First outing on the mighty Swale yields not-so-mighty fish


Time to fulfil a long-held ambition and fish the magnificent Swale up at Richmond in the Yorkshire Dales. An hour-and-a quarter up the A1 and first stop is the garage that sells the £7 day ticket.

The warm weather we’ve been promised hadn’t kicked in yet, and it was only around 13C when I tackled up. I was keen to fish traditional upstream spiders, so selected the 10ft 3wt Snowbee that I originally bought for short-line nymphing. I put on a 4ft furled leader and about 7ft of tippet with three scruffy little spiders:

The water did look lovely, and I started fishing just upstream of Lowenthwaite Bridge:

The water is huge – the pic above is perhaps a little misleading as the bank on the left is in fact an island. Beyond it the river must be a good 80 yards wide:

It’s a tricky wade – the base is a carpet of boulders, so I was relieved that I’d invested in a wading staff since I had a tumble on the Seven a few weeks ago.

Anyhow, I plugged away with the spiders for a good hour without a sniff. No fish were showing so it was a case of putting the flies in any likely looking spot. Didn’t work though.

I came to some slower, deeper water here, just this side of the riffle:

The spiders failed, so I replaced the point fly with a tungsten-beaded nymph and put a ptn on the middle dropper. A few sweeps in and the line gave a tic. Way-hey, my first Swale trout!

A bit weedy but I’m not complaining. I thought I might pick up a few more in the same pool but alas did not.

Much of the water for the next few hundred yards upstream was deep and unwadeable, so I gave that a miss. I’d been out for about three hours by now and decided to call it a day. On the way back I saw a couple of rises in some slacker water, so bunged on an emerger and managed to nab another little one:

Most waters in my experience take a while to suss out, and by all accounts the Swale can take some time to get to grips with. It’s certainly different from the small rivers and becks that I usually fish. I’ll hopefully have another crack later in the summer.

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