Marina Gibson describes a year fishing in Yorkshire.
The river is full of activity and there’s plenty to celebrate...
IT HAS BEEN AN EVENTFUL FEW weeks. The School has started guiding again and we’ve had some fantastic days with our clients, some of them beginners and others returning customers. The trout have been much more active, so hopefully things continue on this upward trajectory. The weather in late May was much cooler and the levels were steady. We usually get a flood around now that enables salmon to reach the upper sections of the river, but as I write this has not happened yet. All good things come to those who wade! I went for a day’s fishing with my friend Andy Beeman and much to my delight (I was shaking for hours), I caught my personal best UK wild brown trout. I was fishing a narrow part of the river in a lovely spot with the water falling over the boulders into a deep pocket of water. There was a light shower and not much action on top. I placed my nymph in the first section of the pool and attracted a few hand-sized trout. I slipped them off easily with my barbless hooks and placed my nymph further upstream. Little did I know what the next cast had in store. After a strong fight, I experienced a rush of joy when Andy netted the trout and I looked at its beautiful yellow belly and blue blusher. I’ve been reading a couple of books to extend my knowledge on entomology. I’m enjoying Trout Fly Recognition by John Goddard and Matching the Hatch by Pat O’Reilly, while Pocket Guide to Matching the Hatch by Peter Lapsley and Cyril Bennett is perfect to keep in my fishing bag. We’re so lucky to have this wealth of knowledge at our disposal, written by accomplished anglers who have spent a remarkable amount of time studying the aquatic environment.
I’ve seen various flies this month including the yellow may dun (Heptagenia sulphurea). It’s fascinating because I spoke to Andy Buckley, a guide on the River Dove, who said they get loads but in the 30 years of being on the water he’s never seen a fish take one. There’s been a consistent trickle of olive uprights and I was rummaging around in the tree branches the other day and saw cinnamon sedge (Limniphilus lunatus) and a mass of black sedge that I think could have been the black silverhorn (Mystacides azurea). Midges (Chironomidae spp.)
continue to be in and among all the upwings including some very small white flies. I’ve found that a great imitation for these is the IOTBB Humpy. I’ve seen the odd Ephemera danica mayfly but we don’t get a significant hatch of them on the River Ure or Burn, or at least I haven’t witnessed one in the last two seasons. They’re so vast compared to everything else; you can often see them from a mile away. I have some good news about my fly-tying journey. I’m awaiting my first batch of tying materials and hooks so I hope that next time I write to you all, I can showcase my first attempt at a fly. I’m aiming to start with the Klinkhamer, a versatile and simple pattern that comes in different shades and sizes. My new adventure will be called “all the tying gear and no idea”!
While fishing the river with Andy, I saw my second mink of the season. Andy was playing a fish and it popped its head through some bricks, looked at me and suddenly dived into the river in the direction of Andy’s fish. Luckily, the trout ended up in the net before any teeth marks were imprinted. Andy told me a mink farm was broken into by protesters who let all the animals out. This has had a detrimental effect on nature ever since. I saw another mink when I was wading with a client on the Nutwith beat. I didn’t realise it was a mink until it slunk out of the river and exposed itself — it looked so big in the water that I thought it was an otter. It was heading in the direction of a distressed mallard and her ducklings, but when it saw us, it scampered away into the vegetation. The impact of mink on wildlife, and in particular water voles, is of great concern. The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust offers advice on the use of mink rafts on rivers to monitor the presence of these predators with a view to trapping them.
Visit www.gwct.org.uk/wildlife/research/mammals/american-mink/the-gwct-mink-raft for details.