A resume of the Grayling Day held in October with support from the Yorkshire Branch of the Salmon & Trout Conservation. Thank you John Edwards “a reet good Yorkshireman”
Graham Pawson and I have been going to the annual Yorkshire Grayling Day for a fair few years (not last year, of course) and it has become something of a tradition. Graham is the Honorary Secretary of the Derwent Anglers’ Club (founded in 1839 and still going strong!) and “the opportunity to enjoy fishing some of the very best beats” (to quote from the notice of the event) on the Ure, provides us with a pleasant change from fishing ‘our’ own lovely little river.
This year, we took Paul Wood with us; I say ‘took’ as he did the driving – and he also provided the pork pies and the sausage rolls. The three of us live in or near to Scarborough so Graham and I were grateful to him for his efforts behind the wheel – particularly on the return journey. Paul is a newcomer to fly fishing, and he is on a steep learning curve. The secret (apart from aptitude and application!) is, I think, much to do with having reet good flies and good advice – which he gets from Graham. He has also invested in some reet good tackle and has become something of an Orvis aficionado.
The event, now in its 53rd year, only happen through the generous goodwill of the various riparian owners, clubs and farmers set along a six mile stretch of the Ure. The base, as usual, was the Three Horse Shoes in Wensley. This is a reet good venue (to use that Yorkshire dialect again) in a wonderful setting with the river just to the South, beyond the church and the graceful outline of Pen Hill on the other side of the valley, to the Southwest. We got there at about 9.30 am and the car park was already full. Lots of familiar (not to say old) faces among the assembled gathering. But a familiar face, conspicuous by its absence this year, was the one belonging to the fly fishing and fly-tying legend, Oliver Edwards. A regular supporter of this event and past winner of the Sam Turner Cup, he was not able to be with us on this occasion and so we wish him well.
The staff at the Three Horse Shoes were as helpful and friendly as ever, and the bacon butties and the beer were just as good as I remember them from two years’ ago. The beer at this hostelry could, in fact, become a serious distraction and I do my best to resist its charms until after the event.
We were called to order at 10.30 am and it must be said that the new Grayling Society Area Secretary, Peter Chambers, did a reet good job (sorry) in getting across his message. No doubt he is used to addressing the troops from a previous career as a Regular soldier, but what he had to say was a timely reminder to us all, of the need to support the organisations which are concerned with fish and river conservation – all with scarcely a hint of hectoring, whilst he was on his hind legs!
I’ve noticed from before, that the assembled anglers very quickly melt away once this stage is over and the beats have been allocated. It is no longer a ‘real competition’ (to quote again from the notice of the event) but there is, I suspect, a competitor lurking within each angler and most seem keen to get their feet in the water with rods at the ready for the moment Midday comes round. Graham, Paul and I were allocated onto Beat 2 (which is the beat from Lords Bridge, upstream to Batt Island) and we, too, went whizzing off as soon as we could to find the track near West Witton, which gives access to that section of the river. We were blessed with the best possible combination of conditions: a lovely, warm settled Autumn day and the river at a perfect height for fishing. It had that amber glow about it, which a rain-fed river takes on when there has been some rain some time ago.
I was using my 14’ Tenkara rod and on the end a nymph pattern which I call ‘the Purple Warrior’, which I get from John Emerson of Unique Flies. It is tied on a jig hook and its most obvious features are a bead – looking like a lustrous pearl – and just behind this, a sparkly purple collar with no hackle. I’m not sure you’ll find anything like this coming down the Ure on an Autumn afternoon, but I think it fair to say that the ‘lady of the stream’ likes a bit of bling! I ended up with two brace during the session and I suppose one or two got off. I like to get them back where they belong as soon as I can, but that brief encounter each time a grayling comes to the net is a reminder of what a wonderful wild creature they are.
Four o’clock came round soon enough and it was time to head off back to the Three Horse Shoes for the raffle and the results. In first place was Andy Ralph – a worthy winner with a tally of 18 grayling, predominantly on dry fly, runner up was Adam Fewtrell with a total of 14 grayling. I’m told that 45 anglers took part this year and a total of 125 grayling were caught and safely returned to the river. The day raised £840 which was split in support of local S&TC branches and the various River Trusts in the region.
Having a driver to take us back to Scarborough meant that Graham and I were able to get our share of that aforementioned delightful beer and, having previously planned to make a quick exit, we were, in fact, nearly the last to leave and this with some regret! The Three Horse Shoes is the sort of place where you could get well settled for the evening.
In conclusion, I should like to thank Peter Chambers & Duncan Courtney, on behalf of us all for their efforts in organising this most enjoyable event. The opportunity to fish is such lovely surroundings, bookended by gatherings in convivial company, is not to be missed and, if you’ve not tried it before, then I urge you to do so. I guarantee that you’ll have a reet good day out!!