After the fine start in Hampshire detailed on my previous blog the fishing stag cut its numbers by half – Theo returning to his desk to finalise his mighty tome on urban fly-fishing for publication early next season, and Duncan to photography work. Adrian and I headed north on the Sunday, aiming to discover the fruits of SPRITE, our Northern equivalent who have done much sterling work to improve the urbanised River Don and its tributaries in Sheffield.
We arrived in Sheffield mid-morning and headed for the nearest landmark we knew that was next to the river – Sheffield Wednesday’s ground at Hillsborough. This imposing stadium sits right alongside the Don, and a fine sequence of riffles and pools are to be found there.
Peering over the bridge revealed a number of rising trout and grayling. 3 weights were hastily assembled, and dry flies attached to light leaders. As we clambered down into the stream the fish simply melted away – clumsy footwork probably the culprit (on my part), but with the first of a number of anglers we were to meet that day approaching we began to realise one critical thing. This river obviously gets fished a fair bit! The angler in question was a member of SPRITE and already knew Theo by name! He kindly gave us the heads up on some good pools and we made our way downstream as he carried on up.
Fishing was tough but worthwhile. Small browns came to duo and trio set-ups, and the odd grayling put in an appearance too.
Not till right beside the main entrance bridge to the ground did we connect with anything decent. Having made a cast and mend towards some far bank cover I turned to Adrian to discuss prospects with him, feeling the line pull sharply through my fingers as I did. A lovely brown was the culprit, fighting like mad in the faster water. Eventually he was subdued and came to the waiting net, allowing us to get a good look at him. He was probably in the 1lb 8oz category and a lovely looking wild fish. Then disaster struck, he spooked at the sight on the net, snagging the dropper in the net and steaming off at 100MPH at the same time. Result, one smashed tippet and no ‘glory photo’!
Moving downstream we came across more small trout and caught them on dries too. We met a number of other anglers, fly and bait and all were very welcoming. Access to the river was relatively easy and we suspect that this has something to do with the amount of people there. We left as the storms arrived and headed for the River Holme in Holmfirth. This is ‘Jez country’ and if you’re fishing his river you’d better do it properly (in all honesty it’s the most successful method here in summer anyway). So out came the split cane and dry flies! The river did not disappoint.
Numerous browns fell to our flies, the best perhaps 10 ounces and all beautiful, 100% wild Yorkshire fish. The sheer number of fish in this town water has to be seen to be believed. Some large fish are amongst them too, no doubt fattened by the bread thrown in for the many ducks. An early finish and a beer beckoned as the light faded in the steep sided Holme valley, for tomorrow we were to fish something pretty spectacular and rare in equal quantity. A Northern chalkstream – the Driffield Beck.