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With the River Masters competition cancelled and The Veterans accommodation booked and paid for it would have been a real shame to let it go to waste. Graham Lumsdon and Del Spry my team mates for this event were more than happy to take the opportunity to get a bit of fishing in. The forecast looked good the river was going to be up a little on the Friday and as the last of the rain started to clear it looked like it was going to be a grand day. Graham had put a lot of time in reconnaissance for this comp and decided a good start point would be parking at the layby for Dent bank then taking a stroll upstream to fish.
The river looked ok if a little high but after a very short time in the water it was evident to us all that the river was rising fast. The water was cold, and you could feel it creeping up while we were in the water. We were still optimistic that we could get some sport, but it was not happening here so after a spot of lunch we were off to Widdy Bank Farm. The river was now pushing through at quite a rate and all we could do was to pick away at the edges all three of us were sitting on the big donut and it was not looking good. The gauge was at 1.00m and if we had brought kayaks, we could have had a ball! We worked our way up hopeful that the river would start to drop away but our hopes were misplaced as they must have been releasing water from the Cow Green Reservoir.
There was a little bit of slack water and Graham and I planted our backsides and ushered Del to go and show us how it was done in the big leagues….lol. Del duly obliged and much to my surprise managed to hook a few fish. This prompted Graham and I off our backsides and into action. From my point a little further upstream I could see Graham starting to get into a few. Graham is one of the most unselfish anglers there is, and he beckoned me over to have a crack at them. I was a little rusty and missed the first couple of takes, there was no mistake with the third offer though and a good fish was hooked and netted. Graham had been taking some photos but had forgotten to take the lens cap off my camera. This is me landing my first fish of the trip…..lol.
Conditions were not improving, and Graham called for a move down below High Force. We walked along a river that was in full spate, dirty and pushing through high. After shaking out to pick at the fishable edges it was heartening to see Del getting into a few fish. I had leapfrogged Del and caught up with Graham who was re-rigging. I got into a likely looking area but was far from hopeful it had been a hard-old day with only one fish to show for my efforts. In fact, between us we had barely made double figures. I used the time to practice my double nymphing and had even resorted to a squirmy worm on the point. As I was tracking my line back the rod buckled over, and it felt like I may well be into a nice Grayling. The fight was not easy with the heavy flow but the Hanak Superb did me proud. Graham and Del had come to watch at this point and we were all a little surprised to see a perfectly formed and marked Brown trout slip into the net. It had made my day and was by far the biggest Trout I had taken from the Tees.
After that tired and hungry we called it a day and set of back to the accommodation for food and refreshments. With a fair selection of whisky to try and ease our sorrow. After checking online for levels we all went to bed hopeful that the next day would be much improved. Graham had opted for Cronkley Bridge for the day. It was a bit nippy while we were setting up and we all decided to set up two rods to give us options on the water. Graham was going to hang back and let Del and I fish just below the bridge while he took some photos. There were some peachy looking runs and the levels looked spot on no excuses today! As we fished upstream towards the bridge I could see Del playing the first fish and thought it was only a matter of time before my turn would come.
I did miss a couple of chances just to slow to register the lightening fast takes. As I neared the head of the run I managed a nice fish around 25cm, the next fish however was much better. It was most annoyed about being caught and went aerial several times, I was convinced it was going to escape. Luckily the hook held, and Graham had remembered to take the lens cap off the camera an captured this great image.
After that we all proceeded to fish upstream for only one fish between us, it was a little bewildering this was good water! It was back to the car for a rethink and a new line of attack. I had also managed though sheer stupidity to snap the tip of my Wychwood rod which I was using as my dry fly rod. So, the Hanak Superb was going to have a lot of challenges to face for the rest of the trip.
Part two of this fishing adventure will be published on Thursday.