Thornton Beck

Small stream, big effort, nice fish


Up to Thornton Beck, just this side of the North York Moors. It’s a small, sinuous, jungly stream packed with feisty little wild browns but they don’t come easily. In the past I’ve tended to have a go with dries, but to be honest the fish here don’t rise that freely so today I decided to have a go with a heavy nymph.

There’s so much overgrowth that a tiny rod is essential, so I tackled up the 6ft Burns 3wt with a five foot furled leader and about four feet of tippet. I tied on a size 14 hare’s ear on a jig hook with a copper-coloured tungsten bead.

Much of the water looks like this:

There a loads of little fish, but the water is so clear and the casting so tricky that it’s nigh on impossible to get close enough to make a short cast to the fish without spooking them.

In the end I ignored all this sort of slack water and concentrated on the faster runs that had a bit of depth to them on the basis that the turbulence would somewhat disguise my approach:

Basically I ended up flicking out only the leader and tippet. I struggled for the first half hour but eventually hooked a tiddler:

Well, it’s a fish and if today was only going to produce specimens of that size, so be it.

I was fighting a right old battle with snags above and below the water. After one twanging release from a submerged branch I was pleased I took a look at the fly:

That ain’t gonna catch a lot. Anyhow, on with a replacement copper-head and the second fish was shortly in the bag – a bit better than his little brother:

I then got into a rhythm somewhat, focusing on the swirlier water:

Vividly speckled fish started to come:

The jungle certainly wasn’t thinning out:

Took a real little corker in an eddying, deeper pool – this is a great fish for this water:

After around three hours I’d had eight fish to hand and decided to call it a day – almost. Right at the start of the beat there’s a section that is just downstream of a fish farm. This stretch below the bridge holds a number of large escapees:

I thought I’d give it a whirl before packing up, and kept the beaded nymph on the end. Well, I had two whumpers:

The second one must have been well over 2lb. It’s nice enough to put a bend in a small three weight rod, but it’s much more fun doing SAS jungle warfare and catching the luminous wildies.

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  1. Nice fish Simon, I fished thornton beck today too, only the second time this season. You’d have thought we would have run in to each other.
    Surprised how low the beck is with all the rain we’ve had.
    Best regards

    1. That’s a coincidence! Maybe the goldhead I found dangling from a tree is yours!

  2. That’s a good day out Simon by any standards. Nearly as good as Scourie…..roll on 2021.

  3. Hi Simon
    Great blog as usual. Wild fish are just so rewarding. A day like that makes up for all the cancelled days this year.

  4. Thanks Graham and Bob – am already thinking about tactics for Scourie 2021!

  5. I’m guessing you are fishing upstream of the village by the looks of it. Is the water below the village still choked with ranunculus? I cut my fly fishing teeth down there when the club had it but the weed was a killer and the constant cutting was what caused the club to give it up. There were good trout down there and some very impressive grayling. One 0f 2 pound 14 won the Grayling match one year. I saw an enormous trout of at least 4 pounds one day after we had been cutting weed and lowered the water level probably too much. He was looking rather exposed down at the bottom of the stretch. I went back with a rod but of course he had disappeared by then. Happy days

  6. Yes, it’s above the village Pete. I don’t think the club has anything below the village any more. No big fish (as far as I know) but it is very pretty.

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