Oxfolds Beck, North Yorkshire

A chilly, wet May afternoon produces a nice brown

20/05/2021

To Oxfolds Beck in the hope if not expectation of a decent fish. As I’ve mentioned before, the beck contains some belters but has been denuded by pollution over recent years – a situation that is hopefully now in reverse. Despite the reduced numbers of fish there’s always the chance of connecting with something meaty.

I don’t need to tell anyone how crap the weather has been and yesterday was no exception. Chilly, around 11C according to the car, with intermittent rain. The latter I can live with, the former is getting us all down I’m sure.

It’s a tight beck so I usually go for the 6ft rod, although I dare say I could manage something a foot or even18″ longer but I like the toothpick. It was the first outing for a new line, a Barrio DT floater. People rhapsodise about their favourite fishing lines and lots of people speak highly of Barrio. I confess that for me a line is a line is a line. I’m not sure if I could tell the difference between a £70 Rio (?) and a bit of mill end from John Norris for a tenner. Anyway, it seemed to work ok with a furled leader and short length of 6lb tippet – because you can get smashed by a torpedo here.

I put on a single beaded nymph, reckoning that the low temperatures would militate against much surface activity. Fairly early doors I spotted a nice fish of probably over a pound in this stretch, just this side of the rickety looking landing stage:

It ignored my first offering of something clad in purple seal’s fur (synthetic, perhaps it was a snob), but didn’t get spooked so I switched to an orange beaded nymph. One ranging cast, then another a bit closer and the fish turned and took the fly, shot off like a scud missile into a bank of weed and detached itself. Ah well.

Up to the weir. Mum mallard was taking her nine kids for an outing. They saw me and fled upstream. Mum hopped over the weir but the youngsters didn’t have the strength to overcome the current. You could almost hear her imploring her brood to make one final effort but they couldn’t do it:

Eventually Ma hopped back into the wash and led them back downstream along the far edge. There’s probably a metaphor for life in there somewhere but I’m not sure what it is.

Anyhow, little action after that for the next couple of hundred yards. I saw few fish, none rising, and blind casts into channels between weed banks produced nothing. Finally, just along the left side of this run, I saw a nice pounder sitting in the water, tail swaying lazily:

I plopped the orange nymph over it a couple of times but was ignored. Crucially the fish didn’t flee however. I watched it rise and take something off the top before descending again into its lie. So I switched to an emerger and tried that for three or four casts. It was difficult not to catch the drag and my presentation was shocking. The fish did take a look at the fly once but turned its nose up. I rifled around the fly box and picked out an ancient, crudely tied and far-too-bushy black and peacock. In fact I think I bought this fly about 25 years ago before I started tying my own:

Two casts in and as it drifted the fish turned and took. Got it in no bother:

Chuffed enough with that. It proved the only fish of the day. I’m not complaining.

Incidentally, these days I always take a wading stick ever since I had a nasty tumble and smacked my knee mightily painfully. The staff is attached to my belt with a chunky zinger that I bought from Snowbee, and it has done the job for a couple of years. I noticed that it was a bit ‘sticky’ when retracting, so thought I’d take a look at it when I got home.

It looks like this:

I wasn’t entirely sure of the mechanism by which these things work, but it had a few tiny cross-head screws around the periphery so I reasoned that I could very carefully remove those then see if I could prise the body apart, take a peek inside, and do whatever needed doing – remove the obstruction, resit a pin or something, add lubricant, blah blah.

So, with the hands of a safecracker I applied great control and a steady nerve as I slowly undid the screws, picking them out with a pair of tweezers and laying them to one side. Then, barely daring to breathe, like some kind of bomb disposal expert, I inserted a screwdriver between the panels and gently, gently applied pressure. The two halves began to separate. I felt a bead of sweat run down my cheek. I swallowed, then millilmetre by millimetre lifted the two halves apart. There was suddenly a loud click and a sharp whirr and this appeared in front of me, quivering slightly:

To be fair I did manage to rewind it and put it back in the case but the central pin that anchors the spring had split in two and that was the problem. A new one from Snowbee is £25 or so, and that seems excessive so I have ordered something from eBay that is similar but seems to be used for bunches of keys. As far as I can tell you get two for twelve quid. I’ll give it a go.

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  1. I love the look of the Oxfolds Beck and always look out for your posts about it. I like streams where you can spot the fish and target them. A good read, Simon, had a chuckle at the end too.

  2. Thanks Justin. Hopefully warmer weather will arrive at some point and I might catch more than one fish…

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