River Witham

River Witham
River Witham near Barkston, Lincolnshire

Friday, 18 November 2011

That trip to Newcastle!

I'm sure you'll know what I mean when I say that I can't get enough of the grayling fishing, especially as the weather has remained remarkably mild.  Last weekend whilst on a visit to see my daughter at university in Newcastle I took the opportunity for a first time visit to fish the River Derwent.

Monday 14th November
Using the Tyne River Trust passport scheme I decided to fish the Rowlands Gill beat of the lower Derwent between the Nine Arches bridge an Derwent Park. After a hearty full-English breakfast I headed off in the gloom and parked at Thornley Woodlands Centre. The weather was cool, as I kitted up and grabbed my 10' Streamflex, and set off through the woods and down to the Nine Arches viaduct.  I hadn't realised what a hike it would be down to the riverside, something like a two hundred and fifty feet! More on that later.
By now the weather had warmed up with the occasional glimpse of sunshine and the water looked good and fishy, though still relatively low.

I had decided to have a go with Jeremy Lucas' leader to hand technique, so I had constructed a leader using 12m of 28lb copolymer, a short tapered leader, a 8" piece of braided backing, and then level tippet, incorporating 1 dropper using Stroft. I set up with a weighted Czech nymph on the point and a copper-bead PTN on the dropper.  Casting was not as difficult as I first thought, provided I could partially load the rod with the line tensioned by the water.  I'm sure you'll agree that casting technique is not all, you have to find the fish, and that took a while.  Eventually I did locate an out of season brownie, but there was no sign of any grayling, either in the faster runs or deeper pools!

A couple more browns came to hand, but where were the grayling?
The river had suffered a pollution incident in 2009 upstream, I wonder if this has effected the population?

The Autumn colours along the bankside where quite lovely, and created a lovely backdrop to the a beautiful little white bib-fronted Dipper that kept me amused for a long while, whirring about, bobbing and swimming.  I also saw squirrels busy stocking up for the winter and a red kite circling overhead, sigh ..., and folk wonder why we do it.
Dipper was too far away to photograph properly

That viaduct!

As I was so distracted and trying to cast into a deeper faster run, I was alerted to a splashing behind me, I turned abruptly, stumbled on seeing a dog coming at me, and fell sideways soaking my left arm up to my shoulder. The owner called the dog away and I was left trying to wring-out my sleeve!

Just before I broke for lunch, I spotted a movement, not exactly a rise, under the trees on the far bank.  Casting ahead of it I felt a strong pull, but my slow reactions produced nothing.  Waiting a short while, and thinking that possibly another fish may have moved up to take the other's place, I cast again and, this time, with a faster reaction, I was playing a decent sized fish, which transpired to be a beautiful large brown trout.

I broke for lunch on a convenient bench oalongside a a long glide with a wood opposite, giving me an opportunity to strip down and wring out the 3 sleeves I was wearing!

Incidentally I couldn't figure what had created the hole in front of the bench!

I managed a couple more brown trout and 2 tiny grayling all on nymphs, in the afternoon before the light went.  Mind you I was near Derwent Park by this time, and boy it goes dark quick.

Well I opted to try a more direct route back to the car which took me across a field by a sewage works and up the hill.  Crossing a bridge over the defunct railway line (that cross the viaduct),I headed along a path up hill, in the woods, and in the dark!! Owls hooted and screeched, as I first went up hill, then back down to the railway line again, then back up the hill to the Woodland centre and my car. After an hours walk I was knackered, exacerbated by the effort of wading on boulders, and slippy rocks.

I shall go back in February and try further up stream.  Until next time, tight lines.


  1. Great adventure for sure. I hope the Grayling were just being fussy that day and they will bite next time. Damn pollution!!! Some great looking Browns though, especially that big one. I always dread the hike back to the car. I usually end up miles up/down stream and have to opt for the dark road path back :) Thanks for sharing the great pics too. Tight Lines.

    p.s. here is a link to a Parachute post for you:


  2. Those dippers are the most amusingly wonderful little birds to watch...amazing creatures. Looks like a grand time.