Fishing the river Derwent, an experts view: Some thoughts from Philip White
Of the rivers I have fly fished so far in my 50 plus years of fishing life I would say the Derwent, here in Derbyshire, takes some beating. It has a wide range of habitats along its length, from hard running shallows through to deep, slow mystic pools. Along its tree lined length there is a wealth of fly life coming from the gravels, rocks and weed beds as well as regular falls of all manner of terrestrials, either dropping off the trees or just blowing in from the surrounding farmland.
The Derwent has a good head of natural fish, wild browns and grayling in particular as well as the wild breeding rainbows that are found in parts of the river. Over the years I have fished and guided on various parts of the river. I really enjoy being in it – and yes, I do mean in it, as it is really necessary to wade.
The river Derwent offers fishing for all interests with super hatches of fly right through the season. A full day on the river can require a deep, searching nymph one minute; targeting ‘sipping’ fish on a tiny dry fly minutes later; and moving quickly to fishing a daddy long legs the next. Keep your eyes open and you can have a very full and eventful day on the river at any time of year.
Although I am best known for my time on dry fly only streams where there is no wading, one of the delights for me is being up to my waist, working a team of traditional spiders in the glides as I fish down the river, waiting for the ‘winking’ turn of a fish, or the movement of the leader that signifies a take. There is something timeless in this style of fishing. If I stay late I will fish the spinner fall and then, if it is late April/May onwards, I will hang on for that mad 10 minutes just on dark when the females of many species of sedges are egg laying. As the light goes they come skittering across the water from their hiding places in the bushes before diving/crawling down in the shallows to attach their eggs to the stones and underwater mosses, before they die and drift downstream. Some really good fish can be caught at that time, fishing a diving caddis at the tails of the riffles. These fish are often bigger than usual fish that hide away from the prying eyes and searching casts of keen fishermen during the day.