Fed up with catching only miniscule fish – and barely any of those – I fancied putting a decent bend in the rod so headed up to Oxfolds Beck. As I’ve mentioned before there are some real stonkers in this little, crystal clear stream, but dreadful pollution has decimated the water.
Last time I was here I managed just the one and was depressed by the lack of fish. I was hoping that was a bit of an aberration and that a few more would be showing today.
I was wrong. If anything it was even more like some aquatic ghost town than it had been previously. I waded virtually the whole stretch – perhaps half a mile – and saw maybe half a dozen fish. None of them was interested in my offerings.
Towards the top end of the beat things began to look a fraction more promising. The water looked lovely, if somewhat jungly – almost tropical:
The last pool of the beat is deep – about six feet – and there were fish in it, all hanging low in the water. One of them was a massive grayling, probably 2ft long. I put on a tungsten-beaded hare’s ear and did the best I could in a tight situation, basically French nymphing with the 6ft rod.
I could see the grayling, lurking like a Polaris submarine in the depths, but had trouble getting the fly to it. I did see it turn savagely at one point, and it was almost certainly going for the fly, but she didn’t connect.
Anyhow, after a good 15 minutes of flicking the fly in (and pulling it out of the tree) I eventually got a twitch on the line and something small and silver was on the end. Watching it flash about in the water left me puzzled – I thought it might be a grayling but it didn’t twist and squirm in the characteristic way. Probably a little escapee rainbow then. Hah, I was wrong:
A little chub, but a handsome one.
A few minutes later, after fruitlessly targeting the whopper grayling, there was another slight tautening of the line and this time I pulled in a nice brown:
And that was my lot for the day. Happy with that fish, but sad at the state of the beck.