The 2013 trout season was a very atypical one. High water at the start of the year was followed by drought conditions. The extremes had an adverse effect on most of the ‘hatches’. In a typical year the dry fly will usually outfish nymphs but this year there were many occasions when the reverse was true.
April started well with some good hatches of Large Dark Olives in the early afternoons and decent numbers of rising fish in the riffles where the LDOs tend to emerge. However, the Hawthorns failed to appear in late April: I only saw a couple on the water. Then the Black Gnats also failed to show up in May.
Throughout the summer hatches of Olives and Pale Wateries were sparse and unpredictable. Only the Agapetus Sedge pupae emerged in significant numbers, which accounted for the success of small, unweighted or lightly weighted nymphs.

As autumn approached a few of the larger Sedges appeared, as did Daddies (Craneflies), plus a few Black Gnats and these brought some of the trout to the surface.
After June 16th the low water did not help the grayling fishing as the silted gravels made it hard to sight fish, whilst the slow flows gave the fish plenty of time to see any flaws in the presentation of the angler’s Bugs, Nymphs and Shrimp imitations. Nevertheless a few big fish were caught and grayling over 3 lb were regularly to be seen. Driffield Beck has some of the fastest growing grayling in the UK. On most rivers a 2 lb grayling is a really big fish, but on Mulberry Whin fish of this size are just average. The Beck no longer holds the massive shoals of 1 to 2 lb fish that were common in the 1960s and as a result the fishing for them is much more challenging than it was then. However, it makes up for this with the prospect of truly huge fish. Recently a young angler I know had 3 grayling over 3 lb in two trips to a beat just below Mulberry Whin.

If trying for that monster grayling search out the deep bends and deep glides where there are open areas, clear of weed. Even in the low, slow flows this autumn you will need some heavily weighted flies for the deeper spots. Suitable patterns include Gammarus (Shrimps) in pink, orange and natural colours, Peeping Caddis, Sawyer Killer Bugs or the more recent Utah Killer Bugs, Bead-head Hare’s Ear nymphs with black, copper or silver beads and Green Czech Nymphs (Rhyacs).
Despite the difficulties faced by anglers this year there were virtually no blanks recorded and those who hit good conditions had catches of over 20 fish in a day. Several brown trout over 4 lb and a rainbow of over 12 lb were caught. I feel sure that the winter will produce some sizeable grayling for those prepared to accept the challenge.

Dave Southall

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