The latest improvement at Bolton Hall is a smart new hut facing onto the Lord's Pool, complete with an enclosure to protect your wing mirrors and paint from amorous cattle with an itch to scratch. It's warm, dry and a most welcome addition. It was a real boon when changing with the temperature gauge showing 8.5C and a 20 mph wind: this is Yorkshire, where summer remains an elusive concept.
In the event the level of the Lord's Pool was too low, so I went upstream to work some of my favourite spots. The ash tree on the right is a hardy perennial marker where I hooked and lost a springer last season. With the air at 9C and water at 11C; a moderate flow; medium clarity and dull conditions this was a solid 6 on the MCX scale. As this stretch isn't deep there was no need for sink tips, just a medium sized Cascade double on 12 feet of fluorocarbon.
The lack of water was more apparent at the bend below: another 12-15 cm would have been much better. In this pool the fish hold just upstream from the large rock in the centre of the picture on the far bank, but it's not much more than a 20 yard cast to cover the lies. Sadly there was nothing happening that morning, so I fished down to the head of Park before breaking for lunch, which I'd obtained at the West Witton village stores. They have a good selection of locally baked pies and pasties, and excellent scotch eggs, which are all ideal high-energy foods that fit easily into the back pocket of the wading jacket. Just don't panic about the cardiac issues - you'll only worry yourself into an early grave!
After lunch I set out for the top of the Bolton Hall water. Until now my ability to explore the full length had been constrained by my conventional estate car and unreadiness to march long distances through the bushes. To the amazement of many I could get it to places few others ventured - even down to the river at Thoresby on one occasion - but on Bolton Hall the end of West Wood was my limit. With the onset of partial retirement I've changed to something with 4 wheel drive and 9" of ground clearance - there's no point having leisure time and limited mobility. It's not a serious mud-plugger in the Land Rover mode, but it certainly crosses fields and banks much better than a Mercedes estate.
|Top of the beat looking upstream|
This is shorter rod territory: at this level 12' was ample; or 13' when the river's up and you need a heavier front end.
|200 metres of heaven|
This picture will spark happy thoughts in anyone who's fished the Alness. The difference here is that it leads into...
...a proper pool. Come September I wish to be on this spot, grinning from ear to ear. The old Lord Bolton remarked in his fishing diary that he'd never caught a fish in this pool, but judged that "it could hold every fish in the river". I concur with his judgement but aspire to doing better.
Around the right angle bend the limestone fault runs parallel to the flow and thus drives the river into a narrow defile with a series of deep pots and runs (like the Carron beside Amat House, but with more water). There are so many possible lies that you have to fish every inch to be sure that you've exploited all your chances. Some of it is at point-blank range with only a few metres of line outside the tip; in other places you're standing back 15-20 metres to fish at the narrowest possible angle in order to keep the fly in play as long as possible.
It then opens out into the long Neild's Dub, where your wading line down the right side is on a continuous flat limestone ledge. You have to be wary of stepping off the drop into deep water, whilst also being aware that fish could be lying within a metre of your toes.
|West Wood 1|