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.
It is fair to say that Tony pretty well has the waters of the River Dove running through his veins. A Derbyshire policeman for all his working life, Tony has fished the Dove for over 40 years. Since retirement he has dedicated much of his spare time to fishing the Derbyshire streams and has become the acknowledged local expert on Charles Cotton and Izaak Walton.
As a qualified instructor and fishing guide Tony is the ideal companion for a day on the River Dove. As an instructor Tony is patient and helpful, holding both the ACA and GAIA badges, and as the Secretary of Izaak Walton Cottage Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, if you want to pick his brain on the history of fly fishing, there is simply nobody better.
Tony simply loves everything about the Dove valley. As he says, ‘There are very few places in the world were you can trace the history of fly fishing back for centuries, but in Beresford Dale we will be walking in the very footsteps of Walton and Cotton, casting into the very pools that they fished four centuries ago.’ As an angler who twice represented England he is equally at home with nymph or dry, trout or grayling so whatever the conditions throw at you Tony will be at your side making sure you have a successful day.
If you wish to ask Tony a question directly, please e-mail him at email@example.com
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 Tony Bridgett. For more fishing advice and to buy flies click here.
Recommended outfit: 8½ ft rod, with 4-5wt floating line. Tippet to 2lb/8x