Swans at Bowness copyright Karen Barden

Windermere: Fishing

Fishing on Windermere

Charr fishing on Windermere

Windermere has arctic charr, brown trout, pike, perch, roach and eels. Salmon and sea trout pass through the lake to spawn in the tributaries. Smolts (young trout or salmon) migrate downstream through the lake in spring, on their way to the sea.

Traditional boats are still used to fish for charr, a local delicacy.

Anglers must:

  • have a current Environment Agency rod licence - available online from the Environment Agency
  • follow Environmental Agency Byelaws, particularly those relevant to the use of keepnets, lead weighs and barbless hooks for pike fishing
  • follow good angling practice so that the next generation can continue to enjoy fishing in the lake
  • follow to any local and/or seasonal restrictions to allow a disturbance-free period to vegetation, fish, birds and other wildlife
  • not use live bait, as this banned by the Environment Agency as it increases the risk of introduction of disease and pest species.

The threat from alien species

Alien species compete with native plants and fish for space, light and food and may alter the ecological balance of the lake.

Canadian pondweed was the first to have a major impact, dominating depths greater than one and a half metres. In the 1970s Nuttall's pondweed replaced it as the major threat. And now Australian swamp stonecrop, also known as New Zealand pigmyweed, is spreading.

On river banks Himalayan balsam is a particular problem.

Lake users must clean equipment and clothing after using any lake or river to prevent the spread of alien species to other waterways.

Useful links

(all open in new window)

Charr - scaling the depths

After the glacial waters of the last Ice Age receded, the arctic charr became land-locked in Windermere. There are at least four distinct and separate populations, with spring and autumn spawning populations in the north and south of the lake. Autumn spawners lay their eggs in relatively shallow water, while spring spawners use much deeper water.

Related to salmon, charr taste like a delicate version of sea trout and are popular potted or in pies. They are still caught on the lake today, in season from July to October.

The most successful method of catching charr is bright metal spinners being trailed on long lines deep into the water. Charr fishermen row along the lake to keep the lures moving continually.

To see the unusual colouring of these fish for yourself - silver, olive green and even scarlet - visit the Lakes Aquarium (opens in new window).

Current lake levels

Check out the Environment Agency's River Levels web page (opens in new window)

Need more help? Pop in to Bowness Bay Information Centre

Waterfront at Bowness Bay

We can help you with booking accommodation, tickets or attractions. See us on the south side of Bowness Bay, home to Bowness Information Centre.