Lee Swords Fishing

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Pennine Trout Fishery


Here is an article I wrote in 2010, I have been back to Pennine Trout fishery several times since and it has never failed to entertain me

The barbel season had finished and I was stuck for something to do. The perch had done my nut in and the temperature still made the prospect of an overnighter after a big bream seem about as enticing as a coffee enema…Then just as all seemed lost, Dan ( Stewart-Smith)came to the rescue with the idea of a days trout fishing!

 We were soon pulling into the car park of Pennine trout fishery on’tuther side of the “hills” after crossing the desolate and foreboding Saddleworth Moors where I have never seen the sun shine! It is hardly surprising though with the moors terrible history, the place really does creep me out. Its always cold, bleak and windswept unlike where Myra is now…which is hot, smells of sulphur and may she burn there for all time!

Anyway less of her writhing in a vat of burning sulphur as the devil prods the meat off of her bones with a red hot poker….and more about the fishing!

We headed up the car park and into the on site shop where we were greeted by the fishery owner.

“What should I use?” I enquired…The tray of mixed lures and nymphs I was faced with was threatening to stall my brain with a surfeit of choices.


These are nice but salips super-glued to a size 12 would work better said the barbel angler in me

..salips would still work better I thought











“Do buzzers work?” I asked, I like catching trout on a buzzer its great sport and quite “purist”

 “Yes…They work very well…I wish my lad was here he would show you how to fish them well….He is very good at fishing buzzers”

 “Can you pick me six or seven of those as well then?” I enjoy fishing something a bit more subtle than a big wedge of Marabou “What breaking strains would you use for hook lengths ” This is a tricky question I thought as there are fish over 20lb in these lakes after all.

 “Use nothing higher than 5lb of high quality clear mono…” Came the reply

 “Is 6Lb flouro-carbon ok?” I enquired; I love my flouro-carbon!

 “Yes…you are pushing it but that should be fine…These fish are nobodies fools…Some people just try to go too heavy and it will not work on here…The water is very clear”

That is one big kipper!


With that and the exchange of cash I was away and ready to go, I love trout fishing even though I don’t do a lot of it  I take pleasure in how different it can be from what I usually do, its refreshing to have to face up to different challenges.

 I  approach my barbel fishing with all my plans (a, b, c, d and e ) already set in my mind, everything worked out and set to go…but fly fishing, well that is a different story altogether…I simply do not know enough about it.


That is why I always ask a lot of questions when I get to a venue, at least then I will have some type of vague idea about what I am doing rather than being faced with spending an afternoon thrashing the water into a foam like an Iranian prison guard with a nine foot length of rubber pipe and a petty thief to play with…There is no point in thrashing away with little or no hope of gaining anything other than a sore wrist and a stiff shoulder but try telling that to an Iranian.


Most of the locals that were fishing seemed to be using those small foam controllers that always divide opinion as to the validity of the method…I say they work and if the owner is happy with them… leave be and let people alone to fish away in peace…Even if they are float fishing for trout.



Unlike barbel fishing this trout malarkey actually involves a certain amount of activity…Although I had to accept after watching a rather large trout take a “sight bob” only a few feet from the bank they may well have the beatings of a barbel when it comes down to the downright stupid stakes!

I chose to start with a small fluorescent green buzzer and go small and subtle but my fishing partner Dan went all in from the start with the brown Damsel lure.

First cast and I was in straight away…Well, sort of I “took out” a song thrush in mid flight, the second cast resulted in a small bush being treated to a quick bit of topiary!

After a few minutes though I had mastered the evil side wind was getting a line out ok , well that is “ok” if “ok” was managing to get my cast out all of 7 yards! Actually that’s all I needed to cast as the fish were following a scum line straight into the corner of the lake where I was fishing. It wasn’t long before I was into my first fish of the day. A good Rainbow of no less than 5 pounds left the water like a Polaris missile! My God they can jump!


The rod swept hard over and forced to bend into the fish; I didn’t want to take any chances as the fly I had on was barbless and any slack would surely see this fish throw the hook.

Dan was now into a fish…and then out of it…Then he was back in…and out…And in…No…Out again!


“Give it some “tonk” Dan” Was my technical offering

 “Tonk?” Dan laughed as he hit into another fish shortly before losing it “I will give them some “tonk”…Whatever “tonk” is!”

 “You know…Put a bit of a bend in your rod…Give them some oomph!” I tried to keep a straight face as another fish shed his hook.

 Soon enough however Dan had got into his swing and had fish in the net…Good fish at that, the smallest being a very respectable 3lb and the largest going well over 6lb.

 This was fun…the fish were going mental and were hitting our casts almost every go. Pennine fishery has a very nice feel about it. It makes novices feel good and as far as I am concerned that is vital. There is little point in me forking out good money for a blank; I simply do not have that type of cash.

 Mr. Moran the owner came round for a quick chat and it was at this time he mentioned that he would be feeding the “big girls” at around 2pm and he asked if we would like to watch.

 Would we like to get up close to a pond full of 20lb trout? Would the Archbishop of Canterbury like my wife to wear a Hijab? You betcha!


By the time 2 pm came around both Dan and myself were ready for a bit of a break…We had caught plenty and to be honest we were starting to attract a bit of a crowd as most of the new arrivals gravitated towards the two lads who’s rods seemed to be in a permanent state of flex!

We set off down towards the keeping pond, which I thought was stocked with ornamental carp…It wasn’t until I was right on top of them that I realized that they were in fact colour varieties of trout! I have never seen such vivid colour sports as these, they were every shade of blue and orange that you could imagine but it wasn’t the vivid flashes of colour that attracted the attention it was the darker ominous shades that ghosted beneath them.

Oh my God! These fish were huge…And I really do mean huge on an epic scale!

 After two or three handfuls of pellets had been introduced the big girls were “switched on” and they used their enormous bulk to block out the smaller more agile fish and command the feeding area. One fish in particular dominated and it was easy to see why…It was built like a bulldog with fins…Awesome!

 I asked how long it takes to get fish onto this size as it must be a seriously “hands on” job to rear them on to these proportions and was stunned to find that anything from four to seven years of investment and care can go into these fish and only a very few places in the country actually have the skills or facilities to do such a thing.


Something that I could see Mr. Moran took great pride in, he also had little time for those fisheries that claimed they had gigantic fish but were simply living on past glories…He knows where the biggest fish are and he knows when they arrived as it is a small community of farmers that can actually rear that type of fish and so all I will say is don’t believe all the hype…There is a serious amount of bull droppings being thrown about when it comes to “who” has “what” in the way of fish stock!


After feeding the fish we decided to fish the lower lake but to be honest the swirling gusty wind was a bit too much for us and we soon beat a path back to the upper lake and into the shelter at the top of the lake.

 That was where we came across a very large fish cruising around…Dan put a fly on its nose but it wasn’t having any of it. Then I remembered a little trick I had perfected when I was a lad fishing Dam flask for stock fish. And you know what it still works!

But it’s my secret trick and I am not telling anyone one thing I can assure you, it is legal…and…No, I didn’t stick a worm on my hook!


The fish was very quickly on the bank and I was calling for the Archbishop! The Bishop decided to declare a Fatwa on the trout’s head and in no time at all I was in possession of one very large… very dead Rainbow trout of 12lb 4oz’s exactly!


I asked Mr. Moran if he had any problems with me taking such a large fish as a few fisheries set a size on the trout that can be removed…He laughed at me!


“I have tonnes of fish come up that drive every week…I have tonnes of fish going out of that gate every week…All I ask is you fill out a return slip so that I can keep the stock level correct”

 “Will it be any good to eat?” The chef in me getting curious “Or will it be a bit ropey?”

 “It will be the best trout you have tasted…ever!” came the reply “These waters are very pure…The pelleted food they eat is the highest quality we can get…the naturals that they feed on are prolific!”

 Strong claims I thought, the best trout I have eaten (I have eaten thousands of trout…They were a summer staple in my house when I was a kid!) We would see, oh yes…We would see!

All too soon it was time to leave for home and on the way back I was planning on what to do with my 17lb’s of captured treasure…For me trout don’t need a lot of faffing around with, either fry them in butter or bake them in foil with thyme, lemon, butter (NOT MARGARINE) and a little bit of onion.


I chose the former method…with two slices of thick cut brown bread and butter and you know what?


Mr. Moran was correct!


The fish tasted clean with not a hint of earth…I wonder what the Trent Catfish will taste like?….Only time will tell I suppose :O)


So if you fancy doing some thing a bit different with an outside chance of a fish that could well be the biggest of that species you have ever seen…Get yourselves to Pennine Fisheries…It is truly an unforgettable experience! 

2 Responses to “Pennine Trout Fishery”

  1. Sounds like you had a nice day Lee, glad you enjoyed it on our side of the hill. My experienced of Pennine was a meeting with the most ignorant bloke I`ve ever met, after visiting the place for 10 minutes, some 12 years ago I`ve never been back. Not sure if its the same owner these days?

  2. The one I met with was pretty cool and very helpful but catch anyone on the wrong day and you are onto a “loser”, I have a group of lads on the Trent that “borrow” leads and stuff off me but the last time we met one of them had taken a shit in my swim the day previous and I was rather short with them :O)

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