Tales from the Riverbank - 2016

  30th September 2016   Cod Beck

The last day of the season and normally I would be heading towards Thirkleby to try for a huge catch of wild browns, but having surpassed 200 wild trout this season I fancy a more relaxing afternoon so I am heading to Cod Beck where I am hoping to get both trout and grayling and maybe a chub or two.

I am soon tackled up and walking across the fields to the little footbridge, last visit I caught a trout with a catapult cast from the bridge – I try again but miss the rise and the chance is gone. I notice that there is a new electric fence the far side of the footbridge so a little care is needed to step over it.

I head on down the bottom of our beat on Cod Beck and notice that someone has been clearing balsam and debris from the bankside wood in the lower field and there are new posts supporting the barbed wire fence on the border of the river- again care is needed stepping over it (I have ruined more than one pair of waders on barbed wire – what usually happens is that I think I have cleared it but then my net catches and drags me and my waders back on the spikes!).

The beck is slightly cloudy but I can see the shape of a fish moving in the current right at the start of our beat, I am almost above it in the balsam and reeds. It looks a big fish but I’m not sure what it is. I cast to it and it inspects the gold head but doesn’t take it, second cast is slightly to its right and I can see it slam into the nymph and as I tighten the beck erupts as it heads of towards nearby tree roots. My 5 foot rod doubles over as I manage to steer the fish clear hoping my line and knots will hold. Then I realise it’s not a trout but a really good size chub. After a hectic couple of minutes I slide him into my net. What a great start, the biggest chub I’ve had on the beck for several years!

Having returned my first fish I wade up under the tree that bridges the beck and cast to a rising fish – this is also a chub though not quite in the same league as the first one. I was just beginning to think this was going to be a chub only day when little trout number 1 puts in an appearance, only 6 inches but perfect in every way. Chub number 3 is next about 4.25 inches clearly they are getting smaller as the day goes on!

I don’t manage any more takes before the big pool, I don’t remember ever catching a fish in it but today I can see several fish rising. A speculative cast with the N/Z rig produces a splashy rise to the Grey Wulf. I change my cast to a small Adams Parachute and the next cast produces trout number 2, only about 7 inches but a welcome change from tiny chub. There are still several fish rising and one is clearly a very big fish, but inevitably the next two fish I catch are small – (OK very small) both dace! I’ve only had one other dace this year so although they are small it’s a welcome addition to the record book.

Eventually I get bored with trying to persuade the large fish to look at a fly and move up to the fast run above the big pool. I’ve still got a tiny Adams parachute on and a couple of casts later a get splashy rise and see a bright silver flash that lets me know it’s a grayling. – I say grayling but it’s quite tiny. He is returned and I cast again, another rise and I hit something a lot more solid and after a brief battle I slide a lovely 13 inch grayling into the net. I try to get a good photo of him but he won’t keep still and manages to wriggle out of my wet hand and slips back into the beck. I don’t know what it is with grayling, they seem to be all muscle twisting and turning and difficult to photograph. Somewhat disappointed at missing a photo of a really good grayling I cast again and yet another grayling (mid size this time!) takes the Adams it’s a nice fish of around 11 inches and he does stay still long enough for a photo before going back.

And that was it. I tried a few more casts on Cod Beck and waded up through the tangled jungle that is Willow Beck trying to find pools to cast in to as several more trees have blown down across it, but I didn’t get another rise. I even sneaked up above Willow Bridge to try for one last trout but to no avail.

My season on YTAA becks is over for another year – it’s been a real record breaker.

I had 23 visits to the various YTAA becks and I blanked only once (on 17th April when I had a 2 hour session above the A19). My total fishing time over the 23 visits was 105 hours. I’ve landed 203 trout, 18 grayling, 8 chub and 3 dace. – I’ve averaged 8.83 trout per visit and overall average of 10 fish per visit. Yet again I have really enjoyed the beck fishing, I rate it very highly, it really is excellent and if you haven’t tried it this season I recommend you give it a go next year. If you are not sure where to start come along to the working parties, they will give you an insight to some of our waters.

  29th September 2016   Arden Bridge

Well just two days left of the season and having dropped the Grandsons at school I’m heading off to fish between the A19 and Arden Bridges. It’s a warm enough day but there is a breeze and there are clouds on the horizon so it looks like I may get “damp”.

By the time I am parked up at the A19 bridge it’s blowing a gale and raining so I tackle up inside the camper van (good job I’m using a 5 foot rod, I actually have room to tackle up inside!). By the time I am in my waders and ready to start the sun is shining again, and I decide I will actually start below the A19. On my recent visits I haven’t fished the last quarter of a mile before the bridge because it has been too dark, so a couple of hours won’t do any harm and I may actually get a fish or two!

I saunter down to the end of the first field and slide into the beck I have my usual Adams Parachute on but with the strong breeze getting it on to the beck may be interesting. A couple of casts in the first run don’t produce a take and a couple more on the next pool have a similar result. My cast is going anywhere but where I want it, the wind taking it sideways into trees balsam nettles brambles, you name it my fly could find it. I clearly needed some weight so switched to the Goldhead New Zealand style nymphing rig. The very next cast I am off the mark with a nice 7 inch trout. I persevere on the pool it’s a long deep one and I am sure there are more trout to be had and after a couple of minutes trout number 2 puts in an appearance. He is returned quickly and I wade through to the next pool – well it’s more of a shallow run at the end of what was once one of the deepest pools on the beck. Trout number 3 takes a fancy to the goldhead and he is duly logged in my note book. I try a few casts into the remains of the deep pool but a combination of the overhanging tree and wind prevent me from getting any distance and I wade on through the pool – it’s the first time I have ever waded this pool, normally I have to get out and go around but the beck is so low and the pool so silted up I can just make it.

I made a right dogs dinner of the next pool. I hook a stick on the edge with my first cast and it pulls into the pool with a big splash and drags right over the place where the trout lie, so I give up and wade on upstream.

Two fish from the next pool and run are added to the total and I move onto another deep pool. This one has a big tree across it at the top and has been gouged out by the water flow making it very deep. It sometimes produces a grayling or two but today it produces two trout which are logged and returned.

I’m just getting out to avoid the deep water when I notice a big cray fish with white patches on the joints of its front claws. It doesn’t look like a Signal Crayfish but I am not 100% sure what it is. UK native crayfish are protected and you need a licence to even handle one so I don’t want to touch it, but I manage to get it onto my landing net for a quick photo session before returning it carefully – and it wanders off quiet happily into deep water. I’ll send the photos to a Wild Trout Trust biologist who can confirm what it is.

I’m now at the first big pool below the bridge. It's deep and I am confident of one or two from here and I am not disappointed, I get a nice 11.5 inch trout which is best of the day so far. I’ve been fishing for two hours, caught eight trout all on the goldhead and its now 12:00 so I decide to stop for lunch and a brew in the camper van.

After lunch I sneak under the bridge and yet again fail to catch the trout that sits on the sill at the top of the bridge foundation. I try the fast run above it but I am hooking up in the trees and brambles as the wind seems to be picking up. I can’t get a take in the next few pools or runs and I next make contact with trout in the High bank pool where the kingfisher used to nest. Its two 5 inch fish from there, small but beautiful, in a couple of years they will be 9 inch fish and giving a better account of themselves.

A few of the pools that I normally think are dead certs for a trout or two are not producing, some of it’s down to the wind making it impossible to cast.

I have a real stroke of luck in one pool as a good fish takes the goldhead but I can’t stop him leaping over a dead branch and into a tangle of tree roots! I quickly wade up and pull my line clear of the dead branch and can see the trout thrashing about caught in the roots but I can’t reach to net him.

Then by pure good luck he just swims out into the beck and a minute later he is in my net. At nearly 13 inches he is the best so far.

I am aware that the wind is steadily picking up and there is an alarming variety of twigs and some bigger branches raining down into the beck around me. I keep watching the crack willows wondering if any are coming down near me. I skip a couple of pools where the wind is straight down into my face and move steadily upstream, picking up another 6 inch fish from a shallow run. Then on a pool where I caught four good trout without moving a pace earlier this season I get a small chub but manage to scare several large trout.

I am getting close to Arden bridge now and I'm wondering if I can get just two more trout to make it 200 for the season. Just when I think it isn’t going to happen I come to a pool with high sides that is virtually unaffected by the wind – first cast produce a 5 inch trout then next cast a 6.5 inch trout is hooked – he is trout 200 from YTAA becks this year!

Round the next bend I can’t cast because the wind is straight in my face again, the crack willows are bending and creaking ominously so I move quickly through to the last pool before Arden Bridge. I miss a take in the pool then see a fish sitting right at the top where the beck enters to main part of the pool. I cast to him and the wind takes the goldhead a bit to his right but he turns and takes it and a few seconds later is in the record book as trout 201.

It’s only just after 4:30 but I have had enough. It’s been another great day’s fishing with 16 trout and 1 small chub and I am happy to retreat to the campervan and get away from those crack willows!

It’s the last day of the season (30th September) tomorrow so I will want to fish, but I’m not sure where. It would be nice to get a good “trout fix” to carry me through to next season so maybe a full day at Thirkleby I’ll see what tomorrow brings.

  27th September 2016   River Dove

It’s a bit of a grey day but I head off for my overdue visit to the River Dove at Kirbymoorside. I almost dread fishing this river because I don’t know it as well as the other YTAA waters and I struggle to catch. I remember that last year I had two visits, on the first I got five trout in five and a half hours on the second visit I only got one trout in four and three quarter hours so it’s not my favourite water. The other problem is the banks are steep so getting in and out isn’t easy and there are a couple of deep pools that you can’t wade through.

On my way there I was trying to way up the pros and cons of what rod to use – a 7 foot 6 inch is too long to get under the bushes even the 6 foot is a bit long, but I suspect I will be using a lot of Gold heads rigged New Zealand style and the 5 foot isn’t ideal for that, but is better for close work and getting under trees but there are some very big trout in the Dove and they might be a bit of a handful on the shorter rod.

In the end I set up the 5 foot and hope I don’t get too many big ones, which is unlikely in fact based on my success rate on the Dove I’m just hoping that I can catch a fish or two of any size!

It’s a pleasant walk down the field from the barn to the start of our beat which is where Howkeld beck joins the Dove. I swing down the bank and immediately am faced with a tangle of trees. I manage to push through but casting is impossible for the first 50 yards or so. After a bit it opens up and although there is nothing rising I try a couple of casts in likely places and connect with 7 inch wild trout. I am well pleased, I’ve only been fishing a few minutes and I am already off the mark. A minute or so later I get another rise to the size 18 Adams Parachute but as I draw the fish towards the net he throws the hook. The same thing happened on the next run I connect to a fish play it for a few seconds and lose it. There is nothing doing in the next couple of pools but I eventually get another rise and a 4.5 inch trout is landed and goes into the record book.

Then for the next hour nothing is landed I keep losing hooked fish and I do spend a lot of time retrieving flies from the overhanging foliage, having said that there were some much more open places with really excellent pools. In the end I decide the small Adams isn’t working and I switch to a Goldhead fished on a New Zealand style rig and get a couple of small trout in a few minutes. Then a whole hour goes by without landing a fish though I continue to hook and loose them. It’s all getting a bit frustrating and the breeze is picking up and the N/Z rig is getting caught up on balsam a lot and I seem to be spending more time untangling knots than I am fishing. I‘ve never had so many line knots in one days fishing! An 8 inch fish and two 5 inch fish are landed in a 10 minute spell then another hour goes by spent untangling knots and retrieving caught up flies.

I get another 8 inch fish just after 3 o’clock, this is actually the eight fish I‘ve landed in 4 hours fishing. Then I have a long lean spell of undoing knots, retying casts and trying not to fall in.

At this point things suddenly picked up at 16:36 I get another 8 inch fish then a 10 inch fish that leaps right out but stays on, then a series of small fish 6, 5, 5, 6 inch all in a short time space. I am nearly at the top of our beat when at 17:25 I hook into something more significant and after a good fight slip the net under a 13inch wild trout. It is actually the 15th trout I’ve landed today and is by far the best of the day. I slip him back and was thinking of packing up (or at least quitting on a high note!) but decide to have just one more cast on the same run. I cast, the nymph goes down, the Grey Wulf slides under the water, I tighten and all hell breaks loose as I am given the run around by a good grayling. I eventually slide him into the net – a splendid fish of nearly 14 inches. I’m so glad I had the extra cast. Now I am ready to pack up.

If I had landed all the fish I hooked today, it would have been an exceptional day as it is it has still been my best ever day on the River Dove – I’ve ended with 15 trout and a nice grayling. Finishing with the best trout of the day and the bonus grayling really makes up for all the tangles, knots and lost fish earlier. Not only that I have passed my previous record for the number of trout caught from YTAA waters in one season – in 2013 I managed 181, today I’ve reached 185 for this season. (and it ain’t over yet!)

One thing I have decided today is to spend more time on the River Dove next season it has a really good head of wild trout (and grayling?) and I need to get to know it better.

  26th September 2016   Isle Beck - Thirkleby

I was hoping to get out to the Dove at Kirbymoorside today but had to wait in for a parcel which didn’t arrive until 14:25 by which time it was drizzling so I decided on a quick trip to Thirkleby.

I was fishing by 15:25, but the first few pools produced nothing to my Adams Parachute and as there was no sign of a rise anywhere I switched to the New Zealand Gold Head rig and immediately got a small chub.

I was pleased to get a 9 inch trout a few casts later but had no idea then how my session was going to unfold.

Forty minutes later and a smaller trout took the Goldhead then next cast a 13 inch trout from the same pool. Everything went quite for a while but 40 minutes later another trout of 13 inches. Already this was becoming a great evening as I moved up the tree lined section. A brief quite spell followed while I changed my cast. I had been using a cast with about 36 inches between the Grey Wulf and the Goldhead but now changed it to a large Adams Parachute with a full white post (I usually trim them down) because I wanted to be able to see it easily as it got darker under the trees. I also shortened the depth so the Goldhead was now about 20 inches below the Adams as the beck is generally shallower from the footbridge pool upstream.

My first cast with the revised rig was into the footbridge pool and that produced a firm take and a fine 10 inch fish went into the record book. Next cast further up the pool another trout about 7.5 inches. I waded up under the bridge and tried the next pool but failed to get a take. I waded through the next pool without trying as I thought I might finish by the pool with the shed on the bank. A couple of flick casts (no room for overhead or side casts) produced a 7.5 inch fish and I decided to carry on upstream another 7.5 inch fish came out of the next shallow run and I moved on again thinking I would finish at the next big pool which has a good flow left to right and swirls round under a high bank. It was beginning to get dark but three fish were caught there in just 5 casts and I moved on upstream thinking I could get out at the bank opposite the badger sett before the start of the straight section under the pylons.

How wrong I was! The bank which did have a reasonable exit last time I was there was now completely blocked by a tangle of brambles and balsam which surprised me as it had been relatively clear on my previous visit. Unable to exit I had no choice but to wade up the full length pylon section to the next reasonable exit point. Of course at the top of the pylon section is a really good pool so I thought I’d just have one last cast there. This produced trout number 13 a nice 10inch fish, so I thought I’d have one more cast and this produce a 9 inch fish! A third cast produced another the same size and a fourth cast another just under 10inches. Four casts four fish is about as good as it gets on the beck so I waded on through and climbed out to make my way back to the camper. I discovered that the farmer had ploughed the whole field and he has rolled the brambles from the edges up and bundled them over the bank opposite the badger sett and that was why I couldn’t exit at that point.

On my way back to the van I reflected on what an unusual and an exceptional session it had been. I had seen only 1 trout rise all evening and that had been a small trout that I caught when it took the Large Adams parachute of my New Zealand style Nymph rig to become trout number 11. On a cool drizzling evening I had 1 small chub and 16 trout in just 3 hours 40 minutes. 9 trout had come in the last 40 minutes and the last 4 trout were on consecutive casts. All in all (apart from the drizzle) this has to be one of my best sessions this season.

  23rd September 2016   Isle Beck

A beautiful warm sunny afternoon and I am free to go and fish and I am heading back to Isle Beck below the A19 bridge again as I am confident of getting some good fishing in.

Almost as soon as I am tackled up a nasty breezy springs out of nowhere, it seems to be a North Westerly which means it’s going to be across the beck and should make casting “interesting”!

I am going down four fields which is hard work because one field is full of head height maize and the next is full of potatoes growing right up to the river border, fortunately the last field has just been sown so it easy walking down the side.

I start at the pool by the little copse of trees and soon get a 9 inch wild trout. I tried to take photos of it coming to hand, I took several before he was quickly released but they didn’t really work.

Moving upstream the next pool doesn’t produce a rise. In the one after I hook into a good fish which after a good fight came off just before I could net him. This was particularly annoying as it looked like a pretty decent wild fish certainly more than 12 inches and also because I am trying to catch up on my 200 season target and if I don’t actually land or release the fish they don’t count…

Next pool up is tricky overhanging trees and a bend where the beck runs in. I see a good fish rise to inspect the Adams Para but it doesn’t take it, same thing next cast, so I switch to my New Zealand style goldhead rig and bingo first cast he nails the goldhead. It’s a good fish in nice condition and fin perfect but a bit thin and I suspect he might be a well mended stockie from last season.

I move on up the beck with an occasional excursion up the river bank to avoid deep un-wadeable pools and also bits where trees are down completely blocking upstream progress. Getting in and out is not easy as the banks are head high with balsam, nettles and burrs.

Yet again there is no interest in my Adams on the big pool where I started last time, but a switch to the NZ rig produces a small wild brown. Nothing is moving but I am convinced there are good fish about so I persevere on the pools and eventually the Grey Wulf slides below the surface and I am into a good fish that fights hard on the 5 foot. Eventually I get him under control and slip the net under a really good wild fish with a buttery yellow tummy.

I am picking up the odd fish as I work my way upstream but it is hard work with the overgrowth and the cross wind isn’t helping at all.

I’ve been enjoying myself despite getting stung by nettles and falling down banks as I get in and out around obstacles and I hadn’t noticed how time was flying until I suddenly realise its getting dark. Its only 7:15 but it is too dark to see under the tree cover and I decide to call it a day.

I’ve had five hours fishing, it’s been hard work but I’ve added 9 fish to the record book, 8 wild fish and one suspected stockie and I have really enjoyed it.

There is only one week to go to the end of the brown trout season so I am hoping to get out to the Dove at Kirbymoorside early next week as I haven’t fished it this year. I know it will be hard work as I rarely get more than 5 or 6 fish per visit, but I haven’t fished it this season so it's overdue a visit.

  16th September 2016   Below A19 Bridge

Out for a couple of hours and heading for Isle Beck intending to fish below the A19 Bridge. I’m soon tackled up with a 5’ rod DT2 floater and my usual Adams Parachute.

The first problem is getting to where I want to start which is the big pool about three fields down. The grass and Balsam inside the boundary fence are high and walking is difficult. I disturb a full grown Roe Deer buck in the long grass and he shoots off down the fields. Next field is no improvement with head high corn growing right up to the field edge which is similarly high balsam, nettles and grass.

I eventually reach my starting point and scramble down into the beck below the big pool. Nothing rises to the fly at the tail of the pool so I move forward so I can cover the whole pool. A nine inch fish soon obliges and is returned after a quick photo. Nothing else rises to the Adams and so I switched to a goldhead New Zealand style to search the depths – this pool is still far too deep to wade through, I think it must be 8-10 feet deep in the middle and around 5-6 feet at the sides!. After a few tentative casts the Grey Wulff disappears and a feisty 6 inch trout is firmly attached to the goldhead. A few more casts fail to produce anything so I back out of the pool and make my way around to the next run (not easily achieved with high balsam and nettles!).

Nothing doing with the goldhead so I switch back to the Adams Parachute as I make my way up stream. The beck is very overgrown in places and it’s almost impossible to cast to the fish I can see rising.

I manage to get another 9 inch fish from a little run that hasn’t produced fish for me this season but somehow has remained clear of overhead trees. It is almost a perfect example of a small stream pool and I am delighted to have got a trout from it at last.

I pick up a few more trout on my way upstream, all around the 9 inch mark and great sport on the 5 foot rod. The beck really does have a good head of wild trout and it’s true to say there is a trout round every corner, though casting to them and catching them can be tricky at this time of the season. A lot of time is wasted scrambling out of the beck to avoid the still un-wadeable pools, surprisingly there are still so many even when the beck itself is still very low.

By 7:15 it’s almost too dark to see under the trees and although I haven’t reached the bridge I decide to quit while I can just about see my way through the balsam back to the van. It’s been a warm evening and challenging fishing with an annoying breeze that has added to the casting difficulty, but six fish in two and a half hours is not too bad and I’m pleased with the session. There isn’t much of the season left but I hope to get a full day on the beck below the A19 Bridge before it does.

  12th September 2016   A19 Bridge

You’d think being retired would give you plenty of time to fish and I suppose it does but it also gives you time to travel further afield to fish. I think what I am trying to say is I’ve done a lot of fishing but a lot of it has not been on YTAA waters.

I had a quick trip to Scotland to fish Loch Doon with a friend and also had a very pleasant day on the Upper Derwent as a guest courtesy of a YTAA member who is in both Clubs. The Upper Derwent is a splendid little river and great fun.

Anyway back to the task in hand which for some time has been to try and catch 200 trout from YTAA becks in one season. I have been a bit lapse chasing this target so a quick catch up and an evening on Isle Beck was overdue.

I decided to fish above the A19 Bridge and as I have said before I always start by wading under the bridge trying to catch the trout that sits just above the sill. I didn’t catch him tonight or any of his mates who I disturbed as I walked up stream – there must have been about a dozen little trout in that first pool all dashing to find shelter.

The first big pool didn’t produce either but I wasn’t surprised, it used to be a great pool but the flow of water has changed and it is gradually silting up. The fast run that leads into that pool has started to hold nice fish and I was soon off the mark with a nine inch fish in the net, a quick photo and back he went.

Isle Beck is definitely low, in places you could cross it and the water wouldn’t cover your wading boots. It was clearly going to be an evening of careful stalking and trying the deep pools between the shallow runs.

Around the next bend I faced my first major hazard the big tree across the stream completely blocked progress and despite the fact that on a working party we cleared a path around it on the bank, neck high nettles and Balsam made for an interesting detour. Back in the beck the next pool is the high bank where the kingfishers nest - this produced two trout in as many casts and I moved on upstream.

I didn’t catch any more till I came to the next big pool, this is still very deep and a 9 inch brown trout was soon in the net and returned. Until this point I’d been using my much favoured Adams Parachute but having caught one trout I decided to try again with a goldhead on a New Zealand rig. As I switched casts I was aware how dark it was getting so the polaroids came off and my normal glasses went on. The first couple of casts produced nothing but then the white Wulf dipped and a little chub came to hand. A few more casts and another trout about 9 inches was caught photographed and carefully returned.

And that was it, I lost one more half decent fish in the fading light but at 7:45 it really was too dark to see to fish so I scrambled out of the beck up a high bank and wandered back to the van.

I was just driving off when I suddenly thought where is my landing net? I couldn’t remember packing it in the van. I pulled over and checked in the van no sign of it, checked again where I had taken my waders off and still no sign of it, so grabbing a torch from the campervan I headed back across the now pitch black field to where I had scrambled out of the beck and sure enough my net was there.

A funny sort of evening (well barely two and a half hours), but 5 trout and a small chub are added to the record book and no tackle was lost. The story of the large black mastiff that jumped into the beck behind me and scared the life out of me will have to wait…

  16th August 2016   Thirkleby

I’ve been doing a lot of time away in the camper van and my Beck fishing has suffered but I have an evening free so I head off to Thirkleby hoping for a good haul of trout to top up on my self-imposed target of 200 trout from the YTAA becks. The beck is low, (about 6 inches lower than my last visit) clear and slow and with increased growth of nettles and balsam and branches’ overhanging the beck, the opportunity to lose flies is going to be huge.

I miss a rise on the first pool I fish, which is not a good start. On the big bend pool there is nothing rising but I eventually get a little chub barely 5 inches but at least it’s a start.

I seem to be scaring more trout than I’m catching as the low clear water makes stalking more difficult than usual and the sight bulging water as of trout shoot off upstream is become boringingly familiar.

I lose a fish in the fast run - the same run where I had the "unstoppable fish" last time I was here this one clearly wasn’t as big but it’s still annoying to lose a fish.

There are good shoals of dace (and/or little chub) by the little farm track bridge and although several come right up to inspect the fly none take it.

It’s quite a warm afternoon and I am glad to get under the shade of the trees as I move steadily upstream still not catching trout! In fact somehow I seem to be striking before the fish has taken the fly and snatching it out of their mouths and when I did hook a trout in the Long pool I manage to lose it (my fault not down to barbless hooks!)

I was surprised to find some more trees down across the beck I didn’t think there had been any winds strong enough to bring trees and branches down but the fact they are now blocking pools says there must have been.

It’s been 4 hours (!) since I caught the chub, but at last I get a trout, it is from the pool at the top of the long section by the electricity pylons, this pool is becoming a really reliable one and I usually get one or two from there now.

The beck is completely blocked in places by huge growths of wild rhubarb (I feel a bit like Humphrey Bogart in the African Queen trying to push my way through it) and I still can’t get a fish to stay on until I reach the weir pool at the top of our beat

There isn’t a great deal of water coming down the weir and there is no sign of a fish rising. I’ve been trying various flies all afternoon once I realised the Adams wasn’t working (though the chub and first trout took the Adams!) and when nothing rises I switch to a New Zealand rig with a goldhead sitting below a big white Wulf.

The New Zealand rig (aka “Klink and Dink”) is a good way of searching deeper pools but can be tricky to cast, but there is sufficient room at the weir pool and d it does the trick as I get three more trout in my last half hour.

Not the most productive of afternoons fishing but a chub and four trout are added to my log book, better still I didn’t lose one fly to the foliage, which is a bit of a bonus!

Just to round of what has felt like a frustrating day on my walk back to the mill I can’t find the foot bridge over the beck as there is so much growth of balsam, nettles and willow bushes. It’s not helping that it is now dusk and I can’t see through the undergrowth to where the beck is. I push my way through where I thought it was and get stung form my efforts. I try again further up with the same result but eventually after about 20 minutes of searching I find the right path to the bridge and make it back to the van.

I think there is still some good trouting to be had at Thirkleby, my experience today hasn’t put me off going there and I intend to give it another go as soon as I can. If you are going try a softly softly approach to avoid scaring the many trout that are there - oh and don’t leave it till dusk to find the footbridge back!

  4th August 2016   Cod Beck

I am getting a bit behind with my fishy target for the 2016 season so nipped out on Thursday evening for a quick trip to the beck. Starting a little later than planned I eventually decided to make for Cod Beck, partly because it holds some good trout and grayling and partly because as you fish upstream and up Willow Beck you don’t have a long walk back to your car that you park near Willow Bridge.

Walking down the field with the occasional glance into Willow Beck I decide that I won’t start at the very end of our beat as I know I’ll only get an hour or so and I don’t want the hassle of getting out up the steep bank to avoid two pools that are too deep to wade through.

My first problem was finding the little bridge to cross the ditch that runs into willow beck. Very high balsam and nettles have completely hidden it. But having negotiated the barbed wire fence without shredding my waders I push through the undergrowth to the bridge. I can see trout rising in Willow Beck I’m only a yard or so from the fish but they can’t see me behind a curtain of balsam and nettles. The temptation is too great, there is no room for a conventional cast but stripping a little line through my rod tip I try a catapult cast and the fly lands neatly in front of the first trout who takes it in an instant. I’ve just got room to kneel down on the bridge and scoop him into my net. At about 6 inches it’s not a huge trout but an excellent start to the evening.

A few minutes later I’ve slipped into Cod Beck and start working my way up stream there is nothing doing in the first pool but I cast to a rising fish in the next run and a 14 inch stockie is in the net without too much fuss.

Moving on I am into one of the nice runs on Cod Beck that almost always produces grayling. My size 14 Adams Parachute is completely ignored for several cast but a quick change to a size 18 version does the trick and a nice 11 inch grayling is caught and released. He had made a bit of splash when hooked and I didn’t really expect to get another fish from the same run but I tried one more cast anyway and a small trout slammed into the fly and hooked himself before I could react. Once again only a small fish – about 7 inches but they all count to my season’s target.

As it turned out that was the last fish I caught but not the last thing I hooked! Somehow I managed to hook a small dome tent that was floating down one of the deep runs! Can’t say that I’ve ever hooked a dome tent before so it’s probably the biggest I’ve landed. It certainly put up a good fight on my 5’ beck rod! Strange thing is I saw another bigger dome tent washed up (dead) beside the really big pool.

I enjoyed my short session this evening, I’ve always felt that Cod Beck has the potential to be a great water but it is rarely fished and by the state of the banks and the high balsam there is no evidence that anyone but me has fished it this season, pity really you may not catch a dome tent but there are trout grayling and chub to be had.

  18th July 2016   Thirkleby

A chance for a few hours fishing late afternoon and I head off to Thirkleby, hoping to find some nice cool water in the shade of the tree lined bits.

The weeds and grass have shot up since I was last here but I find the right way into where I want to start below the big pool. The first cast produces no rises but as I lift off my fly catches in a tree root and as I’m not prepared to lose a fly first cast I wade upstream scaring trout to retrieve it. Moving up to the next pool a cast near a tree produces a splashy rise and a ten inch trout goes in the log book. Casting further up the pool I briefly hook and loose a trout then I see a rise tight against the far bank by a tree root, my third cast lands in the right place and an eight inch trout is added to the log.

I move on up to the big bend pool and there are several fish rising but I can’t get them to rise so I switch to a New Zealand rig with a big mayfly supporting the goldhead and wouldn’t you know it a trout splashes at the mayfly but doesn’t take it. I try the NZ rig for a while without success so switch back to a small Adam Para intending to move upstream as I start round the corner I hear a splash behind me and see a ripple from the far left corner, flicking the fly across the fish takes it and a bit of a tussle follows and a 16 inch stock fish is eventually netted and returned.

I move up and see another fish rising near the tail of the next pool I cast he rises I tighten and he takes off. In 28 years of fishing the beck I’ve never had anything like this fish it shot off upstream slamming my fly rod down and ripping the loose line from my left hand as I try to get my rod high, then he takes line off my reel and I can’t stop him! If anything he is picking up speed and I see a splash at the top of the run which is about 25 yards away and my line breaks just below the tippet ring. A few rude words were said! So what was it – I don’t think it was a big stockie generally they splash about in the middle of the stream or pool and don’t really go anywhere fast, certainly not when they are first hooked. I’ve had big wild trout to around 16 inches they are a handful but I usually have a degree of control over the fight, this was different and I never felt in control for the 15 to 20 seconds he was on. I suppose it could have been foul hooked but I tightened as he took my fly so I think he was hooked in the mouth. Whatever it was will remain a mystery.

I move up and try just above the little bridge at the bottom of the chicken field, I’d seen several fish there on my way down but nothing takes. I move up the chicken field and get a small trout then another from the run just above the mill bridge. And then I get into the shade of the trees. I continue to get little wild trout all the way up to the pool below the foot bridge where I get a nice wild trout just under 10 inches but when I land him He has a stab wound on his left flank that has obviously healed over. I’m guessing it was probably a heron that did the damage as you can see from the photos of left and right side. Anyway he was obviously feeding ok and put up a good fight and swam away strongly when I returned him.

I have a couple more casts into the fast water just below the footbridge and hook a good fish. As it’s coming to net I thought it was a chub but close inspection shows a convex anal fin. It is my first dace of the season and at nine and a half inches one of the biggest dace I’ve seen on the beck.

It’s now 8:30 pm and taken me 4 hours to fish to the footbridge. I’ve landed 10 trout – (one was the 16inch stockie) and 1 dace, so although I could go on upstream I decide to call it a day and head home for some food and a beer.

  5th July 2016   River Riccall

A full day available to fish and I’m heading off to the River Riccall. This is a wonderful little river which comes from a limestone source so it is always crystal clear and a fairly consistent height. It holds some lovely wild trout (it isn’t stocked at all!) and some good grayling. The downside to it is that it is very narrow in places and in need of some working parties to clear the worst of the overhanging trees so today is going to be about careful precision casting.

By the time I have tackled up the breeze that was quite strong in York has faded away, good job too - it’s hard enough casting on an overgrown stream without having a strong wind blowing your fly into the trees as well. Even better by the time I’ve walked down to the start of our beat the sun is breaking through and it promises to be a nice day.

I really want to take my time today as apart from having more than its fair share of the usual 4-9 inch small wild trout there are also some very good (big!) trout in the Riccall but because it is so clear a quiet approach is essential. There are good grayling too but they are a bit shy.

It’s half an hour before I manage to get my first fish a 6 inch trout which is quickly returned, half an hour later and trout number two puts in an appearance - just four and a half inches and a few minutes later a 7 inch fish takes the Adams and goes into the record book.

Its nearly 2 hours before I get my next fish, at 9 inches a bit better but still a lot smaller than some of the fish I have already spooked despite trying to be as quiet and careful as possible. Another hour goes by before my next fish, a fin perfect wild trout but sadly only 4 inches long. My very next cast produces another small trout not much bigger and the next cast another at just over 5 inches. All the fish have come to my Adams parachute but there are mayfly about so when I get to the big pools I try a mayfly but get no offers. I switch to a weighted Olive Nymph fished below a Royal Wulf New Zealand Style and straight away I get a 9 inch trout.

There are fish taking mayfly at the top of the big pool so I try the mayfly again but nothing rises to it. Further on upstream I get three more trout all about 8 inches on the mayfly, but it is hard work casting under trees and bushes. At one point a small otter came downstream but vanished into the undergrowth when he saw me. Interestingly there were trout rising in the same run as the otter was swimming through and they didn’t stop rising despite the otter, even so I can’t get them to take and so I call it a day.

It’s been hard work for 11 fish spread over a long day, casting sideways, over my left shoulder, roll casting and casting crouched and sometimes lying down to avoid trees has taken a toll and I feel exhausted and not a little frustrated with a sense that I should have caught more.

The Riccall is definitely one of our better waters, but it could do with some TLC over winter to clear branches and open up many of the better pools.

  28th June 2016   Willow Beck

I do try to fish all the different beats of YTAA waters each season and my plan today was to take my time and fish on Willow Beck above Willow Bridge right through to the culvert that runs beneath the main East Coast Railway line.

This bit of Willow Beck is about as challenging a bit of water as it gets for the fly fisherman, first it is overgrown – in fact the first 200 meters is virtually a tunnel under the trees. Secondly while some bits are quite shallow it has more than its fair share of deep holes that really are too deep to wade and to add to the fun the banks are very steep. At this time of year because very few if any club members have fished here it is very overgrown so there is no obvious path in or out. It almost goes without saying that the steepest, slipperiest most difficult bits of bank to climb out are right next to the bits that are too deep to wade, so all in all I expected a challenging morning. On the plus side because it is hardly fished there is no shortage of trout willing to take a fly.

The easiest way in is to enter the beck below Willow Bridge and wade up stream. Once you are under the tree canopy there is a bit of room for side casting and it was only a couple of minutes before I saw several rising fish to target. The first fish to take the Adams Parachute (what else did you expect!) was a good 14 inch stockie that put up a reasonable fight on my 5’ beck rod.

Next up (without moving my feet) was a 9.5 inch wild fish that really fought hard and I had my hands full keeping him out of the many tree roots that line this section of the beck. Photographed and returned the next cast produced a solid take and a couple of minutes later a 16 inch stockie was resting in my net. Until today I had only had two stockies out of a hundred odd fish and now I had two within minutes of starting. – These stockies must have swum all the way down from near the A19 bridge where they were put in! Wading upstream carefully, another rising fish was soon hooked, this time a 5 inch wild fish which was quickly returned, next cast another stockie, a bit smaller at just over 13 inches and safely returned. I was beginning to wonder if it was going to be a day of stockies not wild fish but that was the last stockie for the day.

At this point I had to scramble out of the beck to avoid a deep pool, scrambling and sliding back in again further up was …interesting.

The next fish was a 10 inch grayling, the first I’ve caught from just above the tree lined bit of Willow Beck.

Once you are clear of the first couple of hundred yards from Willow Bridge the Beck is a bit shallower and not quite so shaded by trees, but it is still slippery under foot and careful attention is needed if you are not going to spend half your time retrieving flies from trees and overgrowth. A few more small trout followed until I was up into the open bit where the beck flows through fields. It’s always interesting this bit, firstly there is one terrific pool that holds several good fish and secondly the field always has a couple of dozen bullocks in. These bullocks are the bovine equivalent of teenage football hooligans and today was no exception. While I was changing tippet they came stampeding over and looked down at me from a high bank, then they charged off down the field, then they charged back up the field then back down again kicking up a great fuss but fortunately deciding not to investigate me further. Bullocks don’t bother me, mostly you turn and face them and they back off but I have had experience of this lot before and they seem to delight in charging up behind you when you are not looking.

With my tippet changed I got three more fish from the big pool all small wild fish the best about 8 inches. Moving on under the little bridge I found that the floods have deposited a large “woody debris” right at the head of what was a perfect little pool and completely ruined it. It used to be a favourite pool and I could generally rely on a trout or two from it but not today or any time soon it seems!

In February I had a couple of days walking all the YTAA waters just to see what sort of shape they were in. The top end of Willow Beck runs through a wood and used to be pretty overgrown but on my walk it looked relatively clear and very fishy so I was determined to try and fish through the wood and up to the railway line. This was easier said than done as a wader wrecking barbed wire fence is right across the beck at the entrance, I tried to go round either side but eventually gave up and walked up the left bank till I found a gap in the wire and was able to crawl under and make my way back down to the beck. At this point it started to drizzle but as I was under trees again it didn’t seem too bad. It must be about 8 or 9 years since I fished this bit of the beck and I’d forgotten that once again there are un-wadeable pools, and this together with steep and now damp and slippery banks made progress upstream both slow and interesting.

I saw several fish, some of them quite large but failed to connect to any of them and when the drizzle got heavier I stopped to shelter under a tree, still about 50 meters from the railway bridge. The rain eventually eased off and as I was once again faced with an un-wadeable pool I decided I would head back to the camper and maybe grab an hour or so at Thirkleby.

This is when my problems started, first it was extremely tricky to get out of the beck, the banks being decidedly wet and slippery. Then having got out I found I was wading through very wet chest high grass, thistles and nettles. Then I couldn’t find the style to go back down alongside the beck, so I made my way along the side of the wheat fields and back up to the road about half a mile from Willow Bridge, at which point the heavens opened and I had a total downpour, thunder lightning the full works before I made it back to the camper.

A change of shirt, a coffee and some lunch had me thinking about Thirkleby, but the rain was still heavy and had completely flooded to lane in several places so I decided enough was enough and headed home.

I managed 11 trout and 1 grayling in just under 4 hours. It was challenging fishing and I have to say it’s not for the feint hearted, the banks are steep and overgrown, the deep holes make wading tricky and mean getting in and out in a number of places. On the other hand there are plenty of wild fish there (and more than a few of our stock fish it seems) so if you like a challenge give it a go!

  24th June 2016   Cod Beck

My grandson was on a discovery day at Easingwold school and needed dropping off at 9:15 and collecting at 14:30 – so obviously I had to go and have a short session on the Beck.

I decided that Cod Beck might be fun for a short session and by 10:20 I was slipping down the heavily weeded bank and into the cool water of Cod Beck at the start of our beat. A small trout obliged straight away and was quickly returned. I could see a couple of small grayling rising but they ignored the Adams and a black emerger. I tried some of the size 24 flies a friend tied up for me, two grayling came up and carefully inspected them but didn’t take so I decided to move on a couple of fish were rising above the fallen tree but despite some careful casting they ignored the Adams the emerger and the size 24…etc.

I have never really tried upstream nymphing unless it has been New Zealand style and a N/Z rig would be near impossible to cast under the tree. So a tiny (size 18!) Goldhead was tied on and flicked upstream and watching the cast for movement I tightened and was into a nice little grayling which was duly landed, photo’d and safely returned. There was nothing doing on the small goldhead in the next pool so switching to an N/Z rig with a larger Goldhead I had a few casts exploring the deeper water, and inevitably a fish slashed at the dryfly and I missed it.

The next run is a shallow so switching back to a small Adams I got another small brown, and as he went back saw another small rise a bit further on casting to the spot a fish rose but clearly not a small fish and after a couple of exciting minutes a 15 inch trout was safely in the net, not a wild fish but a good condition stockie and he was safely returned.

All this changing of flies and rigs had used up a lot of time and I just managed one more change back to the New Zealand rig with a big Goldhead to get two more grayling, one from below the big pool and one from the run above it before it was time to go and collect the grandson again. Definitely a fun session, only three grayling and three trout in just over three hours but worth the effort. By the look of the banks and the fact that the little footbridge was overgrown with balsam I don’t think any members have fished it since I was last down here on 15th May – which is a shame as it’s a nice beat and hold some lovely fish.

  21st June 2016   Thirkleby Mill

Having dried out my waistcoat, hat and fishing kit from Sunday afternoon’s trip with Andre the weather on Tuesday looked good and after a brief exchange of emails and phone calls Andre and I met at the A19 Bridge. He followed me up to Thirkleby Mill so he could see where our Thirkleby Beck fishing is. We were soon tackled up and walked down the farm track to start half way down the field a couple of pools below the big pool.

The first run I show Andre is shallow and once we had quietly slid into the Beck I said there is usually a trout by the tree roots on the left. Cast, Rise, Strike and there he was not huge but a perfect 6 inch wild trout, Andre was amused and asked if I knew all the trout on first name terms!

The next pool is the long run before the big pool Andre had a few casts at the start but nothing moved, I tried a couple towards the top of the run and hooked and lost a good trout. I didn’t know it then but this was a pattern that would be repeated many times this evening!

On the Big Pool there were several fish rising but they seemed content to ignore Andre’s fly so while he changed it I had a cast and hooked and lost another good fish. I then tried some special flies tied for me by a friend on size 24 hooks! I can hardly see them let alone tie them on the tippet, but eventually got one on. Cast across the big pool and wham a decent trout took the fly which despite its small size was easier enough to see. Seconds later that fish was also literally off the hook! Andre then got a good sized wild brownie. Ready to move on I tried my usual trick of casting round the high bank into the current above the big pool and hooked and landed a lovely little wild trout. At the next big pool I hooked and lost another good trout. I was getting a bad feeling about the evening. The idea was we would fish together as I showed Andre the Beck, alternate the pools and catch a few trout and I seemed to be doing a lot less catching than I have come to like.

We moved swiftly through the “chicken Field” up past the mill and into the tree lined section I lost another trout then managed a small wild trout which was quickly returned. I continued to lose trout and Andre quietly got to grips with the joys of casting on a small overgrown stream, this involves a fair amount of retrieving flies from bushes and quite a few were from me. I hooked and lost a trout at the start of the long pool then eventually got one that didn’t get away.

Having fished the YTAA Becks since 1989 I am used to how much water we really have got to have a go at, for Andre seeing it for the first time was a bit of an eye opener and it’s clear that now he knows where to park and where to fish he will be trying it quietly in his own time. As it was we were running late if we were to get up to the weir pool at the top of the YTAA beat. We moved on quickly missing a few pools out and I only had the occasional cast at favourite spots when again and again I managed to rise fish and hook and subsequently lose them before they could be landed!

  19th June 2016   Isle Beck

A couple of newer members have asked me if I can show them some of the fishing places on our Becks, so today I’d arranged to meet with Andre Richter to have a walk down Isle Beck so he can see how much Beck Fishing we have in YTAA.

We met at the A19 bridge and were soon tackled up and walking down stream, with the intention of fishing below the bridge for a couple of hours and then maybe nipping up to Thirkleby mill so Andre could see what was there. The walk down stream was easier said than done as the grass inside the boundary fence is now quite high, but eventually we made it down to three fields to where we wanted to start.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I was down here and the overgrowth and bank side trees have extended branches across the stream making casting just that little bit more interesting if you don’t want to lose flies….

Our idea was to fish together alternating on the various pools as we worked our way up stream and it wasn’t too long before the first little wild trout came to hand.

I think Andre was surprised at both how much water there is to fish and also how many fish were rising, of course rising fish doesn’t always equate to fish on the line, but we had some fun despite the drizzle the started and gradually got heavier as we made our way upstream. The big pool produced fish for both of us and we even got some on “Klink & Dink” (New Zealand Style Nymping) – Andre hadn’t seen it in use before and was surprised how effective it can be if fish are lying deep.

By the time we had actually fished back to the bridge it was raining quite hard, we were decidedly “damp” and our couple of hours had expanded to over five hours so we decide Thirkleby could wait for another (drier) day…

  24th May 2016  Isle Beck

A full day to fish (after the morning school run) and I am heading back to Isle Beck to fish below the A19 bridge starting where I left off yesterday. There were mayfly about yesterday so I’m hoping that the trout will now be pre-occupied with mayfly and I could get a bumper day.

On my way down to my start point I see a lovely fish rise in a relatively new pool and make a note to visit him when I fish my way back up to the bridge. This pool has really only developed in the last two years and was previously just a shallow run leading into the big tree lined pool below. Sure enough there are mayfly about but the trout seem to be ignoring them so it’s the Adams Para again and a couple of trout are caught in the first few minutes, only small ones 5-6 inches but they all count. I have to say there seem to be a lot more 5-6 inch fish about this season, and I’m guessing these were from the 2014/2015 spawning season which appears to have produce a bumper crop. Next year these will be 8-9 inch fish so it’s looking good for next season.

I get a couple more fish before it’s time to visit the rising trout I saw on my way down. My fly is ignored first cast but second cast a splashy rise and I have hooked him only to lose him after a couple of seconds – still you can’t win them all. I get another fish on the Adams from the first deep pool below the bridge. Then by changing to a New Zealand rig and a goldhead to fish deeper I get a good 12 inch fish which is duly landed and returned.

Its midday and I eat a sandwich trying to decide whether to fish on above the A19 and up to Arden Bridge or nip up to Thirkleby Mill. I decide to go to the Mill but can’t resist a look over the bridge where I see a nice trout rising steadily. So I nip under the bridge cast to where he is and get absolutely nothing. Having changed my mind about going to Thirkleby I fish on up the Isle Beck and start to get a good number of fish. Most come to the Adams Parachute but I get a few when I switch to a Grey Wulf and get a couple more when I switch to a Green Mayfly when I see trout starting to hit the many mayfly that are hatching. But it seems to be a Grey Wulf or the Adams Parachute is the flavour they want and I keep catching fish all the way up.

I was particularly pleased with one little trout – only 4.5 inches but it needed a very accurate cast to drop an inch or so from a log where he was rising – I was fortunate to put it almost on his nose and he took it straight away. As I get nearer to Arden Bridge I have 5 fish from the same pool in 13 minutes and I didn’t even move my feet, all good fish in the 9-10 inch range. I manage one more small fish from below Arden Bridge and although its only 6:15 it’s turning chilly (I’ve been in shirt sleeves all day!) and I head back to the camper van for a brew.

The Beck is really looking good and it’s been one of my better days with 30 trout and a small chub landed – but then mayfly time does make things easier. One final thought I haven’t caught or even seen a single stockie today, everything I’ve landed has been a wild fish. At the start of the day I fully expected to catch quite a few stockies as I have essentially fished the main areas where the stock were introduced - I wonder where they have got to ?

  23rd May 2016  Isle Beck

Every now and again you get a day when everything comes together and fishing seems easy. Today was one of those days. I dropped my Grandsons at school and headed straight for Isle Beck intending to fish below the A19 until it was time to collect the Grandsons from school. I would probably get 5 hours fishing. The sun shone, the breeze that could have made casting difficult died away and the fish decided they were hungry!

I started four fields down at the Copse pool where the farmer has his extraction pump. Nothing doing from the first pool which was a shame as I can usually get one or two there but the next pool produced two lovely (if small) wild brownies. The next pool casting under the overhanging tree produced a lively 12.5 inch fish and a smaller fish from the top end. Half an hour and four trout. Then things went quiet for half an hour. There were a few mayflies coming off but the trout seemed to be ignoring them for the moment so I stuck with a large (size 14) Parachute Adams but got no more takes. At one of the deeper pools I tied on a gold head New Zealand Style below the Adams and a good take produced a good 12 inch wild trout and the next cast a 13 inch grayling that really didn’t want to come to the net and gave me the run-around on the 5 foot #2. Switching back to the single dry fly for the shallower pools I managed another four trout in the next hour and a half, nothing huge but all very pleasant. I even found time to sit on the bank for a while and have a sandwich and drink!

It was now five to two and I knew I had to stop fishing before three o’clock to go and get my grandsons. But the next hour was the most productive of the day with 8 more trout. A couple of small browns then a 14 inch stockie - you can tell the stock fish as soon as you hook them as they just splash about in the middle of the beck, but the following fish was a 13 inch wild fish that headed for tree roots like there was no tomorrow and put up an incredible fight on the short rod. A 12 inch wild fish followed then three small wild browns before I had to force myself to get out of the beck and run back to the campervan to go and do the school run.

A really great day where the fishing seemed easy. Yes I lost a couple of flies in trees it’s inevitable with so much foliage around, but 18 trout and a grayling in under 5 hours was very satisfactory.

The good news is tomorrow I can do the school run in the morning and I’m then free to fish all day until dusk and with mayfly hatching I am hoping for a bumper day.

  19th May 2016   Hosting the WTT Auction Lot Winner

YTAA have offered a day’s fishing in the Wild Trout Trust Auction for the last three years. I host the winner and provide lunch and generally act as Ghillie for the day. I arranged to meet Andrew, this year’s auction winner, at the A19 Bridge at 8:45. It was a fine day but there was a forecast of rain in the afternoon. Andrew was quickly tackled up and we headed off on a walk down stream.

I think Andrew had been looking at the YTAA website and was equipped with a Burns Built 6’ #2/3 rod and his cast included tippet rings and an Adams Parachute… this was encouraging. The first pool we tried was the one by the Copse and Farmers water pump, but this failed to produce a rise, but the next pool produced a lovely little trout and Andrew was off the mark.

Andrew settled into the fishing nicely picking up fish and really appreciating the feisty little browns that are the bread and butter of our beck. A good 10 inch fish from a big pool was a bonus and some careful casting produced three fish from the same pool. Between the fishing and the occasional excursion into foliage to retrieve flies we saw kingfishers and two small otters - one literally under our feet as we sat on the bank changing a fly. Andrew had taken his time fishing and lunch was later than planned and even then we hadn’t fished the last few hundred yards to the A19 Bridge…. After lunch we headed up to Thirkleby. Andrew switched to a 5 foot #2 glassfibre Hardy rod. This was put to good use and a nice 8 inch fish was soon landed and returned. I was intrigued by the Hardy rod and Andrew let me have a few casts, it is a real gem of a rod with a lovely soft action easy to cast and accurate, but I think it’s probably a bit slow an action for my style but clearly a great rod for confined spaces.

The drizzle that had been forecast for the afternoon finally arrived and gradually got heavier as we made our way upstream. Andrew picked up a few more trout by the time we reached the little footbridge but he needed to leave by 6:30 and the rain was now quite heavy so we called it a day. It had been a pretty good day. Andrew really appreciated the beck and had landed 17 trout all wild fish and thoroughly enjoyed his day. He lives in York and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see his name being added to the waiting list to join YTAA.

  15th May 2016   Cod Beck (A little bit of Willow Beck)

A glorious Sunday afternoon and I’m heading for an evening on Cod Beck. I haven’t fished it this year but when I walked it prior to the YTAA AGM I was aware that a number of trees that were down or blocking the beck had been washed away by the winter floods. In addition a number of runs and pools appeared to have been scoured out by the flood water making them deeper which will lead to some interesting deep wading opportunities….

The 5 footer is tackled up, not because I particularly need a short rod on Cod Beck, but if time allows I hope to fish up Willow Beck to the Bridge and that definitely requires a short rod to get under the undergrowth. When I get to the little footbridge across the ditch I couldn’t help noticing two trout rising in the pool below. I can resist everything except temptation and two trout rising was far too tempting.. a quick flick of line and the Adams parachute landed a foot in front of the first trout who slammed into it and was duly hooked. Problem I’m about 6 feet above the beck with no way to slide down to net what seems to be a very lively 10 inch or so trout! Simple answer is let my line go slack and with a barbless hook (or in this case flattened barb) and the trout frees himself to fight another day. On reflection I decide this one doesn’t count towards my 200 as I never actually landed him.

Cod beck is looking good is deep clear and not too fast, if it was a pirate map there would be little crosses everywhere saying “Here be Trout”.

First challenge is a new tree down across the beck just above the start of our beat – at least the tree is not the challenge but the fish rising steadily above it is. If you look at the debris on top of the tree you’ll get an idea of how much flood water has been coming down the beck over winter. Back to the problem in hand how to get at that fish - I get as far to the left bank as I can without making too much splash, a neat side cast under the tree and the Adams lands just above the spot where the fish has been rising and sure enough up he comes and is hooked. A minute later a nice 11 inch grayling, not the trout I expected is in the net!

The lower part of our Cod Beck beat has always head some deep holes but the winter floods have really made it very deep in places. At one point where I used to get through Ok it is now far too deep to wade and I had to retreat 25 yards to get out to walk around to the next run. This also required a tricky entry slipping down the steep bank to get back in, but it was well worth it as what appeared to be a small trout rising turned out to be a 14 inch wild fish that gave me a tremendous fight and fully tested my little 5 foot #2. Certainly the biggest I’ve had from the becks this season.

I keep missing little rises that I take to be little grayling, the answer is to switch to a dark Klinkhammer which will sit lower in the surface film and will hook better, but as I really want trout I stick with my Adams and on the long run below the big round pool I hook another grayling about 10 inches, then another. Maybe it’s only the small grayling I can’t hook! I’ve never caught a fish in the big round pool and as time is short I don’t even try but walk round to the tail of the fast run where another grayling of about 10 inches grabs the fly but is off before I can net him.

In the fast run I cast to the only rising fish and another 11 inch grayling is landed. A speculative cast into the run produces a good solid take and hard fight ensues but in due course a perfect 14 inch grayling is landed and kept on the net for a quick photo before release. This is the best grayling so far this season and probably the best from here for a few seasons I’ll need to check my records to be sure.

Another speculative cast on the edge of the fast water produces a 5 inch grayling (so I can hook small grayling on an Adams Para!). I am really pleased to see this little fish as while the bigger grayling are probably grown on from the fingerling grayling we got for free from the Environment Agency a few years ago there is every chance that this little one is from wild recruitment probably last year which suggests the grayling are establishing themselves again.

It is starting to get a little chilly so I move up Willow Beck which is once again rather over grown. I get a 5 inch brown trout from one pool and decide to call it a night, 2 trout, 6 grayling landed, one deliberate early release and a number of missed rises, this is what makes beck fishing so rewarding and at times frustrating!   Did I mention my leaky waders?  Well that is how it goes.

  21st April 2016  Far below the A19 Bridge

A sunny day and I head off to fish a bit of Isle Beck that probably hasn’t been fished for more than 10 years. The beat I am referring to is below the A19 Bridge, but it is a long way below and it takes 45 minutes to walk from the bridge to the start point which is a little way up from Isle Beck Grange Farm. Now I believe you can park near Isle Beck Grange, but I’m not sure quite where and as I try to fish my way back towards my transport so I don’t have a long walk at the end of the day. I am happy to park at the A19 and walk down. I have fished this beat before but not for a long time and as I have a full record of where I’ve fished since the 2000 season and I have no record of fishing it since then. Also as it is an equally long time since we did any working parties on this beat, I’m fairly sure nobody else will have bothered to walk down six fields to get to it! I enjoy the walk down, its warm and sunny and there are Roe deer running off through the fields and buzzards overhead. I arrive at the start point which is just above a ditch with a wader attracting barbed wire fence and slide into the deep cold water.

The beck here is still about a foot above “normal” levels and running fast but it is more or less clear so I am hopeful of some action. There isn’t much doing at first and I make good use of my folding secateurs to trim brambles and overhanging twigs on the basis that it will help with casting next time if I am down again this season. With no interest in a size 14 Adams I decide to try a size 18 and while I am changing flies a fish rises right across the stream from where I’m standing, not even three yards away. He rises again seconds later and a third time a minute later, but third rise was to my Adams and a good trout is duly hooked, played, landed, photographed and returned in under two minutes.

I wish it was always that easy !  I make my way upstream searching for fish and pruning away as I pass each pool and run. This is harder than it sounds as there are some very deep pools (chin waders would be better than chest waders) and there are log jams necessitating scrambling out, walking round and sliding back in I eventually get a perfect little 4 inch trout which is safely returned with a promise to come back in a year or two. I am impressed with this bit of beck, in places it looks very nice and I think its only the high water and fast flow that is stopping me getting more fish. Although a working party or two where trees are down and branches need trimming would improve things no end. After a couple of hours of pruning and fishing it’s clear that my dry fly (Adams parachute of course) isn’t really working so I switch to a New Zealand rig with a size 12 Royal Wulf on top and an olive goldhead 3 feet below to search the deep pools. I flick the line out and instantly a silly trout hammers the Royal Wulf and virtually hooked itself. It’s a good fish about 11 inches and gives a right battle before it’s safely landed, photographed and released. Next cast produces a take on the goldhead and a 4.5 inch fish comes to hand and is released. A couple of casts later, still in the same pool the Royal Wulf slides under the surface and after a good fight a 10 inch grayling is landed and released.

It's been a funny sort of day, I am normally fairly competitive trying to catch as many trout as I can but today I have been really chilled out. I’ve enjoyed the fishing (and pruning!) and rediscovering this bit of neglected beck, so even though I have only landed five fish I am very happy with the outing.

  17th April 2016  A19 Bridge

A sunny Sunday evening and I decide to try a couple of hours on Isle Beck above the A19 Bridge. I park up and have a quick look over the bridge and was surprised to find the beck quite high quite fast and very muddy. I should probably have gone home but decided to try and tackled up with my favourite Adams Para. Tried my usual trick of wading under the bridge to try for a trout on the sill above the bridge but nothing doing. Tried the big pool above the bridge and had no luck with a dry fly so switched to the NZ goldhead rig. Nothing in the big pool or the fast run above it, but at the top of the next run where the beck runs in from left to right there was a little slack water and a cast there produced a slashing rise to the royal wulf at the top of my NZ rig but the trout didn’t hook up. Next cast same thing slashed at it but didn’t take the fly in, next cast exactly the same. Finally it dawned on me that this was a very small trout (SSS size see 15/4 diary!) so I switched to a size 18 Adams parachute and tried again dropping it exactly in to the little bit of slack water. Next cast precision perfect again in the slack but no rise, next cast nothing – and that summed up my outing. I tried a few pools further up with both dries and Nymphs but didn’t see or get another rise. By 7pm it was getting chilly and I’d had enough. Two hours and a complete blank never mind there’s always another day.

  15th April 2016  Thirkleby

I am out again and head straight back to Thirkleby to see if I can do a bit better than my last trip. Disappointed to see that the Beck is still quite high and coloured but at least it’s a bit better than my opening day. Once again it’s the Adams Parachute to try and start proceedings, but with no initial interest I switch to the New Zealand style Goldhead rig and get a nice wild trout from the run just above the big pool bend. It's about eight and a half inches long but I was hoping for a much smaller fish let me explain. About a year ago as a joke I started the SSS club this is short for ‘Seriously Small Salmonid’ for the discerning angler who catches (and returns) very (very) small trout. By small we are talking less than three and a half inches. (Unlike a well-known magazine which has Seriously Big Salmon Club, there is no coloured tie or special cap. We don’t have a special badge (but if we did the badge would probably be longer than the fish that earned it!) or a prize certificate just the honour of knowing we have caught a beautiful micro trout that one day may be a beautiful big trout.

Nothing doing in the first few pools and even the big bend pool produces no takes so it's time for the first change. The Adams parachute is off and a New Zealand style nymphing cast is on. I try for 20 minutes or so and still no takes. I move on up and the next pool produces a rise to the grey wulf which I miss (!) then a cast later something hits the goldhead nymph but is only on briefly. This is not good as my gut feeling is I’m not likely to get many chances if conditions don’t improve. Nothing doing in the next two runs but I see a fish rise above the little farm bridge so switch back to the dry fly Adams Parachute set up and wading carefully under the bridge (watch out for the big rocks!) I cast to where the rise was and up pops trout number one – a nice little brown about 8 inches which is quickly photographed and released.

Two SSS club members and one high profile angling journalist who has aspirations of becoming an SSS member but has yet to catch a trout small enough to qualify had a contests to see who could catch the smallest trout on our respective club waters – only condition was on a fly and it had to be the very next trout we caught. The Journalist’s first fish was a beauty but sadly it was at least 15 inches long. My first fish was today’s 8.5 inch trout, but my Scottish friend wiped us both out with a magnificent four and a half inch fish that he caught from some remote Scottish burn. (It was also his only fish in 6 hours fishing which makes it even more special!)

Anyway back to Thirkleby, I switched back to dry fly with a Black Parachute fly, and picked up a nice 10 inch fish from the Long run in the tree lined bit. Then switching back to the Adams I continued to get trout all the way up to the big weir. It took 5 hours to fish my way up there and I got a total of 14 fish a couple around 10 inches and two at sub 4 inches either of which would have won me the SSS ‘contest’ if they had been my first fish! I enjoyed my fishing today but I had one real test on a pool that normally produces a fish or two. The current here was very fast (left to right in photo which was taken on my previous trip) and several trout were rising in the slack water just beyond the edge of the current. There is no way to get across to the far bank to cast and there are trees all around and behind so a side cast/rollcast is required but no matter what I tried ( and I really tried) I couldn’t get the fly to pass drag free over the rising trout! If I had a Tenkara rod I could have eased a fly over the drag and would certainly have caught one. Once the beck drops a bit the current will be slower so I will catch trout there (as I have before) but it was frustrating seeing rising trout that I couldn’t get at.

I record every trout I catch and my two trips this year have produced 23 trout by a strange coincidence last season my first two trips were to Thirkleby and also produced 23 trout (8 first trip 15 second) …tight lines!

  3rd April 2016  Thirkleby

Finally after weeks of anticipation and having missed opening day on the 25th March I load the gear into the camper and set off to start my 2016 Beck season. I’m not sure what I’ll find as there has been some rain so the beck may be high and or muddy and although it’s a bright morning it’s not exactly warm, but I am determined to try and wet a line. I’m heading for Thirkleby (of course) and it’s just as well as there is an accident between a car and a pick-up truck by the A19 Bridge. The area has been coned off and just one lane open and with an ambulance and police cars and queuing traffic both ways there is no parking by the bridge. Its midday before I have tackled up and made my way down to my preferred starting point and shock horror the Beck is high, fast and rather muddy. It looks about a foot or more higher than normal and is moving very fast but I am here and I am determined to give it a go.

Nothing doing in the first few pools and even the big bend pool produces no takes so it's time for the first change. The Adams parachute is off and a New Zealand style nymphing cast is on. I try for 20 minutes or so and still no takes. I move on up and the next pool produces a rise to the grey wulf which I miss (!) then a cast later something hits the goldhead nymph but is only on briefly. This is not good as my gut feeling is I’m not likely to get many chances if conditions don’t improve. Nothing doing in the next two runs but I see a fish rise above the little farm bridge so switch back to the dry fly Adams Parachute set up and wading carefully under the bridge (watch out for the big rocks!) I cast to where the rise was and up pops trout number one – a nice little brown about 8 inches which is quickly photographed and released.

I get a second trout from the next pool which is the corner of the “Chicken field” by the willow. I move quickly through the next few swims as the farmer and his family are in the field bottle feeding some lambs and making a bit of noise, plus I don’t want to hook them on a back cast. I can normally pick up a trout or two wading and casting under the little bridge to the mill or along the edge of the wall, but there’s nothing doing today so I head on up into the tree lined areas. Nothing rises and nothing is tempted to rise in the first few pools, but in the long pool a fish rises and I hook him next cast only for him to come off within seconds. I call this the long pool as sometimes a long cast to the bend at the top will produce a take. It’s over 12 yards and about as far as I ever need to cast on the becks, but sure enough a nice little trout obliges and is quickly landed and released.

The run above the bend normally produces, but the winter floods have changed the pool, the left bank used to have the fast water and the right bank the slack but this is reversed and the water is moving very fast and nothing takes. The next bit is overhung with trees and isn’t easy casting so I’m not surprised when I get no takes, what does surprise me is the tree that was across the stream by the next bend has gone and I take advantage of the open pool to get another little trout. Another surprise around the bend is a huge crack willow down across the stream. The storms have obviously brought it down and most annoyingly it’s lying just too low to duck underneath and it’s a difficult to scramble up the bank to get over it! The pool below the footbridge draws another blank but the pool above which was previously blocked by a tree down at the start is miraculously clear of “woody debris” and another trout latches onto the Adams Para and is landed and released. I continue up this section noting that the water is definitely starting to clear, by no means gin clear but I can see the bottom in places which has to be a good thing though it is still too high and fast for my liking. The winter floods always change the anatomy of the river sometimes its subtle changes in depth or the way the current goes through a pool, sometimes its dramatic moving trees out of the way or bringing new trees down across the beck. Over the years I have seen all sorts of debris washed down but a blue bowling ball that is bobbing in the current is a new one on me!

I get a nice little trout from a pool which is fished in two halves. I usually get one near the first tree roots and then get another casting over the current into the edge of the slack water the far side. The water was very fast here and although I did get the rise I was only briefly connected to the trout which a pity as it was looked bigger than the rest I’d caught so far. I manage another trout at the end of the pylon section and loose another in the pool at the top of the “pylon” section. This top pool is starting to be good there is a tree stump in it and casting either side the of the trunk will produce a rise, so I’m annoyed that I lost another half decent fish. I get nothing more before the weir pool at the top. The water is really rushing through the pool and as its deep it doesn’t give the trout much chance to see the fly, but I get a small one from the slack on the right and finally by switching back to the New Zealand style Gold head rig I get one more trout.

It has been hard work in less than ideal conditions but I have ended up with 8 trout to the Adams Para and a bonus one on a goldhead. It’s taken six and a half hours for these nine fish, but my season is under way and hopefully things will improve as the water level drops and the weather gets warmer.