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I first fished Cumbria in the mid nineties when staying at the Samling near Windemere, and found my way onto the Brathay. This is a short river (4 miles) linking Elterwater and Windermere via the River Rothay. It has small wild browns in it which are hard to catch, and I only managed to net one!

Years later, and Sue was invited as Guest of Honour, and Key Note Speaker at St Bees GPDST. A lady Governor’s husband, Anthony Creed, on hearing of my misfortune, offered to take me fishing instead!

May 2008 – the Derwent

Anthony, a doctor, collector of old cars, furniture restorer, and I met at the Great Braughton beat of the Cockermouth AA water, just a few miles south of the town. The river here resembled what I feel a salmon and sea trout water should, with the trouty bits limited to just a few riffles, and if maybe this affected my confidence, and there no fish for either of us, though in truth I did see some rises, but in water too deep to reach. The day was cool, damp and windy.

Ours was only to be a morning together, and in order to get onto the AA’s Guest Water upstream of the town, in the afternoon, I needed a permit. After trekking the town following the wild goose chase from those with no interest in fishing nor local knowledge, it was Cleelands, the furniture shop in Main Street which yielded what I sought. Why I did not think of that….?!

Again, the water upstream is salmony, indeed the guest map highlights the key pools (Ladyboat, Woodbottom, Danger Hole) and I picked up a number of parr and smolt, but, and in mainly faster runs, but also a warmer afternoon, I also took four beautiful brownies to about 3/4lb on black gnat, and goldhead PTNs. Visitors beware…follow the footpath shown on the beat map to the river. Otherwise its a long stroll, or a bull avoidance exercise!

I might not have posted a report of my trip. but ‘davidms’, a contributor to the Fly Fishing Forums enquired whether I had visited Cumbria, so I decided to.

Since my visit, the fishing must have changed, as I replied in my note to him –

David….thank you for your response.
I have fished Cumbria, and had success on the short River Brathay, maybe ten years ago, and then on the Derwent in 2008 (see ‘GB’ page) but have to write these up (so will do so).
The Derwent is an impressive river, but as recent events reveal, a tragic one too, and I hope that for all those affected by the disastrous floods of November 09, life has returned to normality. On my trip there I stayed in Cockermouth, and the TV news footage showing the town centre was unimaginable. I understand that much of the fish life was washed downstream in the flooding, and wonder how the efforts of replenishment have gone?

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