River Seven, Yorkshire

A bit of a struggle, but progress nonetheless


The slow start to the season continues. With a slight lift in temperature and the waters down to sensible levels maybe the fish would be livening up. With that hopeful thought in mind I wended my way northwards to the wild, upper stretch of the Seven. The car thermometer said it was 13C – somewhat disappointing to be honest. I thought we were due for a couple of degrees more than that. But the sun was shining intermittently and while there was a pesky and slightly biting wind I was thankful that it was coming from behind.

I hadn’t visited the beat since last September and was pleased to be reminded what an impossibly spectacular little river this is. At around 11.30 am I tackled up the Chas Burns 7.5 ft 3wt with a ten foot leader and stuck a size 18 goldhead hare’s ear on the end. I was mindful that the fly might not have enough heft to get low in what in places is a fast-running piece of water but I was reluctant to put anything heavier on because (a) the smaller fly is easier to cast – I hate the looping, delayed trajectory of a really heavy nymph; (b) it would hopefully snag less on what is a stone-strewn river bed; and (c) I am just not very good at fishing weighted nymphs full stop, and the heavier they are the less confident I am. My plan was to give the small goldhead a go and if that failed I’d switch to a heavier one and suffer the consequences. If I saw a rise I’d put on an emerger.

The start of the beat has a nice little deep pool which has produced in the past, and I had high hopes as I started to explore it with the nymph. After ten minutes or so I had a pull and a little fish was on. Then it was off again. Not to worry, at least it showed that the fly would do the business. Well, that assumption was an error because I did not have another touch for the next hour as I worked my way upstream.

This is a really interesting pool, a kind of elevated bowl:

I saw a rise so as per strategy switched to a size 16 black emerger. I was certain it would do the trick. It didn’t. I covered the rise five or six times but failed to entice the fish. Somewhat crestfallen I replaced the emerger with the small goldhead and sloshed my way upstream. This is a great wild water with plenty of features to provide interest:

Still nothing was troubling the nymph. After two hours’ intense fishing I’d had one small fish on and off and perhaps one take – I wasn’t certain. Time to ditch the titch and stick on the fatty:

The bead is 3mm tungsten, coloured copper. Within three casts I had the first fish of the day:

So evidently I’d been under-weighted. It remained a bore having to unsnag the fly every five or six casts, but a few minutes later number two was in the hand:

In the next pool I picked up another of similar size. Eventually I worked my way up to  a long, deep stretch. I spotted one small rise at the head of the pool but given the earlier frustration with the emerger decided to persevere with the copper head:

Decision vindicated: I picked up the fourth fish of the day, similar in size to the others:

And that was it. Three hours’ hard fishing had produced four little wild brown trout. Well, that was four times as many as I had last time out. If I continue at this rate of progress I should be catching around 600 in a single session by mid-June.

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