River Seven, Yorkshire

Beautiful day, perfect conditions. But a grayling would have been nice.


The crispest of crisp winter mornings, the sky a deep blue and barely a breath of wind: lovely. First off it’s up to Pickering Beck for a periodic sampling of the invertebrates. For anyone who is interested in these things, the three-minute kick sample produced the following:

Gammarus: 175; Hepta: 130; Cased caddis: 11; Caseless caddis: 16; Baetis: 20; Mayfly: 2; Stonefly: 45; BWO: 0.

So a fairly healthy bag. Pick of the bugs was this handsome stonefly nymph, which was probably an inch and a quarter long, a decent mouthful for a hungry trout:

Then back in the car to drive a couple of miles west to the Seven at Sinnington. I took Chris’s advice and headed upstream from my last few outings. The water was low, clear and enticing:

I tackled up with the 9 ft 4wt, extending the leader to around 13 ft and put on a size 16 hare’s ear weighted with a 2mm gold tungsten bead. The thermometer had been hovering at around zero and the water was cold. My toes were numb after five minutes. After about 20 minutes without a touch I realised I’d not been snagging the bottom, so reckoned the fly did not have enough weight on it. I switched to a 3mm tungsten copper-headed PTN. That certainly plumbed the depths and a lot of the rest of the day was spent unsnagging it from the river bed.

Anyhow, I plugged away through many stretches of promising-looking water without a touch. Despite the relative¬† clarity of the water I didn’t see a single fish. I had my new camera with me and the sight of this snow-dusted log resting on an island made me go all David Bailey:

Well, I’d been fishing for an hour and a half with nothing to show. But at least I’d avoided any trout. Until the last five minutes¬† that is, when I hooked a couple of small ones. So that was it – a bit of a disappointment but there you go. At least I hadn’t taken a tumble, dropped the camera or indeed lost any flies. So that was something I suppose. Also my toes didn’t go black and drop off, which I thought was a possibility.

Roll on Spring!

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