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Northern rivers

After months of waiting, four of us find ourselves in a car heading north. Inside, the boot is packed to the rafters with tackle, while expectation fills the rest. We’re off for the opening of the trout season.

Like any other fishing trip the talk weaves through tackle, books, flies and magazines, an endless stream of opinions, facts and suggestions. It looks like the weather gods are with us as the rain up north has stopped, albeit momentarily.

For the next three days we’re being hosted by Rich and Sarah, whose home in Saddleworth has become a much-anticipated feature on our calendar. On the way up, Theo, Jez, Cas and I fish three different rivers before arriving outside their front door. Here, maps, beers, curries and ideas are spread over the table and, together with Mike and JOB, a plan is hatched for the following day.

Theo’s bacon and egg butties, wolfed down with the aid of large cups of coffee, get us out of the front door. Tackled up we get into the cars and head for our allotted stretches. In pairs, we work our way upstream within a five mile radius of the house. Rich and I are matched up for the day and the two of us leisurely hop from pool to pool, casting into likely spots, trying out different techniques and simply enjoying a day on the water. Large Dark Olives are the flavour of the day. The odd obliging fish comes to hand, some of which bring a broader smile or two.

Back at the house JO’B’s slow-cooked lamb is washed down with cold beers, more of which were to come at the White Lion, amid karaoke and pool – but not before Theo has the monster from the junction pool.

The next day we decide to head over the moors to a river that looked inviting. The river reminds me of some of the rivers in the South West that I used to fish as a youth, the only difference is that this one is only just recovering from a polluted past. A river of note is the only way I can describe it, as it not only has a good head of fish but also holds larger than average fish. It carves its way through bedrock, meadow, valley, forest and gorge, and cuts out lovely riffles, pools and longer glides that provide immediate intimacy. It seems as if the river’s re-emergence was simply waiting from within, dormant, expectant and now given the chance to rise again. Some of us come away with lasting memories.

The trip back does not keep us from flicking a fly on one of the home waters before heading back down the M1. Mike and JO’B hit the Don on their way back and catch a fish or two as well.

Nice way to end the trip. As we leave, the rain arrives…

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