Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Empty Hullown

Last week I received an e-mail from the Ribble Rivers Trust about some new fishing that had been added to their token beats. Hullown Lake is located near Laneshawbridge, Colne in Lancashire and is the first lake on the Ribble Rivers Trust passport scheme. The e-mail said "anglers can now enjoy wild trout fishing on this beautiful 0.5 hectare lake near Colne.  The lake is fed by Hullown Beck and discharges into Colne Water.  It used to be stocked but this has now ceased.  We’d love to know what’s in there, so if you pay a visit please report back to us!  A day’s fishing costs £10, that’s 4 of our standard tokens."

So yesterday I found myself in need of a bit of fishing with not much time to spare. Laneshawbridge is only a short drive from my house and with 5 tokens about to expire with the end of the trout season it made perfect sense. I had a quick check of the map before I set off to get my directions when I realised this used to be a commercial, small stillwater, stocked with rainbow trout. I had never fished it but have driven passed the entrance many times.

First impressions count as they say and my first impression of this place was one of irritation. I've enjoyed fishing the other passport beats on the tiny streams feeding the River Ribble and tributaries. You get a sign and a token box in the designated parking area but that's it. Once you leave the car park everything feels wild and untouched, except for a few obvious (but welcome) habitat improvements from the trust's work. But here at Hullown Lake you feel as though you are invading someone's privacy. You park near a modern farmhouse with signs everywhere telling you what to do and what not to do. A guard dog was going mad, barking and trying to get through a gap under a gate to savage me; the gap a bit too big for comfort!

I filled in 4 tokens, deposited them in the box and made my way down to the lake, still feeling as though I was trespassing and being watched. The lake was pretty small (I had no idea what 0.5 hectare looks like), disappointingly very shallow and very peat stained. I set up with a long leader and a small black tadpole, a good search tactic for browns. Casting was restricted in most areas around the lake, though there were some interesting features in the form of an island, weed beds, fallen trees, inflows and outflows, etc. There was a good hatch of midge taking place but nothing rising.

Hullown Lake - Ribble Rivers Trust Passport Scheme
Hullown Lake - Ribble Rivers Trust Passport Scheme
I fished my way around the full perimeter of the lake casting everywhere, trying open water and searching the features. An experienced angler soon gets a feel for a place and I hadn't fished for very long when I increasingly felt there were no fish in the lake. I changed my fly to a Black & Peacock Spider with a red tag but my confidence was low. Back at my starting point, still fishless, I reeled in and made my way back to the car. I felt slightly ripped of at 4 tokens (or £10). Other beats that actually do have fish are usually 2 or 3 tokens so why 4 tokens when the trust openly admits to not knowing what's in there? Is the landowner trying to make a few pounds? My only comfort is my tokens would have expired without being used, so in my case they weren't wasted, but not everyone will feel this way and I think this 'beat' may do more harm than good to the Ribble Rivers Trust's passport scheme.

If you've not tried the Ribble Rivers Trust passport scheme yet I can recommend their river beats: http://www.theriverstrust.org/passport/ribble/index.php?sid=27&menu=98