Harrogate FlyFishers' Club

since 1887

since 1887


Newsletter October 2019

End of the season, but not the year! 

September has seen our river at a fairly low level for the first three weeks of the month. A couple of members commented on how well the river was fishing, even at 0.1 metres level at Birstwith. There were couple of peaks of 0.4 to 0.5 metres on the 24th and 26th, associated with the heavy rain we experienced just in time for the UCI Cycle races! On finals day (29th) the level reached 2.0 metres! I hope you escaped a drenching! 

Duffers Pool in March and in September this year 

I do continue to recommend the club website, https://harrogateflyfishers.com/, particularly the ‘Current Conditions’ page where there is a graph showing the level of water in the river. 

There’s also a tweet section on that page, intended for members’ brief contemporary contributions. I seem to be the only one at the moment contributing/passing on members’ comments! Maybe it’s only me who knows the password for @Harrofly? 

If you’re a tweeter, or would like to become one, get in touch with me, and you can do your own on our website! 

October Prospects – by Steve Rhodes 

September again brought unsettled weather and less than ideal fishing conditions and ended in a total washout with not one of the Dales’ rivers fishable during the last few days. 

Of course, the trout season is now over but as we have reasonable stocks of grayling therefore fishing continues on our beats until the end of February. Fly fishing for grayling can be good throughout October and given reasonable conditions can offer some great dry fly fishing for rising fish in the steady glides and tails of the pools. If grayling are rising but playing hard to get with a dry fly North Country Spiders will often do the trick, a Spider fished a foot to 18 inches behind a dry fly is a dodge I often use. 

Hooking grayling on a dry fly isn’t an exact science and missing many of the fish you rise is an occupational hazard, their underslung mouth and the way they take the fly is obviously the reason. As far as I am aware no one has found an answer to this, strangely when you do actually hook a fish the fly is often at the back of its mouth, how does that work?? On the positive side grayling will frequently “come and come again” so you may get a few chances to hook the bugger, a change of fly can also induce another take or two. Expect them to be feeding mostly on small stuff such as aphids midges but Stoneflies, Caddis and some Mayflies such as Pale Watery may also feature. 

Clearly fishing weighted nymphs/bugs will also take fish using traditional or more recent “Euro/Czech” nymphing techniques, personally I prefer to try to find a few “afternoon risers” and take my chance with dry flies and spiders during October. From around mid- November onwards these nymphing techniques can be very effective in searching out fish concentrated in small areas in the deeper glides or the slower water. 

These days from early/mid-November I tend to concentrate on long trotting for two reasons, firstly I find it an effective and very enjoyable method and it makes a nice change from fly fishing, secondly and perhaps more importantly I am now getting too old to be stood up to my “whatsits” in freezing cold water all day nymphing! In addition fishing with a centre pin and float rod is very skilful done properly and is a lightweight and mobile approach enabling a lot of water to be covered quickly and effectively, important when grayling are tightly packed in the harder weather months. On our beats we can use worm or maggot as bait although I tend to fish worm simply because maggots aren’t available near where I live so I rely mostly on a supply of worms from my compost bin. Maggots are of course more effective when “feeding” a swim to try and bring fish onto the feed. 

We are fortunate in having plenty of trees on our beats but this brings its own problems during the peak leaf fall turning the river into “leaf soup” which is a pain when fishing wet flies or long trotting but that’s just the way it is. You will also catch plenty of out of season brown trout especially during October and November, please ensure these are carefully unhooked and returned quickly, if you are catching too many in one spot... move! 

Let’s hope we get a few “classic” grayling days this Autumn, frosty, bright and still with some warmth from the sun in the afternoon, I won’t hold my breath though the way the weather is shaping up these days. 

There’s Always a Catch in It! 

Ian Dodd, our River Manager has a request to make of members: Please remember to send your catch returns to Ian Dodd (address on the bottom of the return form) as soon as possible after the end of the Trout season and preferably before mid-October. They are the only formal mechanism we have for monitoring the performance of our fishery and planning for the up-coming season - and, as such, are important. 

If you have any questions or comments (such as ‘the dog ate my blank catch return’!), contact the club secretary in the first instance. 

Ian also suggests that members should start polishing their secateurs and sharpening their saw blades, as Working Party dates will be published during the course of October. I should add that these events are great fun - with the added frisson that over energetic work on the bankside/ in the shallows of the river has been known to result in minor ‘fallings –in’. I speak from experience! There are better ways to take the temperature of the river..... 

Members’ Comments 

One of our members reported some good recent catches of wild trout, including a fine trout with a normal adipose fin and blue marks on its body. For members’ information, there has been some variation in practice over the years by our trout suppliers. Blue ink and a clipped adipose fin have been variously used for our stock fish - separately or together. 

The safest practice by members is to regard any trout with either blue ink on its body and/or a clipped adipose fin as a stock fish. Of course generally stock fish are larger than our native wild trout, but I’ve had reports of very good-sized wild trout – so that’s not a very useful guide! It is, however, an indication of the health of our local trout stock! 

Membership Update 

Three new members have joined the club during the last couple of months. Welcome to Stephen Jones, Luke Mitchell and Peter Gamble – all based in Harrogate. It’s good to know that we continue to be an attractive fly fishing club to join. 

Welcome gentlemen, and we hope the Grayling season is kind to you. 

Please continue to encourage your friends to join the club (they will now be put on a waiting list – possibly until the start of the new trout season!) 

Autumn and Winter Newsletters 

As the trout season on the Nidd has finished, there will probably be less news to announce / discuss during the next few months, and club newsletters may be either fewer or a bit thinner. You may receive the occasional email as a partial substitute. 

Do keep sending me information on your grayling, or other, exploits – as I’d prefer to keep the monthly schedule of newsletters up if possible. 

David Clayden HFFC Hon. Sec. 

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