feature by Mark Sutcliffe
The crystal clear lakes and fast-flowing rivers of Bowland are an angler's paradise where some of the best game fishing in England is accessible to all for the price of a day ticket
The Forest of Bowland is blessed with some of the best game fishing for trout and salmon in England, with the rivers Ribble, Lune and Hodder all flowing through the AONB.
The Ribble is currently acknowledged as one of the best salmon and sea trout rivers in England while the fishing for wild brown trout and grayling on the Hodder is on a par with some of most productive rivers in Britain.
On the Ribble and Hodder, day ticket fishing is available from as a little as £5 a day under an innovative Angling Passport scheme which gives anglers easy access to these productive waters via an easy-to-use token scheme.
Operated by the The Ribble Rivers Trust, the Passport gives access to stretches of the Ribble and Hodder at Mitton and some stream fishing near Gisburn, Chipping and near Stocks Reservoir.
When the rivers are too low or high to fish, the AONB has a selection of fine Stillwater fisheries to try. Stocks Reservoir is a day ticket fly fishery near Slaidburn offering excellent fishing from bank and boat for brown and rainbow trout in superb natural surroundings. Widely acknowledged as the premier day ticket trout fishery in the northwest, Stocks covers some 350 acres.
Barnsfold Waters offers prolific trout fishing on two small lakes near Goosnargh on the southwestern boundary of the AONB, and prides itself on the quality of its trout. Less intimidating than the wide expanses of Stocks, Barnsfold is open year-round for fly fishing from the bank.
Stocks’ sister fishery Bank House Fly Fishery at Caton is a more intimate venue where anglers can target double figure trout in the clear fresh water pools located in a scenic setting amid woodland on the northwestern edge of the AONB.
For anglers who prefer to target coarse fish or monster carp, Wyreside Lakes near Dolphinholme on the western edge of the AONB provides excellent day ticket fishing in pretty surroundings alongside the River Wyre.
All anglers must be in possession of the appropriate rod licence before fishing these waters. Find out more and buy your licence online at www.gov.uk/fishing-licences/when-you-need-a-licence
The Ribble Rivers Trust is a charity that has been working to improve rivers in the Ribble, Hodder, Calder and Darwen catchments since 1998. One of its main objectives is to work with farmers and landowners to improve rivers that flow past their fields. In some cases, these stretches of river have been opened for the public to fish through the Angling Passport Scheme, demonstrating to farmers that there is value to maintaining a healthy river.
There are currently nine beats around the catchment, two of which are within the Forest of Bowland and several more just on the outskirts. Most are small, wild rivers that enable the enterprising angler to catch trout, grayling, chub and dace, with a couple of main river stretches offering salmon and sea trout as well. They're some of the most beautiful and least fished beats in the catchment, and all are priced between £2.50 and £15.00 per day.
Surplus income generated from the ticket sales is invested back into the Trust's river conservation projects, so by purchasing tickets, anglers are contributing to the improvement of the rivers they love and enjoy.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.ribbletrust.org.uk/go-fishing or in person from Mitton Hall Kennels, BB7 9PQ (01254 826210)
Soaring peacefully on the thermals high above the hills, over farmland, rivers and pastures, is a truly remarkable way of capturing all the varied scenery that Bowland has to offer.
See Bowland from the air with Bowland Forest Gliding club based at the foot of Parlick fell near Chipping. Trial lessons are available for the inexperienced. For more information contact Bowland Forest Gliding Club on 01995 61267, or visit the Bowland Forest Gliding Club website (www.bfgc.co.uk).
Bowland offers some of the best soaring sites in the country at Pendle Hill, Longridge Fell and Parklick, although restrictions must be adhered to. For more information visit the Pennine Soaring Club website (www.penninesoaringclub.org.uk).
Hot Air Ballooning
Float over the scenic countryside at heights of between 500 and 5000 feet. For more information contact the Pendle Balloon Company on 01254 247014, or visit Pendle Hot Air Balloons or Balloons over Lancashire on 01772 601525 or visit Balloons Over Lancashire