Pickering Beck

Hard work in a cold wind on the Duchy


Up to the Duchy beat of Pickering Beck to do the regular invertebrate sampling then have a go at tempting one or two of the skittish little wild browns that reside in the sinuous and occasionally jungly stretch of this little river.

Judging by the little beasts in the sample, the water is in good fettle. These were the counts from the three-minute kick sample if you’re interested in this sort of thing:

Gammarus, 205; Hepta, 110; Cased caddis, 10; Caseless caddis, 11; Baetis: 110; Mayfly, 15; Stonefly, 45. As usual there were a few giant stonefly nymphs in the sample. This one was a good two inches long:

Having completed that job, for the fishing I decided to persist with the spiders on the 9ft 4wt. There’d been quite a few very dark baetis in the sample, so I whacked a plain little black spider on the point, accompanied by a waterhen bloa in the middle and a partridge and orange at the top.

Conditions were not great, with a very nippy easterly blowing downstream. For the first 90 minutes or so I saw not one fish, either rising or in the water. The beck itself looked in good enough nick, albeit a tad low and clear:

I did hook one little fish in a deepish pool but it came off. For a while that looked about as good as it was going to get, but the sun came out and the odd dibble appeared on the surface, so hopefully things were starting to liven up. I put the fly in here speculatively:

And as I was lifting to re-cast I felt resistance and found that this little fish had taken the black spider on the point:

A typical little Duchy brown, although not as brightly spotted as some. Anyhow, no blank so a result.

A bit further upstream and I put the trio of spiders into the deepish run on the left-hand bank.

As I followed the line with the tip of the rod there was a twitch and fish number two was in the bag:

He had also fallen for the black fly. Ten or fifteen minutes later and a speculative cast produced this little fish, not much bigger than the stonefly. Again, I didn’t see the take:

As the undergrowth began to thicken I knew that there would not be a lot of fishable water left with the kit I was using – normally I take a 6ft rod on this beat. But I did spot a likely looking pool and decided to clamber over a fallen tree to give it a go:

After three or four casts I was lifting to put the flies back in again when the line stiffened. I assume I had inadvertently induced the take. It was a really nice little fish, maybe 9″ long, which is a good size for this water:

I did have a quick peek further upstream, but didn’t think I’d make much progress through this with the longish rod I was using:

So I called it a day. Just under three hours had produced four fish in testing conditions. I’m happy with that.

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