A Guide to Fishing Stithians Lake

Introduction

Stithians Lake is approximately 270 acres in size. It is mostly shallow shelving and is at it’s deepest in the dam basin. Much of the bottom is rock strewn with patches of silt and weed, although the area in front of the watersports centre has been cleared of underwater obstructions for safety purposes. Some areas of bank are rockier with patches of gravel and these tend to be hotspots for the lake’s population of wild brown trout.

It is possible to gauge the depth of water in front of you fairly accurately by observing the surrounding topography, as the prevailing gradient is generally continued under the water. Old hedge lines can be good fish holding areas, the remnants of which can be located in general at the water’s edge (although this becomes easier as the water levels drop). Check the position of stone hedges around the reservoir, as these can give a good indication.

The Fishing

Both banks at the southern end of the reservoir (Carnmenellis and Mossop’s) are rock strewn and require care when wading. They can often produce decent wild brown trout and fish well for rainbow trout when stockings have been introduced to the lake via the southern slipway.

Sluice Bank is very rough bottomed and tends to fish better when the water levels drop back. Dam Bank is rough bottomed from the dam to the first gravel beach. From here it becomes more clean bottomed, with mixed weed and gravel into Pipe Bay. This whole stretch produces good fishing once the season gets going, generally from April onwards. It’s particularly good for targeting wild brownies on a dry fly in the summer evenings, as well as mobile pods of rainbows.

The bank from Pipe Bay to Goonlaze Point is shallower shelving and in places silty. As the season progresses it is not uncommon to encounter cruising rainbow trout feeding on emergers. Use of bankside vegetation for cover is advisable in the early season, as the fish are quite often close in. Goonlaze Point is a popular spot, generally as it allows the angler to intercept pods of fish moving in and out of the basin. It is possible to wade quite far here to the shallow gradient, and the angler can cover a lot of water as a result.

The ground from Goonlaze to North Bank varies considerably, and a mobile approach here can often reward the angler with good results. As elsewhere on the lake, the rockier areas tend to hold the better wild brown trout, whilst it is still possible to intercept mobile groups of rainbow trout as they cruise up and down the bank (these fish tend not to hold for long in any one area, instead transiting to the deeper water of the dam basin).

North Bank and Pub Bay are popular spots due to their ease of access, and often fish well early in the season following stockings. These fish tend to move on to the deeper water as the weather warms and the season progresses. Chapel and Yellowwort Bays both produce fish at times, but can become very weedy in the summer which makes fishing difficult. Watch out for the deep silt! Deep Bank can also at times produce fish but tends to be more popular with those targeting the wild brownies.

Stocking of Rainbows and Blues into Stithians

Tackle

This is very much a matter of personal preference, with something for everyone. When the conditions permit, it can be very rewarding to fish with a light setup (4 weight is popular) and dry flies to target surface feeders. Indeed, some Stithians anglers will fish in this manner all season and do catch their share of fish. Being an exposed lake, however, means that one would be well advised to come equipped with a setup that they can fish effectively in windy conditions. In stronger winds the 7 and 8 weights can prove useful, however for most of the regulars a 6 weight is considered a good compromise.

Due to the lake’s topography, it is possible to fish with a floating line all season, and many Stithians regulars tend to do this. However intermediate and sink tip lines should not be neglected as there are times when the fish will hold in deeper water. Sinking lines are only really suitable when boat fishing, due to snags and the generally shallow gradient of the banks.

Float tubing is permitted at Stithians with no charge for launching. Although this is encouraged, please do make sure you have a functional life jacket and inform the SWLT staff on site that you are on the water. If you are fishing outside of the watersports centre opening hours, do not fish alone, make sure you are out there on a buddy system basis.

Fly Patterns & Techniques

In the early season, lures or teams of nymphs tend to be the most successful. For lures, the colour orange is king, with blobs, boobies, muddlers and any other marabou style steamer pattern proving successful. Size 10 is a good size. Retrieve can vary depending on the mood of the fish, anything from a fast roly-poly to short strips with pauses. Experiment until you find what’s working on the day.

Successful nymphs tend to be the general patterns including the gold ribbed hare’s ear, pheasant tail nymph (with it’s myriad variations) and anything ‘small and black’. Size 12 is a good starting point for these, with size 14’s being useful later in the season. Teams of nymphs tend to be fished with a bob fly used as an attractor – palmered patterns incorporating orange, red, or a black and red combination all work well (try soldier palmers and bibios, size 12). Slow figure of eight retrieve tends to work best at any time, giving a natural presentation.

Dry flies tend to come into their own as the weather warms, generally late April / early May onwards. At this time there can be prolific hatches of the hawthorn fly, as well as other terrestrials, and the fish respond well to anything small and black. Hoppers, beetle patterns, sedges and parachute patterns all score well on their day. Black klinkhammer style patterns, bob’s bits and deerhair emergers are popular choices and will catch fish throughout the season, in sizes 12 to 16 depending on conditions.

Wet flies can be fished throughout the season but are generally combined with nymphs and fished in the same manner. Again, small and black is the way to go, often a red tag or hotspot will pick up that extra fish.

The time of day influences catches more and more as the season progresses. Daytime fishing is the way to go in the early season, but once the hot summer weather arrives the sport is increasingly restricted to early morning and evenings, with the latter being generally more productive. Autumn (September onwards) generally sees a fall in water temperature and daytime fishing can again prove productive. Let it be said that lures and fry patterns still have their place at the back end of the season, particularly if there is a good population of sticklebacks and the trout have started ‘fry bashing’!

De-barbed hooks are encouraged if you wish to practice catch and release, and are a positive must if you are targeting the wild brownies.

Safety

As noted above, wading requires care in some areas and it is not recommended that you wade deeper than thigh depth. Make sure you wear a wading belt (if in chest waders), always carry a mobile phone in case of emergency and tell someone where you are going, as you would in any fishing situation. Stithians is a large lake and can feel remote in places, particularly in the vicinity of Chapel Bay and Carnmenellis Bank. It’s also very exposed and can get unseasonably cold with a change of weather even in the height of summer. Take sufficient waterproof and warm kit in order to be prepared for a sudden change in conditions. It’s a long walk back to the car from some of the more remote spots!

Fishing Map

The fishery map which has all the commonly used names referred to in this guide can be found in the permit room at Stithians or on our website. The map also includes where the car parks are and catch return boxes.

Click here to expand the map

Weekly catch reports

Paul Wallace with his 11lb 4oz Rainbow from the 2018 season

During the season weekly catch reports are produced for Stithians so you can see how its fishing, what flies are working and which locations have produced fish. The locations on the weekly catch report also correspond to the fishery map and this guide. The weekly catch report is posted in the permit room, on the Stithians page of the website and on our Facebook page ‘Trout Fishing South West Lakes Trust’.

Fishing Club

Stithians has a friendly, active and helpful fly fishing club called “CAST”, this is based around Stithians Reservoir and the local area. The club has regular competitions and social events and welcomes new members. For any more details or to join please contact richardkeast@hotmail.com

Summary

We hope this information will prove useful to you. A full list of rules and regulations can be found on our notice board at the fishery and on our website. Please remember to fill in a catch return every time you fish. There are catch return boxes at various locations around the lake, or you may find it more convenient to use our online return service which can be found here. It’s really important to let us know if you have caught or not as this can influence our decisions on future stocking and development for the fishery.

Thanks for reading and good luck at Stithians – it’s an amazing place to fish.

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