Tales from the Riverbank - 2013

  30th September 2013  The Last Cast

A day off work to make the most of the brown trout season and I head for Isle Beck with the intention of starting five fields down from the A19 bridge and fishing all the way back up. It's a beautiful day but the breeze is gradually picking up which could be a problem later on. I disturb some roe deer on the way down and they go leaping across the fresh ploughed and sown field. Into the first pool and no sign of a rising fish, but my second cast produces an 8 inch brownie a great start if I would like to get a lot of trout as "fix" to last me through the winter. Having taken a quick photo and returned him I cast again and immediately hook and lose a second trout, unfortunately a sign of things to come. I work my way up the Beck fishing where ever I have room to cast. In some places there is good casting room, in others it's a bit cramped and unfortunately in some places with more trees down across the beck it is just impossible. There are plenty of deep pools so although the stream itself is on the low side there is plenty of water for the fish. It's just that I can't get anything to stay hooked and I lose four more before I land my next fish. In the next pool, a really deep one, I get a gorgeous buttery yellow bellied trout using a Caddis style nymph fished New Zealand Style. My next cast I hook another good fish and promptly lose it. I have to get out to walk round to the next pool as you can't wade through this one even with chest waders. My afternoons frustrations continue, hooking and losing fish and not landing anything. But then things improve and I land what has to be the smallest fly caught fish on record, a minnow barely over an inch long and hooked cleanly under the chin. He is photographed and safely returned but I can't believe he actually tried to take the fly which is almost as big as him! I manage another typical wild brownie on the caddis fly and I am almost at the A19 bridge. In the big pool below the bridge I hook into something better and can't get it up from the deep water as it just goes round and round deep down. After several minutes of impasse and just when my imagination thinks really huge trout or maybe big chub or maybe sea trout, a very large grayling surfaces and my net is ready - but the frustration continues as the hook slips out literately as I am pulling it over the net and he is gone! Probably the biggest grayling I've ever seen and I've had grayling 17 inches long and this was bigger by several inches! I realise from my note book that I have now caught exactly the same number of trout as l did last year, I have to try and beat it and fish on above the bridge - I lose a fish in the first big pool and another in the next fast run but eventually I managed to get a trout that stayed on and is safely netted. Not a great fish, probably one of the stocked fish from the start of the season but in good condition so after a quick photo he goes back and that was the last cast.

  29th September 2013  River Ricall

Decided to head for the Riccall for a few hours as I didn't get any photos of it earlier in the year and I want to fish it again before the end of the season. It's a great day blue skies and I am hopeful of adding to my tally of trout. Almost as soon as I am tackled up I notice that the wind is picking up which is far from ideal when fishing a narrow overgrown river like the Riccall. I've parked at the bridge as I need to make a quick getaway this evening and as I walk down the flood bank to the start of the YTAA water I am surprised to startle a young fox in the long grass - he quickly runs off. Not often you see rural foxes in broad daylight. As I expected the Riccall is well overgrown with major work needed on overhanging trees, and with long grass and reeds casting into the narrow waterway in the breeze is "interesting". The river itself is a good height with lots of deep runs that might mean changing to Goldhead nymphs if I am going to get down to the trout and grayling. After an hour I come across a trout just hanging in shallow water (almost at my feet) he ignores the dry flies I float past him but eventually takes a Goldhead fished NZ style. About 8 inches and I hoped this was a promise of things to come. As I move up the river I can see lots of wild trout but it is almost impossible to cast to them. After several hours I eventually manage to connect with another small brown just over 5 inches that takes a caddis imitation fished NZ style beneath a Grey Wulff. I have almost reached the bridge before I get another take and promptly loose a small trout. But next cast I hit into something far more solid and it is only when it leaps from the water that I realise it's a nice grayling. After a bit of a tussle I land it safely. At 12 inches it's about the best grayling I've landed in the Riccall, though I have seen considerably bigger ones in some deep pools.

  23rd September 2013  Cod Beck

Having left my kit in the boot from Sunday's disappointing trip I decided to grab an hour at Cod Beck. I was fishing by 18:45 but there was nothing much showing and casting in the likely places produced nothing. I noticed a fish rising just by the junction with Willow Beck but had to wait to cast while I changed my leader which had got a wind knot in it. Having retied my fly I was just about to cast to the fish which was still rising steadily when there is a rustling sound and large splash right next to me as an otter slid down the bank and into the Beck. The otter clearly hadn't realised I was there standing still up to my waist in the Beck and I am not sure who was more surprised, me or him, anyway he shot off upstream and put an end to any chance of me getting the rising fish. That was it, too dark to see and my first blank of the season!

  22nd September 2013  Thirkleby

Got out for a few hours hoping to get in amongst some nice wild trout. A lovely sunny afternoon and the beck looks low clear and very good. But the best laid plans sometimes go astray. I didn't get any takes and there was nothing rising as I made my way up the Beck. The fishing was so poor I even stopped to pick several pounds of Elderberries for hedge row jam stashing the bags near the foot bridge as I fished slowly up to the Weir pool. This usually produces something and I could just make out two fish rising in the growing dusk. A few casts and an 8 inch trout took the Adams Parachute. The other fish had stopped rising so a quick change to add a Goldhead fished New Zealand style and first cast a good solid 10.5 inch fish was hooked and landed. By the time I'd taken a quick snap it was too dark to see my fly and definitely time to head back and collect the Elderberries.

  10th September 2013  Willow Beck Above Willow Bridge

I've only fished above Willow Bridge once this year so a second trip is long overdue. It's a grey overcast evening and although I'm fishing by 6.30 it's almost too dark to see under the trees already. I get a good fish from just above the bridge, 13.5 inches and clearly a stocked fish, so he is tapped on the head and destined to be supper (I think it's only the second fish I've kept all season as I like to put all the wild trout back) I haven't seen very many stocked fish this season and this one at Willow Bridge is a long way downstream from where the stock went in! There is nothing much moving and even casting in all the likely places produces nothing. I make way upstream and at last come out of the overgrown bits into some open pools where I can cast a bit easier and immediately miss a small trout. But a minute later get a decent 11 inch fish from the same pool, this one has a strange light coloured mark on his flank, but there was nothing wrong with the fish and he went back in safely. I move under the little farm bridge and my first cast in the next pool produces a big splashy rise which turns out to be a nice grayling. I haven't seen grayling in this pool before so it's a bonus and good to know they are here. A couple more cast towards the head of the same pool produces a wild trout of 8.5 inches and that is it for the night. It's nearly 8pm and too dark to see even in the open.

  3rd September 2013  Isle Beck Below the A19 Bridge

A nice evening and I am free to grab a couple of hours at the Beck. I decide on fishing below the A19 bridge as its quickest to get to and if I fish below the bridge I have only a short walk back to my car when I finish. I tackled up, walk down two fields and I am fishing by 18:22. I make a great start with a 10 inch wild trout on my second cast. Didn't get a sniff at the next two pools and then at the run above the pool with the trees down I get what I can only describe as a Micro-Grayling, clearly one of the stocking by the EA earlier this year. I've never even seen a grayling so small let alone caught one - it is perfection in miniature. I've no sooner put that one carefully back when I get another almost identical, and then a third at which point I decide to move - it's nice getting grayling but I prefer them a bit bigger still in a couple of years time. I feel a bit like Humphrey Bogart in African Queen pushing through over grown banks of Himalayan Balsam ( we may have to work on this its nearly 6 feet high in places !) I manage three more trout before 20:25 when it is too dark to see where I'm casting let alone see my fly. The nights are really drawing in, but its been a very enjoyable couple of hours.

  29th August 2013 Isle Beck Below the A19 Bridge

Two trips in 3 days - this time I decide to try Isle Beck below the A19 bridge. First thing I am amazed by how long the grass is and how overgrown it has become since I was last here. I head for a pool three fields down as a good starting point and am sad to see that there are several more crack willows that have come down across the Beck in various places. They are not all big but still block access and mean more working parties in the spring. Apart from the overgrowth and banks lined with Balsam the Beck is in good condition, clear, a reasonable height with a steady flow and no sign of any of the bad scum on previous visits so there must have been some fairly heavy rain while I was away. I struggle to catch fish and for that matter to get my fly where the fish are it is so overgrown, but after nearly an hour I do get a rise and safely land a good little wild trout. I was quite chuffed with this one as it was a long narrow pool to cast to him. Safely returned I move onto the next pool and 10 minutes later kneeling down I catch trout number 2 from under some overhanging bushes. He is returned and I move onto the next pool where out comes trout number three. He goes back safely and I'm starting to think this is going to be a great evening, but alas I am wrong. There were trees in my way and I had to walk back down stream a couple of times to get around them and before I knew it was 8:30 and too dark to see even in the open so I make way back to the car - three nice trout and a frustrating time with fallen trees - but for all that still a pleasant evening.

  27th August 2013 Thirkleby

A grey overcast evening but I have a chance to nip up to Thirkleby for a couple of hours. It's the usual set up of 6 foot rod, floating DT AFTM #3 line, a 6 foot leader and a size 16 Adams Parachute. Nothing doing in the first couple of pools but then I get three in a row on consecutive casts from the next pool. I lose a reasonable fish from the big pool on the bend but get a nice little fish from the fast run above it. Three more trout oblige from the run with the tree over it, so that's 7 trout and I haven't reached the farm bridge. Above the farm bridge I loose one then get another from beneath the willow. Then things went down hill and I couldn't get a trout to stay on. Nothing from by the mill or above it and by 8:15 its too dark to see under the tree lined bits so I head back to the car, still a great evening with 8 good solid wild trout in just 2 hours fishing.

  10th August 2013 Cod Beck and Willow Beck - New flies tested

A short trip out to "road test" some flies tied for me by Phillippa Hake from Halifax who is as keen to tie flies as she is to learn fly fishing. I decide on Cod Beck and Willow Beck and it's the first time I've fished in a morning so not sure what to expect. I am surprised to find Cod Beck running low but slightly cloudy and not a rise in sight. I work my way carefully up the beck without a rise anywhere, then above the big pool a fish splashes at the fly and misses. I was too quick but as soon as I put the fly back down it engulfs it and I am into a lovely little grayling. Willow Beck is a nightmare but I try casting wherever there is a bit of elbow room and get a 7 inch brownie to take. A couple of photos to send to Phillippa as proof and I call it a day. I have had a couple of hours at the water but half that was pushing through the tangle of Willow Beck. Still an enjoyable little session. A word of warning - the beck is low by normal standards but there are still bits of Cod Beck far too deep to wade.

  8th August 2013 Isle Beck Above the A19 Bridge

Back on the beck and decide to fish between the A19 and Arden Bridges. I am quickly into the fish with a bonny little trout taking the Adams Parachute in the first big pool. I then lose a decent fish in the same pool. It's quite tricky casting and the Himalayan Balsam seems to have grown even longer since last week. The fish come steadily, an 11 inch fish, some 6 inch fish and then a couple of 10 inch fish in consecutive casts. Half way up I was surprised to find a big willow down across the beck - this particular tree wasn't down this time last week and is difficult to get past. But there are some bits that are good and not overgrown. I notice that it's starting to get dark earlier, last week it was still light at 9:30 this evening I can hardly see by 9:15 but still manage to pick up a couple of 5 inch and an 8 inch fish from just below Arden Bridge. 3 hours 11 fish and a long walk back down the road to my car parked by the bridge.

  1st August 2013 Isle Beck Above the A19 Bridge

A quick trip to Isle Beck this evening and couldn't 'make my mind up where I wanted to fish. I pulled up by the bridge and a quick glance over it made my decision for me Isle Beck looked perfect despite the recent rain. Tackle up and did my usual trick of starting below the bridge and walking through it - but didn't tempt the trout rising by the sill or the ones by the bend, but a lovely little wild trout picked up the Adams Parachute from the start of the first big pool, and a better fish was hooked from the head of the pool and promptly came unstuck. Moving carefully upstream I am struck by how beautiful the water looks, clear and a reasonable height, but also how overgrown the banks are and the Himalayan Balsam is a pain hanging over the stream and catching every other backcast!  It's a warm evening and the various detours out onto the bank to pass big trees that are across the beck soon have me sweating. It's tricky work casting but I am getting some reasonable wild trout but there is no sign of any stock fish though. Even thought there are clearly more fish to catch the light is starting to fade and when my son phones to say he has just seen my car at the bridge and do I fancy a quick pint with him I am almost glad of the excuse to stop fishing. I've covered about three quarters of the distance between the A19 and Arden Bridges it's taken me 3 hours but I have 7 more wild trout to add to the record book. The pint with my son rounded off the evening off perfectly.

  25th July 2013 Thirkleby - Fishing with a new club member

I had agreed to show one of our new club members around some of our waters so we met at the A19 bridge over Isle Beck, had a quick look at Arden Bridge and headed for Thirkleby where the plan was to have a look at the water and catch a few wild brown trout. First setback was a passing storm and heavy rain as we were setting up, so we sat in the car hoping it would pass over which it eventually did. We walked down the first field and we slid into the seriously low beck to start fishing, at least Paul did I looked round and there on the bank was fly box that another YTAA member had reported lost, it was intact and dry so no doubt he will be pleased to get that back. We made our way up stream fishing all the usual places but the trout were not really co-operating and neither was the shrubbery with both of us getting caught up in several places. There were a few trout showing but none of them were ending up on our lines despite our best efforts. We bypassed some of the really wooded sections above the footbridge and tried a couple of pools near the straight (and now very overgrown section) by the pylons, but it was all to no avail and we reached the weir pool at the top of our water without landing a fish. However the weir pool usually fishes well and holds a good supply of small wild trout, and they duly obliged as first Paul got a nice little wild trout and then I followed with two of a similar size and we were both very grateful not to have blanked. Although we didn't blank, a few more trout would have been nice, however it had been an interesting evening. We had seen signs of an otter moving quickly away from us, (a large muddy trail through the water near the pylon straight) and a barn owl had landed on a branch right by us. Anyway the main objective was to show Paul the water and now he's seen it he plans another visit when hopefully the trout will be a little more obliging.

  18th July 2013 Thirkleby

A roasting hot day in the office but I have time to nip up to Thirkleby for a quick session after work. I decide to skip the lower field as I want to try to get up to the weir pool at the top of our waters. Recently I've only made it as far as the footbridge and there are some good if tricky pools that should be interesting now the bushes and trees have spread out over the water. The beck is down again another few inches lower than my last outing on the 8th July I get my first take just the far side the Mill road bridge a nice little chub that took the Adams Parachute. I work my way steadily through the tree section to the footbridge but fail to land a trout, I just can't seem get them to stay connected I even loose a fish right at my fingertips so it won't count in the record book ... Above the footbridge there are several nice rises in the first pool and I eventually get a take and a good solid trout stays hooked and is in the net. Moving on past the bench I cant get into the next pool without scaring the fish that shoot upstream from the little weir that is more like a little dam now the waters have dropped. I fail to hold onto the next take and the next one and under the trees casting is getting tricky. I never thought my 6 foot rod would be too long but I start to think a 5 foot fly rod would be more effective under the trees. I get another nice little trout from a shallow run which is tricky to cast to because of Hawthorn bushes right behind me. I take a great deal of satisfaction from "pick - pocketing" trout out of tricky little places - the photo makes it look open but there was no casting room behind me and roll casting was near impossible too. As I work my way further up stream I land one or two more fish but loose as many. The long pool near the pylons is frustrating fish rising but the angles of the bushes either side make it almost impossible to cast to them. I eventually reach the weir pool and it's almost dark, but the pool is alive with trout rising everywhere, yes you've guessed it I drop two fish before I land another solid little wild trout. I try a few more casts but suddenly there are no more rises, it's like someone turned a switch, one minute they are everywhere then nothing at all. It's nearly 10pm and I have extended my "quick trip" much longer than planned so I call it a night. A chub and just 5 trout were not what I had hoped for and not what I should have had if I'd stayed in contact with everything that I hooked! That's life but the really bad news is that the footpath back from the weir pool has now vanished under high weeds and a tall crop of wheat so it's a real struggle to get back down to the second footbridge where the path is clear again.

  8th July 2013 Thirkleby

A quick trip up to Thirkleby after work. A nice warm evening and I am hoping the Mayfly are still about as its 3 weeks since I last fished. First thing I notice is how much the beck has dropped probably a foot lower than when I was last here. The Green Mayfly goes on but there is no interest in the first three pools, but the big pool on the bend produces a splendid 11inch wild trout with a deep yellow belly. The next pool produces a nice little (7 inch) wildie also on the Mayfly. The next two pools below the farm bridge have fish rising but they ignore the Mayfly so the Adams Parachute goes on and the pool above the bridge produces three trout in as many casts, all good solid 8- 10 inch fish. Moving carefully into the fast runs of the chicken field I miss a take and watch the fish shoot up the stream probably scaring everything in sight. I move on under the Mill bridge but fail to get a rise in the run above it - this usually produces a fish or two so a bit disappointing. I can see several fish rising in the next pool under the trees and cast to the nearest which produces a good solid take which turn out to be a nice little chub only the third this year so a welcome addition to the record book. I miss a couple of takes in the next pool which has the tree across the top of it this is now quite an access barrier as the new growth has shot up but I get passed and fish slowly up through the tree lined section. Casting is harder than earlier in the year as the branches have grown out and wooded. I don't get any rises but don't lose any flies either. I reach the footbridge without another fish, but the pool above it produces another 11inch beauty. It's just gone 9 o'clock and I have had 6 trout and a chub in two and three quarter hours, not particularly good but enjoyable and I decide to call it a day and head back for a late dinner and a beer.

  17th June 2013 The Dove and Riccall

A full day to fish so I'm heading off to try the Dove at Kirbymoorside and probably drop in and give the Riccall a look on the way home. The Dove looks in fine condition, clear and a good height. The walk down to the start of the YTAA waters seems to take an age. I've only fished here once and that was two years ago so I am hopeful of some good fish. Our waters start just above the little footbridge where Howkeld Beck joins the Dove. I slide into the Dove and start to work my way upstream, but clearly the bottom end still needs some work and it's a while before I reach a point where I can cast. There is no sign of anything rising but I am not unduly worried, there is fly life about and I feel sure that something will start happening sooner or later, except it doesn't! There are mayfly and small olives around but nothing is rising for nearly an hour and my Mayfly is ignored completely. I change to a Parachute Adams and miss a rise straight away, then another and another... (!) Finally I get a small trout it's taken an hour and a half but at least I am off the mark. I miss a couple more takes then everything goes quiet and it is over an hour before I get a take and land a 7.5 inch trout. I work my way upstream but it's another hour before I get a third fish, again only small (5.5 inches). The next half hour is better and I land three more, 8. 8.5 and 6.5 inches. But I've reached the top of our waters (just passed the old barn) and I've only managed 6 fish. Anyway its way past lunchtime so I sit in the sun and enjoy my lunch, reflecting on the fact that it has taken me 4 hours to catch 6 fish, I decide that I will go and give the Riccall a go as its on the way back to York. I park just beyond the bridge near the flow control building and tackle up again and start the long walk down the flood bank to the start of YTAA waters by the Big Hedge. (I'd normally park at the farm but as there is room at the bridge it means I can just fish straight through and finish back at the bridge). First thing I find is that my touch screen phone doesn't want to play touch screen any more so I can't unlock it which therefore means there will be no more photos today. The Riccall is in need of some love and care as it's getting very overgrown and I don't know when we last had a working party here however the water looks great, crystal clear and very cool and there are big white Mayfly about so I am confident of some action. The Riccall is really quite narrow in places so casting is always interesting, but there are plenty of deep pools and runs which hold trout even when you can't see them even so it takes me an hour to hook and land a fish and then it's a steady trickle of fish taking the white mayfly - nothing big (two 9.5 inch trout were the best) but I lost a couple that were definitely better and with the low hanging branches right across the stream in places I am having fun getting at the fish that are rising . I end the session with the smallest trout so far this season a whopping 4 inches - so maybe just as well the camera is out of action. It's felt like hard work today 6 from the Dove and 7 from the Riccall in nearly 7 hours fishing not what I'd hoped for but it's still been a good if challenging days fishing.

  10th June 2013 - Upstream of Willow Bridge - Red Letter Day - Slightly Moist Waders!

I am determined to fish all of the Isle Beck System and resist the temptation for fun up at Thirkleby and head back to Dalton once more. This time I want to fish upstream from Willow Bridge. I have a sense of foreboding as the first section is very overgrown and also very deep in places so casting and wading are both going to be interesting. The advantage of the total tree cover in the first section is that the fish do get used to a regular supply of flies caterpillars and all sorts of tasty items just dropping in. I am still on the big green spent mayfly and it isn't long before I get a take and a lovely fat 14.5 inch fish is landed, photographed and safely returned - a slightly special fish as he is number 100 from the Beck this season!. Some cautious wading gets me a bit further upstream and a 10.5 inch fish is caught and returned. So far so good, I'm enjoying this I like good average wild trout and by some of the rises there are plenty about if I can just get to them under the trees. I've edged carefully along the right bank but find that I can't wade the next section - its too deep and so turn round and start edging back and loose my footing on mud and despite having a hand onto a tree branch I manage to go more or less right under. The only bit of me still dry appears to be my hat. I scramble out dripping everywhere. I always have spare clothes in the car for occasions like this, but as my waders are wet there seems little point in putting on dry clothes now that will be soaked before I finish and need to drive home. So after some wringing out and wader draining operations are completed I decide to fish on for the time being. I have to move a good hundred yards further up the beck as the water is too deep to wade and there is no obvious way down into the beck or back out again once I am in. Once you are beyond the first couple of hundred yards the trees ease off a bit and there is reasonable casting distance and I start to pick up fish a couple of small ones but most are solid fish of 9 -12 inches, a good average size for wild trout. A little bit of side casting under a branch produces a skinny 11 inch fish that I think is a stockie from last year. I briefly switch to a white mayfly and take a fish but it seems to be the green one that works so switch back again. There are a couple of nice pools as you get nearer the wood and I pick up a couple more fish including a good solid 12 inch fish. I also lose a decent fish that seemed well hooked - annoying but it happens and I don't think it is anything to do with barbless hooks. I have reached the woody section that is before the railway bridge but it's 9:15 and I am starting to feel the cold so decide enough is enough and head for the car and dry clothes. Two and three quarter hours and 10 fish in mainly difficult casting conditions means its been a pretty good night  -  just a shame about the ducking.

  6th June2013 Willow Beck Revisisted.

I didn't expect to get out again this week but the chance came so I head off to Dalton with the intention of only fishing Willow Beck from the junction with Cod Beck to Willow Bridge. However Cod Beck looks in great condition so I start in the fast run just above the big pool. I am trying the little Silver rings to join the tippet again, but it's a Mayfly on the end as there are quite a few about this evening. A nice little nine and a half inch trout starts the evening off on my fourth cast. He is quickly returned and a couple of cast a later I am into something a little more sold, and a minute or so later there is an 11 inch Grayling in the net. The first I've had this year he's returned carefully. I move up to the junction pool and first cast a 12.5 inch trout takes the mayfly, then a small chub grabs it. Then a much better fish takes hold and after a good solid fight where my 6 foot rod is really put to the test there is a 15.5 inch trout in the net. A couple of quick photos and he goes back safely, but there was something very familiar about this trout and when I compare spots on the photos I confirm that this is the same 15.5 inch fish I caught on Monday! I move up Willow Beck and its hard work casting with low branches overgrowth and high banks. Casting often involves crouching down or even kneeling in the water to get enough clearance or the right angle to be able to cast to a fish, but it is worth it for good wild trout. I had one 5 inch trout but all rest are between 10.5 to 11.5 inches. I do a little bit of twig trimming on the way up the Beck as may help a bit if I come again this year or anyone else tries it, so by the time I reach Willow Bridge it's 9.30pm and time to head for home - a good evening and I ended up with 9 trout 1 grayling and a small chub.

  3rd June2013 Cod Beck and part of Willow Beck.

A frustrating start to the evening as I was delayed getting away from the office but I do so eventually and am tackled up and fishing by 18:45. Our section of Cod Beck is two fields and I start by walking to the far end and fish my way up back up Cod and Willow Beck to Willow Bridge where you park. I was surprised to find Cod Beck rather full and flowing fast, it's about 8-12 inches higher than I expected, but fortunately it is only slightly cloudy which I do like, as crystal clear water does means you have to be so much more cautious on your approach if you are to avoid scaring everything. I've changed my cast set up tonight and am finally tried those little silver rings to join the different strengths of mono I use to make up the cast. (I've had the packet in my bag for about 8 years!) They claim the little rings are so light they float and it has no effect on turnover and that it makes changing the tippet easier as you don't loose mono or change the length of the mid section of your cast. We shall see. Straight away I am aware that the far bank has been extensively cut back and trees removed for a hundred yards or so. It looks a bit bare, but there is no vegetation to get your back cast hooked up on.

I am into a small fish within a minute of starting and another follows 5 minutes later. This is great because Cod Beck can be a bit unpredictable and I am not really expecting a big haul of fish this evening. These first fish both came to an Adams Parachute, I fly I have used a lot lately. I then hooked and lost a three fish on a row I can't see anything wrong with the hook point but decided on a change and try a larger size Grey Wulff. This is a good move and 3 more trout are caught and released in quick succession. Working my way upstream I push my luck with some seriously deep wading forgetting that my tackle bag is nearer waist than chest height and I can hear water dripping out of the bag for the rest of the evening. You do have to be careful on Cod Beck at the best of times, some bits are very deep and with a few inches of extra water I should know better! I try a little bit of Klink and Dink (a Goldhead nymph tied on a short tippet to the bend of the Grey Wulff) in the fast run above the big pool and loose what felt like a really solid fish - the hook just pulled out. This run holds good trout, grayling and some big chub so I have no idea what it was. I then switch to a Mayfly and I get a superb 15 inch fish from the Cod Beck /Willow Beck Junction pool. The photos don't do it justice and he went back safely.

I was very pleased to see the big obstruction of trees and branches that had been right across the junction of Willow Beck and Cod Beck has completely gone over winter. Working up Willow Beck, which is very overgrown, I get two more fish on the Mayfly the second another outstanding fish just on 14 inches long and as far as I can see a genuine wild fish. It's getting dark under the trees so I switch back to the Adams Parachute as the white "post" shows up clearly and I take a few more fish in the 9-10 inch category that seem to be punching above their weight and fight like mad, all of them in excellent condition. I've covered less than half the distance from the junction pool to Willow Bridge but its just gone 10pm and it really is too dark to see properly so I call it a night. Great fun and 11 fish in three and a quarter hours. I make a mental note to give Cod Beck and Willow Beck another look soon when I have a little more time to enjoy it there are some really good fish to be caught if you are careful and can avoid the foliage on your backcasts!

The verdict on the little silver rings - well I am not sure I think it may have effected the accuracy of my casting a bit but I will try again with just the final tippet on a ring and see how that works.

   31st May 2013 Thirkleby  -  Five Kingfishers all perched in a row !

Haven't been out for a while but a chance to fish after a sunny day, I still haven't been to Cod Beck but I fancy some fun so head for Thirkleby Mill. As I set up it's clouded over and looks a bit like it might thunder and lightning, not ideal with carbon fibre rods but it may pass over. I walk downstream to the far end of the first field and see that the new field drain is finished with an impressive concrete outflow - the trout that used to be close by has gone! The Beck is about 6 inches higher than normal and ever so slightly coloured - nearly ideal conditions. There is nothing doing in the first two pools but the third pool produces the first fish and once again its an Adams Parachute that does the business. Just 7 inches and returned safely. The next cast produces an 8 inch fish, and the next cast a pretty spotted fish and I haven't moved from where I caught the first fish. There are a few Mayfly about but I stick with the Adams and the fish are loving it and come thick and fast I've got 10 fish in the first hour and have also seen three kingfishers - two of them together on one branch.

I fail to get a rise in the pool above the little road bridge which is unusual as there are normally trout to be caught from there, but I do get a couple more from the chicken hut field and one below the Mill House Bridge and one from just above it.The first pool above the Mill under the trees has trout rising but I get no takes, the next pool though produces a fish. I negotiate the tree that has almost blocked the head of that pool and loose a fish on the next pool, but then its business as usual and 3 fish on consecutive casts without moving position. I loose a couple of fish then get 4 more fish on consecutive casts but in different pools. A couple more fish come from the pools under the trees. Suddenly I am aware of a flash of blue across the stream and see five juvenile kingfishers sitting in a row on one branch I try to get a photo but they shoot away up and downstream before I can focus. I have to get out and walk round some of the trees that are down across the stream and get another trout from below the big obstruction on the bend. I walk around and get another five and a half inch fish, the smallest of the night, from the fast run above it I'm just returning this fish when I see a large splash at the head of the run, but its not a fish this time its an otter which swims down the beck past me less than 4 feet from where I am wading. Amazing. I don't bother to fish the pool below the footbridge the otter has probably scared them anyway and I am happy to call it a night. I have landed 25 trout in just over three hours - a near perfect evening.

  10th May 2013 - Isle Beck below A19 Bridge.

A quick day time trip as I want to finish the section below the A19 bridge before the stocking. I arrive at midday and its grey and windy and trying hard to drizzle plus there was overnight rain, but the beck is only up an inch or two and only ever so slightly cloudy - which I think gives the angler an advantage as it makes it slightly harder for the trout to see us coming. Starting at the pool where a big tree has almost made a footbridge across. I wade carefully up to the pool but see no rises and get no takes. Near the head is a good run and despite loosing a fly in overhanging branches I get two trout the second is the one of the smallest this year barely 5 inches long.An 8 inch fish from the next pool and my confidence is rising because although the weather conditions aren't ideal the fish are feeding. Nothing doing in the next two pools but in one of the new pools that has been formed over winter I get two more 8 inch fish. The next pool is tricky, the run is close to overhanging trees and the remains of the barbed wire fence so its careful sidecasting. In the past I've noticed that the trout are not always where you expect them in this pool there is a nice deep run that should hold fish, but the best fish are further up in the faster water. A couple of casts produce nothing but on the third cast a trout takes my Adams Parachute and I know I am into a much better fish.

It shoots downstream heading for tree roots and my 6 foot rod is pushed to hold him, but does and a couple of minutes later I ease a lovely 14.5inch wild trout into the net. This is a really good fish and certainly the best of my season so far. I don't think I will see many wild fish much bigger than this from Isle Beck, and he goes back carefully - maybe next year he will be over 15 inches. I take a couple more fish, a 9 and a 10 from the deep pool below the bridge and my time is up as I want to nip up to try Stearsby for an hour before the restocking this afternoon. Just over an hour and a half with 8 fish landed including the biggest and smallest of the season.

  6th May 2013 Thirkleby.

A busy Bank Holiday weekend and I don't get a chance to fish till late on Monday. I head for Thirklby Mill, it's a nice bright afternoon and I am fishing by 6pm. The farmer has put a new field drain in and it enters just where I like to start fishing! The trout that normally stations himself there may come back. I'm soon into my first fish a 10.5 inch wild fish that hammered the Adams Parachute I'm using. The next cast a little futther up the pool produces his younger brother a lovely little 5 inch trout. The next few pools up to the little road bridge all produce little trout 6inch 5 inch 7 inch 9 inch, all of which hit the fly really hard and fast - I've no idea why. In the pool above the road bridge a kingfisher actually flies under my line as I cast. A couple of seconds later I hear a splash behind me and turn to see the kingfisher rise out of the water with (I think) a minnow - that he caught where I have just waded through! I make my way past the mill having lost a reasonable fish just above the mill bridge I check my hook point but it's fine - so just one of those things. I am moving steadily upstream taking several fish in the 6-9inch category, but am also trimming back some of the new growth of twigs that are already reaching over the stream I've got a small pair of folding secateurs and the seconds it takes to trim back now will avoid a lot of back casts getting hooked up later in the season. By 9.0 its almost too dark to see and I turn back from by the start of the long pool near the overhead Pylons. - 3 hours on a pleasant evening during which I have landed 13 trout all wild - lost three that seemed well hooked and I've seen a moorhen and three kingfishers or maybe one kingfisher 3 times.

  30th April - Evening on Isle Beck below A19 Bridge.

A reasonably bright day and I'm heading back to fish Isle Beck below the A19 Bridge, I want to start just beyond the third field down picking up where I finished last week when the night closed in on me after fishing just one area below the bridge. Walking down through the fields I notice the swallows skimming very low over the fields, perhaps a sign of not much fly life around. A couple of hares take off across the field and various rabbits dive into their hedge row burrows.I can hear and then I see a Skylark coming down, the sun is still out and I feel confident of some good sport. I start with a Cahill but this produces nothing and I gradually become aware that there is no sign of any fish rising. I am not unduly bothered as I usually get fish to take even if there are not many rising to natural flies. I try an Adams - nothing I try a Grey Wulff nothing. Eventually I see a fish leap completely clear of the water in the really deep pool half way up the field - he was about 10 inches long with a very yellow sheen to his flank, but he ignores the Grey Wulff. I tie on a Goldhead nymph New Zealand style and try that but again absolutely nothing. I am aware that time is moving on and I have only covered a couple of hundred yards of the beck. I am also aware that there is a distinct chill in the air so I move more quickly up the beck trying the nymph in all the places that usually produce fish but don't get any interest at all. The sky is clouding over and I am having trouble seeing my fly so I swop the polaroids for my regular glasses and in the next small pool as my fly swings down the current there is a bulge in the water and I am into a fish on the Goldhead nymph. Just 6 inches long, but a perfect little wild trout who won't stay still and I struggle to get a photo of him. He goes back safely and my confidence rises a little its nearly 8:30 and I have about half an hour of light left and I may get some action. I take photos of a couple of the pools with trees over them but don't see any more rises and don't get a touch so at 9:00 I head back to the car. I have only fished the length of one field so I have still got best part of two fields to fish up to the bridge next time I am out. A strange evening I really thought that it would have been good but I struggled to get just one consolation trout - and I am grateful not to have blanked.

  23rd April - Evening on Isle Beck below A19 Bridge.

A nice evening so I go to Isle Beck straight from work I'm tackled up quickly and start to walk down four fields to the little copse at the end of the fourth field where I plan to start fishing. I startle four hares that streak away across the third field field as I am walking down. When I reach the copse I glance across into the first pool and I can see a fish rising. I get in quietly well downstream and he takes my Adams on my fourth cast over him. A 9 inch wild fish and safely returned. It's a nice pool this one and it usually produces at least one or two trout if I am quiet and careful. In season there is also wild gooseberry bush on the left bank that I've picked a couple of pounds of gooseberries from before starting to fish.I want to fish quickly as I have a long way back up to the bridge so only have a few casts in each pool before wading through. Again some pools have changed a lot since last season but the fish are still there as the occasional rise shows. I get my second fish also 9 inches casting over some branches sticking out over the stream. Sometimes you can get away with letting your line rest on top of a branch like this if your quick to get your line clear when a fish takes. This fish has a scar down its right flank and I guess its probably from a heron but it seems fine - he put up a good fight and swims away strongly when I returned him. Both fish came on an Adams but it isn't getting many rises so I change to a parachute version of the Adams and get an 8 inch fish which is quickly returned. It has turned a bit cooler and there are very few fish rising so I move quickly between pools but even so the light is going quickly and by 8:30 its almost too dark to see my fly and although I have only covered about one and a half fields I call it a night and start walking back up to the bridge. Only three fish landed but an enjoyable little session in which I saw the largest dog fox I've ever seen - he came up from undergrowth not 5 yards away from me on the far side the beck. I saw one kingfisher heard several curlew calling and saw a lot of otter tracks. I also saw several areas where lamprey had moved stones to make an area to spawn and eventually found one area with a 15 inch lamprey still on the cleared area. Lamprey are a good indicator species for water quality so its good to see activity from them. Overall a good little trip.

  14th April - Isle Beck A19 Bridge to Arden Bridge.

It's a day of grey skies and it's trying hard to rain plus there is a strong wind that seemed to have sprung up from nowhere as soon as I had tackled up. Whenever I fish upstream of the A19 Bridge I start by going below the bridge and wading carefully through. There is often a trout hanging about just above the lip of the concrete, but not today, but there are a couple of fish rising a little further up. They don't show any interest at first then I miss a rise and rest the pool for a few minutes and watch until the rises start again and then a nice little fish takes my Black Klinkhammer. Its always a relief when I get the first fish, it takes away the prospect of a blank day especially when its cold and very breezy, and difficult conditions, but now I can relax and everything else is a bonus.

Next up a "Micro Chub" a 6 inch fish from the first real pool. I only got 1 chub all last season so this is a bonus. The wind is getting worse and I am having trouble getting my fly where I want it so shorten my cast length to a little under 6 foot - ( normally I use about 7.5 feet on Isle Beck ) and this makes a difference and my accuracy improves a bit. There is a big mess of trees around the next bend so I have to get out and walk around and then scare a fish as I get back in just above the log jam. The little pool above the log jam is always worth a try it usually has a fish or two in it. It's the Kingfisher pool next ( look for their burrows in the high bank ) and I miss a rise and then get my fly caught high up in the tree, but retrieve it after a bit of climbing. Nothing doing in this pool or the next, and no sign of the kingfishers either. Then I get a beautiful 10 inch fish quickly followed by a 9 inch fish from further up the same pool. I manage to loose my fly in the trees - as the wind still plays havoc with my casting and decide to swop to an Adams Klinkhammer as I have noticed a few light coloured flies starting to hatch. A couple of small trout confirm the change was probably right and then a 14 inch fish in excellent condition. Photographed and safely returned I think this fish is a most likely a stockie from last year he looks good but there is just something not quite "wild" about him. A few more 8 and 9 inch trout keep things interesting, then a beautiful wild 10 .5 inch fish fighting fit, fin perfect with lovely bright red spots that fought like mad and really didn't want to come to the net. A quick photo and then gently returned to grow older and wiser.

When I'm fishing I try even quite small pools and runs as they usually hold little trout that are willing to grab anything that comes floating down to them but I am really surprised when a small run produces my second 14 inch fish of the day which is duly photographed and safely returned. Once again I think this was a stockie from last year. I am nearly at Arden Bridge but get a 6 inch fish from the pool below the bridge. I saw the rise and cast to it and up he came, but when I wade past where he took the fly I am amazed to find the water was only three inches deep -  just goes to show that trout don't need a lot of depth - they just lie in water where the current will bring a steady supply of food down to them. A couple of casts through Arden bridge but nothing doing and my time is up. Four and a half hours 12 trout and 1 small chub not too bad for a grey windy day. Oh a word of warning - the water under Arden Bridge is deep - very deep, that is more than chest wader deep! See you soon!

  7th April - Thirkleby Mill.

I finally get a trip out flyfishing and where better to start than Thirkleby Mill.

A nice sunny day but a bit of a breeze and the water is quite low and cold - I thought I might struggle. The first trip is always interesting as the beck changes over winter as gravel and trees get washed about and pools change, new trout holding spots develop and some pools are changed completely for better or worse. The first fish was a 6 inch brownie perfection in minature on a Dark Olive. This was quickly followed by an identical twin. Then a couple of larger fish from the big pool by the bend and another from a much changed pool below the little road bridge. I wade beneath the little road bridge and land three from the next pool. There is a hatch of pale coloured olives showing, but trout keep taking my size 16 Dark Olive so it stays on.the line.

Half way along the "chicken hut" field I get the best so far a lovely 12 inch Brown trout who stays remarkable still for a photo before going safely back. Two and a half hours and 12 fish a great start - the Beck is actually in fine condition fast clear and slightly low and it's looking really good. A 10 minute break for a sandwich and a drink and then on up the Beck above the mill. Quite a few trees across the stream and more overgrown so harder to cast and a big tree down just below the footbridge but I pick up a few more fish including a nice plump brownie from the mill pool at the top of our water.  It's 5.30 and getting cooler I've had 17 fish in four and a half hours, an excellent start to the season.