The River Wharfe at Ilkley provides excellent fly fishing for Brown Trout and Grayling.  Ilkley Angling Association control a long stretch of the river at Ilkley and Ben Rhydding and day, week and season permits are available.  The club has not stocked the river for many years so all the fish are wild.  There is a very large population of wild Brown Trout – most are in the 4oz to 12oz size range but each season fish in the 3lb to 4lb size bracket are caught.  Ilkley currently has one of the highest population densities of Grayling of any stretch of the River Wharfe and again, while most fish are under 1lb fish, a number of 1lb 12oz to 2lb fish have been caught this last winter (my largest was 1lb 12oz).  Last autumn when river conditions were good the flat pools had large numbers of rising Grayling so fish location was easy.   Ilkley_flyfishing

Day permits costing £11 are available from the Ilkley Visitor Information Centre (just opposite Ilkley railway station).  Adult season permits cost £72 (£50 joining fee) and memberships are available for the 2013 season.  Go to the club website for more information and membership application forms.

Parts of the adjacent river banks can get busy with visitors to Ilkley on a nice day in the spring and summer but long stretches of very good fly fishing water are well away from the busy footpaths.  The river is a nice variety of riffles, dry fly flats and pools and all the normal Dales fly fishing methods work well here, including North Country Spiders, upstream dry fly, ‘Klink & Dink’ and Czech Nymphing.  And if you want to catch one of the big Brownies try a Sculpin or

A very good Ilkley Wharfe Brownie

A very good Ilkley Wharfe Brownie

streamer pattern. The river holds a large population of Bullheads and these without doubt feature in the diet of the Trout.  The local Otter also seems to have a liking for these.  Otters are quite often seen on the Ilkley stretch, even during the middle of the day and Heron, Dabchick, Dipper, Goosander and many Mallard also add interest to every day on the river.

I went to school in Ilkley and I have fished the Ilkley Angling Association waters every year since 1972.  I now live close to the river and late last year I was honoured to be voted in as Secretary of the club.  From April onwards I will be doing beginners fly fishing lessons and guided fly fishing days for already competent fly fishers on the excellent waters of the club.