How I caught, trout, sea trout, brown trout, grayling, pike & more, in one year

How I caught, trout, sea trout, brown trout, grayling, pike & more, in one year

By Dave Southall

    Covid-19 had a dramatic effect on my fly fishing in 2020 & 2021. Plans to fish on the R. Dee in Wales, the Cumbrian Eden, Eamont and Lowther, The upper Tees, West Yorkshire rivers, Derbyshire rivers, Southern Chalk Streams and the high Alpine streams and lakes in Austria were all put on long-term hold. Nevertheless I have had a couple of my most successful seasons (if measured by fish caught) despite lockdowns. I like to look through my diary at the end of each year in order to see what (if anything) I have learned. The great thing about fly fishing and the reason I keep doing it with a fair degree of fanaticism is that the more I know about it the more I realise that I don’t know; I’m always learning. I’m on a constant journey of exploration in my attempt to improve my knowledge and the presentation of my flies. So why did I have so much success?

     My fishing was mainly confined to local fisheries near to my home in Driffield, East Yorkshire, particularly the River Hull system, including Wansford Trout Lake. I am very lucky to be able to fish there since although cormorants have caused serious damage to fish stocks, particularly the once abundant grayling, the beck still holds some very big wild fish of various species. Frequent visits, often as a means of exercise, meant that I had a regular update as to what was happening on the waters with regard to fly-life & other aquatic activity such as the time & location of spawning minnows. I was also able to pinpoint the locations of a good number of big wild trout & grayling, plus some barbel, chub & big pike. This proved to be a real advantage both with regard to choosing when & where to concentrate my efforts & where & when to take friends as my guests. Furthermore, fishing on my doorstep meant little time wasted in traveling & I was able to fish short sessions at the optimum times (many of my sessions were no more than a couple of hours spent targeting specific big fish).

     The tables below show the results of my efforts. In both years my best brown trout was exactly 4lb although I lost several significantly bigger fish due to the heavy weed growth & I did catch an 8lb 2oz sea trout in early October whilst targeting barbel with a small streamer. I also caught 9 chub to over 3lb, 2 barbel, best 6lb 12oz & a 38” pike that tried to attack a barbel that I was playing & succumbed to a size 6/0 Black Streamer. Two days after catching the big pike I targeted another big pike that I’d seen several times before & it turned out to be even bigger at 41.5” to the fork of its tail & estimated at over 27lb. As for the grayling, frequent visits allowed me to locate the few big fish that had survived the cormorants. Time spent walking & looking was time well spent! The tables below show my catches from waters within 10 miles of my home.

 

2020 Catches, Trout 13th May to 30th September, Grayling June 16th onwards

Brown Trout caught

Brown Trout over 3lb

Number of grayling

Grayling over 2lb

303

11 (best 4lb 0oz)

26

6  (best 2lb 11oz)

 

   

 

 

2021 Catches, Trout 25th March to 30th September, Grayling 1st Jan to 14th March & June 16th onwards

Brown Trout caught

Brown Trout over 3lb

Number of grayling

Grayling over 2lb

295

14 (best 4lb 0oz)

37

9 (best 3lb 1oz)

 

 

The flies which caught my biggest fish were:

 

3lb plus trout 2020

FLY

14 & 12 Elk Caddis

Orange Utah Killer Bug

Hawthorn Fly

Martin’s Minnow

18 Shuttlecock

18 Sawyer PT nymph

3lb plus trout

5

2

1

1

1

1

 

2lb plus grayling 2020

FLY

Orange Utah Killer Bug

Pink Utah Killer Bug

20 Sawyer PT nymph

20 Bloodworm

2lb plus grayling

2

1

1

2

 

 

3lb plus trout 2021

FLY

18 & 20 Shuttlecock

14 & 12 Elk Caddis

UVSP Shrimp

16 CdC Olive

Hawthorn Fly

18 Black bead Nymph

3lb plus trout

3

2

1

1

1

1

 

Peeping Caddis

Martin’s Minnow

18 Sawyer PT nymph

Pointon Soft Touch Shrimp

Sculpin

1

1

1

1

1

 

 

2lb plus grayling 2021

FLY

Bill Eadie Grayling Slayer

Black-bead Orange Quill Nymph

Orange Utah Killer Bug

22 Bloodworm

30 Red & Black Buzzer Pupa

2lb plus grayling

5

1

1

1

1

 

     Probably the most rewarding part of the last two years has been the fact that several of my guests caught Personal Best/PB fish, topped by a 3lb 4oz grayling caught on 31st August 2021 (on a Bill Eadie Grayling Slayer variant) by my friend Damain who also lost a big brown trout that was caught, with Damian’s fly still in its mouth, by my friend Brian on the 9th September 2021 (on a size 22 CdC Midge): weighing 4lb 4oz it was his PB brown trout.

    My most used setup was a 10’ 4 weight Sunray Microlite rod, 3 weight Sunray Jeremy Lucas line & a 14’ to 20’ leader.

     I’ve certainly badly missed the variety of fishing that I usually experience when visiting diverse waters ,but there were compensations. There is no doubting that success as measured by fish catches is significantly inproved by concentrating on a few productive local waters & getting to know them well.

 Mulberry Whin Fishery, Driffield Beck in early April

  1. Mulberry Whin Fishery, Driffield Beck in early April

 A 3lb 8oz wild Driffield Beck trou

  1. A 3lb 8oz wild Driffield Beck trout

 3lb 1oz Driffield Beck grayling

  1. 3lb 1oz Driffield Beck grayling
Damain’s 3lb 4oz grayling
  1. Damain’s 3lb 4oz grayling

 A barbel caught on a size 12 Martin’s Minnow streamer

  1. A barbel caught on a size 12 Martin’s Minnow streamer

 The 38” pike that tried to attack a 6lb 12oz barbel!

  1. The 38” pike that tried to attack a 6lb 12oz barbel!

 41.5” long pike estimated at over 27lb!

  1. 41.5” long pike estimated at over 27lb!