From the promise of the Esk to the splendour of the Derwent, the waters of North East Yorkshire include some of the best angling venues to be found in the British Isles.
No other county in the British Isles is as well endowed with good fishing venues as Yorkshire. It can offer the angler just about everything in the ‘fishy’ catalogue. In North Yorkshire especially, the rivers Esk, Rye and Derwent provide plenty of rich and varied sport.
The Esk rises 1,300ft above sea level and drains the moors of Baysdale, Farndale, and Westerdale before, approximately 29 miles later, flowing into the sea at Whitby. It is the only worthwhile salmon river in the county. However, its runs of fish, albeit prolific, can be as fickle as a politician’s promises. The first worthwhile run of fish comes with the first floods of June or July and with the salmon come a good proportion of sea trout. All legitimate fishing styles are permitted.
Yorkshire Water Authority
Unfortunately, much of the best fishing is in the hands of the Esk Fishery Association where the waiting list is too long to offer any hope to all but the very young. In addition, Yorkshire Water Authority requires the angler to take out a special licence for the Esk. Other worthwhile fishing is in the hands of the Egton Estates between Gros-mont and Egton Bridge. Early ap-plication to the Estate Office at Egton Bridge is essential, but day tickets are occasionally available.
The upper reaches of the Esk have excellent trout fishing. Danby and District Angling Club offers week tickets for stretches at Castleton, Danby and Leaholm. These can be obtained from Ward Thompson, Borough Road, Middlesborough; the Duke of Wellington Inn, Danby; or from Castleton Post Office or Danby Post Office.
From Glaisdale to Ruswarp much of the fishing is either controlled by the Esk Fishery Association or is in private hands. This stretch of the river offers the best of the fishing for migratory fish, but the casual visitor will have problems finding access. From Ruswarp downstream to Whitby, however, some day ticket water is available, but it is mostly tidal and is subject to strict control. Tickets may be obtained from Mr Hall, Boatyard, Riverside, Ruswarp, and early application is advised.
The River Rye has its small beginnings on the south side of the Cleveland Hills at Rye Head. From there to Nunnington it offers the angler some sparkling streams where trout and grayling abound, but, from Nunnington downstream to its junction with the Derwent, the Rye is a mixed coarse fishery with mostly sluggish and deeper water.
Some notable feeder streams join the Rye, but most fishing is in the hands of clubs or syndicates where the casual visitor cannot find easy access. At Hawnby on the Rye there is good brown trout fishing available from the Hawnby Hotel (Tel Bilsdale 202) but early application is advised and the fishing allowed is with fly only.
From Helmsley downstream to Nunnington Bridge, Ryedale Anglers’ Club has ten miles of excellent water which is limited to members and their guests. At Nunnington, tickets are available from the keeper’s cottage or from the Estate Office, Nunnington Hall, to fish varying sections of their preserves. The top beat of this water is for fly fishing only.
Several notable tributaries, such as the Dove, Seven, Costa and Pickering Beck join the Rye. Members of both the York and Leeds Amalgamations of Anglers have access to good trout and gray-ling fishing, and the Pickering Fishery Association has first-class stretches on both the Costa and the Pickering Beck.
Wykeham High Moor
Rising a little to the south of the Esk, and at an altitude of 900ft, the picturesque Yorkshire Derwent has its source on Wykeham High Moor. It offers a wide variety of fishing and in its upper reaches is a highly rated trout and grayling fishery. From Langdale End to Hackness it resembles a small highland stream. The scenery is magnificent and the river winds and topples to offer a kaleidoscope of changing views.
Ten miles of river in this vicinity are preserved by the ancient and much respected Derwent Anglers’ Club and the water is well stocked with both brown and rainbow trout from the club’s own hatchery. Fly only is allowed; no trout under 10in may be taken and a three-brace day limit operates. After the end of June, it is possible to get day tickets for the club water and these can be obtained from the Hackness Grange Hotel; The Everley Hotel or Prit-chard’s Tackle Shop, Eastborough, Scarborough.
Through Forge Valley the river slows its pace and offers trout fishing comparable with that in many chalk streams. Below West Ayton, the river assumes an even more tranquil pace. At Yedingham, Rillington, Malton and Huttons Ambo there are some excellent coarse fishing waters.
Malton and Norton Angling Club no longer issues day tickets, but some good bream, perch, tench and roach day ticket fishing is available at Castle Howard Lake (20 acres; fishing one side only), Coneysthorpe. The angler is advised to apply early in writing, to the bailiff, Mr C W Burr, North Lodge, Coneysthorpe, York. Farther downstream, Huttons Ambro Angling Club issues day tickets for a mile and a half stretch on both sides of the footbridge on one bank at Huttons Ambro. Tickets can also be obtained from Huttons Ambro Post Office (Tel Malton 2803).
Downstream of Malton there is some fine scenery at Kirkham Abbey, Howsham, Buttercramber and Kexby, but day tickets are not issued by the Bradford No 1 Angling Club for their water at Howsham Wood, nor by the Leeds and District Amalgamated Society of Anglers for their waters, at Kexby and Scrayingham.
Stamford Bridge is a particularly noted venue producing specimen chub and most other varieties of popular coarse fish. It was quite a noteworthy salmon fishery, and even today fish are occasionally seen trying to leap the weir. York and District Amalgamation of Anglers issue day tickets for two stretches at Stamford Bridge; for a half mile left bank stretch below the viaduct, and for four miles of the right bank from Stamford road bridge down to Kexby. Car parking is at Kexby where the A1079 Hull-York road is currently being diverted.
Downstream of Elvington, the Leeds and District Amalgamation of Anglers has a one and a half mile day ticket stretch on the right bank downstream from the road bridge, and at Sutton-upon-Derwent, the Leeds and York Amalgamations of Anglers have four and a half miles of joint day ticket water. At nearby Wheldrake, there is more day ticket water which extends for one and a half miles on the right bank upstream of the swing bridge.
Yorkshire and District Amalgam-ation of Anglers issues these tickets, Wm tefll which can be obtained directly from the York and District Club, or, for the joint York and Leeds waters, from their bailiff, Thomas Ashton, 15 Church Green, Sutton-upon-Derwent (Tel Elvington 200), from Gate Helmsely garage, or the Cross Keys Inn at Sutton-upon-Derwent.
Elvington Lake is frequently restocked with mirror carp to 30 lb, and pleasure catches of 80lb of bream have been made. No fish may be taken away, but it is a good day ticket venue. Tickets are obtained from the bailiff, S Britton at Lake Cottage, Elvington (Tel 255).
Farther downstream, the White Swan Inn at Bubwith issues day tickets for a four mile stretch on the
Left bank from Elvington Landing to Bubwith Bridge. The water is con-trolled by the Howden and District Angling Club, and is good for roach, bream, chub, perch, pike and the occasional sea trout. Below Bubwith, the river Derwent joins the Ouse near Drax.
In these three river systems it is possible to catch everything from the noble salmon to the lowly eel. Most waters, except the Esk, may be fished by arrangement with the clubs or owners, providing the angler has a Yorkshire Water Authority trout licence.
These licences and other valuable information may be obtained from most tackle shops in the county. A useful booklet is the Northern Anglers’ Handbook, published by the Dalesman Publishing Co. Ltd.