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2009 was the year I discovered just how good the trout fishing is in Derbyshire!

Rivers are fed through limestone and flow clear as Tanqueray, through the dales, with free flowing and prolific ranunculus, and consequently, enough insect life to support a good head of browns, and in the Wye, wild rainbows, too.

July 2009 – the Wye.

In the Midlands on business and staying at the Cavendish in Baslow, I arranged through the hotel, to fish the Monsal Dale waters.

It rained heavily through lunchtime, but cloudy skies cleared early afternoon, and I met riverkeeper, Stephen Moores, who introduced me to the Cressbrook & Litton Flyfishers’ Club fishing hut, and imparted some useful tips and clues!

My fishing log declares “I am in love again!”

No wonder.

Free rising fish give any river a special attraction to a dry fly fisher and I had a great afternoon catching on Klinkhamer and Elk Hair caddis patterns. Fly life in Wiltshire’ chalk streams has diminished markedly, in recent years, and I forgot how exciting it is to see beats alive with fish. The waters are varied above the hut with easy wading making most runs accessible for mile or so, although some clambering is necessary to enter where you feel fewer anglers have. Having walked and fished thus far, a herd of frisky cows, and a rather larger bull, were a bit of a put-off for bravery.

En route, I was broken by two fish which struggled so much harder than the browns I netted, that I convinced myself they were probably rainbows. I read conflicting data on wild ‘bows in the UK. Either they breed only in the Derbyshire Wye, and the Hertfordshire Chess, or they do so in more counties, but I have found no firm evidence to support the latter, only press conjecture.

Two and a half hours was enough, and in any case, the heavens opened again, and heading back to Baslow, I drove to Monsal Head (what a view!) and onward past small villages where the rains drained in flood through lanes which made driving feel like surfing.

A pint of good ale, and remarkably the sun came out again, so back to the beat below the hut !

Fishing to dusk, saw even more rising fish and enough eager to take Tups Indispensable and Sherry Spinner, that I felt blessed. I love this Cotton and Walton territory and I want to experience more of it.

I am embarrassed to reveal how much the hotel billed me for the day. Suffice it to say, that a call to Stephen, will be cheaper by 75% or so, than for me!

May 2010 – the Derwent

The Peacock at Rowsley is a legendary fishing hotel. Its rooms are spacious and comfortable; its food is excellent, and it is equal top of my #2’s (see ‘Musings 1’), and it sits on the bank of the Derwent just upstream of its confluence with the Wye. It offers fishing on the Haddon Estate water, but also on the Darley Dale Fly Fishing Club water, below Rowsley, which is where I headed. The visitor beat begins about halfway and extends upstream, so there was so much water to fish!

It was drizzling when I arrived at 330pm and the temperature could only have been circa 6C. (well it was May!), but the river was in good order and highly fishable, even if a tad coloured. Weed growth was evident but sparse, and the conditions then did not favour Halford.

So over to Skues, and with a PTN on the point and a teal and orange on the dropper I quickly had three fish from the narrowing flow ahead of a fast run just a hundred yards from Tonka Too, and they were so eager to be caught they could only have been in the river for a short while!

I walked to where the Wye entered. The sun came out and temperature was notably higher.

Four things happened –

i)                    I took off my wading jacket,

ii)                   fish were rising in the pool below where the streams merged

iii)                  I went ‘dry’,  alternating between CdC, and olive Klinkhamer.

[please see a new post at ‘Musings   4’  – like many, I am very concerned.]

iv)                 I caught fish….lovely grayling, and wild browns.

I caught…I missed….I waded downstream. And in three to four feet of water it was easy over its gravely bottom, and in the warmer weather, I had such a great afternoon that three hours and a dozen or so fish (five wild browns), was enough and completely satisfying.

My love affair with Derbyshire is alive and well.

And dinner at the Peacock was scrumptious!