Pickering Beck

Pickering Beck restores faith – until rain stops play


Where the hell did the summer go? As I motored up to Pickering the gauge on the car said it was 9C! Oh well, you take what you’re given I suppose.

Anyway, first stop was to do the invert sampling on the Duchy stretch – aborted last time because a herd of cattle, including a muscle-bound bull, were loitering by my spot. This time they were a bit further away and seemed to be fairly settled so I set up a few yards downstream from my normal pitch and on the other side of the beck just to be on the safe side.

For anyone interested in this sort of thing, here was today’s count:

Gammarus, 100; hepta, 30; cased caddis, 10; caseless caddis, 20; stonefly, 10; baetis, 30; blue-winged olive, 50. No mayfly in this sample. Pretty healthy I think.

So on to the main business of the day, which was this season’s first crack on Pickering Beck on the stretch below the town. I decided to put on an emerger with a ridiculously out-of-proportion foam ball for the wing. These days I’ll start big and then reduce the size of the fly if the fish are being picky. The fly is not a thing of beauty and the vestigial remnant of traditionalist in me does wince a bit. In my defence old Hans van Klinken did himself say that foam was an acceptable substitute for Antron in his pattern, so that’s my excuse.

Here it is:

The body is peacock eye and the hackle genetic grizzle. It floats like a cork. Actually, I think that maybe the hackle disguises the vast sphere somewhat.

The water looked in good enough nick, with a nice tinge of colour. But the wind was nippy and very few fish were rising:

Nothing doing for the first 20 minutes. I was prospecting likely looking spots as best I could when there was a sudden flash and splash and I had one on. Quite a nice little fish:

That bumped up the old confidence levels and meant I could plug away with the golfball. Upwards through water like this:

Just beyond which I picked up another – again it came out of nowhere:

By now mayfly were beginning to trickle down on the current – but still no huge sign of activity. In fact my highlight of the day was when I came to this little bay on the right, which is a deepish pool:

Nothing was showing but it’s fishy. I got the fly in, and indeed my fly sat about three inches from a juicy mayfly that happened to be gliding past. Ha! The fish ignored the natural and took my ping-pong ball!

Chuffed with that. I had a couple more as I worked my way upstream, (discovering in some deeper water that my waders had a leak on the backside):

By now I’d been on the water a couple of hours and was fair set for at least another hour when the heavens opened and produced a biblical deluge. I was wearing a Snowbee technical pullover that claims to be waterproof and actually it did a reasonable job for a while. But then it got ridiculous and I beat a hasty retreat to the car. Good day though.

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  1. Morning Simon. Love the story that the trout ignored the natural for your foam ball ! I too was out yesterday, on the Rye. Despite the hailstones , mayfly kept coming . My tactics identical to yours. The sand martins out in force , out catching both fish & human . Ken

    1. Things definitely looking up on the insect front – hopefully will translate into fish!

  2. Nice fish Simon. Must be quite good never having to bother with any floatant with that fly?
    I fished the duchy the day before your sampling and did quite well, mainly small fish though.
    Tried below the town for about half an hour, got rained off also, waders leaking also.

    1. Thanks Matt. Yes, I can’t be bothered with amadou, frog’s fanny, gink etc so the old foam wing saves a lot of hassle. You can make them a bit more subtle than that one!

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