Tuesday, 26 July 2011

High water on the Wharfe: Friday 22nd July

River well up and carrying colour - tricky conditions... especially when you've only brought a 6ft #3 outfit!
Well hello interwebs! It's taken me a wee while to get onto actually writing up this first proper report for one reason or another. Long story short I've been busy with never ending, brain-rottingly tedious university applications, and we all know there's times when other things come first and you just have to prioritise. Anyway, nil desperandum, I'm here now, and with that out of the way I can get onto the subject of fishing! (Yippee!).
So, as you'll have probably noticed (if you live in the North of England and have taken the time to look out of the window recently) the last couple of weeks brought with them some of the first really substantial rainfall we've had this summer, and with that the rivers in the Yorkshire dales recieved an overdue drink. This, in the grand scheme of things, is good news since it essentially breathes new life into the river, oxygenating the water and ridding the fish of those horrible little gelatinous lice which adhere themselves to fins and flanks every time there's a prolonged period of drought. But more importantly from my point of view, the influx of fresh water helps rid the bottom of that insufferable coating of blanket weed which renders wading an only marginally safer gamble than playing Russian Roulette with a machine gun, or perhaps wandering into a Lion enclosure in a suit made entirely of bacon.
However, despite the often positive effects of a flood in the long run, times of high water are generally lean periods for the fly fisherman. A worm angler with a decent knowledge of rivercraft and where the fish will be lying in a flood can often have a good day in these conditions - indeed that's often what I do when the water's up - but the fly seems to somewhat lose it's effectiveness. The dales rivers can drop as quickly as they rise though, so on Friday lunchtime I hopped on the train to Ilkley expecting to find the river in reasonable (or at least fishable) fettle.
Flies were still hatching in decent numbers...
I was surprised on arrival just how high the water still was. It was certainly fishable, but it was going to be hard, as the only rod I had with me was my 6' #3 brook rod which I normally reserve for use on tiny streams! I'd brought it out as it doesn't get to stretch its legs very often and needed a test run, plus the level of squeaky bum time that ensues when hooking a decent sized fish on it borders on the ridiculous. It's a great bit of kit... but heavy nymphing tool it is not. Nevertheless I set it up for double nymphing with a couple of heavy tungsten headed flies and began to work the margin slacks and creases, where I felt the fish would be lying out of the flow, on a short line. Other than the odd nagging pluck there were no real signs of interest - not that I'd been expecting much. Flies were actually still hatching in decent numbers, but the fish were showing no interest - partially blinded perhaps by the peaty water, or maybe preoccupied by a bounty of worms washed into the water by the high flows.

Grayling - a welcome catch on a tricky day.
After an hour or so of fruitless nymphing, I moved into a steadier patch of water, where to my surprise I found a group of fish rising consistantly, although what to I couldn't put my finger on. They didn't seem to be hitting the caddis which were appearing on the surface, but were more nosing at something insubstantial. Insubstantial food, insubstantial fly - off came the nymphs and on went a simple black spider (the only one in my box, and I had to bend the hook back into shape with my forceps before putting it on the leader!). After a couple of range finding casts I flicked the fly in front of a rise. Immediately the line straightened out with a boil, and I struck into thin air... don't get cocky, Bradford boy. No matter - after a brief tussle with a 'tree trout' and a few choice words higly appropriate for the situation, a number of fish were still rising so I cast again. Another take this time resulted in a solid hook up, and after a short struggle a pretty half pound grayling came to hand.

Rain, rain go away... not great!
But this 1.5lb brownie didn't seem to mind.
Catching the grayling appeared to have spooked the pool, so I moved on to pastures new and found another group of fish feeding in the same fashion a little further upstream. The light drizzle which had been going on most of the day was now rapidly turning into a full blown biblical downpour, but regardless I moved into position and put out the spider again, and it was met with a very confident take, which left my little 6 foot toothpick hooped over in an absurd bend as a good fish barrelled off into the main flow. A long and frankly terrifying fight followed, stretching my 2lb leader to its very limit, but slowly the pressure began to tell and I eased the fish over to me - a beautifully marked, yellow flanked trout of at least a pound and a half. After a fleeting glance I carefully slipped it back into it's own element and watched it cruise back into the shadows, then tackled down and headed off content. I could probably have caught more had I stayed longer, but the rain was starting to get ridiculous, and there's only going to be one winner when faced with the choice between a proper drenching and a pint!
I'm off on a camping trip around the Ingleton waterfalls this Friday, and should be doing a spot of fishing, so expect a report on that soon.
Until then, tight lines!

No comments:

Post a Comment