Review – Tony Mair, May 2011

Kindly reproduced from a report by Tony Mair on his blog… A Fisherman’s Journey

Dinner the night before with Clare and Julian in their lovely and grand farmhouse in Melbourne was a delight, and I left them in high hopes as the wind seemed to have abated, and the sun was shining in a clear blue sky. As it was, having driven through the Wolds, when I arrived at Mulberry Whin, the farm owned by the Dixons, and just to the south of Great Driffield, toward the tip of the most northerly seam of chalk in the UK.

Brian DixonOwner, Brian has a property which exudes friendly. He engages newcomers with his enthusiasm for the outdoors and happily describes what he hopes, whilst hares run amok in the protected meadow, and curlews sing he is grateful for the help he receives from English Nature, and proud of the haven he is creating, and having reclaimed his beat, previously leased to the Driffield Angling Club, he is applying conservation techniques to his mile on a world famous river, without overdressing it a la Test his is a kept, rather than manicured water..and it is lovely.

It is roughly forty feet wide at this point and has white gravelly shallows, faster runs between bulky ranunculus, and in the bends, the deepest pools which you could dive into safelybut above all, the water has such clarity you can see the bottom anywhere, which means the fish can see you, too. But these are proud fish and safe in the knowledge that cover is never far away, and they hold station, fearlessly, and some trout are quite big, as are the grayling, which Brian informed me, come to net at over 2lbs regularly. And I saw two eels swimming upstream to goodness knows where, because the Beck rises only a few miles upstream of usbut a good sighting, and a rare one.

I am here with Paul Jennings and his friend, Nigel Houston, and after our hellos, we split up and I walked to the bottom of the beat. It was a windy morning (again) and there was little in the way of fly life, and I can see the fish deep down. An Adams brought on a couple of takes, but the fish are quick, and nothing comes. I arrived where Paul was casting to several rising fish, but we could not see what they were taking. Certainly there were no duns to be seen, so they must have been sipping emergers, but Paul told me he had been through the box (and netted just one fish) and he concluded that in the slow flow, they had so much time to see the offering, their selectivity was painfully frustrating!

I leapfrogged just above to cast at a fish rising under an overhanging bush and connected.and after a strong fight, netted an escapee rainbow, unsure whether to claim East Yorkshire as mine!

Lunch at the aptly named Trout Inn at Wansford gave us the opportunity to relax and catch up. Nigel , who fishes less often than Paul and I, had a good morning and several fish, so was happy. After lunch, we switched ends and I restarted where Paul had been because fish were still feeding.

There was one fish which I could see easily and he came up regularly, and I, too, tried my box of flies to tempt him, but did not. Another, and on two occasions rose, sucked in my fly which went sub-surface, and I, carefully lifted into the fish, and the fly came gently out of its mouth, to an exasperated snort from yours truly. God.was this frustrating! So I moved upstream.

I saw another, quite good fish rising, and stood watching him, still unable to see to what. I was fascinated to see his broad shouldered back come up, and even from behind him, watch a wide mouth open and gently ingest what I am sure were emergers, for still there was nothing floating past. I flicked an Adams over him.nothing; I changed to an elk hair caddis.no interest. Damn him! At least I had not spooked him, so I tied on a grey, gold ribbed, unweighted nymph and wet it so that it would sink slowly to the level where I guessed he was lying. One castnothing; another, and a tempting lift,and bang/bingo/ Got Him! A quick and vicious fight followed which saw him jump out of the water three times, then career into and under the bank side foliage, but my trusty Loomis was up to pulling him out from under, and all the knots in my leader held, and sliding down into the water he was netted. A fine East Yorkshire brownie, of maybe, 2lbs.

I only wanted one fish, I had told Brian, and thats all I had, so from now the escapee could remain just that! A renegade!!

Oh! And through the afternoon, the wind dropped!!

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Mulberry Whin
The Beeches, Skerne
Driffield, East Yorkshire,
YO25 9HP
Tel: 07463 808035 or 01377 254073