Not so very long ago it was just about impossible for the ordinary angler to gain access to some of the World’s finest dry fly fishing. There was, however, one little chink of encouraging light in the darkness of despair at ever being allowed on such hallowed waters. This was the day ticket water on the Haddon Estate’s length of the Derbyshire Wye, the famous “Peacock Water” so named because the Peacock Hotel at Rowsley was where we went to buy our tickets. It is where anglers still congregate, where visitors can still have a day ticket to treat themselves to what is usually a special day after the wild brown trout and grayling, with the added bonus of the Wye’s wild rainbow trout, this being the only river in England with a self-sustaining head of rainbow trout whose first encounter with Homo sapiens sapiens is when they meet a lucky angler!
In 1969 your faithful correspondent fished the “Peacock Water” on a day ticket for the first time and soon after became a regular rod. The Derbyshire Wye was once more the Mother river to yet another of her keen tyros. She taught this one everything he now thinks he knows about dry fly fishing, lessons learnt that have been applied with not a little success on waters North, South, East and West, near and far.
Over time, as spending power increased and the distance of my name from the top of the waiting list shortened, it became possible to join the syndicate to fish an additional river, a tributary of the Wye. This was the Lathkill, made famous by Charles Cotton in the fifth edition of the Complete Angler, when he described the waters as the clearest he had ever seen and that the trouts were said to be “the reddest in all England”. The Lathkill, for observant and thinking anglers, imposes more advanced lessons on the subjects of concealment from the fish and of fly presentation. Clumsiness on here is not quickly forgiven by the fish.
There was another syndicate further up the catchment on the little river Bradford, which is a miniature version of the Lathkill and tributary to it. Here there are even more of those amazing red coloured wild brown trout. The red pigmentation is unique for this gene pool . If you painted a picture of one accurately folks would think you insane. Here the fishing was again a test of stealth but somehow the Sport was a little easier. Visits to the Bradford for your blogger were only made as a privileged guest and nicely added to the variety which is supposed to be the spice of life.It was also as an occasional and very privileged guest, of the owner, that the delights of the Haddon Estate’s four miles of the Derbyshire Derwent were sampled. These delights are different from those of the Wye and her tributaries, in that wading is the order of the day here. The banks of the Derwent are steep and high, typical of a spate river that is mainly rain-fed, so it is on with the waders and in you go. Here the wet fly is permitted as well as the dry fly, which makes it a much desired water by anglers who like to practise the submerged and semi-submerged disciplines in the art of fly fishing. There is something to suit everyone. Access to these waters was exclusively available only to members of a club, which leased the waters from the Estate. The quality of the fishing here meant that membership was keenly sought no matter the cost or the several years in Limbo with your name on the lengthy list of other anglers’ names all waiting for dead men’s shoes. If your name came up you had to be ready with a hefty, non-returnable, joining fee plus your subscription money for your first year.
True to the famous quote from Heraclitus, an Ancient Greek philosopher, “Change is the only constant in life”, things have changed and changed for the better as far as we ordinary anglers are concerned.
The Haddon Estate has brought its four miles or so of the Derbyshire Derwent back in-hand. These are now added to the eight miles of the Derbyshire Wye, two miles plus of the Lathkill and all of the river Bradford under the gentle management of the fisheries department of the Estate. In recent years, as well as fantastic fishing, thanks to its husbandry policy of habitat creation, restoration, and preservation, it has also meant more and easier access for anglers to the Estate’s excellent fishing via membership of the Peacock Fly Fishing Club based at the Peacock Hotel in Rowsley. Now, with the addition of the Derwent fishing, the club is further enhanced with the Rowsley Fly Fishing section. Subscriptions for the various memberships available are very competitive and there is no joining fee! Waters, which when your faithful blogger started fly fishing were exclusively available to the wealthy and well connected, are now available to all of us to enjoy simply by joining this new club. You can get all the details, if you fancy a rod here, by contacting the Peacock at Rowsley. www.thepeacockatrowsley.com or call 01629 733518.
|The "Junction Pool" - Coming in from the left is the Derbyshire Wye to join the Derwent near Rowsley|
The Record Book in the Lounge at the Peacock the "Finest Fishing Hut that Ever There Was!"
Yes it’s an Amazing New World Order, but one thing hasn’t changed...
You can still buy a day ticket from the Peacock Hotel and fish the Derbyshire Wye!