Scenic Fewston Reservoir near Harrogate has proved to be an excellent fly fishing tuition water for me this spring and summer and my day there on Saturday 7th September was another such day.

Dad David Armitage has an enthusiastic budding fisher son William, twelve.  We met at 8.30am and after a preparatory discussion about fly fishing, safety, etc. we set off to the waterside for me to teach them fly casting and then fly fishing.  Conditions were quite good with a light southerly breeze and mainly overcast, if a little on the cool side.  I taught them the roll and overhead cass and while doing so was watching out for fish activity.  Usually at Fewston there are plenty of fish rising but on this occasion hardly a fish moved.  I was not overly confident of their chances of success.  An initial longish period of fishing small buzzers brought just one take to each of them but no fish caught.

Then around mid-day all of a sudden fish started to rise and I could see good numbers of Heather Flies and Black Gnat on the water in the area where the fish were rising.  I could tell from their rise forms that they were mostly small wild Brown Trout but there was the odd good sized Rainbow amongst them.  A switch to a size 16 parachute Black Gnat dry fly brought immediate takes.  But the Trout were ejecting the fly before my novice fly fishers could strike the hook home.  I had a go and 30 seconds later a 10″ wild Brownie was on the bank; a beautiful fin-perfect wild fish.  So many Brownies were rising that I didn’t realise that Fewston held such a big population of them.Anyway after William and David still failed to hook any we set off looking for bigger fish.  After walking two of three hundred yards along the bank to a shallower area I started to see the different leisurely rise forms of Rainbows, often showing their fins as they rolled over a Heather Fly or Black Gnat.  I just knew that they would catch fish now.  The breeze was blowing slightly from behind and their casting was good enough to reach the fish which were not far out from the shore.  Almost immediately William was into a fish.  After a long fight a fin perfect Rainbow of around 3lbs was landed.  Will was over the moon and said that the fish had made his day.                              William - 12 -  with his first ever fly caught Trout.

Fifteen minutes later and he landed its twin.  Then it was Dad’s turn with David catching one and then another.  They had caught their limit (fishing a shared adult/child £20 ticket) and so they decided to call it a day.

The following day I emailed a couple of pictures I’d taken to David and he replied ‘Many thanks for these photos- but particularly for a wonderful day of tuition at Fewston on Saturday.  I was so pleased and I now know that we will be doing more fly fishing together, so don’t be surprised if we contact you again in a few months for some training on a river such as the Nidd or the Wharfe.’

William and David with their dry fly caught Rainbow Trout. William and David with their dry fly caught Fewston Rainbow Trout.

I have taught well over a thousand people to fly fish but I’m sure I’ll never tire or seeing the smile on the faces of successful novice fly fishers.

Fewston Reservoir  is a very scenic large Trout stillwater.  But don’t be put off by its size.  Go looking for the fish and usually the Trout will be found quite close to the shore.  I often see fly fishers fishing the lake that are wading out further than the fish are usually rising and are often casting out garish orange, pink or white attractor flies and not catching much.  From my experience at Fewston, more often than not, once the fish have been located by sight – watching and looking for where they are rising – a dry fly is the best, and most enjoyable, way to catch them.  I always teach the importance of observation and stealth and it applies just as much to Fewston Reservoir as to most other waters.