When to fish
In normal conditions both the Esk and Liddle are fast flowing. The upper Esk is a series of fast streamy runs, glides and slow pools. A single handed rod is adequate for fishing in this area and wading in the rocky streams is not too difficult.
Below Langolm many of the banks are wooded with indigenous hardwoods and conifers growing down too or overhanging the river. These tree lined sections can make casting a fly interesting and the ability to roll or spey cast off either shoulder is essential to effectively cover the lies in the fast streams and pools.
Wading is generally good but care should be taken when fishing the pools as many are very deep with rock shelves, and an ill-considered step can lead to an early bath. Anglers are strongly advised wear an inflatable wading jacket and to use a wading stick at all times.
A 10-foot #7 single-handed rod, and floating line with a series of sink tips or a full intermediate line is adequate for sea trout fishing. Recommended flies for sea trout fishing are the Black Pennel, Grouse and Claret, Mallard and Claret, Peter Ross, Teal Blue and Silver and the local flies Whaup and Yellow, Langholm Silver, Thompsons Terror and the Border Belle.
Given the right river levels sea trout of 4 to 7lb can be present on the opening day of the season on 1st April. Runs gradually increase during the summer months and normally peak in August through early September. Average weight of sea trout is 1.5 to 2.5lb with a few larger specimens up to 10lb.
A 14- or 15-foot double-handed rod with a floating line and a series of sink tips should cover most situations for salmon fishing. Recommended salmon fly patterns are Blue Charm, Munro's Killer, Willie Gunn, Cascade, Allys Shrimp, GP, Garry Dog, Silver Stoat and the local fly the Brown Turkey.
The size of fly depends on water height, water clarity and time of year. In normal heights in the summer, size 8-10 low water doubles should suffice. In the autumn size 6 low water doubles or 0.75- to 1.25-inch plastic or aluminium tubes could be a better option.
In common with all the rivers that run into the Solway Firth fish enter the Esk in the early part of the season and small numbers are caught, no doubt due to low angling pressure, on the English section of the river. Given good river levels runs of salmon/grilse begin to increase from late May/early June through July. Both the Esk and Liddle can produce fish in the high teens and larger 20lb plus fish are taken in September and October most seasons.
Although spinning and bait fishing is allowed, beats on the middle and upper river prefer rods to fish the fly. Some beats do allow spinning on a falling spate, or when the river is carrying colour.
Irvine house boat pool.