Thornton Beck

A brief lesson in humility


To Thornton Beck for the first time this season. A lovely little stream close to the Dalby Forest and chock-full of tiny wild brown trout. The portents were good: gorgeous bit of mid-May sunshine, 20C on the dial and not much breeze. I was looking forward to filling my boots. It’s a tight water with a lot of jungle so out with the 6ft 3wt Burns, with a 7ft leader. I put on a size 16 parachute emerger dressed with the eye of a peacock feather – nice and iridescent and surely irresistible to these uneducated brownies.

The water was running low and clear and fish were rising sporadically in water that is largely untouched by the hand of man:

I got in, edged my way through some rather treacherous silt and got the fly over a rising fish. Not interested. I perservered for half an hour, disturbing dozens of little fish that skittered away annoyingly. Hmm, maybe the fly is too big. I swapped down to an olive-coloured size 18. Three casts in and the first fish was on. Small but perfectly formed:

There then followed an hour and a half of the most frustrating fishing I can recall for a long time. Every time the leader landed on the water it was as if it set off a small detonation and sent fish skittering in all directions. I chopped and changed flies, down a size, down another size, goldhead, partridge and orange. Nothing but fish fleeing. I added three feet to the leader. Still no good. The water looked pretty:

But I just couldn’t get anything interested. Eventually I had to concede defeat with these little fish – they had well and truly outwitted me. I pulled myself out of the water and began the long trudge back downstream to the car. One last chance for redemption was a small stretch of water just below a fish farm where large escapees are known to hang out:

I’d had a quick look over the bridge on my way up to the main part of the beck and thought I’d spotted one but couldn’t be sure. Anyhow, I got in and put a yellow emerger over the water here and there – nothing was showing. My attention had wondered somewhat when I realised something was on: a 16″ brown who’d gone over the wire from the fish farm. To be honest he didn’t give too much of a scrap, which was just as well as I had no landing net. A nice fish, but not a wildie:

So, consolation of sorts I suppose. I would have swapped him for a few more of the little wild ones though. Ah well.


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  1. I’m a member on Pickering and fished Thornton twice this summer ( first season in the club) I loved it! Very difficult though, I don’t recognize this stretch though would be good to have a go at it! Good blog enjoyed it

  2. Thanks Jacob. Yeah, Thornton is a challenge! Looking forward to having another crack soon!

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