Looking for affordable back-end sport? Andrew Flitcroft recommends the challenging Chollerton beat on the North Tyne.
THE DARK SEDUCTRESS of English border country, beautiful, mysterious and dangerous to cross. I’ve fished the North Tyne a number of times, enough to witness her unpredictable moods, but there is something about her that lures me back. We would meet again last October at Chollerton, a short beat between the better-known Chesters and Chipchase fisheries. Chollerton may not attract the same attention as its neighbours – its rods catch fewer fish – but if you want to experience classic Tyne sport at the back-end the chances are you will be able to get on it.
So, if you pay your £90 for a September or October day, what should you expect? First, you’ll need to find it. This 1½-mile left-bank beat is secluded, which is why unfamiliar rods are met at St Giles’ Church in the hamlet of Chollerton. Chances are you’ll be greeted by Malcolm Johnson or Johnny Griffiths, who gillie when needed. They’ll take you to an impressive new hut and pop the kettle on the wood burner while you do what you do when seeing a beat for the first time. The hut’s balcony stands high above the body of Mains pool with its heavily wooded backdrop. If you don’t see a fish move in front of you, look right towards the run into the pool and your wishes are almost guaranteed to come true at this time of year.
On this occasion Johnny would guide me around the beat, while Malcolm took James under his wing. A retired workshop manager for the Royal Mail, Johnny started gillieing at Chollerton seven years ago. He pressed a fly into the palm of my hand. “Don’t mention it in the article,” he said. Now I’m normally a man of my word, but since I’ve heard its name mentioned in the T&S Fishing Reports and since there is a framed example, with dressing, hanging on the wall of the hut, I don’t think the Simply Red is a secret any more. Johnny tied it for a well-known singer who once fished the beat. He caught a salmon on it and the rest is history. As the name suggests, it’s red (nearly all of it), a colour favoured by many Tyne regulars, though you could argue it’s not the simplest pattern to tie. It’s quite big, tied on a size 8 or 10 silver Esmond Drury treble.
I set up my 13½- footer with a floater, a brown tip and a Red Welder tube, my current favourite style of fly – keeping the Simply Red as a banker. The river is fairly wide at Chollerton, but much of the streamy water is easily reachable with a short rod. Brown Maxima is perfect for the Tyne’s dark, treacle-coloured water and is strong, easy to knot and reliable. Tyne salmon can be big and with so many rocks, why risk anything else?
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