Marina Gibson describes her year in the Yorkshire Dales, where she meets a trout fishing family with a bright future in the sport. SOME PEOPLE TAKE TO FLY-FISHING quicker than others. Is it a love of the countryside or a hunting instinct?
Last October, the Terry family came to visit the fishing school for a three day adventure and then returned in August for round two. James, Annicka and their three boys — Eben,16, Otto, 14, and Arlo, 10 — are all successful fishers. It’s a rarity to see all the children from one family immersed in the sport. But they’re fixated on catching fish and improving their casting techniques, as well as learning as many methods as possible. Eben and Otto began fishing aged six. They started by catching trout with sweetcorn and a pole rod and then moved on to fly fishing under the tuition of their grandfather. With Eben and Otto now addicted to fly fishing, they wanted to involve their youngest brother and parents.
During their stay at Swinton Bivouac, they spent three days covering the estate’s upper and lower beats of the River Ure, as well as the River Burn and Tan eld Lodge Lake. It is true that some guests are easier to guide than others. There are those who need careful direction; others follow their nose. Eben and Otto were looking for a challenge and wanted to improve their casting skills — and the Burn was the perfect place. The river (a small tributary of the Ure) runs mainly through thick woodland, requiring technical fishing with dry fly and nymph. Here Eben managed to catch his then biggest grayling of 11⁄2lb (he has since bettered it on the Avon) and Otto lost a large trout.
Meanwhile, their parents and younger brother took advantage of the slightly easier option provided by Tanfield Lodge Lake — and all three caught rainbow trout. It was a warm day and there were few rising fish, so we set up the rods with an indicator fly, beneath which we tied weighted nymphs, Blobs and bloodworm patterns. We varied the length of tippet from indicator to dropper and found that the deeper we fished the more action we had. It’s always exciting to see the indicator twitch or disappear, especially when you are a beginner. It’s a pleasure when you are guiding to see the anticipation on a guest’s face.
On the second day, all the family fished the Ure, which presented a different challenge with its large deep pools and huge rocky features. Otto excelled. He methodically cast his fly in a deep pool, fanning the area from left to right, making sure he covered all the water. He then aimed slightly upstream at a bush and let his streamer sink for a few seconds in a deep channel surrounded by bedrock. A few strips later and — bang! — a sudden take made the mid and tip section of his rod bend over. This fish was a heavyweight and stood its ground, surging back and forth. As soon as it came to the bank edge, Otto lifted its head and slipped it into my net. We all jumped up and down with joy and peered down at a stunning fish. It was the biggest wild trout I’ve seen on the Ure in three and a half years and at 3 1⁄4lb was Otto’s biggest UK wild brown trout. He’d tied the streamer himself.
We kept the fish in the net, prepared the camera ... lift 1, 2, 3, back in the water ... and then Otto held it until it kicked away. The whole family managed to catch brown trout of various sizes that day with their youngest brother, Arlo, catching his first fish on a dry fly. There has been a surge in interest in angling this summer and I’m hopeful it will continue into winter. As a guide or as a parent, introducing children to an outdoors sport is rewarding. It’s great for their physical and mental health, especially in this difficult year, but it’s also a sport they will enjoy for a lifetime.
HOOK AND COOK The thought of knocking a wild trout on the head doesn’t appeal to me. However, I like to take a stocked fish, partly because it saves me a trip to the supermarket, and secondly because it’s impressive to “hook and cook” your catch and celebrate it around a table with friends. Here’s a recipe I use (I’ve a Bradley Smoker).
Use two rainbow trout fillets and Bradley alder bisquettes.
50g sea salt flakes;
50g brown sugar;
Two teaspoons of garlic powder; one tablespoon of peppercorns; finely chopped dill.
1. Form the brine and sprinkle liberally over the fish on all sides. Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. 2. Rinse the cure from the trout and pat dry. Leave to air-dry uncovered in the fridge on a rack for at least two hours. 3. Once your trout has developed a slight pellicle it’s ready to smoke. Set your smoker to 80 deg C and smoke. 4. Let the fish hot smoke for one or two hours and serve hot or cold.