If huge, tricky wild brown trout, solitude, and a haunting, primeval landscape are your thing...

 

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Malham Tarn
​Guiding Services

 

           igh in the hills above Settle there is a portal to another time and another world. You'll not notice where or when exactly, but somewhere  along the twisting,progressively narrowing  single-track road, you'll slip quietly through. Climbing, climbing, climbing; it's all grey now; land, road and sky; seamless and infinite. A glowing, milky patch of sky tells you you're heading east, and deep into the ancient heart of the Yorkshire Dales. The 21st century is now far, far behind you; somehow, somewhere along the way, you've arrived in the past. The sun is climbing now, and with every inch comes welcome warmth, burning through the blanket of haze. A rusty road sign is revealled; propped against a dry stone wall, as if expecting you. You're on the right track. You know you're close; you can smell it, you can sense it, you can almost taste it. Then you see it. A million flickering, dancing points of light, softly diffused through the remains of the morning mist. You could pause here, and watch a while as the mist melts away to reveal a primeval vista of unspeakable beauty. Maybe next time - this resplendent, shimmering jewel contains glittering prizes, and you're here to catch them.

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Fountains Abbey lands survey 1539

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Parcell of the same manore of Malham and of the same parishe etc. The Fishing within a Tern there callid Malhomwater Tern late in the handes of the said monastery...

Malham Tarn from Hurtley's 'Natural Curiosities of Malham' published 1786

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Malham Tarn does indeed hold glittering prizes - big, wild brown trout-shaped ones - and offers a rare but genuine and realistic opportunity to catch that fish of a lifetime. Carved by the ice all those millennia ago, 'The Tarn' is one of only eight upland alkaline lakes in Europe, and has been home, sweet home to brown trout for over eight hundred years. More recently, Malham was designated both 'NNR' (National Nature Reserve) and 'SSSI' (Site of Special Scientific Interest) to protect and study its flora and fauna. Malham is also a site of very special angling interest, and thanks to its 'NNR', 'SSSI', and National Trust status, should remain so for another eight hundred years. 'The local geology and topography has bestowed upon Malham the perfect pH level (around 8.3) for wild brown trout to thrive, from oxygen absorption/gill function, to egg and juvenile survival, the optimal pH, gin-clear water is nothing short of trout heaven. If you add to this equation one of the healthiest and richest larders around - buzzers, olives, shrimp, hog louse, white claw crayfish, perch fry, minnows and more species of sedge than any other UK water (over 70, plus a couple of species unique to Malham), not to mention a plethora of terrestrial insects blown on from the surrounding countryside - it is easy to understand why Malham trout grow so fast and fat. Malham always produced a healthy average size of fish, but since the catch-and-release policy was introduced in 2001, the average and max sizes have increased exponentially. When conditions are conducive, and the fish are 'on the fin', it's not unusual to net half a dozen fish in a day ranging from 2 to 8lb. On three separate occasions in the 2016 season, I guided anglers that netted a brace of fish that went over 10lb. Lady luck didn't forget me either, and after a seven year wait, I broke my personal best, with a fish well in excess of 7lb, after already netting a 5lb fish a couple of hours earlier.  If you're looking for something rather special, then you've come to the right place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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It is believed that brown trout and were introduced into Malham Tarn by the Cistercian monks in the 12th century. Further stocking of brown trout for recreational fishing started around 1860, continuing off and on until 1994 when the National Trust pushed for a more natural brown trout fishery. Indeed, stocking ceased in 2001, and since 2002, a strict catch-and-release policy for all fish has been in place.... 

 

If you thought this kind of fishing was exclusive to the more remote parts of Scotland and Ireland, then think again. Make no mistake, Malham, without a shadow of a doubt Englands finest wild brown trout water, is up there with the very best that Europe has to offer. Strangely, it has always been, and remains unpressured and unspoiled by the hordes. In terms of boat actual boat lettings, the tarn is way underfished. Only four boats are available each day, and are seldom all booked - I'll never understand why, but long may it remain so.

Tranquility, if not fish, is guaranteed. Malham trout don't give themselves up easily; there are, as yet, no local folk-songs dedicated to the ridicule and ritual humiliation of those who return home with a dry net. Skill, stealth, patience and concentration, however, rarely go unrewarded, and Malham fish are eminently catchable. Wet flies, fished classic 'loch style' is the bread-and-butter method, with dry fly and nymph tactics coming to the fore when conditions dictate. Fishing is consistent from the first day of the season to the last, with no particular month or part of the season standing out. 2017 will be my 27th season fishing Malham. Once fished, forever smitten. It's a magical place with a truly unique, bewitching beauty and atmosphere; and then there's the fish. If huge, tricky wild brown trout and solitude in a haunting, primeval landscape are your thing, then let me help you put everything into place and be your guide for a day or two on Malham. Please use the booking form to get in touch to outline your requirements and check availability.