Welcome to Ness Flyfishers!

From time to time we do have vacancies for new members. If you are interested in joining the waiting list, please use the Contact form to get in touch. 

For a detailed introduction and some 'pre-history',  see this page by our Chairman, John Ditch.

Many thanks.

Terry Nicholson, Secretary
Mail: mymail@mailservice.com
Phone: 555-555-5555

The Rye at Ness
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Views from The Rye

By John Ditch 06 Mar, 2017
Those of you who fish at West Lilling Lake have been asking about how deep it is and where the fish are to be found!  On Friday last Tony Teasdale and I used a new sonar device to scan the lake bottom and we confirmed that the average depth is between 8 and 12 feet with a significant (and much deeper) channel (up to 30 feet) running from south to north and into the neck of the lake.  Our measurements were approximate but there was nothing counter-intuitive!  I have put a hand drawn map of our findings onto the Gallery page (see West Lilling lake March 3).  You will also be interested to learn that the sonar device picked up signals for a lot of fish and these were distributed across the whole lake with only slightly higher concentrations in what might be called the south west quadrant and into the neck of the lake.

Rex Parry has revised the Club Constitution and Rule Book following minor changes adopted at the AGM.  This is now available to view on the website.  Finally, we are arranging a 'training day' for juniors (in conjunction with the Esk Fishery Club) to be held on Sunday 21 May. If you have children or grand-children (up to 16 years old) who would like to come along they will be most welcome.  There will be guides, life-jackets, fish to be caught and even the possibility of a barbecue!
By John Ditch 28 Feb, 2017

Pre-season tasks…

 How do you prepare for the beginning of a new season? We may count the ways because there are always things to be done. Routinely I will sort through my fishing bags and boxes, re-arranging flies into a semblance of order in a variety of boxes; I will clean reels, add a drop of oil to them if necessary, make up some casts and so on. This winter, in addition to tying up some new flies I rescued a trio of old cane rods from the garage where they had languished since I bought them as part of a job-lot some years ago at a fishing tackle auction. They were in pretty poor state, the glue had given up and the cane had split at several places. There was nothing for it but to re-build them. Two of the rods were without names and I felt comfortable about stripping them down to their naked elements – sans rings, sans varnish, sans cork, sans everything. I find that YouTube is a great thing and I watched several ‘masters of the art’ as they made beautiful bamboo rods – it is really artful to watch. Anyway, without great hopes of coming even close to the peerless quality seen on YouTube I slowly cleaned each rod by removing old varnish, re-glued them, wrapped tightly in heavy thread and hung them up till the glue had set. It was then a case of removing the thread, cleaning up the bamboo and setting to with varnish –coat after coat. I was indulged by being allowed to take over a part of the kitchen table for the next step: I put a home made cradle-rest onto a temporary work surface and fitted new reel seats and cork before beginning the wrapping of the rings. This is fiddly work and I would only give myself a 2:2 for merit (it was always known as a sportsman’s degree!) but over time my technique, such as it is, got better. When that was done it was time for final varnishing. My wife kindly made me new rod bags and I had some plastic tubes in the garage so each rod is now complete. Indeed, I took the larger rod to West Lilling Lake a few weeks ago to give a try out – 9 feet long, it cast a 6 weight line with ease and (surprise, surprise) it managed a 2lb rainbow to the net without splitting or snapping! The second rod is less than 7ft long and of very light build: it will be ideal for fishing at the river and I’ll be going after some small over-wintering fish on Ness Beat 2 at the earliest opportunity.


I am fortunate in being to do a lot of fishing on loughs in the west of Ireland. I’ve fished Corrib, Mask, Conn and Arrow but my local preference is for Lough O’Flynn, a limestone lake of about 580 acres, and only about 5 minutes from our house. I have a 19 ft lough boat bought second hand a decade or so ago from David Gray of Ballindoon (see his website: Arrowboats.com) who, as it happens, originally made the boat (based on a traditional design formed by Tommy Philbon of Clonbur). Well, the boat spends the winter months laid up on its trailer behind the house and I decided the time had come to give it a spruce up. I’ve been to Breanamore twice this year and on each occasion was prepared to do some work, sanding down the existing paint work and wooden transom, as the basis for fresh paint and varnish. Unfortunately I have been bested by the weather – last week it was storm Doris. Indeed I was woken at 4 in the morning by the sound of the boat’s canvas cover flapping furiously in the gale. So that is work still be done before I get out and on to the water. The season begins on 1 March on O’Flynn but it is unusual to see a boat before Patrick’s Day so there is still a little time…


As a club we arrange for a series of work party days in February and March. The first this year was held on Saturday 18 February. The weather was kind and there were a number of important jobs to be done. We are fortunate that a small number of enthusiastic members are able to help: Rex Parry worked on his lonesome at the Nunnington club hut and has layered the hedge that had grown almost out of control. He has down a great job and he may even have a second (or third) career ahead of him as a woodsman! Down stream there were a couple of trees to be removed from the river and it was of enormous help that Rupert Drury was willing to bring along his steroid–enhanced Land Rover fully equipped with a powerful winch. Bob Milne (aka Bob Trout) took some photographs which can now be seen on the club web site (go to Gallery and then Work Party Feb 2017).  Tony Teasdale and David Owston are experts in the use of chain saws and a winter’s supply of logs were loaded to a trailer. At the end of the day we were able to burn off much of the smaller material resulting from our activities and also cleared an extensive area of last year’s fallen branches: there is nothing like a good bonfire at the end of the day!


The club committee met in early February and you will be pleased to learn that finances continue to be healthy as is membership. By now you will have received fresh membership tags for 2017 (thanks to Terry Nicholson/Secretary and Michael Colyer/Treasurer) for their work in this regard. We have made arrangements for stocking fish on the same basis as in previous years and will also be putting 150 rainbows into Lilling Lake. Following the presentation by Jonny Grey of the Wild Trout Trust at last year’s AGM the committee has decided to consult members about the possibility of conducting a trial/experiment by concentrating our future stocking activity on Nunnington Lower and Ness Beats thereby allowing the Nunnington Top Water to become a wild trout fishery. This will not happen without approval of members and we hope to hold a debate and determine a result at the next AGM. Linked to this proposal is a suggestion that we unify the categories of club membership: in other words that all members are full members with the right to fish anywhere on club water. In order to make this financially viable for the club we would introduce a flat-rate fee of approximately £300. Again, this is something we want to consult members about and discuss fully at the next AGM before any decision is made. Have a think about these proposals and have a chat with any member of the Committee.


That’s about it for now – I hope your pre-season’s preparations are going well.


Tight lines,


John Ditch



By John Ditch 18 May, 2016

The season has started slowly after what seemed to be such a long winter with low temperatures and a lot of rain. Opportunities to walk the river bank in the early part of the year confirmed that more trees had been lost and that the shape of the river had been altered at key points. We, the land owners and Environment Agency, will have to think about the implications of losing so many trees for the structure and stability of the river banks: careful management of dying alders by taking off the major part of both trunk and crown but leaving the root system is one response; judicious coppicing of some trees to stimulate fresh growth is another; but in the long term we may have to think about planting new trees. Trees are essential for a healthy river, giving a nurturing environment for fly life and birds, giving structure to river banks and helping to minimize ‘run-off’ and silting from surrounding fields.


The work party and stocking days are always enjoyable and the club is very fortunate in having a dedicated core of members who manage to come along to nearly all such activities. We did minimum pruning of trees this year concentrating instead on repairing and replacing ladders and other access points to the river; these will be maintained throughout the season. Supported by Jonny Grey of the Wild Trout Trust we also did some innovative work at The Kelds, weaving willow branches into natural barriers to improve water flow and thereby enhance the environment for young fish. We will be monitoring progress and will report back.


As you know we put 500 trout (11 – 13 inch and now legally required to be ‘triploid’ – ie infertile) into the river and will be stocking again with a further 500 trout later this week. The fish are distributed evenly over our beats (excepting Ness Beat 3) and as part of the next stocking – we will be including 6 ‘trophy’ fish, one for each beat and tagged for easy identification. Any member who catches one of these fish and can provide evidence (witness statement, photograph or tag) will be awarded a bottle of whisky at the AGM!  


It is good to see that West Lilling Lake has been used and valued by members throughout the winter and spring. Although we have now put 450 trout (rainbows and blue trout – real beauties) into the lake the returns have been modest. It just goes to show that even though the lake is small and well stocked the fishing is challenging. I had a couple of hours at the lake on Sunday and I have to say that in the warm weather I thought the lake was ‘boiling’; there were trout everywhere though I can’t say what they were taking. I fished with a dry fly and was broken twice at the point of contact. I’ve come to the conclusion that 5X tippet is not strong enough for the bruisers of West Lilling – or it could be that my knots were not up to snuff! Just a little reminder – could members please book-on to fish before casting a line and not, if they remember, when they leave.


I fished Nunnington Top Water (Beat 1) yesterday afternoon. Warm but with a little breeze it was good to see (and for the first time this year) that fly life was returning to the river. I am told that a few mayflies were seen on Sunday but I certainly can’t say that ‘the hatch’ has started. I saw steady number of fish rising throughout the beat, nothing prolific but enough to give encouragement, and I did manage to get three to the net; two stockies and one a small wild trout. Joe Scott and Dave Owston were at the river on a ‘strimming’ rather than fishing afternoon: well done!


I received Salmon & Trout Conservation UK’s Annual Report the other day and found that it contained some fascinating articles. I was particularly interested in their reports about the quality of the country’s rivers – the overall picture is worrying. Kick sampling to record the range and numbers of invertebrates in the river, together with water quality samples, suggest that although the eU’s Water Directive is a force for the good there are major challenges facing the environment. We are lucky that the River Rye is in satisfactory to good order and we are especially fortunate in the one of our members, John Tharratt, conducts a regular kick sample, the results of which are to be found on the club website. The early returns for this year and not as good as at the same time last year but ‘point to point’ comparisons can be misleading. I encourage everyone to keep an eye on the data reports from John as they become available.


I am very fortunate in being to split my time between Yorkshire and the West of Ireland. There are early reports that the ‘mayfly is up’ on some of the Connaught lakes. I will be out on my boat next week, certainly on Lough O’Flynn being closest to home, but also (possibly) on one or other of Loughs Arrow, Carra and Corrib. I have never caught any of the really big fish you can read about in the classic histories of fishing in the west or, indeed, in the reports still carried in the Trout & Salmon magazine but there is still great fun in casting a hand-tied mayfly to a decent in trout in beautiful countryside. When I get back I’m sure that the mayfly season will be well advanced on the Rye. Bring it on… and tight lines to you all.

By John Ditch 17 Nov, 2015
We have come a long way in the last 12 months: from very uncertain beginnings the Ness Flyfishers Club has put down roots, with a strong membership and sound finances. Many people have worked hard to make this possible and we are positioned to ensure the very best of fishing for 2016.

We did not experience any great floods this year and the river was therefore in pretty good condition throughout the season. Yes, there were days when the water was a little high and running with a deep brown colour but nothing to compare with floods of previous years. Indeed, the river overall is in a very healthy condition: kick samples indicate a rich variety of fly life and I think we had the best hatch of mayflies seen on the river for many years. It is very pleasing to see Ranunculus weed making a strong comeback because this is evidence of clean water and provides a rich environment for both trout and grayling. We invited the Wild Trout Society to visit the river and their report makes helpful recommendations for the improvement of habitat in support of even better fishing. We are looking to incorporate some of the suggestions in the work to be undertaken on club working party days.

I got to fish on the river no less than 15 times this year and when I look back through my fishing diary I see that much of my (modest) success was with small native fish of between 7 and 10 inches. Now that the Environment Agency has banned stocking with fertile fish we need to support the native fish to breed so that they co-exist with the farmed fish that we put into the river. Developing a healthy mixed fishery will be an important challenge for the future.

One of the special pleasures of being a club member is being able to take guests to fish. Earlier this year I spent a month in Australia and was able to do some exciting ‘bush fishing’ for trout in Victoria, guided by a remarkable angler. I was delighted to be able to offer a couple of days fishing on our water when the holidays were reversed and my Australian guide became my guest. To watch someone who can cast a straight line and see the fly drop gently to the surface is always a joy – almost poetry in motion – and to see him catching fish after fish was especially gratifying. There were no better summer days this year.

We held our AGM at the end of October and members were able to raise issues of concern. That we are a responsive membership club is evidenced by changes to rules: the number of members’ guest days was been standardized and increased to 8 per member and the booking-on/booking-off times have been amended to provide greater flexibility. We are now planning for next year and will be contacting all members in the near future. Meanwhile, there is always Lilling Lake and the prospect of a ‘blue’ rainbow or two!

This is a new ‘blog facility’ – and certainly it is the first time I have written a ‘blog’ – but it may be useful to members who wish to share experience of the river or raise issues for discussion. For those who live some distance from the river a recent account of water levels and colour may save a frustrating journey. In any event it will be good to hear from you.

John Ditch
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