Pickering Beck is the Association's principal fishery...
The fishing commences some way above the town, where the infant stream runs contiguous with the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, offering a truly delightful challenge for the wild trout enthusiast. This is fishing of the most intimate kind, calling for small flies, light tippets and a stealthy approach. However, the rewards can be huge.
Below Pickering the stream takes on a different character. A little wider and much more accessible, the beck alternates between dancing riffles and enigmatic pools, providing a challenge for the nymph or dry fly fisherman alike. The streams occupants are known to be particularly free rising, but never more so than when the mayfly are up.
This water is sympathetically stocked with brown trout throughout the season to supplement the burgeoning wild population. Pickering Beck also supports a good head of grayling which can provide fine sport on either fly or traditional trotting tackle during the winter months.
Once described as Yorkshire's finest grayling river...
The Costa rises at Keld Head, about a mile to the west of Pickering. From here, it meanders southwards in a loose ‘S’, eventually joining the Rye at Howe Bridge. Although not a chalk stream in the truest sense of the word (the waters which feed the Costa percolate through limestone) the habitat is characteristically alkaline. Gin clear with a steady flow and stable temperature, the growth of aquatic weeds within the beck is prolific. Watercress and ranunculus abound, as do the shrimps and nymphs which make their homes amongst this vegetation.
Writing in his Yorkshire Anglers’ Guide (Leeds, 1894), Tom Bradley recorded the Costa as being ‘…par excellence a grayling stream’, adding that ‘…few rivers in any county excel it either in size, quality or abundance’. Walbran himself visited the Costa just prior to Bradley’s description, recounting it as being like the Test, but narrower. He took 30 grayling for 20lb whilst trotting the stream.
The Costa maintained its formidable reputation until relatively recently. Unfortunately it has declined severely in recent years and is currently the subject of an Angling Trust led investigation into the cause of its predicament.
The fishing starts to the north of Thornton le Dale...
Thornton Beck is a treat for fans of close-quarter wild trout fishing, starting above Thornton-le-Dale and extending well into Dalby Forest.
Towards the southern end of the fishery, the stream-side cover has been sympathetically opened up by Association working parties to make access a little easier but the northern end remains totally untouched. This gives an opportunity for ‘jungle warfare’ fishing which has been enthusiastically reviewed in magazine articles.
The Beck is full of fish. As you would expect they are small in size – a 10” fish is a good one – and are easily spooked, making a stealthy approach essential. This is a water for short rods, light lines and unconventional casting.
In early season before the water warms up, dropping a nymph into one of the deeper holes is a good bet. From late April onwards, dry fly is the method of choice. The high gradient of the stream makes the fish opportunistic feeders, so whether rising to naturals or not they will respond to flies searching the lies. Fly pattern is not important – a big bushy fly such as an elk hair caddis or daddy will do just fine.
Get your camo jacket on, keep low, and give it a try!
A diversion from the parent Costa, the tiny Oxfolds beck proves you should never judge a book by its cover...
Oxfolds Beck was beloved of former club President and Master Angler, Eric Horsfall Turner. A favourite spot is adjacent to the small fishing hut, erected by the association in memory of EHT, overlooking a delightful bend in the stream.
Here one can shelter form the weather, or simply pause for a moment to remember the respected Angling author, photographer, entemologist and fly dresser.
Perhaps an Eric’s Beetle (a black and peacock spider/caperer cross imitated a beetle) fished upstream, at the pace of the current, might do the trick for you…
Like the Costa, Oxfolds beck has suffered decline in recent years and is currently the subject of an Angling Trust led investigation. However, the Association is confident of its recovery.
Originally a source of reserve power for the mill...
Paper Mill Pond nestles into the bottom of a tranquil valley on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. Surrounded by woodland and rolling grassland, the fishing here borders on the therapeutic - the fish, at times, almost being a distraction.
Those lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time may glimpse a Red Kite or even share the water with a passing Osprey.
The pond is stocked sparingly with locally bred brown trout, an increasing number of which have over wintered to provide a few surprises. Fishing is conducted from one of the association’s two boats.
Situated deep within Dalby Forest...
Pexton Pond offers first class fishing for hard fighting Rainbow Trout, surrounded by some of the finest scenery in the North Yorkshire Moors.
Fishing is from the bank only including wheelchair user access. This is not easy fishing. The crystal clear waters and wealth of natural food can make Pexton’s inhabitants infuriatingly difficult to tempt.
But, as we all know, fishing is about so much more than merely catching fish and Pexton’s abundance of flora and fauna are reward enough for few hours spent by the water.