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A hot day on the Hodder © Bill Beddows 20/06/17
For those not fortunate enough to live in the North West, the Hodder is a tributary of the Ribble. Effectively it originates in Stocks Reservoir near Slaidburn and joins the Ribble at Mitton. The part I fish is well upstream where it is still a small river and flows through very attractive countryside.
There was little rainfall in April and May so not only were the rivers low but also the bottom had a thick coating of filamentous weed. However early June saw some decent rain which lifted the river levels by more than a metre and cleaned out all the rubbish. Following this Pat Sevens and I had enjoyed a good day on the Hodder with both of us into double figures so this week I decided to go there again. I was not optimistic as it was very hot and sunny with hardly any breeze and the river was down a few inches on last week.
I started by going down to the bottom of the beat, about 30 minutes walk, too far for many of our club members. I was wet through when I got there and surrounded by flies when I sat in the shade. On this beat I use a 7ft. 6in. 3 weight with a nice through action coupled with a double taper silk line, actually it’s half a line so I suppose it’s a single taper. Not much was rising so I tied on a Deer Hare Emerger, mind you, I would still have used the same fly if loads of fish were rising. The pool / glide / run is about 50 metres long and more than half the width of the river is knee deep with stones of various sizes on the bottom, typical grayling water. Fish started rising to the fly but we kept missing each other, then they started taking, fit young grayling 9 or 10 inches long which put a good bend in a 3 wt.. In between them came a little 6 inch brown, as pretty as a picture, and finally at the head of the pool a stocked brown trout in about 4 inches of water. This is the only beat the club, Lancashire Fly Fishing Association, now stocks, still a contentious issue. 9 fish from this one pool showed how wrong I was to be pessimistic about my chances.
Moving back upstream I fished up a stretch known as “The Gorge”. It has very high steep banks and is completely enclosed by the tree canopy. Hence the 7ft 6in rod, an ability to side cast accurately is also useful here. Unusually, I didn’t find any fish in here today so I moved on up. Above the Gorge is a run which was Ron Broughton’s favourite, unfortunately it has filled in and is not what it was. If grayling fishers have a god he is called Ron! I carried on to a pool we call “the good pool”. It used to be a noted sea trout pool so I’m sure the migratory hunters have a name for it. I sat and had lunch so I could watch the pool for a time. This also gave me the chance to dry and re-grease my fly line, a down side of silk lines is that they will start sinking after a few hours fishing. The pool lived up to its name and delivered 6 more grayling and another little trout.
From here up to the bridge in the middle of the beat where I was parked the river is deeper so when the water is on the low side it lacks flow. When the weather has been hot for a few days the fish seek out the faster flowing, more oxygenated water so I do the same !. At my car I replaced my water bottle with a full one and went a couple of fields upstream to a run similar in character to the one I started in. I was still using the DHE. At one point in this pool I changed to a Jeremy Lucas Single Plume, Pat and I call it a “Jeremy”, a good imitator of anything small and black, but soon changed back as the fish seemed to prefer the emerger. Another 4 grayling and a stocked trout completed the catch for the day and by now I was seriously in need of a beer or three!
21 fish in a day is a lot more than my normal rate on these rivers, my all year round average being 5 or 6 fish a day. I also passed a total catch of 3,000 fish, it has taken me 13 years to do this!