I started by working my way downstream with a team of spiders, but to my surprise after an hour I had failed to conjure up so much as a tweak. A few fish were rising in a foam lane, so that encouraged me to take the initiative and change my setup. I tied a length of finer tippet to the end of my leader and to that attached a well ginked Klinkhamer Special. I slowly waded into a better casting position, being careful not to spook my quarry. The first cast provoked an instant response, but predictably I missed it completely. Another rise came on the second cast. This time, brief contact was made before the line went slack... much swearing and gnashing of teeth. I haven't fished the dries so often this season, and when I have my hook up rate has been rather poor, and the more fish I miss, the worse I'm taking it!
With the pool most likely spooked I crept out of the water and sat on the bank. There I lit a cigarette (stop, Eric, for god's sake), watched and waited to see if the fish would continue their feeding. Sure enough, within 15 minutes there was sipping and slurping aplenty once again, so after degreasing my leader I re-entered the fray. A few casts went unnoticed before I got my third rise of the day. No mistake this time, and after a short tussle a very welcome Grayling slid over the net.
|First of the day.|
After that first success, I moved downstream and picked up another lady to the dry from a difficult patch of slow water which has always been one of my sticky spots - lots of risers but painfully shy and spooky, so I was rather pleased to have tempted a fish from the spot. Another move after this brought a third Grayling along with a decent Trout which led me on a merry dance on my light leader before it finally capitulated.
|... and a reasonable Trout!|
With my first Brownie of the day slipped safely back, I moved on to some 'busier' riffles and swapped to nymphing tactics. Fishing through every inch of water on a short line, I soon got a confident take from a powerful fish which stayed deep, kicking in the fast current. Eventually a flash on the surface proved it to be yet another Grayling, and a good one at that. When it was finally in the net after a long tussle, I estimated the decidedly chunky specimen to be getting on for a pound and a half - not a fish to be sniffed at in my book! The sport picked up from there, with a number of Trout succumbing to the charms of the nymph. Usually, fast water nymphing on the Ilkley stretch produces fish in the 6 to 8 inch class, but though I had a couple of these, I was pleased to catch a string of better Trout in the 10 to 12 inch bracket, all of which fought admirably and were returned unharmed.
|A good Grayling.|
|Normally the average stamp...|
|... but the river was being more generous!|
I finished with 6 Brownies and 4 Grayling. My best day numbers-wise this season on the Wharfe, my best average size and my most successful day of the season on the dry fly. Suffice to say I went home a happy bunny! Shame the weather's turned again now.