Early Season Report 2015

Winter fishing for grayling on the beck has been slow due to the decline in grayling numbers over the last few years because of cormorant predation (unfortunately grayling do not seek cover like the trout which have been much less affected). Despite this there have been a few huge grayling caught along the various beats of the river including several over 3lb (my best was 2lb 14oz).


Water levels are good for the start of the season although low winter rainfall could result in low water later in the year. Invertebrate numbers are high with encouraging numbers of Olive (Baetis) nymphs, which bodes well for fly hatches later in the year. There are also huge numbers of Gammarus (Shrimps) so early season, if the fish are not rising, a leaded shrimp pattern is well worth a try. Cased Caddis numbers are increasing rapidly, particularly the tiny Agapetus. From May onwards keep an eye out for fish rising quite vigorously to ‘invisibles’ (something in the surface that you can’t see), particularly if your dead-drifted dry fly is being ignored: it will be nearly certain that the fish are taking 5mm long Agapetus pupae swimming to the bank. Fish a Stuart Croft’s Agapetus Pupa or size 20 unweighted Hare’s Ear nymph and give it regular small twitches. (For photos of Agapetus pupa and fly pattern see last year’s reports).
Last year we had vast numbers of Black Gnats and good numbers of Hawthorn Flies in late April and early May. Hopefully we will have a repeat performance this year, however remember what I’ve said about Agapetus pupae as last year despite a river covered with Black Gnats many fish got totally preoccupied with Agapetus pupae. If you’re not getting takes to your Black Gnat/Hawthorn Fly check the bankside vegetation for any 5mm long brown Caddis adults.

Agapetus fuscipes adult

Agapetus fuscipes adult

We rarely get good hatches of Large Dark Olives on Driffield Beck but with the good numbers of nymphs in this year’s kick samples hopefully this year will be an exception and we will see some decent hatches around midday in early April. If so then fish a nymph in the late morning before the hatch, then my choice would be a size 16 Shuttlecock or other Suitable emerger during the hatch (alternatives are an IOBO Humpy, Duck’s Dun, Parachute Adams, Kite’s Imperial or similar in size 16).

Large Dark Olive (Male)

Large Dark Olive (Male)

Don’t discount the humble Midge. Fish gently sipping ‘invisibles’ may well be taking tiny Midges (adults or pupae) and at such times I fish a size 24 CdC Midge or IOBO Humpy (a Griffiths Gnat is a suitable alternative in size 20 or smaller). At the other extreme there are always a few fair-sized Rhyac Sedges about early season so a size 12 or 14 F Fly or Elk Hair Caddis is worth having in your box.
Much bank-work improvement has been done recently but remember to bring a long-handled landing net to reach over the bank-side vegetation. Also a long rod (at least 9’) is an advantage. Also use as long a leader as you can cope with to reduce the risk of spooking fish with the fly line. I use an 11’ number 3 weight rod with a 15’ to 18’ leader with 5x or 6x tippet. Lighter tippets give better presentation of small dry flies but risk the loss of a big fish (the wild brown trout go to over 6lb!). Some banks are still quite marshy so bring wellingtons.

Dave Southall

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