remote beauty of the place. Fish were feeding on and just below the surface and there were many circles and dimples evident. Quite a few fish were feeding within three or four yards of the bank. The sun was shining brightly and there was only the lightest of breezes with very little ripple and, thus, the conditions would make presentation of the fly difficult without frightening the fish, especially the ones in the margins along the bank.

On these moorland waters, because of the usually ever-present wind, my choice of rod would have been my Sportfish nine and half footer and a floating WF 8 line. Today I opted for a brand new Fulling Mill Gold Series, a very light, four piece rod matched to a floating DT 5 line with a fourteen foot leader tapering down to a three pound tippet.

I approached the water circumspectly and began to cast a size 14 GRHE from some ten yards up the bank away from the water’s edge. Second cast and bingo! A fighting two pound rainbow took off like a miniature rocket. The new rod coped, perhaps better than I thought because I was unused to it and lacked a little confidence in it.

I released the fish without it leaving the water and away it sped with no recovery required. I employed this manner of fishing for the next hour but changed to a black buzzer after watching how the fish were feeding and witnessing a prolific hatch so early in the day. It is a bit disconcerting to fish at this distance from the water but the sudden appearance of my heavyweight frame on a very bare bank devoid of any cover, as it is at Churn Clough, would have scared all the close-in trout away from the bank. As it was, I had to cast carefully and accurately but the response from the buzzer feeding trout was there almost every cast.

The new Fulling Mill rod was a pleasure to use. It was so light in the hand after the big Sportfish model that I usually use on reservoirs and it was very accurate pushing a size 14 or 16 fly comfortably in the normal middle range of casting distances. I don’t think it would handle the more common very windy conditions but it would be excellent on some of the smaller stillwaters like Raygill or Wharf Lake.

As I filled in my returns form, the only other angler present on the day asked me what I had caught and I mention a very hard fighting brownie in the 2lb bracket. He said that as far as he knew the reservoir had been drained, filled up again and stocked with rainbows only. However, I definitely netted a brownie. I did not think twice about it until my colleague passed comment. Was it a survivor from the previous population that had eluded netting? Had it been illegally introduced? Or even mistakenly from another water by a bird? I don’t know the answer, but it was in superb condition and fighting fit like its rainbow cousins.

Further information: The Hon Sec, Coln Water Angling Club, 10 Sun Street, Cowling, Keighley, BD22 0BB. Day tickets are available from local fishing tackle shops for both Churn Clough and Laneshaw Reservoirs.


I’m a member of the Lancashire Branch of the Salmon and Trout Association and I am really proud of the work that they put in on behalf of angling generally and fly fishers in particular. The sphere of work that deserves special mention is the time spent on promoting fishing to children.

I spoke to Craig Bottomley, a committee member, earlier this week, and we discussed the great days that are offered to children at Wharf Lake near Lancaster. Each child is provided with equipment (where required), fishing theory and practical instruction at this compact and interesting water. Towards the end of the session, any child who has not landed a fish is taken to an area of the lake that is netted off and contains rainbows that have never been hooked before. Thus the child is guaranteed at least one fish on his or her very first fishing trip.

The committee and members are to be commended for this sterling work. Craig tells me that most county associations offer such days quite regularly with the aim of converting as many boys and girls to fly fishing as they possibly can and teaching them the correct methods and angling etiquette at the same time.

Lancashire Branch of the Salmon & Trout Association (Secretary: Linda Martin) Telephone – 07044 033 442

Tight Lines!

Eddie Caldwell.