Tyne & Eden – Seeking Local Knowledge

John Bailey

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For reasons some might guess, I’m on my way North on Sunday/Monday coming. I’m around the Eden first, and then the Tyne, and pointers would be gratefully received indeed…

Would I be right in saying chances are higher on the Tyne than the Eden? (I know beats are critical to that question of course.) Any tips for the Eden would be great.

Is there a best time to watch salmon jumping Hexham Weir, or is their appearance random? Or simply dependent on river conditions?

Presuming there is not a real rain in the next week or so, are there general tips for low water conditions?

Is the North Tyne a better bet because of release water?

Is a light fly approach of any merit? Single hander, smaller flies etc.

What flies would be recommended? Or is it how you fish them?

I’m assuming a softly softly approach to the water is highly advisable!

Best time of day?

In desperation, Flying Cs, but single hooks I am guessing? Tobies? Minnows? Colours? Weights?

Anything else out there that might induce a pluck, PLEASE!!

And any stories/reminiscences that might spur me on and give confidence, gratefully received too!

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What a wonderful river the Tyne surely is!!
 

Mrtrout

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Hi John, if you’re meaning the Cumbrian Eden, then I’d go for the Tyne.
Eden is very low and extremely hard work at present all clubs including mine Appleby AA are struggling.
We havent had much rain in nearly twelve weeks now and what little we have had didn’t make it into the rivers as the dry land just sucked it up.
Hope that helps a bit.
Steven.
 

Tangled

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This chap fishes the Cumbrian Eden pretty much every day of the year and has done for most of his life, I'm sure he can help.


Geoff Johnston
The Eden Angler
Fly Fishing Guiding and Tuition

Tel. 01228402691
Mob. 07957256051
Website: www.theedenangler.co.uk
 

jmac

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This chap fishes the Cumbrian Eden pretty much every day of the year and has done for most of his life, I'm sure he can help.
I met Geoff by chance at Eden Lacy last week and was impressed even though we only spoke briefly.
 

Mrtrout

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England.
I know Geoff well but I doubt he’ll tell you much different, I’ve been fishing the Eden for over 60 years and I’m pretty sure of how it is at the moment.
S.
 

Tangled

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I know Geoff well but I doubt he’ll tell you much different, I’ve been fishing the Eden for over 60 years and I’m pretty sure of how it is at the moment.
S.
Sounds tough. I was there a month ago and it hard then and you've had hardly any rain since. Whatever happened to the Lake District every time I go it p1sses on me?
 

Mrtrout

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Sounds tough. I was there a month ago and it hard then and you've had hardly any rain since. Whatever happened to the Lake District every time I go it p1sses on me?
It’s been more like the Costa del sol this year.
 

John Bailey

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Messages
106
Could I thank all of you for the really generous support I received on this one?

I’ve taken everything on board, and as for those who have been kind enough to give me their numbers, well, I’m off tomorrow night, and might well be on the phone Monday am onwards, depending on what confronts me.

This response has given me real heart and I’ll try to give a blow-by-blow account, within the limits I have to abide by. Expect more as next week unfolds...
 

John Bailey

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My Trip North...

As some of you kind people who replied to my request for Tyne info know, I’m “up North” for the week, on both the Eden and Tyne, on water less than ankle-deep. Yesterday, so despondent was I that I forgot to take the camera from the car on my recce.

Big mistake. Beauty or what? Stunning in the early autumn sunshine. All I can say is that my friend the heron was still on the falls, as he had been on my previous trip. “The Old Man Of The Eden” as my friend described him. Always there. The guardian of the stream.

My friend also gave me hope. Go light. Tread with absolute care. A trout rod even. And there are good trout to be had even in the skinniest of water. Grayling too, he said. It’s a bit early for the traditionalist, but October is just around the corner and as I have never had an Eden grayling, I’d welcome her to the net.

We’ll see. I’m away now in minutes as the light grows. Whatever, my old feathered friend will be waiting....

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John Bailey

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Messages
106

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Lazonby at dawn

My Journey North​


If there is any water in the UK more glorious than the Eden around Lazonby, I have yet to see it it. Yesterday, around dawn, I was down opposite that landmark sandstone cliff, waiting for the light to grow.
It was cold, there was mist, you expected to see a unicorn dancing on the skyline, so unreal, so unearthly the scene. Despite a slow shutter speed, I focused on a heron, another old man of the Eden, pressed, and looked more closely at the image once taken.

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It told an unexpected story. At a hundred yards, near enough, I had not seen the cormorant’s head emerge by the heron’s very feet as I took the shot, but around the bend from the legendary hut there, I came across nearly a dozen Black Death birds working the pool. They rose clumsily at my approach and simply drifted through the grey morning upstream towards Eden Lacy, I presume. Where I am today.

I failed dismally on the Eden back in 1984 in similarly low water, so my blank yesterday should be no surprise, and I have to blame myself rather than those cormorants. The fact remains that their hunting and commotion cannot have left the fish unmoved and more difficult to catch.

My woes are nothing compared to the damage these birds are doing to here, and almost to rivers everywhere on a daily basis. Let’s say there were fifteen cormorants in all. That’s over a hundred bird visits a week, and possibly four hundred smaller fish removed as a result. Sixteen hundred a month. Well over five thousand for the winter.

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The maths are random, of course, but just because we get to a river long after a hearty breakfast, and see no sign of cormorants, that does not mean the damage has already been committed. I am NOT blaming John, the excellent man on the water here. He has licence to cull ONE bird a year.

Now, I love all wildlife. I feed my garden birds avidly, and more expensively than my wife would like, but on our rivers a balance must be struck. The crippling effect of pollution in all its forms might have led to us taking our eye off the ball here. Parr, smolts, trout to a pound, grayling also… these are all grist to the mill of the cormorant.

Cormorants apart, beauty all around from that dawn to a golden September dusk. Thank you Linda, Serena and John for a special day.

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A golden September dusk…

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…Lazonby at sunset
 
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Mrtrout

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Location
England.
Cormorants were seen in there hundreds John three years ago, one Appleby member counted over 80 in one field drying off.
He rang me but they just fly upstream half a mile and decimate the next pool, this year I’ve seen more gooseanders than cormorants but they still come. We had permission to shoot four birds per year, a mere drop in the ocean.
Glad you enjoyed your visit though, it is a lovely area which living on its doorstep I never take for granted.
Steven.
 

John Bailey

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Messages
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My Journey North… Farewell to the Eden​


My deepest thanks to those who have wished me well in the Eden and, indeed, what a treasured valley it is. To be honest, I had not fished here since the mid-1980s, and to be even more honest I failed abysmally then. I do remember the tackle dealer in Appleby, who I recollect was called John Pape, taking care of me and consoling me that the water was too low and clear for any trout to make a mistake much before midnight.

Today has been cold with a sneaky wind and barely a whiff of sun, and after a while I gave up and just took in the glory of it all, this wonderful river called Eden. There’s almost a relief when you decide not to fish any more, and the kid-like fascination of just looking around kicks in. Take your eyes off the water and there is much to see.

Even below the water. Turning over stones is a detective story that never tires, always has a fresh plot. Today… the numbers and sizes of the caddis confounded me. I saw but could not identify a crayfish, but surely a white claw.

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Eden caddis

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Meadow Crane’s-bill

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Guelder Rose

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Dogwood

A puzzle. Under several stones lay inch-long, bleached-out corpses that looked for all the world like baby bullheads. Are there bullheads in the river? Probably, but what has sucked out their lifeblood and left them drained shells?

I know I should be here later in the autumn for the full impact of the turning leaf forests but, take your time and there was colour to see all round.

Star, of course, happened to be a five pound grilse that I’ll not quite explain just yet, apart from saying it really was a miracle fish considering the almost frighteningly low levels. It wasn’t sea silver, but there were strong reminders of its salty past and it fought like a trooper.

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Cow Parsnip

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Musk Mallow

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Mullein

Once the rod was packed away, then there were specimens of guelder rose, dogwood, mullein, cow parsnip and musk mallow to admire, and a field of raddish looked glorious. When I got back to Melmerby, where I am staying, I noticed even the bicycles are painted yellow, and lean against every available wall. And don’t get nicked!

So, tomorrow, it is the Tyne and a dawn farewell to the Eden. It’s thirty five years since I was here. For all manner of reasons, it had better not be that long again!

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Melmerby bicycles
 

John Bailey

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Messages
106

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My Journey North… On to the Tyne​

Once again, thank you indeed to those who have commented on my time on the Eden, and yesterday I made it North East to the Tyne. I left Melmerby before dawn and crossed the hills towards Hexham, the Northern Pennines I’m presuming. At height, the clouds closed in with sheets of rain and strong winds, but as I dropped down towards Warden the temperatures rose appreciably and the skies lightened. Nicer fishing I thought, but perhaps not in terms of results.

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Andrew puzzles it out!

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A couple of Andrew’s boxes

What a cracking chap Andrew Jackson is, eh? All the day produced was a nip to a fly and a fish nicked for a second, but who cares when you can talk salmon for a day with a man who knows them as well as he does his twin brother? We fished ‘The Folly’ and ‘Thistle Rigg’, alternating between the two of them, and apart from a period mid-afternoon, fish showed throughout. Andrew suggested there could be forty or fifty fish there, and I wouldn’t disagree. Plenty of salmon, barely a take, and like all anglers forever we debated why?

The heavy rain that morning up on the moor tops? Should I have been out early, very early? Isn’t first light better than any type of light, including last light?

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The marginal rocks tell their story

We know that this has been as dry a year as anyone can remember, and that every river is on its uppers, but at least the Tyne has the Kielder releases. There are those that say Kielder water is stale, but there are those who add that any water is better than no water. Judging by the water mark on the bankside stones, the water had been up a few inches before dropping away again. Had that brief flush brought new fish into the pools?

Andrew suggested that fish were moving up and down the pools, and whilst some salmon could have been lying doggo, not all were doing that. I guess that through the day well in excess of fifty fish, perhaps double that, showed and from those I saw close, I’m fairly happy many of those sightings were produced by the same fish.

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Head of the Folly Pool

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‘Thistle Pool’ says the sign

One double figure salmon looked quite recognisable, and I am sure I watched him/her come out three times in five minutes with several yards between jumps. Seeing fish keeps you keen and keeps you fishing, but how do you engineer a take in low water like this, especially remembering that these fish will in all probability have been fished for?

Micro flies? 12s, 14s, even 16s if the hook(s) are strong?

Something big and flashy, like a Sunray, pulled back fast?

Something dark – Andrew produced a favourite fly, coloured claret/purple?

Going light, treading light?

Giving the fly extra life on the retrieve?

Sink tips or more – didn’t Falkus recommend a sinking line with tiny flies in barebones rivers like these?

Work, and then rework a pool with a different fly?

Or is it as so many say… right place, right time, right fly, and bingo?

Did I enjoy it? Great companion. Kingfishers all over the place. Glorious pools. Salmon sploshing everywhere. It broke my heart to leave.

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What a place to blank in!!!
 

Uncas

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Joined
Jul 6, 2019
Messages
370
Location
Yorkshire

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My Journey North… On to the Tyne​

Once again, thank you indeed to those who have commented on my time on the Eden, and yesterday I made it North East to the Tyne. I left Melmerby before dawn and crossed the hills towards Hexham, the Northern Pennines I’m presuming. At height, the clouds closed in with sheets of rain and strong winds, but as I dropped down towards Warden the temperatures rose appreciably and the skies lightened. Nicer fishing I thought, but perhaps not in terms of results.

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Andrew puzzles it out!

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A couple of Andrew’s boxes

What a cracking chap Andrew Jackson is, eh? All the day produced was a nip to a fly and a fish nicked for a second, but who cares when you can talk salmon for a day with a man who knows them as well as he does his twin brother? We fished ‘The Folly’ and ‘Thistle Rigg’, alternating between the two of them, and apart from a period mid-afternoon, fish showed throughout. Andrew suggested there could be forty or fifty fish there, and I wouldn’t disagree. Plenty of salmon, barely a take, and like all anglers forever we debated why?

The heavy rain that morning up on the moor tops? Should I have been out early, very early? Isn’t first light better than any type of light, including last light?

View attachment 43856
The marginal rocks tell their story

We know that this has been as dry a year as anyone can remember, and that every river is on its uppers, but at least the Tyne has the Kielder releases. There are those that say Kielder water is stale, but there are those who add that any water is better than no water. Judging by the water mark on the bankside stones, the water had been up a few inches before dropping away again. Had that brief flush brought new fish into the pools?

Andrew suggested that fish were moving up and down the pools, and whilst some salmon could have been lying doggo, not all were doing that. I guess that through the day well in excess of fifty fish, perhaps double that, showed and from those I saw close, I’m fairly happy many of those sightings were produced by the same fish.

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Head of the Folly Pool

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‘Thistle Pool’ says the sign

One double figure salmon looked quite recognisable, and I am sure I watched him/her come out three times in five minutes with several yards between jumps. Seeing fish keeps you keen and keeps you fishing, but how do you engineer a take in low water like this, especially remembering that these fish will in all probability have been fished for?

Micro flies? 12s, 14s, even 16s if the hook(s) are strong?

Something big and flashy, like a Sunray, pulled back fast?

Something dark – Andrew produced a favourite fly, coloured claret/purple?

Going light, treading light?

Giving the fly extra life on the retrieve?

Sink tips or more – didn’t Falkus recommend a sinking line with tiny flies in barebones rivers like these?

Work, and then rework a pool with a different fly?

Or is it as so many say… right place, right time, right fly, and bingo?

Did I enjoy it? Great companion. Kingfishers all over the place. Glorious pools. Salmon sploshing everywhere. It broke my heart to leave.

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What a place to blank in!!!
Thank you John, we've had a lovely interval reading your report and glorious photographs with a cup of tea.
 

John Bailey

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Feature Writer
Joined
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Messages
106

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My Journey North… Another Day on the Tyne​

So, Sunday 26th saw my final hours on the Tyne, and in terms of fish, a fruitless session at Chollerton. However, you don’t salmon fish for a catch alone (thank God), and there was much to take from the day. Especially at 7.30am when there was mist in that wonderfully secluded valley where not a murmur of road noise percolates.

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My gurus Johnny and Malcolm (with hat)

As the light grew, so did the dazzling array of colours and, yes, there were fish around, showing frequently enough to make you think a pull at least was waiting. The siren song of the Tyne eh? How beguiling the whole adventure looked.

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It’s a good job that Tyne guides are the excellent lot they are! With company like Andrew Jackson’s who needs a fish as well? At Chollerton, my gurus were Johnny and Malcolm, just about the most welcoming experts I’ve come across through the ages I’ve spent bankside. I got to know much about their lives, the river, the fish, and by lunch felt I’d made real friends.

As we sat and pondered after the gear came down, I asked about the hatchery on the Tyne and its impact. I don’t know about you, but at least SEEING English salmon in 2021 is something, and Johnny was quite adamant that the hatchery played an integral part in that.

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My account of this little tour of mine has stayed away from any whiff of controversy if possible, but the subject of stocked smolts should be considered. As we are all aware, the question of stocking flies in the face of modern fishery science, but has modern fishery science answered the problems facing our rivers this century? In part, yes, but to some extent, surely not.

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Chollerton, early morning 26th September

I hesitate to stick my personal oar into the salmon arena, but I will say that modern fishery science has done little to help more prosaic species like river roach. In fact, I’d say it has been a hindrance, but I’ll leave it there as I don’t want to cloud what has been a very special trip, made all the more so by the splendid people I have met on the way, and indeed, on this site!

My thanks to all from a very lucky man.



The post 'My Journey North... Another Day on the Tyne' first appeared on Fish & Fly Magazine.

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