About the Friends of Malham Tarn

The way in which the fishing on Malham Tarn is managed and administered has changed recently. A few words first then, if we may, about how and why, and who, exactly are the Friends of Malham Tarn? Back in the spring of 2020 the Covid pandemic swept across the world and life as we know it came to a virtual standstill, as did the fishing on Malham Tarn!

Like every other organisation, The National Trust and Field Studies Council – who had hitherto managed the Tarn and the fishing – had a great many issues and pressures to deal with through the pandemic and as we slowly emerged from lockdown.

Unfortunately, but quite understandably, the ravages of the pandemic had caused organisational restructures resulting in widespread staff shortages throughout both charities which meant that the reopening of the tarn to anglers was regrettably low on the list of priorities. With no fishing and no decision forthcoming by spring 2021, anglers were becoming impatient, pursuing the National Trust for answers that they just couldn’t give. One thing was clear: reopening the fishing was simply not going to be possible without significant changes to the existing model, but this also presented an opportunity to improve on existing biosecurity controls and to enter into new ways of partnership working.

To cut a long story short, the National Trust consulted interested parties and decided to put the control of the fishing out to tender. And so, in the backroom of a pub in deepest, darkest Yorkshire, a small group of those impatient anglers met to mull over their options and ‘The Friends of Malham Tarn’ was formed. We cogitated, contrived and racked our collective brains; there just had to be a way to continue the fishing within the strict framework of rules and requirements imposed by the National Trust in order to protect and preserve this precious site.

A couple of meetings later we came up with the nucleus of an idea! There were no guarantees and no promises, just a very real danger that if we got it wrong and our plan was rejected that the tradition of hundreds of years of fishing on the finest wild brown trout water in England would pass into history and evaporate like Malham mist. Was our plan good enough to avert the unthinkable?

We submitted our tender application in early July 2022 and after a short but nail-biting wait we received the news that the National Trust liked our plan and were eager to discuss it in further detail! After several thousand man-hours of hard work and planning from both the National Trust and The Friends of Malham Tarn we finally agreed on the 18th April 2023, allowing The Friends of Malham Tarn to manage and administer the fishing.

How the new system works

It is essential that you read and digest the following information prior to purchasing your day ticket:

The Friends of Malham Tarn (FoMT) is a non-profit making group of eleven members or ‘wardens’. The wardens are all experienced and highly knowledgeable wild brown trout anglers with vast experience of fishing Malham Tarn and are here to issue your equipment, keep you safe and help you make the most of your day.

The Tarn is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), so FoMT and its wardens are also charged with protecting the biosecurity of whole area. For this reason you must arrive with CLEAN AND DRY kit: waders, boots, boat seats, rods, lines and flies etc. The major change to the old system is that visiting anglers must now be checked in by a warden at the start of the day and out at the end.

On the day of your fishing, a warden will meet and greet you at the West Boathouse. Parking is available on the road directly above the boathouse – you will be issued with a parking permit. Only one visitor car and one warden’s car may be parked in this space. If you arrive in two cars, one must be left at the National Trust office car park, on the left at the entrance to the estate.

After parking and unloading, the duty warden will issue your equipment and ensure that our biosecurity protocols are explained, understood and adhered to. You will meet the warden in the boathouse at the end of the day when your equipment and catch returns will be collected.

Fishing commences at 9:00 am, but equipment must be issued and rules/biosecurity explained PRIOR to fishing. Wardens will arrive at 8:15 to prepare for your arrival. Please ensure that you arrive no later than 8:30. If for any reason you are late, you can expect the wardens to have left the boathouse and commenced fishing! Alert them to your arrival by standing on the bank to the left (east side) of the boathouse and waving/whistling. Your warden’s boat will be within view and will be watching out for you between 9 to 10 am. If you are more than an hour late, please don’t expect them to be hanging around. The warden will then come back to the boathouse area at 11 and again at noon. Arriving early is not a problem! Pour a coffee and take in the sights, sounds and solitude of Malham, or unload your gear and take it down to the boathouse if you wish.

Due to the way the fishing access model has had to be restructured, fishing will not be available on every day of the season. In essence, a boat will become available to the general public whenever a warden is on site. A quick look at the calendar on the booking page will show public availability for the season. More dates may become available through the season as wardens set down their commitments so do keep an eye on the calendar for available dates. With only two boats on the tarn (one boat per day available to the public and one boat available to wardens) advance booking is essential to avoid disappointment.

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