Saturday, April 21, 2012
River Ure, Bainbridge: Alas Smith and Eastham
An enjoyable day with Dave Smith on the upper Ure near Bainbridge. We had planned a few weeks ago to visit a beat I have access to at Masham, but midweek showers - and subsequent spate of the middle river - put paid to the idea and we were forced upstream into the headwaters in search of lower, cleaner conditions. The visiting angler is well catered for on the upper Ure and we had a choice of several miles of water controlled by either the Hawes and High Abbotside Association, or a little way downstream, the Bainbridge water which is available on an inexpensive day ticket from the Wensleydale A.A. We opted for the latter and after obtaining permits from the Rose and Crown Hotel, headed off downstream in search of Yorkshire trout.
As expected, the river was carrying a good tinge of lingy colour and was running about a foot above normal summer level. Considering how things had looked like panning out earlier in the week, we were grateful to be able to fish at all and although the level of turbidity in the water was perhaps a little high to be ideal, the lively, foam-flecked surface of the river looked inviting and held promise enough to instill confidence that some sport would be had.
It turned out to be absorbing fishing. A typical spring day, the weather shifted from overcast and chilly to occasional sunny warmth....but all this time a cold north-westerly blew down Wensleydale from the Pennine watershed and made life a little uncomfortable for the upstream angler. We had started with sub surface tactics: Dave searched the foam lanes with a 'duo' set-up, and I tackled the more boisterous water with a brace of nymphs. The going proved slow, a single fish to my red-tagged hare's ear the only interruption to our rhythm early on.
For most of the morning we watched a likely looking willow-lined glide of foamy water, feeling sure that should a few olives emerge then it would be along this slightly more sheltered stretch of water. And although we had to wait until gone 1pm, eventually our combined hunch proved sound as a steady trickle of large dark olives began to appear and the resident trout obliged, allowing us to work up through the pool together, taking turns at rising fish.
I have to confess that I had something of a nightmare at this point. Over the next hour, I cast to five feeding trout and rose them all, but failed to put a single one on the bank, either knocking them off or lifting into thin air. It could have been classed as unlucky but to honest I fished like a pillock and got exactly what I deserved: I persevered with a leader which was far too long and fine for the conditions, delivered ragged, poor quality casts and was probably lucky to rise the trout in the first place. Later on I finally managed to get my act together and successfully bring a nice fish to hand; but as if to administer one last kick to the testicles, fate decreed that it should be a grayling - a nice grayling, but very much out of season.
Dave on the other hand, was the very embodiment of efficiency, picking off his target fish with a quiet authority - which left me feeling relieved that at least one of us was performing competently. After what was shaping up to be a bit of a grueller, it was great to be fishing amongst rising trout; and if I was unable to capitalise, the next best thing was seeing Dymock's finest bring a succession of truly beautiful wild browns to hand. They were impressive fish - all yellow belly and broad shoulders. The best of the day measured 17 inches and is shown below. Well done Dave, that was good angling!
By about 3:30pm it was just about over for the day and a heavy downpour forced us into the pub before going our separate ways. It had been an all too brief but enjoyable day, and for me, just about the last of what I think of as proper 'spring' fishing. From now on the focus of my attention will turn to evening sessions on my local rivers and the gradual acceleration of sport into the salad days of the season. The next time Dave and I cross paths beside running water it will be on the Eden in early June and who knows what possibilities that session might hold in store.
To round off then, a few photos of the competent half of the Smith-Eastham partnership in action: