Fly fishing: River is rich in fish

It was the trusty Black Bunny Leech that attracted the trout. Fly dressed by Stephen Cheetham
It was the trusty Black Bunny Leech that attracted the trout. Fly dressed by Stephen Cheetham
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As I sit on the bank of the River Wharfe writing this article I am reminded of how lucky we are to live in Yorkshire. As an angler I have to remind myself of the beautiful rivers we have here.

Many are the rivers that rise in the Pennines and the North Yorkshire moors to flow east to the sea, but in my opinion one of the finest fishing rivers is the Wharfe.

For 12 years I had the pleasure of teaching fly fishing at Malham Tarn and there I met and made good friends with many lovely people. Some wanted to return to Malham year after year but nine of them, who I class as the old students, asked me to organise holidays so they could take advantage of the stunning rivers in the North.

For some years we’ve fished the Wharfe and Ure, in other years we’ve gone into Durham and fished the Tees. Last year we went up to the Eden in Cumbria, but this year they wanted to return to the Wharfe.

We met up at a lovely hotel just outside Threshfield on the Saturday and were briefed as to where they would be going to fish. Sunday we’d be fishing the handsome waters of the upper Wharfe at Kilnsey, Monday we’d be visiting an old favourite spot at Bolton Abbey but Tuesday we’d stray into Lancashire and fish at Stocks reservoir, an internationally known still-water fishery. On arrival at Stocks I made sure my friends were all safely in their boats as they trundled off fishing for half a day whilst I fished from the bank.

After about two hours one boat returned, Lesley and Alan, a couple from Glasgow. They’d found it hard work and Lesley wanted a few hours on dry land so I offered to go back out with Alan. Now, Alan is a big burly Glaswegian with an accent to suit, not the easiest of folk to understand particularly after a few beers in the bar!

He’s a great guy, a good angler and willing to share his flies with those who ask. In the bar the night before he reeled off a few names of flies he was going to try. I think I understood him as I smiled and nodded. It was far easier when he produced a fly from his fly box which was an “absolutely deadly fly” that both he and Lesley used with great results – the Black Bunny Leech!

Back in the boat, we settled down to some serious non-productive fishing. The wind was quite strong and was playing havoc with my hearing aids so there was no way I was going to hear Alan, but he delved into his fly box and out came the Black Bunny Leech. I gave the thumbs up and off the fly sailed across the water. A few pulls back and the line went straight and tight and eventually a good 2lb rainbow trout was safely returned.

There are areas of the Wharfe where the water is deep and slow and should hide some big trout. I wondered if the fish would like the Black Bunny Leech in Yorkshire!