So there I am thinking not much was going to happen this month by not booking my usual week to Scotland and with only a couple of sessions booked with Kieran at Mobberley and a couple of visits to Disley Reservoirs, I decided to have a week off work and arrange some local river fishing for Brown Trout.
A day on the R. Dove’s famous Temple Beat with Millie and a solo couple of days on Yorkshire’s R. Wharfe at Ilkley and Bolton Abbey with an overnight stay at the Riverside Hotel in Ilkley were booked.
To be fair the fishing has been great on the still waters, with me notching up 31 fish in the 2 visits to Disley despite water levels being down.
The Squirmy is still working well and taking the majority of fish but I’m beginning to get bored with that method so in the clear waters, I have been stalking and teasing out fish with the Copper Pheasant Tail Nymph.
The fish seem to go mad for it and I have been getting follows nearly every cast but I have not quite perfected the skill of hooking up on every follow but am getting there with about an 80% success rate. Much more exciting than just chucking out and waiting for fish to take the bait so to speak.
My week off from work arrived and Millie was at my door at 7:30 on the Monday morning in anticipation of the unexpected. He hadn’t been to the Dove before and didn’t do any research on the beat either; fancy him thinking he was going to use his Tenkara “stick”. Tut-tut.
On meeting Steven Moores the river keeper at the Charles Cotton Hotel in Hartington at 9:00 he confirmed the river was low and with the bright conditions forecast for the day it would be a challenging time for us intrepid piscators to “follow in the footsteps of Isaac Walton”.
The Temple was still looking majestic 3 years on from my previous visit https://freshwateranglingstockport.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/stepping-back-350-years-with-charles-cotton-isaac-walton/ as I’m sure it did 350 years ago.
Millie wasn’t fussed about old stories about the venue, he just wanted to get fishing and didn’t even want a photo taken of him on the steps of angling history. I even brought with me my 1889 edition of The Complete Angler to recite a few lines to him about studying to be quiet and that true angling was the contemplative sport of gentlemen and scholars, but he didn’t want to know. Oh well, I tried my best.
We tackled up over a brew, having insisted Millie uses conventional upstream dry fly and nymph tactics in order to preserve some dignity in the skills of angling which to be honest is not high on the agenda at stocked Stillwater venues.
Setting off together we began in the Temple grounds and second cast I hooked into a small Brownie that threw the hook as it jumped from the water almost instantaneously. Confidence was boosted as Millie wandered off downstream as I decided to make my way upstream toward the beats upper limit.
Now, I’m 59 years of age and weigh a little over 15 stone, so creeping around on all fours is out of the question for long periods as I soon discovered when my steadying hand slipped down a rat hole or something and my overweight torso rocketed off down the bank leaving me spread-eagled into a patch of young stinging nettles. Cursing aloud I pulled myself up to regain posture whilst wincing at the tingling sensation to my inner left arm and not to mention spooking every fish within 20 yards of my unforgiving entrance.
Moving on upstream I noticed several small Brownies darting to and fro in all directions as they saw me first from the clearing waters as it got shallower the further up I went until I came to a deep corner where I decided to crouch down behind the vegetation to do a bit of speculation as no fish were visible. I was using a small Copper PTN cast toward the near bank and as it hit the surface an almighty swirl engulfed the Nymph and a good fish was on. Alas it wasn’t a resident wild brownie but an out of season Grayling of around 2lb.
A welcome alternative to my sought after quarry.
On a small river like this I would normally rest a swim after catching a fish, but as this was a Grayling
I thought where there’s one there are normally two and although they are out of season I cheekily cast again and after a couple a blank casts another Grayling took my Nymph.
I was sure there would be more, but it was the Wild Brown Trout that I was after and so I left them alone.
The sun was getting higher in the sky and the temperature was rising which was more than the fish were doing. There was no sign of any trout except the small darters.
I managed to pick one of these darters off before getting my only proper wild brownie of the day on a small Grey Wolfe.
A couple more Grayling fell to the Nymph later in the afternoon but disappointingly there was no hatch of Mayfly and few fish were rising throughout the day.
Millie found three Browns lower down the beat, probably because of the tree cover there and I was in open field but I am sure the fish are there but stayed put under the weed or hard into the banks. It was a good day out though and it was nice to return to the hallowed ground.
An early rise for me the next morning and I was off to Ilkley in Yorkshire. My wife and I had visited the town a couple of weeks ago and I purchased an Ilkley Angling Club day ticket in advance to fish the river Wharfe and booked into the Riverside Hotel for a night so I could fish the Bolton Abbey stretch the following day. I arrived at the river at 8:00am and the sun was already warming up the air and drying off the overnight dew on the grass. The water level was well down as expected with no significant rainfall for several weeks or months even.
In truth I wasn’t expecting a day of constant catching with the conditions against me and the very fact at £11 a day speaks for itself that it is not a stocked fishery. But I was here and it’s the exploring of a new river that is the attraction for me.
Fully kitted up with waders I ventured out to the middle of the river armed with my #3 rod as the water was barely coming up to my knees at the access point. There was a deeper glide on the far bank which is where I thought I could find a fish or two, so this was my starting point. I began with a small Copper PTN under a Klinkhammer, Klink and Dink as the Americans call it. It was after 3 runs through that my Klink disappeared and I struck into my first fish. Hoping it was going to be a wild brownie I played it carefully as it put up a decent fight in the current when it became obvious it was a Grayling.
Again, out of season maybe but still very welcome none the less.
Wandering upstream to the suspension footbridge I disturbed several shoals of fry. Tens of thousands of this years naturally reared future population. Although most will succumb to predation in one way or another, it was good to see a healthy river.
As I approached the bridge a welcome sight was to behold at the end of it.
The local ice cream van had parked up for a while and I thought it be too rude of me if I were to ignore his refreshing delights and so a 99 cone was ordered. It was massive and it took a while to devour it whilst sat on a rock beside the river in gorgeous sunshine listening to the riffles of the water.
Could things get any better than this?
Well they did!! As I waded back downstream the Mayfly were beginning to hatch. They would appear from nowhere on the water surface and fly off toward the trees. I followed one with my eyes as it flew under the tree canopy and bounced on the water surface. Unfortunately for it, it rested for too long and a Trout came up and woofed it down.
Time for a change of tactic for me as I tied on a large green Drake to “match the hatch”. My first cast was a little short of where the fish rose so I let it past and recast again right under the tree canopy and let it ride with the current and to be sure the fish rose and took it. My first Trout of the day was on.
Proper angling that, I thought to myself!!
On a high I packed up for the afternoon to check in to the hotel and nip up to Bolton Abbey to have a look around. Unfortunately I couldn’t purchase a day ticket in advance so went back for a rest until the evening when I thought there may be a serious Mayfly hatch happening down by the bridge. But there wasn’t. To my surprise hardly anything at all was coming off so I put on the Klinkhammer and nymph again and managed a couple more small Grayling.
I still had time to persevere for another Trout but belly was grumbling and telling me it needed food, so I gave in and went back to the hotel where I was well fed and watered.
The next morning after a full English I returned to Bolton Abbey to purchase my day ticket and set off to the section I wanted to fish. Nice easy access and wading was for me today.
The main object of my day was to use North Country Spiders which would be another first for me. I have been watching some videos of Oliver Edwards on YouTube fishing this method and thought it would be good to have a go. They are a very sparsely dressed wet fly and easy to tie, so that’s right up my street. However on arrival there were no fishing showing themselves, so the favourable Klink and Dink method was chosen to begin with.
Whilst sitting on the grass tackling up, a fish did actually show itself over in the darker area of water in the picture. Gingerly I crept to the water’s edge and cast a little upstream of where I saw the rise, and as the Klink reached this point, it went under and I struck into my first fish of the day on my first cast. It was only a little Brown so it went back straight away without having to go through the indignity of having its photo taken.
This stretch of the river is lightly stocked each month through the season in order to give the angler a better chance of a higher catch return. The current day ticket price is £32.50, still not bad for a stocked fishery, however lightly stocked.
Another Brown and a nice Grayling followed quickly as I wandered up stream, casting into any likely area that could hold a fish or two. Even trying the shallower riffles as the weather was more overcast than the previous day, which is where I had another Grayling from.
I decided to be on the move quite a lot as I wanted to explore as much of this beat as I could in the time given. I wanted to be back home for tea.
I reached this point of the river by early afternoon after a blank spell as the sky cleared and the sun was bright in the sky and indeed other anglers on the beat were struggling too. I speculated that a fish could be in near to the bank as I cast out right in front of me here and not unsurprisingly another Grayling took the Copper PTN.
The Browns were conspicuous by their absence as I returned back down stream again. By about 3 o’clock I reached a deeper slower section of the river where rises were being made by several fish throughout the 60 yard run. Spider time I thought and changed my set up to a Black on the point, a Partridge and Orange on second dropper and a Snipe and Purple on the top dropper.
Waiting for a rise within easy casting distance as the wind was now gusting downstream I cast out and waited for a pull and received my first indication of a fish but nothing on the end. This happened a couple of times until I realised that if I waited for a line pull after a rise I was too late so I began striking at the rise rather than anything else and hey presto I was straight into a fish.
My first North Country Spider caught Brown. It took the Partridge and orange. By now there were several rises appearing and a definite hatch going on so I stayed put and had another 3 without moving station. Eventually I moved a little further down the pool as it went quiet where I was, not surprisingly; and began catching more fish of similar size. A couple of hours went by with me moving up and down this pool catching browns quite regularly, all on the Partridge and Orange. I ended up with 11 browns and 3 Grayling before I decided to call it a day. To be honest I could have stayed catching for much longer but again my belly was telling me otherwise so I left quite a happy bunny and will surely return during the Grayling season to realise its potential with that species.
I couldn’t resist a quick visit to Mobberley the next day, just to practice the sink and draw with a Copper PTN and had 5 Rainbows and 2 little baby Golden Orfe within a couple of hours before having a brew and then off home. Well it has to be done doesn’t it!!
Friday morning I got my wife up early and said if she comes to Disley Reservoir with me for a couple of hours I’ll buy her breakfast at Weatherspoons afterwards. How could she refuse an offer like that. So off we went arriving at 7:30 and I began near the car park without seeing any fish in the vicinity.
The water level was even lower than before, so a move down was called for.
It was here I found several fish and 5 came to the net quickly and by 9:00 my belly alarm was going off and so hot footed to Weatherspoons for a full English. Sorted !!
Oh; what was I using? Squirmy of course!!
Really looking forward to the last 3 days of the month!!