Oxfolds Beck, North Yorkshire

Just the one on a once prolific beck


Today was my birthday – thank you, very kind, 58 since you ask – so I treated myself with a trip up to the Oxfolds Beck near Pickering. As I’ve probably said before, it’s a lovely stretch of crystal-clear spring-fed water but has been ravaged by pollution in recent years. Sewage and trout farm discharges seem to be the main culprits.

Invertebrate life is beginning to reappear, but fish numbers are still woefully low. My recent forays have yielded some nice fish. I think these are resident escapees and they can run up to three pounds plus. My last few outings to other waters have produced only small fish, so I was looking forward to the prospect of putting a decent bend into my rod.

The beck mostly very narrow – only a few feet wide in some places – and pretty overgrown, so a 6ft rod is what I plump for.

The stream looked good:

There’s a lot of weed so I invariably go for a dry to avoid excessive snagging. I put on an emerger and sallied forth. In the first hour or so I saw only two rises and disturbed hardly any fish. It was depressing to be honest. I had one rise to the fly from a good fish but it didn’t connect.

Eventually I spotted a nice fish sitting close to the bed in between two of the rafts of weed on the right of the pic below:

It clearly wasn’t taking from the top so I decided to replace the emerger with a tungsten-beaded hare’s ear. I was only about nine or ten feet from the fish, but there was a lot of overgrowth and lobbing the dense fly upstream of the fish was tricky. Several times the fly hooked overhangs, but fortunately I managed to free it. I got the fly to plop into the water five or six times in more or less the right place and watched the fish turn and head for it. It was impossible to be certain if the fish was taking the fly, so I had to lift whenever it seemed likely that he might be on.

I did this four or five times without connecting, but the fish didn’t seem perturbed and simply took up its station again, swaying its tail lazily.

Finally got another one in, the fish turned, I lifted and this time felt resistance. It was a nice brown, not too far shy of 2lb I’d estimate, but didn’t put up much of a scrap:

And that was it for the day. I was out for around three hours, saw few fish rising and disturbed a handful more. I was happy with my fish but saddened by the decline in this water that once heaved with trout and grayling.

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