Late on last year, I bid on an auction lot in aid of Help for Heroes. The lot consisted of a day’s fly fishing for two in North Yorkshire, all instruction and bed and breakfast at a local hotel. Somehow, I managed to win the auction. It turned out that the auction lot was provided by Ash of HCLeathers. A date was agreed between us both, and the relevant leave was booked off work. This is a report of the trip.
Ash rang me a couple of days before we were due to go on the trip. The rivers were very low and he was panicking that the trip may turn sour. We assured him that we would be fine, and we would enjoy the instruction more than the thought of catching a fish. We all agreed we should still take up the day, and we would be flexible as to where we actually fished. Both myself and my pal, Stubby, were in work from 0500, so it was going to be a long day. We got off work a bit early and made the 2 hour drive across the Pennines.
We arrived at Ash’s house around 3pm and after introductions and a coffee, we headed off to a reservoir on the other side of the valley. Knowing I was a total novice, Ash had kindly provided me with all the kit I could ever need. He set up Stubby (who has been fly fishing for a year or so) and then started the long, slow, process of teaching me how to cast a fly rather than “throw a knot”!
After an hour or so I connected with a decent sized trout but managed to lose it as Ash was ready to net it! A few minutes later, Stubby did exactly the same thing. We fished till around 7pm before packing up and driving back to Leyburn. We had not landed any fish, but both of us had learned a lot, in my case a hell of a lot, about fly fishing in general, and casting in particular.
Ash took us back to our B&B and introduced us to the landlady of the pub and we had a cracking evening meal and a couple of pints to boot. An early night was called for, so we turned in.
Up at 8am to be met by a huge breakie. Ash wandered in around 8.30 to join us for a coffee, and then we headed out find a stretch of river to fish. The first couple of places Ash wanted us to fish were far too low, so we headed further up river to a stretch showing around 4ft of water. All the fish here would be totally wild as they were above a waterfall and so could not be farmed fish migrating up river from stocked fisheries. The stretch was stunning and a real hidden gem.
Ash managed, somehow, to split his time between myself and Stubby giving us both tips, hints and instruction. As neither of us has river fishing gear with us, Ash again provided rods, reels, flies and everything else we could ever need.
A few hours in, and after several missed strikes, I connected with a small, wild, brown trout. The fish was only around 5 inches long, but was absolutely fin perfect and totally wild. The biggest thrill for me was that it was the first trout I have ever caught. Ash was thrilled for me, and became noticeably more relaxed after one of us had caught a fish. The usual congratulations and thanks were exchanged and Ash headed off to help Stubby try for his first fish. Within 10 mins I had a second strike. This time the fish felt different, much faster through the water and with many more direction changes. It took me all my time to keep up with it, paying out line and stripping it back as well as trying to keep pressure on the fish. A couple of minutes of blind panic, and I landed my first ever grayling!
Again, a fin perfect fish, this time around ¾ of a pound. Ash came bowling back down the river to collect the camera and take some photos. The fish was well over the legal limit to keep, but I wanted to return it to fight another day. Photos were taken for posterity, and the fish returned.
By now, it was lunch time. Emma arrived with enough food to sink a small battleship and fresh coffee. We had half an hour of the usual banter that flows between fishermen, and between clashes between Yorkshire and Lancashire, then we moved to a higher section of river.
A couple of hours of hard graft resulted in no further fish, despite the determination of Ash. At around 4 pm Stubby and I decided to call it a day and we forced Ash to let us stop ;-) We went back to Ash’s house again for a final brew before heading back over to the lighter side of the Pennines.
So, what did we “win” in the auction? The bumf stated “a day’s accompanied fly fishing, with instruction, for two. Including bed and breakfast for one night”.
What did we get? An evening reservoir fishing, a full day’s river fishing, a fab lunch, bed and breakfast, all equipment supplied, more advice than we could ever take in and a really relaxed, enjoyable and informative couple of days.
I caught my first ever trout and my first ever grayling. The instruction we both received was worth something over £1000 at current prices and will be remembered for the rest of our lives.
We will definitely be booking Ash’s services again and would recommend him to anyone. In fact, we are already looking at dates later this year. Ash and Emma make you feel like you have known them for years and Ash works his socks off to put you in amongst the fish. He went way beyond what was offered in the auction lot and even gives a good impression of a tourist guide while travelling through the local area!
Our thanks go to Ash and Emma for putting the auction lot up for grabs, and for all the hard work they put in to our trip.