At the 2019 AGM Richard Pulleyn generously offered to present his insights on Cod Beck to the meeting with a view to helping other members enjoy the water. The following notes are based on his personal experience during the 2018 season of 15 visits, resulting in 23 trout, 17 grayling and 17 chub or dace. A total of 57 fish.
Before you venture out read as much of Peter Conde's Kingfisher Diaries as possible, these contain excellent tips and observations about all our beck fishings.
Make early season visits (March & April) to learn the entry and exit points of the wades, after this the bank vegetation makes exploration very hazardous.
Use the Dalton gauge on the EA website - River Level - Dalton
A level of 0.8m is a very good height, a lot of areas wadeable.
At 1.0m and above wading is not advised.
Thirsk gauge is worth checking to see if the beck is rising or falling - River Level - Thirsk
Last season the beck never dropped below 0.75m. This is a good fishable level, and don't forget last summer became a long hot drought!
The extensive tree cover allows fishing in hot bright conditions. July 1st was hot and bright, fishing from 12 noon to 3pm, I had 3 trout to 1lb 2oz and 4 grayling to 10 oz. The fish were all caught on a size 16 Olive Klinkhammer, many more rises were missed !!
Chest waders with good grip boots, not felt soles.
Wading stick strongly advised.
A 6 or 7ft, 3 or 4 weight rod.
4lb nylon or similar fluorocarbon.
Dry: Size 16 and 14 Klinkhammers in a variety of colours, I prefer Olive and Brown bodies.
Dry: May flies, all tyings and colours work when they are on them. Last season I saw the first ones on 20th May, they usually peak first two weeks of June, but this depends on the weather!
Nymphs: Pheasant tail and Hares ear on long shank 12's, 14's and 16's usually work, some with gold bead heads, and others with a variety of weight. May fly nymphs can also work very well around May Fly time, even if there are none showing.
Lots of other flies will work well, these are my suggestions to make a start.
Learn how to roll cast accurately!
Nymphing: Wade slowly upstream covering all the likely looking water, retrieving either at the speed of the stream or slightly faster. Vary the weight of your nymph to achieve the depth you require. ( early season deep, later move shallower). Experimentation is the key to success.
Dry fly: Don't be put off if you see little surface activity. Wade slowly up stream, and cover the water as above, it's amazing how many fish will move to the fly. Always keep an eye on the next water above for rising fish, then concentrate on that area. If you have put fish down in a good looking pool, then try a nymph before you wade through.
Klink and Dink: Peter Conde's clever method of fishing a light nymph below a dry fly. This combines dry and nymph fishing when neither individual method is working well !
Where to fish?
Lower Section: Park at the lower parking and walk down below where we have the fishing on both banks. This section has many deep pools, and you can't wade far before having to climb out.I suggest this is primarily a bait fishing section, whilst there are runs you can wade, it's hard work! I have seen some big chub down there.
Middle Section: Park at the lower parking. This is the best section for concentrated fly fishing in my opinion. Firstly walk down to the large pool where we have both banks. At 08m you can wade and fish all the way up to the confluence of Dugdale beck (Approx 700yds, 2 to 3 hours fishing). Exiting at the point immediatley above the confluence. Secondly start approx 50 yds above Dugdale beck , fish up to a log jam, and restart just above. From this point at a river height of 0.8m, you can wade and fish right past the Ox bow lakes and up to the next log jam. This is some 700yds, 2 to 3 hours fishing. There are pools, fast sections and gravel runs all of which hold fish.
Top Section: Park at the railway. The run immediately below the railway is a good cast, but the water below in the foot bridge area, is not easy to fly fish. It looks good holding water, but much is flanked by steep high banks - more exploration is required! The first grass field above the railway, fly fishing is possible at a river height of 0.8m for approx 200yds. Start behind the farm building and wade almost to the large metal cattle holding pen. The second grass field above the railway becomes more awkward to fish. This section is fenced for livestock and barbed wire has to be negotiated! Although there are two sections that can be fly fished and wading is possible a river height of 0.8m.These are shorter stretches at approx 100yds each.
These notes are simply my findings after one season of fishing, they are by no means a full study of the fishing. There will be fishable sections that I have missed, there will be other flies and techniques that work well. The aim of these notes is to give a new visitor to Gristhwaite Cod Beck fishings a starting point, from which success may flourish. Finally please exercise caution when wading, the levels I have given were as I found them last year. Since then, winter floods may have changed things! Wade safely with a stick and ideally with a friend, also watch out for the water rising (the Thirsk gauge may help) - If in doubt - GET OUT !!