River Seven, Yorkshire

Edging further up the wild Seven


A second session on the new stretch of the Seven on the North York Moors. My aim was to hit the water where I had left off last time and work my way upstream by way of getting to know the river. A cool, overcast day with the thermometer in the car reading only 15 degrees, and with a light northerly breeze. We’d had a lot of rain over the past few days so I wasn’t sure what the water would look like.

Without wishing to wax too lyrical, this really is a magical place. You descend steeply to the river through dense woodland (I disturbed a small red deer which regarded me quizically for a bit before bounding off into the trees) – it feels like some kind of enchanted forest from a fairy story – and the water itself is a classic tumbling moorland stream.

The water was up, as expected, but eminently fishable. Still the colour of tea, only this time more like the darker dregs at the bottom of the teapot:


It was coming through pretty fast, and it was obvious even before I got in the water that wading was going to be a challenge. The bed is strewn with smooth, slippery boulders the size of a man’s head and upwards. It’s tricky enough when the water is relatively clear; the extra colour means you are having to feel around with your feet exceedingly gingerly.

I had intended to fish dry today with a skinny emerger, but the water seemed to demand a bright nymph, so I put on a size 16 goldhead hare’s ear, which had brought some success on the previous outing. I was on a 6ft 3wt with a shortish leader. Hopefully the colour and speed of the water would help to disguise my approach.

I flogged away for around 20 minutes with nothing to show for the effort and was contemplating a first blank of the season. But then in a fastish, relatively shallow bit of water I felt resistance on the line (not much resistance admittedly), and pulled in this:


Ok, so it isn’t going to make the Guiness Book of Records, but it is nevertheless a wild brown trout. Blank avoided!

I slowly picked my way through the water, nearly coming a cropper on more than one occasion. If you take a tumble it’s unlikely you’ll come to too much grief because the water is not deep, but I was glad I had a spare set of clothes in the car.

The main tactic was to work my way up to the quieter pools that are separated by faster, rocky runs:


Was soon into number two:


Began picking up fairly regularly thereafter, and at the head of one pool pulled out a really rather nice fish which could not have been too far off 12″ – a cracking wildie for these parts:


On the faster, shallower stretches I concentrated on the slack water close to the banks.


Got another quite decent one:


Unlike last time out, the fish seemed to be getting bigger rather than smaller, which was, as they say in the Fast Show, nice. After a couple of hours I’d brought 15 or 16 fish to hand, so stopped for a bite to eat. I decided to put on a bigger, heavier fly to see if a bit more depth might be called for. The experiment didn’t really work – I kept getting snagged on the bottom although I did take one fish:spauntonfish6_25jul17

Worked my way up to a nice pool, the one at the top of the run below, with the dead tree arching into the water:


Saw one or two little rises, so switched to the emerger and within a cast or two had a bright little fish on:


Took another two or three by casting to likely looking lies: gratifying because the fish were not rising especially freely. Anyway, grand total after three hours’ was 21 fish. The wading made it pretty tough going but a good haul.

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