Catching up and catching trout

Ridley Hall.
Ridley Hall.

This last week I have only coached for three days, as a three-day college reunion and the wedding of my god-daughter filled the remainder.

My first year at teacher training college was spent living in Ridley Hall, which was the home of the Queen Mum when she was growing up. It is a terrific building near Bardon Mill, just off the A69 west of Hexham.

Sixty-nine students were residents along with a couple of lecturers, who had their own homes in the grounds.

Other lecturers travelled out from the main Northern Counties College at Coach Lane in Benton, Newcastle.

It was great to meet up with some of my fellow students 48 years down the line.

We used to walk to our local, the Bowes, at Bardon Mill. It was a well worn path that crossed the South Tyne.

Many a night I stopped in the middle of the footbridge and watched the salmon and sea trout jumping as they made their way on their journey to the spawning stretches higher up the river.

On the other side of Ridley was the Allen river, which ran past Plankey Mill and under an old bridge which had to be replaced after the floods a few years back.

I remember going to Catton and walking down to the bridge. There is an apron under the bridge and at certain times, when the river was right, we used to watch the migratory fish jump onto the apron and swim like mad up the incline in about six inches of water until they reached the deeper water above the bridge.

Anyway, I had an interesting few days catching up with what people were doing, where they were now living and how they were spending their retirement.

We did spend an evening in the Bowes, walking there and back in the dark. Crossing the fields and the footbridge brought back some hilarious moments, but there was no salmon or sea trout to be seen.

Coaching was at three different venues this week.

Firstly, I spent time with an Englishman, Richard, who is a teacher working in the United Arab Emirates. He was staying in a luxury holiday chalet near West Woodburn.

It was a superb venue with a lake just outside stocked with brown trout.

Richard had done a lot of salt water fly fishing but was having a problem with one aspect of his casting. We analysed the problem and I was able to show him what his problem was.

Once that was identified Richard was able to practice and rectify the problem.

Sometimes it is difficult to change the technique you use automatically to improve your cast. It is just about remembering to incorporate the change and then everything falls into place.

The kids’ drop-in session at Chatton went well with fish swirling at dry flies, taking dry flies from the surface and also being caught, played and landed on small nymph flies.

Then it was on to one of my private stretches on the Coquet with David, an architect who is on holiday and staying in Warkworth.

David usually fishes his club water, which is a stretch of the River Dove in Derbyshire. He had recently been on the Lees beat of the Tweed and was keen to try a double handed rod. However, the Tweed was well up and he was advised to spin on the day.

David said he wanted to learn how to roll and Spey cast so that he could fish sections of the Dove, which had a lot of vegetation on the banks.

Overhead casting only resulted in him loosing his trout flies and decorating the trees.

We spent some time with both a single handed and double handed rods and David soon realised that Spey casting took far less effort and improved the presentation of his fly line and flies on the water.

During the session, David caught several brown trout using old traditional wet fly patterns.

This forthcoming week I have seven sessions booked in as well as two meetings.

So it looks like the school summer holidays are going to be very busy.