Swinsty is the furthest down the valley of the three reservoirs and can sometimes be the best option on a gusty day, depending on wind direction. Early season the water levels are usually very high and finding bank-space can be difficult but you will always find somewhere to squeeze on – it shouldn’t take you too long to walk all the way round if needs be.
Recent bank clearance work has also improved access. Now, it’s all well and good recommending anglers to persevere in the grim days of early spring with fine leaders and tiny dry flies on floating lines, and very clever you’ll feel if you manage to succeed with this method but if you want my advice I’d say use your intermediate or slow sink and something like a viva or a tadpole. There are some big rocks out there though so expect to leave with a few bent and blunted hooks!
Try the corners at each side of the dam and further along each bank, these are good hotspots as is Stack point, just down from the car park/picnic area. As the season progresses into early spring it can be worth trying some form of beetle pattern on a floating line, such as a black ethafoam beetle fished dry, or black and peacock fished wet, both on hooks from around size 16 up to 12.
Buzzers can also come into their own through spring, primarily black or green and late may/early June sees occasional hatches of Mayfly (of the Dark Mackerel, Ephemera vulgate variety) which as the name suggests tend to be quite dark in colour. The latter never seem to hatch off in enough numbers to stimulate the trout into switching on to them but if they’re around, and the odd fish are moving, there’s no harm in trying a Mayfly pattern, wet or dry.
Heading into summer, lures and sinking lines will probably make a re-appearance on days dominated by blue sky and blazing sunshine, but excellent sport can also be had in the evening fishing on the top with dries or in the surface film with emergers. If the trout are feeding on sedges then you could do a lot worse than casting out a Ginked up Klinkhammer on a longish leader and giving it a the occasional twitch.
Hoppers can also do very well on here, often bringing up fish when nothing appears to be moving. Late summer/early autumn brings additional use for the Hopper or more specific patterns as daddy-long-legs find themselves stranded on the water, sitting ducks for the cruising rainbows. Around this time the trout are also beginning to switch onto fry feeding although I haven’t had much success targeting these fry-feeders the past few seasons compared to a few years ago when an Appetizer would practically guarantee a fish or two!
Basically, much of what is written above for Swinsty applies to Fewston as well – bank space can be limited early season and the level can be affected when water is let through the overflow into Swinsty for canoeists. Fewston has quite a good head of wild brown trout, especially at the top end where the river flows in. Although similar in size to Swinsty in terms of acres, Fewston will take you a lot longer to walk round so it may be better to try find parking near to the location you want to fish.
The rainbows in both Swinsty and Fewston average around 1lb _ although there are bigger fish present and a number of blues are also stocked. The latter certainly live up to their reputation as hard fighting fish and I would recommend you have a tippet of at least 5lb breaking strain. I have to say that over the years the quality of the rainbows has varied and sometimes they have been rather dark with stunted, ragged fins but generally they are in good condition.
The information below is believed to be up to date but it is recommended you contact the fishery before planning your visit.
Tickets are available, by either cash or card payment, from the fishing office located at Swinsty Moor car park.
Discounts are available for children under the age of 16, pensioners and the disabled. Specialist disabled facilities are available.
All hooks must be barbless/de-barbed.
25th March until the last Sunday in November
Evening Fishing from 4.00pm, 1st May to 31st August inclusive
Reservoirs are open from 7.30 and close at the time displayed in the fishing office – usually dusk.
From the end of November until the end of March Fewston and Swinsty reservoirs are open weekends.
The venues are regularly used for competitions and are available for hire.
Near to A59, west of Harrogate, they are that big they are very hard to miss!
Three reservoirs, ranging from 142 to 156 acres.
Rainbows between 1.5lb and 8lb, stocked every couple of weeks
Prices: Day ticket £18, concessions £15, evening £13
Stone lodge, toilet, disabled access