18 Aug 2019 River Don (Sheffield)

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For reasons I won’t go into here I have found myself in Leeds for the week. I am busy but a small window on the Sunday presented itself and with lots of options in the area it was a tough choice on where to go. I don’t know the area well, but I recalled a trip I made with Clark Coleman some years ago to the river Don. It was around 40 minutes’ drive to the spot a fairly isolated area but as I pulled in to park there was just enough room. Probably dog walkers and folks just wanting a stroll along the river. Another car pulled up beside me, a local angler who had forgotten his net so was off to go and collect it. The next minute another chap wandered over to say hello he was fishing too!


Around the corner came a familiar face in the shape of John Tyzack he was running a Fish On River Academy day. Thankfully there was only two anglers on the day and we were soon joined by Andy Cliffe. The two participants were lucky indeed one to one tuition from two of the best in the country. I had a fleeting thought of joining them for a while, but I really needed time on my own for a bit of head space. After a quick chat with the local lad who had returned with his net and JT we had managed to de-conflict, so we would not be covering each other’s water.


I only had four hours really and had to get back so picked out about 300 meters of water. It was quite varied, and I had opted to just carry the one rod. I took my nymphing rod loaded with a French leader. And tackled up with two nymphs as I walked up the path to my start point I noted that there was not much surface activity and was pleased with the choice I had made in regards tackle. Before stepping into the river I made a couple of speculative casts from the bank into the tail of a peachy looking run. I was disappointed not to have taken a fish from this position it had looked really good, maybe it had already been fished?


I moved into the river taking care to move slowly for two reasons 1. I had left my wading staff in the car. 2. More importantly I did not want to make a big disturbance in the water. The run that I had fished the tail end of produced the first fish a good Grayling of about 30cm. The dorsal fin looked a little ragged but the fish seemed in good condition. It was at this point I realised I had not replaced the SD card in my camera……*@%*. I don’t like using my phone to take photos on the river but hey, needs must. Apologies for the poor quality of photos on this blog entry in my defence it was quite difficult to get decent shots with the phone.


As I moved up the run increasing the weight of my flies to combat the flow of the river the sport was consistent and sometimes just silly. The wild Brown Trout were a joy to catch and they were playing in numbers today. By the time JT and Andy wandered down towards me I was a dozen fish to the good. The odd dog walker would stop to watch or have a chat about what I was catching and for a while my worries were completely forgotten. It has been a long time since I felt as tuned in to the fishing as I did on the Don. Every change whether it was a fly pattern or different weight would result in another fish to the net.


I was brought back down to earth with a bump though and despite my best efforts to take fish from the shallow riffle pocket water. I failed to manage despite missing a couple on a hastily presented dry fly on the Frenchie. It was not long before I reached a big weir and I was sure there would be sport to be had here. The way I had angled myself to the weir it was fairly difficult to see the indicator and I cursed as I missed two decent offers. I had gone heavy on the point and my new approach of just striking blind started to pay of and I took several fish from the weir not least was the Brown trout you see below, a well-conditioned Don fish.


Above the weir was a long canal like piece of water and I was of a mind to walk past it like a coward! I mustered my courage and stood on the bank surveying the glass like surface, this was going to take some care and a good dose of patience. I discarded the two heavy bugs and set up with a make shift light duo using the Sighter Sedge that I have just posted the tying instructions for on You Tube. Below this I fished a small Mary nymph #16. As carefully as I could I moved into the river and started fishing, using the French leader was not ideal but it was workable. The first twenty feet or so failed to produce a single fish. I could see what I thought was a small fish up at the surface but rather than move clumsily towards it I carried on ever so slowly content that I would get there soon enough.


I was just about in the area where I could present my flies to where the fish was rising and made the cast. The dry barely had time to start its journey down the river before being smashed by an enthusiastic Brown trout. It gave a grand account of itself before slipping into the waiting net. This scenario played out another few times as I worked my way up the glass like flat water. I had a warm fuzzy feeling that I had not just walked past the area. Eventually I came to the bottom of a run and the sport started to increase. The Grayling had joined in in numbers and it was hectic. I could hear some activity up ahead of me a father and his young son were float fishing and throwing hand full of maggots in the water. That explains the increase in sport then!


After I had gotten out of the river and moved around the father and son we had a quick chat, it was great to see a youngster getting into the fishing. They only lived local, what a great resource for a keen youngster right on the door step and free! I got in the river above them and if I thought the best of the fishing was behind me I was sorely mistaken. Grayling and Trout just could not help themselves. There was a huge flurry of activity and I was like a fat kid in a sweet shop, just on it. I couldn’t hand on heart say how many fish I had taken I simply lost count.20190818-River.jpg

I pulled myself out of the river with a fixed grin plastered all over my face what a session! I was tempted to go and see how JT and the boys had faired but time was against me and I had to get back to Leeds and real life!