A dalliance with the dark side

Since friday evening my Mother-in-Law has been stopping with us. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, she’s a lovely woman, especially when she’s a three and a half hour car ride away. Not so lovely when she’s close enough to bounce a half eaten Werthers Original off.

Yesterday I had the perfect excuse to escape for a few hours. It was Hardy’s Experience Day up at Alnwick, and this time the weather looked like it was going to be ok (the previous Experience Day had been a bit of a washout with torrential rain and howling gales). I’d a place on the factory tour booked for 10am so left the house just before 9am. The tour, a look round the store and watching the casting demo’s took all morning, resulting in me getting home just after 1pm.

Skilfully volunteering to make tea, I locked myself in the kitchen for some peace and quiet with the free Trout & Salmon and Trout Fisherman magazines obtained earlier from the Hardy Day. Waiting for the oven to finish cooking my creation saw the rest of afternoon off.

The evening came and went without much to report. I sowed the seeds for a morning trip to the river, as my wife and MOL were hoping to head out together in the afternoon resulting in me being confined to barracks with the kids.

I arrived at the Lintzford around 8:30. The weather men said it was going to be a bad weekend, as I got out of the car and looked to the skies there wasn’t a cloud to be seen – if this is bad, then I’m not sure what bloody fantastic would look like!

Whilst tackling up I did my good samaritan bit by pointing some lost pensioners to the Lintzford Cricket Club. After climbing into my gear I trudged off through the footpath towards the river.

The river was back to normal levels after the rain of Friday, but it was still coloured. You could see the bottom in places, but anything more than 18″ of water had you staring into milky tea with no bottom in sight. I put a black klinkhammer on and started to try all the likely looking places. Though there didn’t seem to be much moving within only a few minutes I had my first brownie of the day in the net.

As time went on there were a few more fish starting to show themselves, the Klink raised (but I missed) a few more, but stopped shortly after. Moving to a smaller dry (a grey duster) had me back amongst them again. After an hour, and moving through the first 700 yards of river things dried up again. I decided that as I only had a couple of hours left I’d try a little experiment…

You did what??!??

After watching countless videos on YouTube, reading numerous articles in Trout magazines and being told about it by many blogs, I knew the river should hold far more trout than I see, with many of them holding station in the places I saunter past, but I wanted to prove it to myself.

Whilst looking to the skies and asking for forgiveness, I tied on my black, copper headed, tinsel tailed creation to make this only the second time lure fishing on the Derwent. I wanted to see if the river really did hold more fish than I thought, and was stepping over to the dark side to do it.

I can honestly say I was amazed by the results. Every single pool, riffle or glide I passed the lure through resulted in a golden flash under the water and an angry brownie nipping at my fly. On a couple of occasions in some of the deeper pools I raised some pretty big specimens using the black lure. Most of the time I felt the resistance of the fish on the end of the line, but didn’t manage to make proper contact and ended up loosing it. I had a feeling the tail of the fly was too long, after chopping some off I did land a few fish but to be honest landing fish wasn’t really the goal of the exercise.

After 90 minutes of prospecting in places I would never usually fish, I’d made contact with 23 brownies – maybe some where the same fish, but most weren’t as I’d moved on after almost every pull. This has, more than any YouTube video, made me realise I need to fish every drop of water on the river and not walk past just because I think there won’t be a fish there.

I’d strongly recommend you give this a try too if you’re unsure of where the fish live in your river, it’s a fantastic exercise and will teach you more in 90 minutes prospecting than you’ll learn from any magazine article or video on the subject. However, be warned!! It was rather addictive, especially when the big boys came out to play.

All I need to do now is find a suitable imitative fly to catch them with, instead of this bloody great monstrosity!

Here’s the fly I used, along with the materials. I’m not sure where I got the ‘recipe’ for this fella from, I may have made it up myself. If I did, I’ll call it ‘The Darkside‘. If I didn’t please feel free to tell me what it’s called in the comments. The fly in the picture is the one I used today – hence the tail looking a bit flat – it’s still wet.

The Darkside

Hook: Mustad size 12 barbless nymph
Bead: Copper 2.8mm
Body: Black chenille
Hackle: Cock Grizzle
Tail: Black Marabou + Pearl flashabou
Rib: Fine Copper wire
Underbody: Medium Lead wire

Himalayan Balsam?

Rather worryingly, as I walked along the bank I noticed a few instances of the plant in the picture below. I’m not sure, but I think it’s Himalayan Balsam. Anyone care to confirm?


Talking of invasive species, as I write this with MOL is sat behind me, chomping through more Werthers and likely to be nodding off in the next 20 minutes or so. Hopefully I’ll get to choose what we watch on TV when she does, though with her chainsaw like snoring I won’t be able to hear it.


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