The tour of the North began with an epic trip up the roadwork heavy M1 to Leeds. An emotional trip to say the least. With the kids in their element with Gran and Grandad, I am surplus to requirements. I had arranged to have a day out with Clark Coleman, Del Spry, and Ronnie Christie. There were several options on the table and with good weather forecast we opted for the river Colne. Clark knew this stretch well and I had fished it previously with Andy Cliffe last year. When I fished it with Andy the river levels were much lower. That said it was still very fishable, and I was looking forward to reacquainting myself with the river.
I met Clark in the car park he had arrived a little early keen to make the most of the short day that comes at this time of year. Ronnie and Del had got held up by a bad accident 300 yards from the turn-off. Clark and I decided to have a little dibble just in front of the car park. The river had a fair old pull to it and wading was a little tricky especially without a staff which is probably still floating down the Welsh Dee. Clark had pushed down a little further and I turned and prepared to fish up. Lots of overhanging obstacles as well as a rocky bottom soon saw me in a sorry state of affairs losing my first cast of the day. I re-rigged and immediately stuck that team up a tree. The turned blue and not with the cold downstream wind that was building a pace. My phone went and I made my way back up to the car park to meet up with Del and Ronnie.
I had not seen Ronnie for a while so it was good to catch up, civvy street obviously suiting him well. I thought he was well layered up for the day after a previous trip with Graham had been much colder. I was wrong though it was all Ronnie, need to stay off the NAFFI breaks pal......lol. Graham had kindly donated a load of river fishing kit so Ronnie certainly looked the part. Fishing with four anglers on a short stretch can be tough going but Clark being the guide took Ronnie off for a bit of coaching. Del and I dropped into the water right in front of the John Smiths stadium. The water was a nice walking pace and I was into fish almost immediately, they were not big mind but nicely proportioned around the 25-30cm mark. Del fishing below me was getting a few OOS Brownies much to my amusement, the same thing happened at the Grayling Festival. The next time I looked around though Del's rod had a big bend in it, he said it was a big Grayling. I threw my rod to the bank and moved up to get a few pictures. It took a wee while to subdue but in the end, Del slipped the net under a rather large fish, get in an easy 40+. We decided to wander up the bank and see how the Easingwold Massive were getting on, by some freak coincidence both Ronnie and Clark have just moved into the same village. Ronnie was in the water at the head of what looked like a good run, while Clark was disentangling himself from an inflated life jacket. Luckily he had not fallen in the life jacket had just gone off, with a bit of a bang apparently. I offered to give Clark a break and let him do a bit of fishing. I took Ronnie down to the start of the run and gave him a couple of pointers. I told him to get into the water I couldn't see the bottom, it wouldn't be that deep surely! Right in up to his tits it was all I could do not to piss myself laughing. I did manage to get the camera out though and Ronnie saw the funny side straight away. Ronnie is a very accomplished Loch Style fisherman and he took to the rivers like a duck to water. In no time at all he was catching and detecting takes quickly he extracted a half a dozen fish from the river. We moved up a bit to catch up with Del and Clark.
The river seemed to be on the rise and the wading and tree-lined banks did not make this the easiest of chores. There were lots of Brown trout in the water and they were feeding hard. Between us, there were more Brown trout than Grayling which I find a bit odd for this time of year. The mild weather has probably meant the trout are yet to call it a day. We went on to catch several fish right in at the margins in the deeper runs close to the banks. After clambering through a pretty dense stretch of undergrowth I came across some pocket water with some slack runs that may hold a fish or two. I plonked my nymphs in hopefully and was rewarded with a nice fish. It obligingly stuck its dorsal fin up for the camera, how thoughtful. Another smaller fish soon followed as Del joined me after fighting through the undergrowth. We both worked up the margins for a few brownies but no More Grayling which was disappointing. Ronnie and Clark came up to join us and we decided to walk back down and fish back up some of the more productive water again.
I took Ronnie to where I had my earlier success and while I was tackling up he picked up a really nice fish. Not bad for his second time Grayling fishing! The river had begun to rise fairly rapid now, I watched Clark struggle with a Brown Trout in some pretty heavy water. As I waited with the camera I felt sure the hook was going to peel out of the fish in the heavy flow. Clark defied the odds and managed to land a pretty decent fish. I moved just above the weir into some slack water and after several casts, I hit something big. It tore off downstream and I held on as it splashed on the surface I could see it was a good Grayling. It wasn't to be though and the hook peeled out in the heavy water. I have to admit to more than a little disappointment, but hey shot happens. The light was starting to fade what there was of it in the first place and we decided to call it a day. It was great to catch up with a few mates and we all headed down to McDonald's for a late lunch. It was grand catching up and Clark he'd kindly brought a wee dram for the winner of the biggest Grayling after much debate we decided that Del had managed the bigger fish although Ronnie had managed a very good fish as well. A good days sport was had by all, will it be the last outing of the year?