Nowt as queer as the sight of an angler

Sophisticated: The blue winged olive (sherry) spinner. Flies created by Stephen Cheetham.
Sophisticated: The blue winged olive (sherry) spinner. Flies created by Stephen Cheetham.
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One of the things that I love about this part of North Yorkshire is that I have opportunities to fish for truly wild brown trout.

They inhabit the rivers that alternately tumble and glide through fabulous countryside, very close to some of the places that you visit.

Some of you will have seen a wader-clad character strolling along a country lane, rod over his shoulder and not even a puddle in sight. How would you know that a ten-minute walk will enable me to hunker down by the side of an idyllic stream pondering my next move?

Perhaps I should apologise for listening in to your conversations as you pass within a few feet of me. You never notice me because I am usually wading slowly and silently along the stream hidden from your view by trees and thick summer undergrowth.

Very occasionally, we have exchanged a smile and a nod. This happens when you hear a vexed voice amidst the vegetation. Curiously, you have parted the foliage and found me removing a wayward fly from an unforgiving alder. I’d like to ask for forgiveness from those of you with children.

Oh, whilst I’m in apologising mode, I perhaps went a bit too far when I claimed to be a Crime Scene Investigator whilst poking about in the water with my net. I was just looking at bugs and not searching for clues regarding a missing person from an equestrian event. To the two ladies on horseback; I’m sorry.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have enjoyed some wonderful evenings on the rivers. The flows are excellent and the water colour resembles that of the wonderful Anglers Reward beer from the Wold Top, brewery; in short, perfect.

On one such occasion, I arrived at the waterside at around 4.30pm. I was in relaxed mood having spent ten minutes with James, the game keeper, sorting out a couple of world problems, namely caravans and the Tour de France.

The air was warm and fragrant, the scent of meadowsweet and elder flowers both wafted on the light breeze. I idly began to consider where else I would rather be and gave up almost immediately.

No sign of trout, but I was not surprised. I suspected that they would be in the riffles (angler speak for fast water) scoffing any small creatures that foolishly ventured out from under a stone on the river’s bed.

The hare’s ear nymph serves as a perfect imitation of all manner of such creatures, especially if there is a brass bead at its head. I ambled along, casting my nymph into every pocket of water where the flow increased. Trout and grayling regularly popped up to say a brief “hello” before I returned them gently to their watery warren. I was as happy as a pig in you-know-what.

I had seen a few juvenile blue winged olives as I made my way upstream. I was surprised; they don’t usually show up until July. As I came back downstream, the last shaft of sunlight turned the Abbey walls to gold, I could do nothing but sit on the bank for a few minutes and soak up that glorious sight. As I turned back to the river, I saw the swarm of mature blue winged olives preparing to lay their eggs over the riffle at my feet.

The trout were gently sipping down the ones that reached the calm water below me. In the shadow beneath the trees, I knew that there was not a chance of tying an imitation to my leader. The fly is only about 5mm long and the eye in the size 18 hook is miniscule.

The light was fading fast; I smiled and made my way home via the White Horse and a pint of Anglers Reward.