Harrogate FlyFishers' Club

since 1887

since 1887


Newsletter September 2019

Well that’s a British Summer for you!


August has seen our river at a reasonable level throughout the month. There were several peaks of 0.5 to 0.7 metres at Birstwith – major contrasts with the typical 0.1 metre in July, Levels in the river are obviously dictated by the release of water from Gouthwaite reservoir as well as affected by the strange, intermittent and sometimes heavy rain showers we’ve had in August. I hope you weren’t down at the river when one of them suddenly came on!

Currently we’re down to about 0.2 metres – still a very reasonable level for fishing in this last month of the Trout season. Of course we are also blessed with having a good stock of Grayling that we can focus on after September 30th!

I do 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. This might just save you a trip to the river if it’s running really high - though some of our members seem to be able to tempt trout even when the fish (and possibly the angler) are struggling to stay in one spot!

September Prospects – by Steve Rhodes

September was always one of my favourite fly fishing months. Settled weather and often a proverbial “Indian” summer usually meant fly hatches were good with fish feeding hard in anticipation of harder times and spawning ahead.  However, this last few years September has brought generally unsettled weather, often cold and windy and not exactly conducive to good fishing - so far this September looks to be following that trend.

Regardless on the more clement days the fish should still be feeding well, and flies will be hatching.  During August there were some great falls of Black Gnats and these should continue well into September, Caddis, Heather Flies and Mayflies, especially Pale Watery, should also feature and of course ever-increasing numbers of Aphids.

Fishing dry flies from midday throughout the afternoon would usually be the most productive approach, late afternoon will normally see temperatures dropping and the end of sport for the day.

As usual the trout season has flown by and it’s been another season of unusual and contrasting weather and water conditions, climate change possibly? For certain fishing these days is much less predictable than it used to be.  All is not lost however as October can provide some excellent dry fly fishing for grayling but as always conditions will be all and the fish will do what they do.   

Reciprocal Arrangements

We don’t get too many visiting members from clubs with whom we have reciprocal arrangements, but this month Martin Smith, a member of Pickering Fishery Association, visited our waters in mid-August and was very pleased with his trip.

Martin says ‘The water was a bit up so the first 90 minutes did not see a rise or take. Then in the pool above the stepping stones I had some marvellous sport including a young trout, three lovely larger fish and a grayling’.

A nice fish, and a lovely photo.  How does he take a photo while fishing? I haven’t mastered that skill yet! Well done Martin, and thanks for the feedback.

I’ve also had a report from a club member that he’s recently had a very nice fish from below the Milner Deep – a 16” wild trout. He showed me the photo, but doesn’t want to share it in the newsletter because it feels like boasting! If I ever catch a wild trout that size - expect some serious boasting! This bodes well for our fishery, especially as he also reported a lot of very young fish at Sanctuary. 

Rainbow Trout

It has also been reported to me that one of our members has caught a rainbow trout in the upper section of our river. (Photographic evidence available..) Maybe it had escaped from some fishery further up the Nidd? I recall that I hooked a rainbow a couple of years ago at Duffers Pool, only to lose it at the landing net. Have any other members caught rainbows on our fishery, or have other information or thoughts? Photos appreciated too!

Water Quality

Through having some discussions with a few people recently, and reading articles in the Press, I’ve got a bit of a concern at the moment about water quality.

There have been a few horror stories in the media where pollution incidents have resulted in massive loss of fish life or concerns about human health when a river is used for bathing (as in the River Wharfe at Ilkley recently).

We are lucky to have access to a river where the water quality is regarded by the Environment Agency as Good or Excellent (Rivers Nidd and Wharfe Fact File: EA), and it has to be said that every time I go to our river I’m struck by the clarity of the water and the beauty of its location.

However, pollution is an ever present threat – in our case particularly from agricultural effluents, silage liquor, cattle slurry and sheep dip chemicals. I admit to ignorance about any specific issues on our stretch or up river, or any water treatment works that may discharge into the river. Clearly Gouthwaite reservoir acts to control the flow into our stretch, and I don’t know if there is any monitoring or active interventions there or further up river.

We obviously want to keep the water quality, and hence the diversity of invertebrate and vertebrate life in the river, as healthy as possible for our fishing and for the community generally.

Maybe other members have information or ideas on this subject?

New Members

We’ve had a number of membership enquiries during August, so we continue to be an attractive Fly fishing club to join. One application is proceeding, and I’ll introduce the new member when all is finalised.

Please continue to encourage your friends to join the club (they may be put on a short waiting list!)

Lost and Found

There have been a small number of lost fishing items over recent months – hopefully now re-united with their owners.

If you are unfortunate enough to lose items at the riverbank do contact me at secretary@harrogateflyfishers.com or via my contact details on our website, and I’ll do my best to let our members know to look out for them.


David Clayden HFFC Hon. Sec.

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