My book Life of a Chalkstream
is now out in paperback.
Limestone rivers of Derbyshire
Fishing Breaks offers fly fishing at the Charles Cotton’s historic Fishing House and other beats on the River Dove
The rivers of the Derbyshire Peak District are the Wye, the Dove, the Lathkill and the Derwent, plus numerous smaller streams and brooks. The rivers are fed by the winter rains that fall on to the hills and peaks of Derbyshire and Staffordshire, percolating down through the limestone rocks and flowing out through the river valleys. The temperature and quality of the water is ideal for brown trout and grayling, and the clarity perfect for fly fishing.
The limestone rivers of Derbyshire have a very special place in the history of fly fishing as the first detailed writing about the sport comes in two chapters of Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler, which were actually written by his friend Charles Cotton, and described the fishing in the Derbyshire.
Cotton (1630-1687) was far more than a fisherman; he was one of the
most illustrious academics of the 17th century, famous as a poet,translator
and writer. Born at Beresford Hall, Cotton learnt to fly fish on the
River Dove, which flowed through the Beresford Hall Estate. Fishing
of all types was his passion and in the gorge of the Dove he made a
private garden ‘with a delicate clear river about it, where the
world is reduced to its simplest and best essentials’. It was
in this garden in 1674 that he built the Fishing House.
The Derbyshire rivers usually require wading of some sort. You can fish some parts of most beats from the bank but to get the best do take your waders.
In terms of an outfit, take nothing long or heavy. A 8½ft five weight is plenty big enough. Tippet at 3lb is ideal. The flies below are the personal favourites of river keeper, Stephen Moores. For more fishing advice and to buy flies click here.
Recommended outfit: 8½ ft rod, with 4-5wt floating line. Tippet to 2lb/8x