A belter of a spring morning and it’s up to Pickering Beck to see if the troot have woken up yet. This was my second foray – I was up on opening day on 25th March but the blighters were not interested. Today would be different, surely? My confidence has taken a bit of a knock over the past few weeks. I’ve had four or five outings in the last month for grayling, both on the Seven and at Pickering, but failed on each occasion. Also I took a tumble in the weir pool on the Seven a couple of weeks ago while trying to retrieve a fly from a tree. Not complete submersion, but near enough and I was left with a waderful of cold North Yorkshire river water and a sodden sleeve. To add to my woes, this blog site got hacked a few days ago. I got a message in the email to say that a ‘new user’ had registered – as opposed to a new subscriber – and that set alarm bells ringing. When I tried to log in I was redirected to a rather fruity website (come to think of it more interesting than this one). With mounting panic I tried contacting my IT guru, nephew Nick, but heard nothing for a day. Then I got an email from him saying that he was currently in a house in the Panamanian jungle. Amazingly he sorted my problem from there. The mind boggles.
Anyhow, I digress. Today the omens didn’t look bad. The car thermometer read 11.5C, and that was due to rise. The sun was out and there was but a gentle breeze. My idea was to give the French leader a go in the first place, and to switch to a more conventional dry fly set-up if there were signs of surface action.
I started at the bottom of the beat. No fish were showing and nothing was bothering my indicator. I flogged away for a good hour before coming to the fishing hut and the pool that had produced a few small grayling and the odd little trout over the winter:
I noticed a few small dimply rises close to the daffodils and lobbed the weighted nymphs in their general direction. Nothing happened for a bit, then I had a take as soon as the flies hit the surface and the first little brown of the season came to hand:
The rises then stopped and I had no more action as I worked my way upstream. Thirty or forty yards further up and more rises just above the little weir:
I decided to give up with the heavy nymphs and nipped back to the car to tackle up with the 7 footer 3 wt, with parachute emerger. The fish were still showing when I returned, and my brilliant tactical switch was rewarded with fish no. 2:
The rises subsided and as I progressed no fish were showing, although I had three or four splashy takes, none of which stuck.
I came to a promising deep pool where fish are known to hang out, just this side of the riffle:
Nothing showing, but I prospected with the emerger here and there. I put the fly hard up against the right-hand bank and had the subtlest of takes, barely noticeable. It was a really nice fish, coming on 12″ and maybe a shade under a pound. Splendid spots and powerful tail:
Fantastic. Nothing more upstream after that, so I went back down to the shallow run just below the road bridge:
I cast into the trail of foamy bubbles on the left and hit a small brown. It nearly outwitted me by heading into a submerged branch, where it snagged the line:
But I managed to retrieve it:
And that was it for the day. I’d been on the water for close to four hours. That may sound relatively scant reward, but as far as I am concerned a fish in March, or indeed April, is a bonus.