Contributed by Richard (11.08.2012
First time out in 3 weeks. River at a good height at .22m which I think is equal lowest I have fished it this year - the other time being 21st March! I arrived at Warcop Bridge at 11am and it was very bright and sunny. Strangely on my way from Ilkley-Buckden-Yockenthwaite-Hawes all the way up to the Garsdale Pub turn off to Kirkby Stephen it was cloudless, then boom..bright sunshine-great!
Not only that, but the 10-11mph winds forecast were way short of the mark; more like 20mph I reckon and blowing from the East. With these conditions I trudged d/stream to our limit with Appleby and then walked back up. I did not see a single rise. I then walked u/stream from the bridge at least another mile...and then back down again...with similar results. All the trout had their heads down and usually productive spots were devoid of finned inhabitants.
By this time it was 1pm and I had not even strung the rod up. Sensing the dreaded blank (can you blank if you have not even cast?), I chucked the gear in the back of the car and headed upstream to another bridge. Changing from my 10' to an 8.5' rod I went in search again. My rationale was given the lack of a hatch (not surprising in these conditions), maybe more tree lined stretches would produce the goods with wind-borne bounty. Perseverance paid off and I chanced upon a pool that I had walked past many times before (as I guess had many others) where the wind was pushing the feed lanes into the opposite bank. The first cast into a large back-eddy produced a splashy rise that I missed and then I went another 30m upstream where there was a bit more flow. Here the fishing was good with a fair few rising fish and I managed to raise 5 trout to a size 18 NDT and hook them all, nothing massive, the best would go 1lb 6oz and 14"+. That was it and by now it was 2:30pm. It wasn't exactly warm and I donned my thin fleece to keep from getting too cold. I walked a further mile upstream and found another pool with almost no flow and a few risers, which were not impressed by my efforts.
I eventually reached another bridge at 5pm and by standing on it could see 3 trout in very shallow water. One looked very good and I marked its position and then made off downstream to approach it. The trouble with its position was that it was close to my bank, but trees on my bank made it impossible to cast conventionally. To go more mid-river may have disturbed a smaller trout which I did not want shooting off upstream, to alarm the bigger fish. I had to deliver with a cross-body cast, which is not one of my forte's. First cast was good and I thought he was going to take but then I think it dragged. After resting him and watch him rise a couple more times, the second cast was made, which I thought was spot on...however the trout didn't and knew something was not quite right! He ambled downstream, passing not more than 10' from me. I was now in a quandary..do I bugger off/go for the smaller fish?? After examining my leader and finding it no more than 11', it did occur that it was a lot shorter than I would like so I quickly added 3' of 6X to get better drifts.
After pondering what to do for another 10 minutes, I noticed him sliding warily back to his original position, but it took 15-20 minutes of patient waiting before he started feeding again. There was no way I was going to show him the same fly, so on went a #16 cdc BWO and out it went. I lost sight of the fly but there was a rise...and after a momentary hesitation (was that to my fly? We have all been there!), tightened. There was a big boil and everything went solid, he careered downstream past me and was really putting up a good fight which included a couple of jumps to try and break free. I got him in the net, weighed, measured and photo'ed.
From spotting him to hooking and landing I reckon it was 60-75 minutes, but worth the effort in the end. A very satisfying end to a very tough day, where every fish hooked had to be earned. As I walked back to the car I did contemplate waiting a couple of hours for the evening rise, but by then was a bit tired and with the wind maybe putting a question mark on even the occurence of an evening rise, headed off back home at 7 o'clock.