So last time I was out on the Thornton Beck, a tiny squiggle of a stream that wends its way through the Dalby Forest just this side of Pickering, I’d decided that a mini-French-leader set-up on a 7ft rod should do the trick nicely. But it didn’t and I reverted to the old emerger to draw out a couple of fish. I concluded after that trip that the way forward was to go back to the 6ft rod, floating line, furled leader, short tippet and put on a little black and peacock spider. This one in fact:
The Small Stream Reflections blog (smallstreamreflections.blogspot.com – terrific blog, recommended) is all about using small spiders and the like in little streams, with impressive results. So I could see no reason why it shouldn’t work with me.
The beck is stuffed full of little wild brown trout. They scatter before you infuriatingly as you make your way upstream. Water like this is full of them:
But it’s slow and clear, and by the time you get close enough to deliver a fly the fish have scarpered. You can’t cast from 10 or 15 yards away because of the proflic undergrowth. Rather, in my experience at any rate, your best bet are the faster riffles and pools like these:
Anyhow, chock full of optimism I rigged up as above with the spider and flogged away for the better part of an hour with no result. So much for that theory. Back to the old heavy nymph:
What gives you your best bet is if you can sneak up on a pool without being seen, either one that is around a bend or else one that is nicely concealed by, for example, a handy big log with some greenery growing out of it:
Doing precisely that with the beaded nymph brought the first little fish of the day:
From its tail it looks like the poor little blighter has had a run-in with a heron or some such.
Despite that early success the nymph brought no more action, so it was back to the emerger with a big foam wing to keep it nice and high in the fast water:
Almost every time I put it into a riffly pool from which I was well concealed it produced a take, most of which failed to stick. Managed three of this ilk:
Eventually I reached the top part of this stretch of the beat, which ends in a tasty weir pool:
The water is deep and nothing seemed to be moving on the top, so I swapped the emerger for a heavy beaded nymph and ran it through. A couple of casts in and a better little fish:
Another one took but didn’t stick. So that was it, five fish for a three hour session. I’d hoped for a bigger haul, but I’m not complaining. There is a key to unlocking this water, but I haven’t found it yet.