I had long been looking forward to visiting the River Don in Sheffield, Clark Coleman had offered to show me the river and I had read the section in Theo Pike’s ‘Trout in Dirty Places’. The first date we had arranged some time back fell through, my fault as I recall. After the annual holiday to Scotland, I had arranged to take my two kids up to their Gran’s who now lives in Leeds. Not a million miles from Sheffield, ideal my mum was overjoyed to have the kids while I had the whole day to explore a new river.
I always find it invaluable to have someone who knows a venue well especially if time is limited. Not much point getting away for a day and spending half your time exploring the river rather than fishing. Clark has recently started a guiding business and has already built up and impressive client base. He knows the Don well, so who better to be my guide for the day. Clark’s directions brought me straight into a small car park next to the river, I arrived slightly ahead of Clark having only a forty-minute drive from Leeds. There were lots of dog walkers around and they were very chatty and pleasant, used to the sight of fishermen on this stretch of the river. Clark arrived ten minutes or so later, he informed me that the river was running very low. He obviously had not witnessed the Dart at the recent Nationals now that was low. Clark advised that Duo would be the order of the day and that we would fish in the way the John Tyzak videos are done with each of us having six casts each. This sounded an interesting way to do things and I thought it would be a good chance to see how Clark fished at close quarter. Clark opted for a four weight and a French leader set up whereas I stuck with the tried and tested 9’ for 2# and a fly line with a tapered leader. My dry fly was a sedge pattern and I fished a size 16# jig nymph as my dropper. As the guest, I got to have my six casts first low and behold on my third cast the dry disappeared and I was playing my first Don Brown trout. Safely netted and photographed I slipped the fish back into the water. Clark proceeded to have his six casts with a fish showing to his dry but no contact. My six casts and this was the
interesting bit I very quickly felt that each cast had to matter whereas normally I would just plant my flies without much thought. This seemed to work well and again the dry fly dipped I struck and another fish would come to the net. This course of events continued with a fish coming almost every time it was my go. I had reached five fish in no time. Clark had been rather unlucky and had dropped a couple of fish, we had reached the end of the run and it was time for a short walk downstream. While we walked Clark explained some of the local history of the river and how it was once a flourishing Salmon river. Of course, the industrial revolution put paid to that, the river today though seems on its way back to former glories. Downstream we stopped at a weir pool and decided to fish two separate runs this produced nothing for me but Clark got off the mark with a lovely brown trout. We pushed a little further down the river and passed some fantastic looking runs which we fished back up using the six and six method, this was great fun with plenty of banter and fish. I was yet to get off the mark in regards Grayling and Clark had already bagged two of these fish. I explained to Clark that Grayling was my favorite quarry and he said he would take me to a mark where a Grayling was guaranteed. A little dubious (nothing is guaranteed in fishing) we moved down to a short stretch Clark took the camera from me and told me to lengthen my Duo to about four feet. Halfway up the run I lifted into a fantastic Grayling that fought like a demon on the 2# outfit safely to the net Clark attempted to get a photograph, but I thwarted his
attempt, by first juggling the fish then letting it plop unceremoniously back to the murky depths of the pool. That was to be it for the morning and we headed back to the car for a spot of lunch and a bit of Clark’s wedding cake, very tasty.
After lunch, it was a change of location and we drove further into the city. We parked the cars in something akin to Coronation Street and made our way to the front of Hillsborough football stadium. As we walked around the streets of Sheffield we drew lots of admiring glances, not! Normal people must have thought we were barking mad, there certainly was not any water in sight. After a short while and a jump over a wall we made our way down a steep bank and under a bridge to the river. The smell of the Berty Bassetts factory was strong in my nostrils, not unpleasant. The river looked a bit dirtier here and Clark sent me off to try a run while he re-tied his rig. Only a few casts in and a sprightly Brown trout leaped from the water, the fight was short and the fish came quickly to the net. I released it back into the gentle flow and by this time Clark was ready to fish on. We worked our way upstream in the shadow of Hillsborough, sometimes fishing separate runs and other times using the six and six method. Fish came fairly steady and considering the low water levels I thought the sport was exceptional. After a while, we came to a bridge and we scurried up the bank jumped another wall and crossed a very busy road to get down the other side. The walk upstream was blighted by large amounts of rubbish and I spotted an abandoned trailer in the river. What a great shame that the riverbank was not better respected Clark assured me that the water quality was unaffected and he was of course correct. The sport had slowed a bit though and with us, on 39 fish between us, we were both keen to finish the day with a nice even number. This was to prove much more taxing than we thought. Fishing six and six up what seemed very promising runs for nothing we eventually came to a small island with runs going up either side. The side I picked was very skinny and not many options for fishing I
picked my way up for nothing. I met Clark at the other end who had also drawn a blank. At the end of the Island, there was a huge weir and Clark was to it first and was immediately rewarded with a Grayling number forty at last. I joined him at the weir and after a couple of casts had a very nice Brownie to finish my day. Forty-one fish between us what a great days sport by any standard. We walked back to the car drawing some strange looks again and the odd comment, but it had been worth it. I am really looking forward to the next time I visit the River Don. How much is it to fish this glorious piece of water you ask, well hold onto your hats NOTHING! Nada, not a bean. Living in Surrey is all well and good but fishing on the Chalk streams for Brown trout will cost you at least one of your kids’ education. Do yourself a favor and get up North.
Dr Clark Coleman my guide for the day sporting a nice Don Brown trout.