River Esk, North Yorkshire

Tiddlers reign on the Esk


After twenty years of telling myself I really should nip up to Danby and fish the Esk, today I finally got round to it.

A glorious last day of May, sun beating down and little breeze. Had picked up a day ticket from the pub in Danby the day before (fiver) and parked up opposite the footpath that leads down to the river. A lovely setting:


Negotiated the first field and over the railway line without incident. In the second field though a bunch of cows with calves did not like the look of me. They began lowing with some menace and started to trot  my way. Bloody yell. I didn’t fancy doing a Usain Bolt in my undone, flapping waders. I walked as briskly and nonchalantly as possible and managed to vault over a gate into a neighbouring field. The killer cows stared and bellowed:


Slightly shaken I made my way to the river only to find that I had left my bloody glasses in the car. Fortunately the cows had by now buggered off into another field. Trudged back to get the specs.

Anyway, river looked good…


…if a bit low. Tackled up a 7ft 3wt with a snipe and purple. No fish rising early on and I had no real idea what to expect. Half an hour of fruitless casting and wading then gloria in excelcis!


A tiny Esk brown. I was not going to blank. Had another, same size, same fly. More river:


Some quite slow and deep, much overgrown and unfishable, some faster runs.

Yellow Sallies started to hatch off, so I switched to this:


Started to get more titchy fish…



Sometimes it felt like fishing in a mangrove swamp:


Loads of tiny rises all over the place. The occasional slightly larger rise, but the biggest fish I saw was probably seven inches. Just tiddler after tiddler:


Ended up with, I think, 19 fish in a bit over three hours. Challenging fishing at times in a fantastically pretty setting. Nothing big but good fun nonetheless.

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  1. Looks like a good day. I was up at Danby on Saturday but didn’t realise you could get day tickets.

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