Oxfolds Beck, North Yorkshire

Frustration and reward in equal measure on a small stream


To Oxfolds Beck on the warmest day of the year so far – 21C, bright sun and not too much breeze. This pretty spring-fed beck has been truly battered by pollution over the last few years. Intensive effort by the club with help from Fish Legal has brought about some recovery, but the water is a shadow of its former self.

There are some mighty big fish in the beck, naturalised escapees from nearby fish farms, so although a small rod is necessary – I use a 6ft 2/3wt Burns – you need a meaty tippet if you want to minimise the risk of a smash. I attached 4 ft of 5lb tippet to a 4ft furled leader.

It’s not a fast water and there’s a lot of silt. Wading can be hazardous and I’m pleased I invested in a wading staff for some judicious prodding.

I started at the bottom end of the beat with a parachute emerger but saw disappointingly few fish. I did cover one rising brown which eventually took after much coaxing, but in my excitement I whipped the fly from its mouth.

That was the sum total for the first two hours of fishing from 11am.

After a few more misses I eventually connected with a little brown. Relief!

I then hit a much better brown of about a pound. I brought it to hand but as I was faffing around with the camera it did a runner. Fair enough, I’d do the same.

A couple of greedy little rainbows were next:

I came to this section and saw a big fish sipping olives from the surface. Annoyingly the water was too deep to wade and a pesky dried stem of a bankside weed lay between me and the fish. It’s the long stem in the centre of the pic:

The fish was only about four or five feet beyond the infringing obstacle, so I gingerly inched my way along the bank and snapped it off. I didn’t spook the fish. I could now put the fly over the fish, which I did. It took it and was on for about three seconds. Bum! But then it came back and resumed its station. I was certain it would not have a second go, but nevertheless put the fly over it again. The dim creature did indeed have a second bite at the cherry. This time it was on. It was a rainbow of about 2lb. I played it for maybe 15 seconds before it detached itself. Oh well, it was exciting while it lasted.

A few yards further up I covered another rise and a clonker took the fly. I managed to get it in – a whopping brown of 2lb. It too decided not to hang around for the photoshoot, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

More rises in this pool and some submarine-sized black shadows lurking beneath the surface:

Frustratingly fish would come up and inspect the emerger but then turn their noses. I switched to a black and peacock spider. I put the fly in and watched the line like a hawk. It gave the faintest of twitches and I struck. I had a belter on the end. This I managed to get a pic before returning it. A belter:

That was the lot for the day; three very nice browns, one small one and a couple of little rainbows. Not bad, but the lack of smaller wild fish suggests that recruitment is an issue. Whether this lovely little stream will ever recover to its former glory remains to be seen.

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  1. A grand day out Simon, so many streams suffering now and the bigger rivers.
    Will it ever improve??

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