With that familiar feeling of running on half choke after the Christmas slog, I needed to cast a line. Considering all sorts of various options and reading multiple river level reports I thought a trip to the Dove would be wise. As I’m based in Staffordshire it’s a relatively short drive and offers some good fishing. Picking the easy option I booked a rod on the Izaak Walton hotel beat. Though not always the quietest beat with hordes of walkers, hopefully the time of year would play into my hands. With bags packed, and gear at the ready it was time for a good nights sleep and an early start.
Wet, cold and miserable.
I walked outside to load the car and was met with thick fog and damp conditions. Typical, fishing morning arrives and the weather takes a turn for the worse. Setting off I quickly realized my journey was going to take a lot longer than usual, with visibility less than 30 yards. After stopping off in Ashbourne to grab a quick bite to eat we soon drove over the bridge into Ilam, and on up the driveway to the hotel. Arriving at Ilam the fog had almost all gone. Still dark I went and sorted the days fishing ticket at the hotel reception, as I walked out I was greeted by a glimpse of winter sun coming down the valley.
Pressing on up.
Having fished at this particular beat a handful of times I’ve always found that the best fishing for my techniques have always been in the lower and upper sections of the beat. Starting almost opposite the hotel we entered the Dove, I expected to see coloured water with increased levels. But instead levels were average and water clarity was superb. Working my way up the meandering lower section, the fishing seemed quiet. Only one small Grayling had been fooled which quickly redeemed its own mistakes by bumping its self off before entering the net, damn it. Pushing on up to a Likely spot which comprises of a fast riffle finishing into a slack sweeping left hand bend, I adjusted my end tackle. I switched between Czech and French, Czech nymphing the fast riffle and then French leader through the the slack pool in the bend. Another Grayling took a liking to my Ceramic nymph but again spat the hook, back to the drawing board. The rocky bed of the Dove had played a key role in potentially losing the fish as I noticed my hook point had become dulled. Change of fly and a change of swim time to press on up.
Avoiding the swarms.
Leaving the river at Dovedale car park I made the call to quickly get to the stepping stones and avoid the possible swarms of people as the car park was slowly filling up. Reaching the stepping stones we waded around the gate and continued our way up river now on the opposite side to the public, fantastic.
missing the clear slack areas which looked devoid of life we re-entered the water just before the Dove works its way down through piles of rocks and gullies. Unfortunately the usual Grayling holding spots didn’t deliver any sport and with time ticking the pressure was on.
First fish of 2017.
Up river I knew there were two deep holes both being fed by fast riffles. I decided these were potentially my best chances of a fish and moved on up whilst checking out anything that looked promising along the way. Arriving at the first hole, I made a couple of dozen passes through the varying seams but nothing. Second hole, bags down flask out and a bite to eat, I don’t want to rush this one I thought. Now with what seemed like a fresh mind I made my first pass, bump, bump – thump fish on, now just got to land this one. The fight was short and my first fish of 2017 graced my net, a small Grayling of around half a pound but very welcome. A few more runs and another shortly followed by more, Id found a small shoal by looks of things. Deciding to rest the swim as things went a bit quiet I moved on up to the last decent channel which I knew on a good day could hold a good head of fish. Fortunately a few more Grayling slipped up and couldn’t resist the nymphs on offer.
After covering around 2 mile of river and working hard to catch some fish I felt very satisfied and decided to call it a day and enjoy the long walk back to the car. Occasionally stopping to admire Dovedale in the ever fading light whilst working my way through the remains of the coffee in the flasks. What a great way to start the fishing off for 2017 and with that I can bring the blog into 2017 with its first fishing post of the year. Happy new year to everyone.