And so, boo hoo, to the last outing of the season. And what a great season it has been. No blanks (!), plenty of fish, including a few whoppers, and access to a terrific new water in the upper reaches of the River Seven here in North Yorkshire.
It was to this stretch that I headed on an overcast but balmy late autumn day, pitching up at around noon. A slight easterly breeze tried but failed to be troublesome as I made my way to lowest point of the beat. On the three or four occasions that I have fished this water I have opted for a 6ft rod. The river itself would suggest something longer, but there’s much overhang and it was this that had dictated the choice of shorter rod. Today however I risked going up a couple of notches and tackled up the 3wt Chas Burns 7.5-footer with a size 16 goldhead hare’s ear on the end of an 11 ft leader.
The water had dropped nicely and had only the hint of copper to it. As I tackled up below the first pool I was intending to start on I noticed a couple of rises but decided to stick with the goldhead in the first instance. If rises persisted I’d change fly accordingly. First pool just upstream of the old bridge:
It’s a nice pool, running to maybe 3ft at its deepest. Well, I gently flagellated the water for 15 minutes without a touch, sticking the nymph up, up and across, across, across and down. Every which way. Nothing. I was about to bring the fly in ready to move upstream when I felt resistance. Nice one!
This is pretty typical of my nymph fishing – detecting takes is random and infrequent. I don’t use a bite indicator and maybe that’s my problem. Why don’t I use an indicator? I don’t know; some kind of vague, irrational prejudice. I’ll probably get over it eventually. That said, I suppose it is quite possible, likely even, that fish often take the fly just as I am lifting to re-cast. Even I have heard of the induced take.
One problem I did have was with leaves. Each time the wind gusted for a second or two there’d be a flurry of oversized confetti and I’d pull in a nice specimen of field maple leaf. Also the plopping and splashing of acorns, twigs and the like interfered with the spotting of rises.
Anyhow, carried on prospecting my way through water like this:
And within a few minutes found another fish unexpectedly on the end…
And a couple of minutes later a real beauty, maybe not far off a foot long:
After 45 minutes or so I’d had four or five fish and had maybe detected the take just once. As always the wading is challenging but the water superb:
I continued to pick up, usually in the deeper water. Not that frequently but enough to keep the scoreboard ticking over, and most were of not a bad size for a moorland stream:
I then came to a really interesting feature in the river. It’s a kind of raised basin containing very slack water (and loads of leaves…):
I saw two or three clear dimply rises – definitely not acorns or twigs – so decided to have a bite to eat and switch to the trusted emerger:
As all flyfishers know, one of the most important factors in the psychology of fishing is the ‘c’ word. No, I’m not talking about the smug bloke in the club who always catches more than anyone else. It’s confidence. And I have utter faith in these tyings of foam-balled emergers, whose bodies hang nicely just under the surface. After a couple of range-finding casts my decision was vindicated:
Not a monster but still a nice little wild brownie. Picked up a couple more of similar size from that pool before continuing upstream and switching back to the goldhead in the absence of any more surface activity.
Took out another couple before coming to a long pool in which fish were rising. Reverted to the emerger and pulled out three fish of this size:
Well, that was it for the day. I’d fished for a shade under four hours and brought in 15 fish, including one real beauty. Ten of the fish were on the goldhead nymph and five on the emerger. Of the ones that took the goldhead, I’d detected the take in about three cases. One day I will figure it out.