Tales from the Riverbank - 2018

  30th September 2018   –  Last Cast

I thought my Beck season was over but I had the chance to get out for a few hours on Sunday (30th September) and it would have been silly not to go for one last time.

As time would be short I decided to fish between the A19 and Arden Bridge in the hope I could pick up at least four trout to take my total over the 100 for the season.

I was tackled up and ready to fish by 9:50 which was probably too early and there was certainly nothing rising in the first few pools. Yet again I was surprised to find a number of new trees and branches had fallen down across the beck since my last visit on 17th September but then I remembered that the last set of near gale winds was on 19th September.

It took a while to get off the mark but in one of the bigger pools I connected with something solid which stayed deep and pulled hard but my little 5’ rod was up to the task and soon a good chub was in the net photos and released. I have had more chub this season than any other since I started keeping complete records 19 years ago. I had thought that the otters had cleared out most of the big chub but it does seem as though they are making a comeback. They are a sporty fish, this one took a goldhead but they are just as likely to take dry flies. My next fish was also a chub but much smaller and took a small Klinkhammer. A couple of casts later in the same pool an 8 inch grayling took the Klinkhammer and then a few minutes later still on the same pool a nice wild trout also took the small Klinkhammer. This is one of the nice things about beck fishing you can get a good mix of fish from the same runs and pools. Trout, grayling, chub and dace (not to mention minnows and an occasional bullheads) are all in there and can be caught with a careful approach.

I moved upstream steadily bypassing some of the worst of the woody debris but trying anywhere where there was space to cast and a chance of a fish. I landed another small chub and spent some time searching in one pool for a rather large trout that had looked at the Klinkhammer but not taken it, - for the record he also didn’t take olive emergers, Parachute Adams and assorted sizes and colours of gold and silver headed nymphs. Eventually I got bored of trying and moved onto the next pool, tucked well into the reeds I’d had a couple of casts when a head popped up above the foliage on the other bank. David Elliott was also on a quest for trout and had also made his way up from the A19 Bridge. I’d waded up the beck and probably disturbed most of the fish but David had already caught trout from one of the pools I’d fished, which shows that he knows what he’s doing and how quickly trout will come back out to play after being disturbed.

I left David to fish a pool below me where there had been a few grayling moving and waded up to the last few pool below Arden Bridge. There was a slim chance of another trout but every possibility of a couple of grayling as there is a good pod of them there. Sure enough the grayling showed interest in my Klinkhammer but in quick succession I snatched the fly from their mouths as they took it. I tried an F fly which hangs lower in the surface film thinking that might hook easier and the same thing happened, a couple of grayling took it but I failed to hook them. I could see various grayling in the pod still moving and taking flies from the surface so went back to a tiny dark Klinkhammer and finally hooked and landed an 8 inch grayling. My time was running out so I decided to finish on that fish.

It hasn’t been a high scoring season for me though I’ve had more trips out than usual and had a lot of fun. I’ve landed the smallest grayling I’d ever seen and the smallest fly caught fish, that greedy little minnow on Willow Beck. I’ve had 27 Chub, which is the most I’ve had from the beck (previous record was 16 in 2006). I’ve had 22 grayling which is very reasonable and some of them have been really good fish. I’ve had 4 dace and a record breaking 8 greedy little minnows! My trout total was 97, which is good but not particularly high compared to some earlier seasons, it would have been nice to have caught three more to make the 100 mark but in the end it’s not just about numbers but about time spent enjoying the challenge of small stream fly fishing. Hope you’ve enjoyed my moans groans and ramblings this season, the photo below was my last grayling this season.

  28th September 2018   –  Last Cast at Thirkleby

I know I was only out fishing yesterday but I have a day free and the weather forecast is good so I’m heading off to Thirkleby to try and get a few more trout. My phone hasn’t yet recovered from yesterday’s swim so I have my wife’s old phone to try and get photos of any fish I may catch. It’s my usual outfit today the Malcolm Grey 5’ #2 and a small Klinkhammer, I’m hoping I don’t lose it in the “foliage” as I only have a couple of small ones left.

At the Mill the beck is really low, about as low as I have ever seen it and as I expected there was nothing doing in the first few pools and runs. Nothing rose to the Klinkhammer in the bend pool but a switch to a goldhead produced a small chub. Moving on I got no offers from the next two pools and decided to miss the chicken field out as it was rather shallow last time I was here and also very overgrown with reeds.

I got back in above the little farm bridge but couldn’t do anything in the next few runs and was also disappointed to find yet another tree down a little further up. In fact between Thirkleby Mill Farm and the run below the footbridge at Balk Grange Farm I didn’t see one rise and got no takes on the Klinkhammer.

There were fish rising in the pool below the footbridge and I eventually hooked one which turned out to be a half decent dace. I don’t get many dace on the becks and this was only the third this season.

In the pool above the footbridge a good trout took the Klinkhammer and put up a hectic aerobatic fight before sliding safely into the net. This was a really nice trout a little over 12 inches with a few bright cherry red spots and as I had now had two fish in two casts I was beginning to think it might be a great afternoon. I didn’t get anything in the next few runs under the trees but picked a small trout out on the Klinkhammer with a careful cast under some bushes. It was gone 2pm and I had fished as carefully as I could for nearly four hours and hadn’t done as well as I hoped so I sat down for 10 minutes for a rather late lunch.

Moving on the next few pools produced nothing, as I half suspected, nor did the “pylon” length although I did see one rise. At the top of the “pylon 2 run” is a lovely little pool that is deceitfully deep and I had high hopes that I would get at least one and maybe even two trout from it. However it didn’t produce a take even though I could see two mid-size trout moving around. They carefully ignored my Klinkhammer and a series of sunken nymphs that I tried.

I tried a few casts in the next few runs and pools but I was a bit half-hearted about it as I was now thinking about the big weir pool which is at the top of the YTA A beat. Sure enough when I got to the weir pool there were several fish rising and I hooked and landed a 7 inch trout first cast. Once he was returned and recorded in my log I cast again but the rises had stopped and nothing showed any interest in the Klinkhammer. I switched yet again to the goldhead Klink and Dink but was getting no takes. Then I noticed a shoal of chub to the right of the pool and a cast in front of them produce a firm take. The fish was soon in the net, but wasn’t a chub but my second dace of the day and was quickly recorded and returned without a photo as I wanted to keep going for more trout.

Sadly it was not to be so having given the weir pool a good going over to the best of my ability I decided to go back to the campervan and head down to the A19 Bridge to have a last hour below the bridge trying in the deep pools.

This was also fruitless as I didn’t get another take anywhere and at 6 o’clock with a distinct chill in the air I headed back to the campervan.

I think this will be my last trip to the becks this season as I am unlikely to get out over the weekend and its season end on the 30th. It has been fun and it’s only as I sit writing this that I realise I didn’t get a photo of the last fish the dace from the weir pool. Hopefully I will be back next season and as always many thanks to Kelvin who checks and loads my diaries onto the YTAA website.

  27th September 2018   –  Cod Beck

There are only a few days left of the season so I grab the opportunity for a few hours on Cod Beck between school runs.

According to the online EA water gauge at Dalton, Cod Beck should be just about perfect height at 75cm and it certainly was running steadily and very clear. I parked up at the Railway Bridge at Gristhwaite farm and tackle up the Agility Rise 6’ with a DT3. I didn’t even pretend to start with a dry fly but went straight for a goldhead Klink and Dink as I knew I wanted to be searching the bottom of the long run for trout and or grayling.

Having made my way into the beck I was surprised to see the odd rise but the Silver headed nymph soon did the business and a nice 10 inch chub was recorded and released. Next up was an 8 inch grayling and then I hit something a lot more powerful. This turned out to be a big grayling which for a long while refused to come near my net. I wasn’t particularly worried as the long run is deep and the grayling seemed happy to swim round in circles just staying clear of the net. In the end it started to tire and I started to bring it towards the waiting net when the hook pinged out, for an agonising couple of seconds the grayling hung upright in the water as I made a desperate lunge to get my net under it but it turned and swam away. (I’ve had some very big grayling on the Welsh Dee and on the Annan in Scotland and this grayling looked a match for them!).

I was about to cast again when I noticed an odd commotion at the top of the run something large and white was flapping in the fast water at the top, then I realised that there was a brown shape next to it and suddenly I could see that it was a young otter with a seagull in its mouth! I watched spellbound as the otter dragged the seagull into the side of the run and up into the balsam and brambles. In 50 plus years of fly fishing I’ve never seen anything like that before. I thought the commotion the otter had caused would have killed the pool, but as I was winding in and ready to move on I saw a couple of rises near the head of the pool so I changed to a small dark Klinkhammer and promptly landed a 14 inch grayling – a nice fish but not a patch on the one I’d lost earlier. Having recorded the grayling in my waterside log book I cast again and hooked and landed a 12 inch grayling.

There was clearly a pod of decent grayling near the top of the run so I had a few more casts and a good wild trout took the Klinkhammer. I’ve been fairly desperate to add a few more trout to my log book before the end of the season so I really wanted to land this one. My pulse rate must have soared as this trout went airborne leaping well clear of the water on at least four occasions. I hate it when trout leap clear of the water as often it means trout and fly part company but on this occasion my luck held and I eventually steered it over the waiting net.

Although the trout had made a bit of a disturbance in the run I decided to have a couple more casts and added another 8 inch grayling to the log book before I moved on. I’d spent nearly 2 hours carefully fishing about 30 yards of water, but it had yielded a chub, four grayling and a trout.

Moving on I failed to get any interest in the run under the railway bridge or in the next couple of pools above the bridge which are slow and deep I did however see a large shoal of chub, some of which were significantly big. If I had more time I would have had a serious go at getting a bigger one but moved on upstream in search of a feeding trout.

I made my way carefully upstream trying as hard as I could but wasn’t getting any interest in my Klinkhammer. In one pool I could see another large shoal of chub of varying sizes all of which ignored the Klinkhammer so I tied on a tiny goldhead below it. True to form they all ignored the goldhead too but after quite a few more casts a small chub did take the Klinkhammer, and was duly recorded in the log.

I was starting to push my time limit as I had part two of the school run to do but wanted one more go at the long run below the bridge before I finished so I made my way back there. I didn’t get any more fish but I did manage to drop my phone into the river and so this evening it’s drying out but not looking healthy.

Despite the phone incident I had really enjoyed today’s fishing, I hadn’t got as many trout as I would have liked but the one I got was good and so were some of the grayling I landed.

I intend to fish tomorrow (28th) but I am now split between trying Cod Beck again as it was so pleasant to fish it today, or going to Thirkleby Mill in the hope of a decent haul of trout. Either way it looks like I won’t have a phone to record whatever fish I do catch.

  25th September 2018   –  Riccal Revisited - On A Blustery Day!

I had planned to have a another go at The River Riccal and the water level gauge showed it was ideal height (16cm) and the weather forecast was good with no rain expected so I was up for a full long day once I’d dropped my grandson at school.

I set up the usual 5’ #2 with an Adams Parachute and quickly made my way down the floodbank to the start of our beat. Conditions were near perfect clear water, warm sunshine and I was hoping for a good catch like my previous visit, but it was not to be, within 5 minutes of starting a strong breeze sprang up out of nowhere making casting a nightmare in the already overgrown conditions.

As I made my way upstream, sometimes trying with dries sometimes trying with a goldhead on a Klink and Dink rig, the wind picked up in strength and was either blowing left to right, which meant my fly often landed in reeds, balsam or brambles, or sometimes the wind was straight in my face which meant that my fly sometimes landed in heap near my feet. It was all very frustrating and not at all what I had hoped for. I didn’t see many rising fish, just 4 all day! The first one I cast to I hooked and lost. Two and three were in the same pool, I managed a catapult cast at two – he ignored it, and second attempt landed with a splash and he was off. Number three was impossible to reach with any cast. Number four rise was in the “big pool” and I landed him on a Royal Wulff my first fish of the day. It had only taken three and a half hours but at least I wasn’t going to blank!!!

A few minutes later trout number two took a goldhead and was safely landed, it could have been a twin of the first. Then just 6 minutes later trout number three took the goldhead and went into the waterside logbook. I’d now landed 3 trout in 18 minutes and was beginning to think I might be in for a bumper afternoon, but I was wrong, despite trying as hard as I can I didn’t get another take on a fine mix of dries and goldheads of assorted size and colours.

I suppose I shouldn’t be disappointed, I was out all day, I caught fish and despite numerous hook ups on reeds, twigs, branches, brambles and balsam I didn’t lose a single fly. I don’t think I could have done anything different to catch more fish. Today was always going to be tricky with a narrow overgrown stream but as soon as the wind picked up I was really up against it.

As I write this there are just five days left of the wild trout season and I’m hoping to get at least one more short trip out.

  20th September 2018   –  A Tale of Woe on Willow Beck

As mentioned last time I hadn’t fished Willow Beck this season and while the bit between Willow Bridge and Cod Beck is mostly unfishable the length above Willow Bridge is much better. The first bit immediately above the bridge is a long dark tunnel beneath the trees and is deep and difficult wading but beyond that it opens up a bit and can provide some good fishing, so I was hopeful of some trouty fun when I set off. As I suspected there was nothing rising under the trees so I switched to Klink and dink to search the depth, but didn’t get any takes and having reached some unwadeable bits scrambled out to re-join a bit further upstream.

Where I got in above the trees the beck was quite shallow so I switched back to a dry fly but got no takes as I made my way upstream. I soon realised that the previous days very strong winds had brought down a lot of leaves, twigs, branches and even the odd crack willow just to add to the already overgrown conditions that I had expected to find. In fact there was barely a pool or run that was not in some way chocked with debris making casting near enough impossible.

I was disappointed to find that the farmer has been bulldozing stones and earth onto the side of the beck and has spoilt one of the first more open pools above the trees.

In the one pool that was free of debris I landed a chub of about 8 inches and followed up with a minnow of 1.5 inches. Moving on under the little farm bridge I found more stones and rubble had been bulldozed into the beck ruining what was once a good grayling and trout holding pool and one I’d been hoping might end my trout drought.

I hadn’t intended to fish through the top wood and up to the railway bridge but the wire fence that used to bar the way into the wood had gone and the pool at the entrance now looked fishy enough to justify a cast or two. Sure enough first cast the Royal Wulff on my Klink and Dink rig moved sideways and I stuck and missed a fish, as I went to cast again I noticed something on caught on the hook and closer examination revealed it to be a one inch minnow neatly lip hooked on the goldhead. It is without doubt the smallest fish I have ever caught on a fly.

Having returned the record breaker I moved on into the wood, which I have rarely fished. I found quite good headroom for casting but more twigs and branches in the watercourse which also had deep unwadeable pools. I ended up scrambling up steep slippery banks on my hands and knees on several occasions with some tricky descents back into the beck to try and find any water clear of branches to cast into. It was not easy fishing and I was really glad when I reached the railway bridge and could retreat back to my camper van for a cuppa.

It was not the great morning I’d been hoping for and I can’t really recommend the beat for fishing at the moment as with so much of our waters it had huge potential and I have had good trout and grayling and chub from it in seasons past but it needs some work to make it fit for fishing again. I’m writing this with the rain battering the windows and knowing that both the river level gauges for Cod beck are showing rises – I think Cod Beck is good to fish when the level is 78cm, tonight it is 122cm ! The Dove is also up dramatically and even the River Riccal gauge is showing a 2cm rise. If the rain keeps on the rivers and becks may not be fit to fish before the end of the season and my record breaking minnow maybe my last beck fish this season.

  17th September 2018   –  A Long Day on Isle Beck

My trip to Isle Beck on 17th September was long and not over successful. I had opted to fish between the A19 and Arden Bridges, but also sneaked in a couple of hours below the A19 before it was too dark to see

I worked my way upstream but failed to get any takes despite seeing the odd rise. A trout in the kingfisher bank pool rose a few times but ignored my offerings. I then came upon a small pod of grayling in fairly shallow water but they ignored my Olive Klink hammer, I tried a smaller one, I tried a darker one, I tried an F fly, I tried a small CDC but nothing would move them. In the end I tried a really small goldhead on its own (not Klink & dink), I roll cast beyond the grayling and as it drifted near just lifted my rod tip to raise the goldhead a couple of inches and wallop the grayling took it. I’d spent maybe 40 minutes on this one grayling, only 9 inches or so but very satisfying to have solved that problem.

Colin Willock the angling author and broadcaster once said there are only three questions that need to be asked when fly fishing. First “Why won’t that trout take the fly I drift passed his nose?” Second “What fly will he take?” Third (and in my opinion probably most important?) “Why will he take it?” Those questions have haunted me since I first stated fly fishing and are as true today as they were 50 years ago.

Keeping with the upstream nymphing style I wandered upstream and landed yet another minnow, possible the smallest I’ve ever had, but then switched to Klink and Dink still with the tiny goldhead to search a couple of deeper pools. Casting to the top of the first deep pool I had a savage take on the goldhead and after a bit of a tussle slipped the net under a big wild brown. I have had several 14 inch plus trout this season but this one at just over 15 inches is the best brown I’ve had (so far?).

Moving on I made a complete hash of the next pool, it had a tree down along the stream and a deep run in at the top. Casting to the top I missed a good take, cast again and briefly hooked a fish which came off. Casting a third time I hooked another fish which also came off then caught in the branches of the tree and had to wade through to release my fly.

Next pool up had a good fish rising but casting room was limited (isn’t it always!). A roll cast put my fly in the right place but got no reaction then as I lifted my rod tip and pulled the fly back to roll cast again the trout turned chasing maybe 6 feet across the surface of the pool to take the goldhead. My rod was already vertical so I hardly struck but the trout had already hooked himself and put up an energetic fight before I got him in the net. A good 12 inch fish fin perfect but I suspect it was a well mended stock fish as there were few red spot and wild fish often develop a white mark on lower edge of anal and tail fin where they rub on the gravel over time.

The grey skies of the morning had disappeared but bright sunshine didn’t make any difference to the fishing which was slow hard work. I added a 10inch grayling and a small chub from one pool both on goldheads and in one deep pool, where I rarely get a fish, a nice little chub slammed into the Royal Wulff of my Klink & Dink rig and put up a spirited fight – the tail on this fish seemed a bit big in comparison to the body.

I managed just one more small trout before I reached the good pool a few yards below Arden Bridge. Here I could see several grayling moving round and went through the same routine as with my first grayling of the day trying to persuade one to take. I’d put a fly in the right area and watch as they rose almost vertically to the fly then almost as they were taking it turn away again. Eventually using a tiny CDC dry I got one grayling to take, but promptly lost it when it leaped clear of the water.

I wondered back down to my campervan and put the kettle on reflecting that it had not been the best of days, then after a cuppa I decided to squeeze a couple of hours below the A19 bridge and headed straight down to the big pool three fields down. This is a hard walk between overgrown grass and the maize field.

There were a few fish rising in the big pool and I added grayling of 10inches and 6 inches to my score both taking a small Olive Klinkhammer. I switched to a goldhead Klink and Dink and lost another grayling but failed to get any interest from trout.

Time was now pressing as it gets too dark to see quite early so I skipped a few pools and focused on a couple where I usually catch. My frustrating day continued when on one pool the goldhead caught on the bottom and a decent trout decided to take the Royal Wulf. The hooked trout swam round in a circle on the tethered line before the hook finally came out. I retrieved my goldhead which was embedded in a sunken branch at the bottom of the pool.

I moved upstream to the final pool below the A19 Bridge and first cast hit a good fish which looked like a grayling as it splashed on the surface and came off. Next cast I snagged on a branch and couldn’t pull free, I climbed out to see if I could reach it from the bank but with a barbed wire fence and the tree in the way and deep water below I decided it wasn’t worth it and went back to my rod to pull for a break and lo and behold the goldhead came free anyway. By now it was 7:15 too dark to see under the trees and anyway I’d had enough for one day.

Not sure how many more trips I can get this season I hope to get maybe two more one to the Dove and one to the Riccal, but I haven’t fished Willow Beck above Willow Bridge yet this season so I might try a short session there if I can.

  14th September 2018   –  A Short Trip to Thirkleby Mill

After a brief visit to Stearsby on Friday I decided I had time to nip across for a couple of hours on Thirkleby Beck. My usual 5’#2 outfit but using an Olive Klinkhammer rather than my usual Adams. The Adams is a great all-round fly but I just feel it hasn’t worked so well recently and the Olive Klinkhammer worked at the Dove earlier in the week.

The first thing I notice is how low the beck is and I can’t recall seeing it this low. I saw a trout rise in the first run but it wasn’t interested in my offerings, nothing was rising in the big bend pool so I changed to a Klink and Dink and immediately hooked and lost a trout. A couple of casts later the Royal Wulff vanished and I landed a small chub. A minute or two later another small chub took the goldhead, but there were no trout showing any great enthusiasm so I moved on. As well as the beck being low the trees that are down over the water were also low and covered with thin shoots making casting to trout difficult.

I waded under the little bridge which still has deep water but was passable on the right side (facing upstream) but couldn’t get any interest in the first run and the willow on the bend has completely covered the beck making that pool unfishable. I was surprised at how high the reeds and balsam had grown on the length through the “chicken field” and it was impossible to get a cast in there. The farm bridge also failed to produce any takes and I switched back to my Olive Klinkhammer to go up into the wider water above the mill. First pool under the trees produced a small trout at the very top of the run. Moving round the next bend that pool was barely fishable with another tree down and a blue water pipe from the farm strung across the beck.

The next few pools produced no rises but the next pool which was dark under the trees had one fish rising near the top end a couple of careful casts had my fly drifting over the right place and a 12 inch trout duly obliged and was landed photographed and quickly released.

Round the next bend I was disappointed to find yet another tree down across the middle of what I have called the long pool. It used to be a really good place for a trout or two and had room for a long cast right up to the top, but not anymore. I am really puzzled as to why so many new trees are down across the beck, I’m fairly certain this latest one wasn’t there last time I fished here and I can’t recall any really windy conditions that would have caused them to fall.

I failed to get any further interest from trout until I came to the footbridge pool (having got out of the beck to avoid the big tree across the stream just below it) and there I got another trout about 7 inches. It was only 7:15 but already it was getting difficult to see my fly under the trees and it was getting a bit chilly too so I decided to call it a day – two hours fishing two small chub and three trout in fairly challenging conditions but enjoyable for all that.

  11th September 2018   –  A Day On The Dove

It’s that time of year with only days until the end of the season when I realise I haven’t fished on the River Dove. This year my excuse is I have been a bit pre-occupied with the new beats on Cod Beck. I decided that a day on the Dove was long overdue, the Online River Level gauge showed it to be normal height and so I set out hoping for a good day with the option of dropping into the River Riccal for an hour in the evening on the way home.

The weather forecast for Kirbymoorside was rain all morning but in fact it was sunny all day although the wind picked up and was a bit of a nuisance trying to cast between balsam lined banks. I parked up near the old barn and tackled up with my 5’ #2 – I normally use a 6 or even a 7’6 rod on the dove but I anticipated that it would be a bit overgrown and opted for the shorter rod.

I made my way down to the bottom of our beat which is at the junction of the Dove and Howkeld Beck, but couldn’t find it at first because of the high balsam. Eventually I slid into the River a few yards above the end of our beat. The first thing I noticed was that the river was actually quite low and also very clear, there was nothing rising so I changed from dry fly to my much favoured Klink and Dink with a very small goldhead.

I was off to a good start with a trout, (albeit only 5 inches) after just a couple of minutes and I hoped this might be the start of a bumper day, but I was very wrong. The next trout was an hour and a half away and just 6 inches and again on the small goldhead, but in between I lost a good trout at the net.

I worked my way upstream not catching trout but seeing plenty in the very clear water and finally stopped for a snack at 13:40. I’d fished as well as I could for nearly 3 hours and only had two small trout for my efforts. Sitting on the bank munching a sandwich I was thinking that I hadn’t seen a rise all morning when a small trout rose just a few feet from where I was sitting. Changing back to an Adams Para I failed to get any interest from that trout but saw another fish rise a bit further up. This one took my fly and was on for a few seconds then threw the hook, it looked like a small grayling and I wondered about changing back to a small goldhead but decided not to as I was seeing the odd rise.

In one likely run I drifted my Adams Para a few times convinced it must hold a trout and on the fifth drift a good trout rose and took the fly. This was 13 inches and quickly photographed in the net and released. It’s one of the great mysteries about fly fishing why hadn’t the trout taken the fly first time or second but took it at my fifth attempt when as far as I could tell the fly was in the same position on each cast and of course if I had given up after the fourth cast I would have missed a good trout.

I carried on upstream and despite a few fish rising I was getting no interest with the Adams Parachute so changed to an Olive Klinkhammer and next cast hooked and landed an 11 inch trout. A few minutes later another 13 inch trout nailed the Klinkhammer and put up a tremendous fight in a narrow tree root lined bit of the river.

A few more minutes and a small trout took the Klinkhammer and was duly landed, recorded and released. I’d now had 3 trout in twenty minutes and was beginning to think it was going to turn into a great afternoon but I was wrong I didn’t get another touch before I reached the upper limit of our beat and retreated to my campervan.

It had been a funny sort of day’s fishing, the low clear water and annoying breeze probably didn’t help. A few of the pools I remembered from previous visits had changed almost beyond recognition with large gravel and silt deposits changing them dramatically. Having said that I was still left with the feeling that I should have done better as there were certainly a lot of trout about, but I can’t really complain as the trout I did land were fin perfect.

There isn’t a lot of the season left but I might try and squeeze another Dove Day in just to see I can do a bit better.

  6th September 2018   –  A Challenging Time On Cod Beck

I hadn’t explored the lower parts of our new Cod Beck Water and decided it was time I did before the end of the season which seems to be looming up rapidly.

Having dropped my grandson at school I headed up the A19 and across the A168 to Grithswaite Farm. I parked up at the lower bit of the Farm and tackled up with my 6’ #2 Riccal 2 piece (Burns Built Rods one of the best and more expensive rods I own!) and set off down the fields.

I had thought I’d try and get in by a little footbridge that crosses Cod Beck near the bottom of our beat but must have walked past it or maybe never reached it. I got in near the factory on the far bank. First problem was getting in, I knew the beck was below me but finding it and then a way into it was shall we say “interesting”.

Having slithered, none to gracefully, into the beck my next problem was casting as I have said frequently in my diary it was a bit overgrown and I was already wondering if I should have set up a 5’ rod. There was nothing much rising, (actually there was nothing at all rising but it was still early!) so I switched to a Klink and Dink rig using a size 14 Grey Wulff and a size 16 goldhead. I t took a while to get going (or even to find casting room!) but eventually the Grey Wulff slid under the surface and I tightened into a powerful fish which turned out to be a good chub.

I have to warn you that even though the beck was “low” there are some very deep pools in the lower part and I was in danger of topping my chest waders more than once! A wading staffs is essential if you are going to fish this bit of the beck (a mask and snorkel might come in useful too!!)

Eventually after an hour I hooked another fish which could have been the same as the first chub except I was a couple of hundred yards further upstream! I passed the water gauge which was showing 78 cm, agreeing with what the website said when I looked before I set off!! Above the water gauge is a lovely run which I was sure would get me a couple of fish, but I didn’t get a touch. If you can locate where the water gauge is, it’s a good place to get into the beck as there are concrete sides to the beck and you will have passed several of the dangerously deep wading areas – and you‘ll probably catch where I didn’t!

A bit further upstream I was forced out of the beck by a fallen tree which had deep water on the downstream side. I decided to cut my losses and moved upstream a bit and slid back in half way down our old beat of cod beck where I hoped I’d have a bit more casting room and success. I failed to get a touch on the normal good runs of the old beat but got yet another chub (slightly smaller) in the big pool on the bend. Having put him back I cast again and was straight into a much more powerful fish which put a good bend into the 6’ Riccall before I slid it into the net. This was an excellent wild trout just under 15 inches and was quickly returned.

Moving on I got a couple of small chub from the runs above the big pool, but didn’t connect or see any of the grayling it normally holds. I also got a greedy little minnow that managed to take the gold head – they are incredible little fish and will try and take flies almost as big as they are!!

I was now on more familiar territory having fished the bit above the junction with Willow Beck earlier this year, even so I wasn’t doing much better a lot of reeds had grown up in places and branches seemed to be sticking out over the beck in all the right places to stop you casting!

Eventually I landed yet another chub (my 6th of the day!) and stopped for some lunch as it was nearly 2:30!

The sunshine of the early morning had passed and some fairly dark clouds filled the sky threatening to put a damper on proceedings as I continued upstream. I was seeing a lot of chub and quite a few trout, but they were probably seeing me first and departing before I could get a cast in. However I eventually hooked and landed a nice 12 inch trout and decided to call it a day, not least because I would need to get out to bypass another fallen tree but also as I knew that I must be fairly close to the parking area and my van.

It had been a funny session, I had landed 6 chub, 2 good trout and a minnow all on small goldheads. I think I enjoyed the fishing, but it did feel like hard work with some difficult wading conditions. I can’t really recommend the lower stretch of Cod beck if you want easy fishing / casting. However if you enjoy a challenge (I seem to!) then there are some very good fish there, I know because I saw a lot of them swimming away from me! Having said this, if you are going to try, then please take great care. Chest waders and a good wading staff are essential and you need really good grips on your wading boots as the edges are soft mud and slippery.

Tight lines!

  28th August 2018   –  A Difficult Afternoon on Isle Beck

It’s not been long since my last trip but it feels an age ago and I feel the season is drawing to an end and I haven’t done anywhere near enough fishing (this is actually my 14th trip to YTAA becks).

A quick look over the bridge before I set up shows the beck to be low slow and clear, so a quiet stealth approach will be needed today.

I walk down three fields to my chosen starting point, this is quite difficult with high tussocky grass nettles and balsam on the river side of the fence and then tricky gap between the vegetation and the sweet corn. As soon as I am down at beck level I can see a good trout sitting quietly in about 5 inches of water a few yards ahead of me. A cautious cast puts my Adams just ahead of the trout which rises and looks at the fly but doesn’t take it. I cast again but this time the trout shoots away into some nearby roots without a glance at the fly.

I wade upstream through some overgrown bits and under a couple of trees before the next fishable run which is below the big pool. This is normally a run that produces grayling, but not today so I move onto the big pool itself.

I always fish the run out of the big pool before tackling the pool itself but today this doesn’t get a fish. I try the Adams on the big pool and hook and loose what looked like a half decent grayling. Then I manage to lift the fly off just as a grayling tries to take it, I put the fly back down and then lift off just as the same grayling (or maybe a different one) tries to take it again!! I try a few more casts but nothing rises so I switch to Klink and Dink goldhead rig and am soon playing a lovely 10 inch grayling which is quickly photo’d and released.

I try the goldhead in various bits of the big pool but get no more takes and then a few fish start rising near the head of the pool so I switch back to the Adams Para and eventually get a 7 inch grayling. I’ve given the “big pool” a good go and move on upstream. Nothing happening in the first couple of runs but then small rise produces another of the 2 inch grayling I wrote about recently, they are a bit annoying now but in a couple of years they will be great fun.

I struggle upstream casting where I can but finding it difficult to get anywhere because of the overgrowth and fallen trees. Eventually I get to an open bit and can see a three good trout lined up near the end of a long run. The third trout is rising occasionally and a careful cast persuades him to take my fly. This is a good fish over 14 inches and photographed in the net and carefully released. It’s taken 3 hours to get this first trout but it’s been worth it. The other two fish are still in line but not rising and though I try my Adams a few times get no reaction, then on impulse I wet the Adams and let it sink just ahead of the two trout, as it drifts, past the second one it turns and takes it. This fish puts up a stronger fight than the first but eventually slips over the net for photos and release – this is a really beautiful wild trout also 14 inches.

Incredibly despite the fight from the second trout I can still see the third big trout holding station so I try a quick cast with my “sinking” Adams Para, I can see it drift just to the side of the trout when a small chub comes out of nowhere and hooks himself. After releasing the chub I can see the trout has gone so it really is time to move on.

I am getting no takes on the Adams in several pools so I switch back to a Klink and Dink rig but have difficulty casting it with so many trees and about. On impulse I change the rig so there is just 14 inches of 6lb line between the fly line and a Royal Wulff and about 18inches between the Royal Wulff and the goldhead. This is much easier to cast but lands with a bit of a splash never the less it works and a 10.5 inch trout goes into the log. The next cast in the same pool produces a violent rise to the Royal Wulff and another 14.5 inch wild trout is eventually landed. I move on up but don’t get any takes till I come to a big pool with a tree across this is a deep pool but I can see a fish rising above the tree. I manage to squeeze beneath the tree and get a catapult cast into the pool and immediately the Royal Wulff vanishes and a 7 inch trout is on the goldhead. This is the last fish of the day, its only 19:45 but it is already too dark to see under the tree canopy so I call it a day.

I set out today thinking I might get a good haul of small wild trout but in the end I ended up with 3 grayling, a chub and 5 trout and only the last one was a small.

  13th August 2018   –  A quick (?) trip to the River Riccal

I decided to have a quick trip to the River Riccal – as I haven’t fished it this season. (Actually with the road from Sherriff Hutton to Hovingham closed it was anything but a quick trip!)

I was both looking forward to and dreading fishing the Riccal, it runs off limestone so it’s a chalk stream in miniature, however we haven’t done any proper working parties there for a few years and I correctly guessed that a number of the better pools would be hidden by willows and unfishable.

I parked up near the water gauge shed and walked down the flood bank to the start of our fishings – we don’t own fishing rights on this bank but it’s the quickest way down to the start of our beat and I would be wading upstream when I fished.

As I feared many of the best pools were unfishable with willows completely covering the stream, but I made a good start with an 8 inch fish from the first fishable pool. In fact my first hour of fishing was very good with 5 more trout all small (in the 6-8 inch category) but great fun on the 5’ #2 with the need to keep them out of reeds and roots in a very narrow channel.

My second hour was less successful as I was into more overgrown bits but I added two more trout to my waterside log book. My last hour and a half was a bit depressing really, although I added trout of 6, 8 and 7 inches to the log book it was really hard work. Absolute accuracy of casting was essential or I was caught up in reeds /balsam/ trees/brambles and whatever else was lurking above below sideways and in front of me in the casting area. In fact by the time I had got back to the bridge I’d really had enough and didn’t even bother trying upstream.

Having said all this I really do actually like the Riccal, the water is always beautifully clear as you would expect for a chalk stream, there are lovely clear gravels and weed beds and it holds grayling and big trout, (if you can cast to them!). If you adopt a really careful quiet approach it is just possible to get quite close to fish in the more open bits and if you can spot a rise and drop a fly near it you could be in for some fun.

So if you thought you could go to the Riccall tomorrow and probably end up with 11 beautiful wild trout in just three and a half hours fishing would you go? I know I would every time, even so a couple of overwinter working parties would do a lot to open up this jewel of a water a bit.

  8th August 2018   –  Thirkleby Re-visited

I decided to have a quick trip back to Thirkleby and fish from the footbridge to the weir pool again. Partly because I hadn’t fished some of the better pools as I let my fishing buddy have first crack but mainly because at the weir pool something larger than usual had taken my fly but threw the hook with a very strong lunge and large splash.

I set up my favourite 5’ #2 rod and DT2 line but I also packed a 5 piece 7’6” #4 in my back pack as I felt I might have a better chance of holding onto a big fish if I set it up when I got to the weir pool. Certainly the rod has a lot more power than the 5’ can offer.

A rising fish below the footbridge turned out to be a 6 inch chub which was quickly released and I moved above the footbridge. Annoyingly I hooked and lost a good fish in the next pool but it threw the hook with a big leap. I rested the pool for a few minutes, then cast again and landed a 9 inch trout.

Moving on I went straight past the next pool checking that there was nothing nasty coming out of the sewerage overflow pipe – if you fish there it’s easy to find because someone has created a dam to deflect the water flow straight to the pipe presumably to try and hide any evidence of sewage going into the beck!

There is only one big dam of woody debris above the footbridge at Thirkleby and there is on long tree trunk lying down stream. A quick cast to drop my Adams Para right by the trunk produce a rise and a 7 inch trout went into the log book.

There were no fish rising in the next few pools and even the “pylon length” was quiet and a search of the deep pool with both my Adams and a Klink and Dink produced no result.

I moved quickly on to the weir pool and set up my 7”6” travel rod. This is a Shakespeare Deluxe Travel rod I bought in 1997 and it used to be my favourite beck rod for many years until I got a 6’ Burns Built Riccal and realised how much more casting room it gave me. In fact I can’t actually remember when I last used this rod but it must be over 10 years and now it felt a bit like I was waving a telegraph pole compared to the 5 ‘. I had watched the weir pool for a while to see if I could see the “larger than average trout” but there was nothing obvious and nothing at all was rising so I switched my rig to a Klink and Dink to search the depths. Once in use the old rod felt remarkably good, it was much easier to cast out a K&D rig and I enjoyed the extra power.

Switching to my old rod was a good idea and after an interesting few minutes I landed 20 inches of fighting wild trout on my little goldhead – sadly the 20 inches was made up of two 6 inch trout and one 8 inch trout and not the 20 inch monster I was hoping for. So I’ll have to try another day.

  3rd – 5th August 2018   –  Intense Trout Therapy

I met Gordon 5 years ago on a Wild Trout Trust day that I’d won and we have become firm fishing buddies ever since, most of our fishing has been in Wales or Scotland but last year Gordon came down to try our becks (see Kingfisher Diary 3rd / 4th June 2017). He’s been following my trials and tribulations in the Kingfisher diary and since I’ve been writing about our new beats on Cod Beck he has been dying to come down to try them. The opportunity came at fairly short notice so we booked our campervans into a campsite at Easingwold and armed with 3 day tickets we met up for a long weekend.

We’d been watching the water level gauge for Cod beck as rain the week before had the river too high and muddy to fish but the level reports looked ok so we decided Friday afternoon would be for Cod Beck.

Friday 3rd August.

We parked at the railway bridge at Gristhwaite farm, set up 6’ fly rods and waded through nettles and into the beck which looked near ideal. When fishing together on small becks we take turns on alternate pools and runs so Gordon was first off into the long run and hooked but lost a decent grayling. Although there was nothing rising I was convinced there were trout about but probably with their heads down so I switched my dry to a Klink and Dink and was soon playing a nice wild brown of 10 inches. Gordon tried his Adams Klinkhammer but was getting nowhere so I tried my Klink and Dink and got a small Chub. Then while Gordon changed his cast I got another 10 inch wild trout. By now we’d given the long run half an hour and with two of us taking turns to cast, and give or receive a fair amount of banter we felt it was time to move on above the railway bridge.

Getting back in is a bit of a scramble but we were soon on our way upstream trying to be as quiet as possible. Gordon got a couple more grayling before I had a chance at a rising fish in a very tight spot, but landed my Parachute Adams over a twig and hooked out a tiny dace.

We continued upstream exploring the water and Gordon finally landing a nice wild trout. (A couple of bigger fish had managed to throw his fly). Soon after we came to a non-wadeable pool and decided to call it a day and go in search of beer and food and headed back to my campervan but on the walk back we decided to try the long run again as it had been well over 4 hours since we left it. Slipping (literately!) back into the beck we noticed it had a distinct tinge of colour and seemed to have risen, nevertheless, Gordon had better success and got two really good grayling on his Adams before we decided it was time for food and beer. Later when we checked the river gauge data for the evening level we found the beck had risen 6 inches from when we started.

Saturday 4th August.

After a late night of fishing talk, whisky, cheese and biscuits and a hearty breakfast we drove the short way to the A19 Bridge to fish upstream to Arden Bridge. Today was a 5’ #2 rod day and we were soon making our way upstream. There was nothing doing in the first couple of pools but the high bank where the kingfisher nests were produced a nice wild trout for Gordon before we moved on. I had intended to let Gordon fish most of the time as he hadn’t seen this part of our becks before and was enjoying the challenges it presents. He picked up a lively stocked trout and another grayling before we had to exit to get around some big fallen trees. Above the blockage we found ourselves looking down at one very big trout cruising quietly round a pool, Gordon had first shot but it showed no interest in his Adams Klinkhammer. On my turn the trout vanished but a small rise to my Adams Para produced the smallest grayling I have ever seen. At barely 2 inches long it shows that we are getting some natural recruitment of grayling, which is great for future sport and this one was quickly photographed and carefully released.

Time was marching on we were barely half way between the bridges but felt lunch was needed so walked back to the van and drove up to Arden Bridge and had some food (and beer) before walking down to continue where we left off.

Coming round to one of the better pools we suddenly realised someone was fishing, Richard Pulleyn was busy having fun with some rising fish so after a brief introduction we move on upstream a couple of hundred yards to fish the last couple of pools before we reached the bridge. We’d been fishing for six and a half hours but it was too early to pack up so we hopped in the camper van and made our way up through Great Thirkleby to the foot bridge at Balk Grange Farm intending to fish up to the weir pool.

There were several fish rising in the pool below the bridge and having missed a couple of rises Gordon let me in and I landed an 8 inch chub, before getting a big tangle in my cast. Gordon moved up above the footbridge and landed a nice trout while I made up a new cast. Everything went quiet for a while but above a big log jam I got a good 10inch trout from the very tail of a run. It is always worth while trying a cast at the end of the run or pool as trout will sit in very shallow water and this one was in no more than 3 inches. The beck here is quite overgrown but Gordon did some careful casting and hooked a good trout on a tight bend near a fallen tree, however the trout dived into roots and dislodged the hook.

I managed a lovely 10 inch trout from one pool which Gordon got on video, amazingly from casting to playing and landing this fish was a total of just 19 seconds. This surprised us both, you have to play trout hard and fast when there are tree roots and obstacles everywhere, but from hooking the fish to lifting the landing net was just 15 seconds.

Before you get to the weir pool at the top of our beat there is a long stretch under the electricity pylons and this is now quite overgrown with the trees meeting over the top of the beck. Gordon declined my offer to try for a trout which always sits between a rock and a trailing bramble and regretted it when it took my Adams Para first cast and proved to be a good 11inch wild trout. At the top of the “pylon length” is another great pool, Gordon landed a nice fish then let me have a go at the run in and a roll cast from a kneeling position produced a good rise and a 12inch trout. In our rivalry terms I was feeling quite smug in my last 4 casts I‘d had trout of 10, 10 ,11 and now 12 inches.

By now we’d been fishing over 8 hours so we moved on to look at the weir pool. A tangle in an overhead branch stopped Gordon who admitted he’d had enough for one day and a last cast from me produced a big take, a big splash and a huge disappointment as what might have been the fish of the day managed to throw the hook, so we both called it a day.

Sunday 5th August.

Our last day and Gordon fancied a short session below the A19 where he had fished last year. Parking at the bridge again with 5’ #2 rods we made our way down 3 fields to start fishing. The beck looked quite shallow here and very clear so a careful approach would be needed. The early loss of what looked like a really good trout didn’t upset things and Gordon was soon back in the game with a grayling in the run before the “Big Pool”. I picked up a grayling on a goldhead from the tail of the big pool before Gordon added two more grayling on an Adams Klinkhammers. – The Adams Klinkhammers sits just that little bit lower in the surface than the parachute versions and seem to be better for hooking grayling (I’ve order a supply to keep me going!). There are always good trout in the big pool and as the surface action was only producing grayling I was thinking they must be on the bottom so I changed to a deep Klink and Dink Rig – 4 feet between the gold head and a Royal Wulf. This was really difficult to cast with a 5 foot rod, but I was into a good trout straight away, this was 10.5 inches and quickly returned.

My next cast produced a 1.5 inch minnow cleanly hooked in the top lip. These are amazingly greedy little fish, I think it’s the little orange flash tied on the bend of the hook that they go for and literally hook themselves. My goldhead nymph was dangling in the water while I was drying and dressing the Royal Wulf ready for another cast when another even smaller minnow took it, unbelievable! Having carefully returned my second minnow, my next cast produced a 12.5 inch wild trout which put up an incredible fight on the light rod. I have to admit that until I got it in the net I was never really in control of him and it wasn’t helped that first my net lanyard got caught in a bramble beside me and then the tippet ring on my longer cast jammed in the top ring of my rod. Worst of all while I am trying to get the trout in Gordon is calmly recording it all on video ...

After the splashing of the last trout we felt the pool was worked out so moved on upstream. We could see some small fish rising and they splashed at our flies without taking them, Gordon changed to a smaller fly and immediately landed a tiny grayling, if anything smaller than the one I had the previous day. After carefully returning this grayling he cast again and immediately got another one. We could see at least 20-30 of these little grayling in the shoal which as I’ve said before is great news for future sport.

Time was now getting short as Gordon needed to head back up to Scotland no later than 3pm so we skipped a few pools and tried a couple with deep water further up towards the bridge, these produced more grayling for Gordon before he finally landed a good wild trout and that was it.

Once again we’d had an incredible few days, not that we had caught huge fish or lots of fish but mostly because the YTAA becks offer great but challenging fishing and the fish you catch are all fighting fit good top quality fish.

  25th July 2018   –  Cod Beck Revisited

It’s been 8 days since I retreated from the flooded water of Cod Beck so I am hoping it will have dropped enough to offer some good fishing. I’m parked up at the railway bridge and a quick look under the bridge shows the water is at least 18 inches lower than my last visit.

I’m soon togged out in waders and tackled up with the 6’ Agility Rise to make up for its lack of use on the last visit here.

I slip as I am trying to get down the bank and slide gracefully (?) backwards into high balsam but fortunately remain upright out of the beck and didn’t break any legs or my rod. I can hardly believe how different the beck looks – it’s nearly perfect and it isn’t long before a decent chub takes the Adams Para and after a lively fight is in the net.

I move a few yards upstream and try the Adams in the “long run” but get no offers, however a switch to a gold head Klink and Dink produces a firm take and a good wild brown is soon in the net, photographed and released.

I try the long pool for a while as I know there are fish in it but some very noisy scrambling bikes are kicking up a right racket in a field the far side the beck so in the end I move on as I want peace and quiet.

I move on right above the railway bridge to the old cattle holding area where I finished a couple of weeks ago, as I want to explore some new water. Getting back in wasn’t easy, but the sight of a couple of very large chub gently sipping flies in a pool below me is incentive enough to slide through balsam and nettles and into the beck. At first I can’t see the big chub but there are several smaller chub moving about, I resist the temptation to try for a smaller one as I am hoping one of the big ones will come back. After five minutes the two big ones drift into view a quick cast and one of them come up and looks at the fly but heads down and as he does so one of the smaller one takes the fly and hooks himself. This small one was 9 inches which makes me think the two bigger ones have to be about 22-23 inches! Needless to say the hooked small one caused the shoal to scatter, so I moved on, but I will certainly be back for another go.

This bit of Beck is hard work. It’s between steep banks, it’s overgrown, there are trees down and the water depth varies from a few inches to about 5 foot, it’s not easy wading and I strongly recommend you use a wading staff as it is slippery underfoot in the deep areas! Having said that in the places where it is open the beck really is excellent, sometimes it’s lined with reeds and often there are lovely weed beds providing good cover for trout and grayling. I pick up another chub and a couple more trout then get a minnow on a goldhead. On one of the bends I pick up a 10 inch grayling from beyond a weed bed. He plows straight into the weed bed but comes out and flaps around while I manage to get my line clear of the weed and guide him into my net.

I have been fishing nearly 4 hours and I haven’t actually covered that much water. I have waded a lot and seen a lot of fish but casting to them is not easy with overhead trees and overgrown banks. I do get another small trout and decide to quit as I am not certain how far I’ve come. Once I am out of the beck I realise I have only covered about 400 yards of water (it felt a lot further with all the bends and twists and turns), but I still have around 400 yards of water to explore before I reach the upper limit of our beat.

  17th July 2018   –  A Very Short Session on Cod Beck

I was looking forward to a great afternoon and evening on our new water at Cod Beck. I was planning to fish the nice long run below the railway bridge first, as it is such a good holding run and then move upstream to the cattle pen where I finished last visit and fish to the top of the beat.

I parked up by the bridge and was soon in waders with the 6’ Agility Rise getting another outing, it’s a lovely little rod and a delight to use, then shock horror I looked at the beck and it was high, fast and the colour of cocoa!  Looking at the railway bridge it must be dropping but had been a good 6 inches higher. I decided to try the long run anyway and made my way through the head high nettles and slithered down the bank and into the beck. The difference from my last visit was instant a really strong current and a good foot or so deeper. I tried a dry fly on the long run but really it was pointless, I switched to a Klink and Dink but it was rocketing through too fast and as I felt really insecure wading in the current and deep water I gave it up as a bad job and retreated to the camper van.

I wasn’t going to waste the day and decided to head for Stearsby lakes. I stopped off at Arden Bridge to see what Isle beck was like and while not as fast as Cod Beck it was a dark chocolate colour so I hopped back in the van and drove to Stearsby.

I was surprised to find two cars parked and three members already fishing (Stearsby notes for June showed an average of one angler per day!) Starting on the bottom lake I landed 7 rudd, including a double hook up! Then moved to the top lake where the other members were fishing. I watched Richard Pulleyn land a nice fish on the far bank then got one myself. Glenn Mimms got a lively fish but then everything went quite. Richard and Glenn went home and I got another rainbow on the top lake but it was all a bit slow and boring compared to the wild trout I had really wanted to be chasing. For a while I cleared the top sluice taking out all the floating scum/weed that was drifting into the corner.

The flow of water to the bottom lake had improved so I tried from the first platform to see if I could get a rainbow interested, but instead added to my tally of rudd. It really was rudd fest time with several double hook ups and a rudd on every cast for 20 minutes or so until I got bored and decided to try the top lake again. There was just a hint of a breeze on the top lake and a few fish rising and after a couple of casts I had a good take and was into a lively if small fish which turned out to be a wild brown trout of about 10 inches. I have seen several reports of wild browns in Stearsby lately and it was nice to get one. Clearly this plump wildie had come down from the feeder stream and was enjoying life in the top lake he was safely returned after a quick photo.

Finally I have a conundrum, all along the dam wall of the top lake there are shoals of tiny fry literally thousands of them. As far as I know there aren’t any rudd in the top lake (I’ve seen none and nobody has recorded them?) so are these trout fry from the wild trout in the stream? If they are then we could be in for some excellent wild trout fun in a couple of years’ time!

  6th July 2018   –  A Short Session on Cod Beck

I seem to be struggling for fishing time but after the working party this afternoon decided to head off for a short session on Cod Beck. I had intended to park at Willow Bridge cross the beck and walk down to the bottom end of our new beat and fish back, but on the spur of the moment decided to try the top end instead. I was soon on the A168 and sailed straight past the entrance to the farm! So came off at the next junction and made my way back and got the turning right at the second attempt! I drove to the parking spot by the railway bridge and was quickly tackled up with a 6’ #3 Shakespeare Agility Rise. I recently bought this as a rod that packs down small intending to use it for some small streams in remote parts of Wales and Scotland where it is a trek from the nearest road. The rod is actually very light and a delight to use, if anything it may not have quite have the power of my other 5’ and 6’ rods but at under £40 it is excellent value and ideal for almost all our Becks.

I started about 50 yards below the railway bridge as there is an excellent run that just had to be fished. I actually got in a bit further down and lost a trout second cast then landed a small one. On the good run I added grayling of 11 and 10 inches on my Parachute Adams then swopped to a goldhead Klink & Dink and got a super 14.5 inch wild brown trout. He kicked up a bit of a fuss but a few minutes later a 12 inch grayling took the goldhead and was soon in the net. I moved upstream above the bridge and had to get out to avoid a rather deep pool, getting back in was shall we say interesting but a rising fish was all the encouragement I needed to slither down the bank and fortunately keep my feet on the slippery river bed. The rising fish turned out to be a decent chub which became detached before I could get it in the net.

As I moved carefully upstream it felt as though round every turn there was an even more fishy looking run or pool, some were almost unfishable because of overhanging branches but it was nice just to be exploring the new water. I had switched back to a Parachute Adams above the railway bridge and missed several takes, probably due to not concentrating as there was so much to see on the new water, interesting weed beds, a couple of kingfishers, some large shoals of chub and dace as well as trout and grayling. I did manage two more fish, a 5 inch dace and a 6 inch trout before I came to a convenient exit point and decided to call it a day. The exit is about half way along the railings on the old cattle pen above the railway bridge and worth noting as good entry and exit points are a bit scarce on the new water. I think there must be about a three quarters of a mile left at the top of the beat that I’ve yet to fish and hope to get out soon to try it.

  22nd June 2018   –  Wild Trout Trust Auction Winner’s Day

It seems a long time since March when the Wild Trout Trust Auction took place and the winner of this year’s auction also won the YTAA lot last year.

Steve had been in touch and we’d agreed that he would take his day on 14th June, but the day before he phoned me a bit concerned that the weather forecast was that ‘Storm Hector’ would sweep across Britain on the Thursday and he felt this might make fishing our becks a bit tricky (It can be tricky enough on a good weather day!!) so we agreed to put his day’s fishing back a week. Little did we know that Storm Hector’ would still have an effect on the day’s fishing, but more about that later.

We met on the A19 Bridge at 9:15 intending to fish upstream to Arden Bridge and hopefully get an hour or two up at Thirkleby Mill in the evening. A glance over the bridge revealed a couple of trout rising so Steve put a small Klinkhammer and we made our way under the A19 Bridge to start fishing. I then realised I’d left my phone in the van so nipped back to collect it and by the time I was back Steve was already keeping a low profile and casting up into the first run. A couple of casts later a trout rose to the fly but came unstuck so we moved upstream.

There was nothing doing in the next few pools and runs and I was surprised to see that there were large numbers of leaves twigs and branches at the end of every pool and run – when I had fished on the 8th June just to check the beat before the WTT day the beck had been pretty much clear of branches and then it dawned on me ‘Storm Hector’ had clearly taken a toll on the trees and blown a lot of smaller branches into the beck. In fact as we made our way upstream we found that almost every pool and run had twigs branches in and in a few places big branches had added to the existing sets of “woody debris”. In a couple of places some seriously big branches had come down so it really was a good job we had postponed...

The day was quite warm but sadly the wind was picking up making accurate casting a bit of a lottery and it was almost two hours before a decent trout took the Klinkhammer and stayed on long enough to reach the net and have a quick photo.

After a while Steve switched to a goldhead and started roll casting his way upstream. I have never tried upstream nymphing (it is different to New Zealand Style ‘Klink & Dink!) so I paid careful attention to the technique – I’ve said before that you’re never too old to learn about fishing and I always learn a lot when I act as host/ghillie for the WTT winners. Steve was using his Hardy Aln 5 foot #2 glass rod as last year, keeping his roll casting short to no more that 5-8 yards and was therefore moving very cautiously along and between each run and pool.

By lunch time we were about a third the way up the beck to Arden Bridge so I left Steve roll casting in all the likely places while I nipped back to the A19 and drove my van up to park at Arden Bridge and walked back down with our packed lunches and liquid refreshment. Steve had added a couple of “chublets” to his tally while I was fetching lunch but no more trout.

After a leisurely lunch I carried the now much lighter freezer box back to the van before re-joining Steve who was set on a bank changing his cast. While we were sat a fish continued to rise a couple of yards from where we were sitting so a small Klinkhammer went back on the retied cast and a 6 inch grayling was added to the tally. We moved on and switching back to upstream nymphing Steve added a couple more grayling on goldheads before switching back to a Klinkhammer to target a good rising fish. This turned out to be trout number two, a very lively 10.5 inch fish that we both thought looked much bigger while it leapt about doing acrobatics and hooping the little rod over before sliding neatly over the rim of the waiting net. If Steve hadn’t landed the fish so that we could see it close to I would have thought it was at least 14 inches it really looked so much bigger when it was leaping right out of the water.

Steve was ringing the changes with flies and technique trying to make the best of each pool and run and added a half decent chub on a goldhead before connecting with a much better fish. This time the Hardy rod really was struggling as the fish set off first upstream then turned and came down stream straight through my legs ( I was standing near Steve to watch the fun!) before turning back upstream. This was getting interesting and a little embarrassing. I’m hopping about on one leg up to my thighs in water trying to get clear of the line and not fall in while Steve is calmly doing his best to keep a large wild trout under control and out of nearby willow tree roots. After a few frantic seconds I’m clear of the line and eventually the strain on the rod is enough to get the fish clear of the roots and into the waiting net. A really splendid wild trout (at least 14 inches) quickly photographed and safely returned.

A couple more pools and a trout or two that got off and we had reached Arden Bridge and decided to have a quick look at Thirkleby Mill so we jumped in the waiting campervan and drove there.

I was very surprised to find that at Thirkleby the beck was even lower than elsewhere probably the lowest I’ve ever seen it, never the less Steve was soon into a nice 10 inch trout and a short time later another chub.

A few casts in one of the faster runs produced a subtle take and Steve was surprised to land a two inch Bullhead, cleanly hooked with the goldhead neatly in his top lip. Steve admitted to never getting one on a fly before and was surprised to learn that I had also caught one on a goldhead last year also at Thirkleby. (I’d be interested to know if any other members have caught bullheads while fly fishing).

We started moving on upstream but came up against another recently fallen tree that made further wading progress impossible so retreated downstream till we found somewhere to get out, it was now 8:40 pm and Steve decided to call it a day.

It hadn’t been easy fishing, the wind had made casting dry flies tricky and the number of twigs leaves and branches that had blown in during Storm Hector hadn’t improved matters either, but Steve said he’d thoroughly enjoyed the day, not a huge number of fish but some very nice ones on a mix of dry flies and goldhead nymphs topped off with the big brown and a bullhead.

  12th June 2018   –  Cod Beck

Well it’s taken a while but I have finally had a day (well afternoon / evening) exploring a bit of the club’s new water at Cod Beck. I decided to park at Willow Bridge and walk down to the junction of Willow Beck and Cod Beck and fish upstream from there.

I put up my 6’ BurnsBuilt Riccall rod as I think my much favoured 5’ rods will be too short for most of the bits of Cod Beck and I don’t think it will be too overgrown to need the 5’ on the bits I will be fishing. A word of warning the little wooden footbridge over the ditch in the corner of the first field alongside Willow Beck is now decidedly unsafe. The boards are rotten and it is safer to cross the ditch further up where it is virtually dry.

I’m soon in Cod Beck and making my way upstream, I start with my usual dry fly set up with a Parachute Adams, but I have several Klink and Dink rigs made up with small gold or silver beads ready to swop over quickly so I can explore deeper pools as and when I find them.

The exciting thing about fishing new water for the first time is you don’t really know quite what to expect. In my case it was a quick little trout a minute or two after I’d started fishing, only 7 inches but a great start to what I hope will be a very productive afternoon.

I move slowly up the beck partly because there is nothing much rising and also because each pool and run I come to is new so I need to take my time and work out where the flow goes and where the trout are likely to be holding - some of its obvious of course but some of it less so and I want to avoid scaring good fish by moving too fast before I get to know the water.

It takes an hour and a half before I get my next fish – a 5 inch trout that took a silver beaded nymph fished Klink and Dink style in a deeper run and the next fish (6.5inch trout) is half an hour later but back on a Parachute Adams. Already I’m thinking it would be nice to have a ghillie holding a spare rod made up ready with my Klink and Dink set up while I use my dry fly set up, so I can change over quickly as there seems to be a lot of variation between nice shallow runs and deeper slower glides on this new water.

Things suddenly change for the better when a superb 14.5 inch wild brown hammers into the Parachute Adams and puts up a lively fight, it has a huge tail so it’s no wonder it put a big bend in my 6’ rod. Having released that fish I move up stream a bit and I am straight into another good fish, another brown just nudging 14 inches. Again I move on up but change back to the Klink and Dink to explore a deeper run and I am quickly into the next fish - a 6 inch trout, he is quickly released and next cast I’m into another big wild trout, again 14.5 inches. It feels like trout heaven, three really good fish in a very short time.

I have been moving steadily upstream and then run into a bit of a problem in the form of a pool too deep to wade and it’s a long way back to a half decent place to get out. In the end I manage to scramble up the nearest bank and work my way through chest high nettles and balsam to get back in above the deep pool getting more than a few stings for my trouble.

I’m still on the Klink and Dink and on the next cast a splashy rise takes the White Wulf I’m using as the ‘Klink’, this time it is a little chub that goes into the record book.

I’m still moving cautiously upstream but somehow manage to get myself to another place where not only can I not wade any further because it’s too deep but it’s not safe to turn round because the bed of the beck is very slippy mud. I spent a few uncomfortable minutes thinking I was going to get rather wet but eventually I manage to haul myself up the steep bank for another diversion through high nettles and more stings. I have to go quite a long way up a field before I can I manage to get back in to the beck by going down a little land drain. I’m still on the Klink and Dink and a speculative cast in a deep run produces a firm take and yet another super wild trout just on 14 inches is soon in the net, photo’d and released. The next few runs are shallower so I switch back to the Adams and get a 9 inch grayling.

Then everything goes quiet, the beck looks beautiful but I’m not seeing any rises or getting takes even when casting in what looks like all the right places. I have to get out again, this time to get around a large tree that completely blocks upstream wading. Fortunately not too many nettles this time and I’m soon back in the beck and trying a couple of likely looking runs. I don’t get any rises but then just as I start to lift off to cast again a trout takes the Adams as it lifts off the surface, the trout puts up a lively acrobatic fight coming well clear of the beck several times but is eventually safely in my net – at “only”(!) 12 inches it is the smallest of the bigger trout I’ve had today but again in superb condition.

Its nearly 7.30 and I’ve been fishing for 6 hours (give or take the odd excursion round obstacles and deep water) so I retreat down the beck to a point where I can exit safely and make my way back downstream to Willow Beck and back to my van

I’ve had nine trout, five of them really good solid fish, a chub and a grayling and although it has been hard work I think it has been a great start exploring out new water. I probably fished about three quarters of a mile of the new water which means there is still a lot more for me to explore and I think it’s going to take long time before I feel I really know these new beats as well as I know the rest of the Isle Beck System.

I suppose I could add a word or two of warning, I always use breathable chest wader and the beat I fished has some deep water, some of it too deep even for these. My folding wading staff got used a lot in fact I had it dragging behind me on its lanyard most of the day ready for use. If you are wading upstream when you fish this water keep half an eye out for places where you may be able to get out/back in as you will need to do both to avoid deep water and a couple of fallen trees. Finally I would suggest not wearing a short sleeved shirt – even wearing my long sleeved shirt I got more far too many nettle stings than is necessary on a normal day’s fishing!

I do think my next few outings are also going to be on our new Cod Beck waters there is something about big wild trout on a 6 foot rod that makes you want more… its very addictive!

  10th June 2018   –  Isle Beck  –  A19 to Arden Bridge

It’s a month since I got to the Becks to fish (I’ve been fishing in Wales) but with the 2018 Wild Trout Trust Auction winner due to fish next week I thought I’d better go and check Isle Beck.

As it is the same gentleman who won the YTAA Lot on last year’s auction I want him to see a different beat so decided to check between the A19 and Arden Bridges.

I’m ready to fish just after 10 o’clock and am straight into a large wild brown just above the bridge he’s photographed and quickly released and I move upstream. There is nothing doing in the first big pool or the run into it but I see a fish rising in the pool on the corner and he takes first cast and after a lively splashy fight a 15 inch stockie is safely in the net photo’d and released.

Moving around the bend I come face to face with the first of our “woody debris” collection. This pile has grown considerably since last season and a couple more trees have washed down and added to the original blockage. It looks like the field side bank is being heavily eroded when the river is in flood so it probably needs tackling at some point but these are big trees and it will need serious machinery to pull it out or get it cut up!

Having walked around the obstacle  (through waist high nettles and balsam) I get back in to tackle what was the Kingfisher nest pool – the high bank has been eroded quite a bit over the years and it doesn’t look like the kingfishers still use the one remaining hole. A small wild trout obligingly takes the Adams parachute drifted along the edge of the bank and then a slightly better brown takes it from the middle of the pool. After a quick “trim” of some overhanging twigs and nettles with my folding secateurs I move up to the next run which has good casting room but didn’t produce a rise. Round the next bend there is another tree down, but it is nicely lined up down the side of the stream and a cast close to it produces a splashy rise and another big stockie. A cast to the far side of the tree doesn’t get a take and I move carefully past the tree (deep water by it) and round the next bend. I was surprised to see a little grebe and 3 ducklings (or is it grebelings?) on the next pool up they quickly scuttle away in to the undergrowth by the edge of the pool. There is a fish rising but he takes no interest in my fly so I move on again. A couple of runs later I come across "woody debris number 2" but this is smaller and there is a skinny pool below it and a quick cast produces a beautiful 9 inch wild trout. It is always worth a cast or two in even quite small shallow pools as they often have trout it.

This was very much the pattern of my day, a fine mix of large stock brown trout, beautiful little wild trout, a few bigger wild trout and getting out the beck to go round the larger woody debris collections. I switched briefly from my Parachute Adams to a Klink and Dink to search one deep pool and came up with a small chub and a good wild brown trout but went back to the Parachute Adams which is far more pleasant to cast on the 5’ #2 fly rod.

Its 16:40 by the time I reach Arden bridge and I’ve missed lunch by a long time. I’ve probably spent about an hour trimming excess shoots, twigs and foliage in a few places to make it a little easier on the WTT auction winner next week (and for me later on!) but the rest of the time it’s been good fishing and I’ve ended with 14 trout and the small chub. I don’t think anyone else has fished between the bridges recently as there were no obvious paths made through the overgrown banks where I needed to get out to get round the large woody debris, it has been quite demanding fishing and in places tricky getting in and out but I’ve really enjoyed my day.

  8th May 2018   –  Isle Beck - Thirkleby Mill

What a difference a few days makes – a really hot day on the beck at Thirkleby and plenty of fish rising (but no mayflies yet!).

As I was planning a long session I parked the campervan near the footbridge then walked back down to below the mill to start fishing thinking it would take me a couple of hours to fish back up to the van just in time for some “lunch” then fish on up to the weir pool. In the event it took rather longer than planned to get back to the footbridge and “lunch” was at 5:30!

I was pleased to get a little trout early on with a speculative cast on the edge of a fast run. The beck is in really good condition a good height and clear, in fact almost too clear as I watched a good trout rise slowly to take my fly but tightened too soon and snatched it out of his mouth.

I did better in the next few pools targeting rising fish which obligingly took the size 16 Parachute Adams and stayed firmly on. Above the little bridge there is a lovely run and a rising trout turned out to be a solid 10 inch fish that fought well above his size.

I lost a fish under the little bridge by the mill house, it looked silvery like a grayling or a small chub and apparently broke me taking my cast across a piece of metal sheeting under the bridge. There are several bit of metal in the water in the area around the bridge so watch out for your waders as well!

Above the bridge I usually get a trout or two from alongside the wall but there was nothing rising and the speculative cast didn’t get any takers.

Above the mill the beck has changed a bit with yet more trees down since last season most are passable with care, but watch out for deep water either side particularly if the tree is at water level as the river can scour out a deep hole below the trunk.

My first few fish were typical small wild trout, but were followed by fish of 11, 10, 13 and 12 inches. But I then followed up with a couple of smaller fish from skinny water and little runs – It is always worth trying even quite shallow runs as even quite big trout will sit in a couple of inches of water and with care can be caught.

After a quick (and very late) lunch in the van I headed on up above the footbridge. Following the pollution incident last year I was rather annoyed to see that the overflow from the septic tank at Balk Grange farm has now been hidden/disguised by some rocks and a small dam of rocks has been built to direct water towards it presumably to try to hide any discharge. I will be sending the photo onto the EA to see what they think. (If you are in the area fishing and see or smell anything nasty report it to EA and or a committee member asap!).

Despite a slight drizzle I continued to fish up towards the weir pool catching a few fish including a couple of good ones from the “pylon” section which is again rather overgrown and needs very careful casting if you want trout rather than trees. I had seen a few kingfishers during the course of the day but was surprised to see two tawny owls fly into the trees at the top of the pylon section – I can’t ever remember seeing tawnys together before.

The weir pool seemed to be flowing very fast and deep compared to the rest of the beat but I managed one small trout on the Adams then switched to Klink and Dink to try deeper for something better but only managed an even smaller trout at just over three inches the smallest of the day.

  4th May 2018   –  Isle Beck

A beautiful day and as I have been neglecting my beck fishing for a while (Have been fishing in Wales and Scotland!!) I decide to head up to the Beck for a few hours before it is restocked.

I park up at the A19 and wander downstream to my favourite starting point which is the little copse several fields down.

It is my usual set up 5’ #2 fly rod and a small parachute Adams on the business end. The Beck looks in fine fettle, a good height and running clear and my confidence of a good few hours is high.

There is nothing rising, but that doesn’t really matter as early season most of my trout are caught by dropping a fly in the likely places rather than casting to a rising fish. I have no takes at all in the first few pools and there is no interest in the Adams so when I get to the first of the deeper pools I switch to a Klink and Dink and I am soon into a fish that turns out to be an out of season grayling, which is quickly photographed (holding it over the net with wet hands) and released. A few minutes later a second grayling is netted and released.

I then see a good fish rising at the far end of the deep pool and I am faced with a problem. This pool is too deep to wade through. The rising fish is nicely positioned with trees and bushes screening the beck on both sides and there is a big branch hanging down from an overhead tree in front of me. I wade as far as I can until I am just in front of the big branch and teetering on the edge of filling my chest waders and try casting but my Klink and Dink is falling short by a couple of yards. I try several more times but cannot get a cast in front of the trout that has continued to rise steadily despite my splashy casting!

I retreat to shallow water and switch back to a dry fly with a brown mayfly on as there seem to be the odd one or two about and I’m guessing that is what the big fish is mopping up with gentle ease. I wade back out and try again but the fish has moved up a few feet nearer a bush and I still can’t reach him. I watch him for a few minutes and note he is moving around sometimes dropping back just about in range and at other times moving up close to the left bank. I try again and again to reach him without success. – This is now getting personal and I spend over an hour waiting for a few minutes then casting again when he is in range and in between times catching on bushes, hitting the branch behind me and never quite getting my fly in the right place at the right time! In the end I accept defeat and get out and walk around the deep pool and bushes to try elsewhere, but I won’t forget this fish and will have another go at him – (I think he was probably around 14/15 inches).

Moving upstream I revert to Klink and Dink for a couple of deep pools and hook and lose fish in both. Time is moving on and I am aware that I will soon need to be back at the bridge to help with restocking and I still haven’t landed a trout! I miss a few pools and then in a fast run the Klink slides under and I tighten into a fish and at last I get a small trout – wet hands and a quick photo before releasing him and head quickly up to the bridge to the restocking party.

It wasn’t the day I expected just the two grayling and only one little trout in what seemed near perfect conditions. Oh well there is always another day and I didn’t lose any flies despite a number of new trees hanging across the beck.

  25th March 2018   –  Opening Day

After months of waiting and anticipation the big day finally arrived and I realise that other commitments mean I will only be able to get a couple of hours at the Beck to start my season off. My campervan is still having a refurbish at the garage so I load the MX5 with my tackle and head off to Great Thirkleby. It is almost becoming a tradition that my first casts of a new season are at the Thirkleby Mill beats. I’m soon tackled up with a 5’ #2 and of course a Parachute Adams.

The Beck is still quite high – about 6-8 inches above what I would call “normal”. It was also running through rather fast but fortunately there is only a tinge of colour in it which I like as it makes stalking a little bit easier.

There is no sign of rising fish but that is not a problem as trout will usually rise to a tasty looking morsel if it is put in the right places. For the first 10 minutes I was clearly not finding these “right places”, but on the run below the big corner pool a nose popped up and took the Adams and put a healthy bend in the rod. I was just thinking that this was a good start to my season when the fish came off. It felt well hooked but clearly wasn’t, I checked the fly and the point was fine so it was just one of those things.

I couldn’t get a rise in the big pool which looked very full and even switching to a Klink and Dink with a little goldhead didn’t produce a take either. Moving upstream things started to go wrong, I seemed to be catching every twig, overhanging bramble and dead nettle stalk everywhere I went and got tangle after tangle in my cast. A couple of them were so bad I just cut them off and put them in my bag to sort later and tied on a new cast.

My couple of hours was rapidly vanishing and I couldn’t get a fish – I switched back to a single Parachute Adams when I got alongside the Mill - the run by the wall normally produces a trout or two but no today. Moving up through the trees I still didn’t see a rise or get a take. I was a bit surprised to find a huge mound of rubbish near the old chicken shed topped off with an old Mirror sailing dinghy!!

There has been a great pool above the “chicken run” that has been one of my favourites for years but I was surprised to see it completely changed, a tree has come down and split the flow creating a sandbank where once there was open water. The main flow of the beck still runs along the far side and past some tree roots and it was a speculative cast here that produced the second rise of the day and some nervous moments as a lovely wild trout made its way into the waiting net.

I have seldom been so glad to see a trout safely in the net – quite a good fish about 10-11 inches and a real blank saver. It was my last cast as I had gone 20 minutes over my time limit so a couple of photos before carefully releasing him facing upstream. I needed to rush home quickly, but at least my season was off the mark and despite all the tangles and twigs I hadn’t lost a fly!