Catching salmon on an English stillwater

For many, catching salmon is just a dream – something for the rich and privileged and not for the ordinary man. There was a time when this was fairly accurate, but not any more.

I had heard it said that there was a ‘put-and-take’ salmon fishery somewhere near Rutland Water, but I had never thought of going there until my pals from ‘up North’ suggested it. Early next year we are heading to Brazil together to fish for those wonderful looking peacock bass on the Amazon, so a bit of a catch-up seemed like a good idea. What better way that to give stillwater salmon fishing a try?

Catching salmon in EnglandA nice brace of fish. Danny in the background – paralysed in a motorbike accident at 17

Those boys have further to travel than I do but, having made my way to Palm Springs Fishery, situated on the Greetham Valley Golf Course, and enjoyed a first class breakfast in the restaurant, I found my friends busy tackling up at the log-cabin pavilion, overlooking the lake.

It was quite obvious that the water was well stocked, as big fish were moving and leaping all over the place. It looked like it was heaving with them!

We had the venue completely to ourselves, so there was no rush to get to our fishing positions. This was especially nice, as two of the four of us were wheelchair-bound – not that you would guess it. Their disability never seems to stop them from doing anything – they’re great guys and very inspiring (and fun) to fish with!! Anyway, I had much pleasure in taking my time to get ready, but Peter, always keen to get his rod bending, was heaving into the first fish before I even had my fly tied on! And what a beautiful fish it was – bright silver, seven pounds and full-tailed, and it certainly gave a terrific account of itself. I was very impressed!

At this point the very nice owner of the fishery, Ben, arrived. As he has no facility for a credit card payment (take note prospective fishers – please take cash!), he allowed me to fish and trusted me to send him a cheque when I got home – how refreshing in this day and age!

Ben’s advice was a slow-sink line with a long-tailed tadpole-type fly. I had tied some of these in advance: black with a bit of sparkle on a barbless, size 6, long-shank hook. When I started it was almost instantly successful. After a couple of ‘on-and-offs’, I landed my first salmon of the day. At 7lbs and in perfect condition, it was the spitting image of Peter’s.

Ricky with nice salmon Ricky, who broke his back in a mining accident, with another nice salmon

The fishery rule is that you are to kill your first four salmon (if you are lucky enough to get four !), and I am happy to report that all of us had caught our limit by midday. Thereafter you are allowed to catch and release a further three fish, then you are finished. Ricky had the best fish from his wheelchair at an estimated 11lbs, but there were plainly fish there in the 20lbs-plus bracket.

catching salmon in England

For anyone who has not caught an Atlantic salmon and would like to, I would thoroughly recommend giving Palm Springs a try. I have spent whole weeks (too many to count!) in Scotland catching far fewer fish than I was lucky enough to get at this delightful place in just a morning!

OK, at £120-a-throw it’s not cheap; but I would thoroughly recommended this fishery as a terrific way to treat yourself!!

Mike Green About Mike Green

Although a bit of a pike fanatic, Mike Green has been fishing in the UK and abroad for most of his life, catching coarse, sea and game fish in the UK, Canada, Alaska, New Zealand, Asia and Americas.