Kirkby Stephen and District Angling Association

On the river at last

Contributed by Bill Rushton (06.06.2003)

After having spent the best part of a day in April stocking the river, it was with some considerable anticipation that I headed back up to Kirkby with caravan in tow for a long weekend at Trainriggs.

I arrived on the Friday evening at the start of the late May bank holiday with rain clouds gathering. The river was already high and coloured and I guess that there must have been a fair old deluge before I arrived. We set up the van and had a brew before travelling up to Brough Sowerby for a dinner at the Black Bull. Now for anyone who has not visited that establishment, I can thoroughly recommend the food and drink and the hospitality. There is ample food for a greedy man without question and the quality is certainly not compromised by the quantity.

Hardly able to stagger back to the motor with the groaning weight of a giant sized gammon inside me, I resolved to get out the rod the minute I got back to the van and test out the river, flood or no flood.

First stop after a gruelling half mile walk was the pool at Beckfoot. Now unfortunately I am prevented from fishing this pool with the worm (which as I have mentioned before is my stock in trade), so I wandered a short distance upstream and fished slowly back towards the van. It wasn’t long before I connected with a decent fish which took off at rate of knots downstream in the heavy current. The fight lasted for what seemed an age before I managed to bring the fish to the bank. I judged it to be a stockfish but who knows, the condition of those stockies had to be seen to be believed.

I returned that one and carried on upstream taking another three fish before reaching the van. They were all in the same bracket, around a pound and a quarter and all in superb condition. Not such a bad start and the whiskey tasted all the better for having made my mark.

The following day dawned overcast and with the rain having been beating down on the van roof for most of the night, the river had risen even higher. I decided to give the fishing a miss for while and myself and good lady wife took off for Penrith for a mornings shopping. By the time we returned in mid afternoon, the river had dropped slightly and was running the colour of a nice malt. Just the ticket for a wormer I thought.

I drove up to the measuring weir below Kirkby with the intention of having an hour or so in that area. Ordinarily I would not have fished this stretch as past experiences have never been that fruitful, however, after my success the previous evening, I really thought that I couldn’t go wrong. Well there’s many a slip as they say and within half an hour of arriving and without so much as a single pull, I bumped into a submerged rock and before I knew what was happening, I found myself face down in the middle of the river. Bravely I thought, or more probably rather stupidly, I emptied my waders and, squeezed out my pullover and carried on regardless. Unfortunately, Saturday was not to be my lucky day as by the end of this extremely uncomfortable session I had landed the grand total of zilch. I returned to the van, determined to do better on Sunday and shot off once again to the Black Bull for yet another satisfying treat.

By the following morning the river had subsided somewhat and looked tailor made for worming. I went off to Kirkby as usual for the morning paper whilst Sandra got to work preparing breakfast. Imagine my surprise when I returned to find my son Robert and his friend parked up by the van with a brace of whoppers laid out on the grass. Apparently they had already been on the river for two hours before I surfaced and caught over ten fish between them. The largest of these beauties weighed in at three and a half pounds c/o Tony Killington’s scales and could be a legitimate contender for the trophy.

Well there has always been a certain amount of friendly rivalry between the two of us, so I couldn’t wait to get out on the river once more to prove a few points. I decided to give Ploughlands a try and after parking up at the farm, I wandered off downstream almost halfway to Warcop. As it turned out that was not such a bad choice as first cast I hooked into a real beauty which fought like the very devil for all of five minutes. When eventually I landed my prize I estimate that it weighed in the order of two and three quarters. Not the three pound plus I wanted but a good start nevertheless.

That was it at Ploughlands but I really made up for it on the next session landing 16 fish in a three hour session downstream from Blandswath Bridge. All but three were over the pound mark and one was easily over two. I guess most were stock fish, and all were returned but they fought well and were in lovely condition. I was really getting to enjoy my sport.

Enough was enough for Sunday and we spent a lazy afternoon taking in the local scenery and walking the dogs down from Franks Bridge. We decided on a change for dinner, travelling over to Tebay where we had booked a table at the Cross Keys Inn. Once again we were not disappointed and I can really recommend the steak and mushroom pie. Wash it down with some Tetley’s bitter and you have a meal fit for a king!

Monday arrived so quickly. It seemed only hours since we had arrived on that rain-swept evening but this day was a complete change. The sun beat down with a noticeable warmth and the place was alive with flies and midges. I had just an hour left to beat Roberts’s monster and decided to stay near home and fish the river up to the falls above the road. What a wise choice that turned out to be. I had seven fish on the worm, two were a shade over two pounds and the rest I suspect were stockies. I kept the two pounders and returned the rest making a total of three fish in the fridge for the journey back to Chorley.

If I don’t catch another fish all season I can’t complain and thank you to Peter for having me on his site. It may not have all the mod cons of a modern caravan site, but if fishing is high on the agenda, it could not be better placed.