Fishing Stories

I’m forever hooked on the gentle art of fly fishing

Nick Birkinshaw, managing director of environmental consultancy Ecus Ltd on his love for fly fishing

Nick Birkinshaw: I am fascinated by using artificial flies to catch fish.


From catching sticklebacks as a child to landing the odd trout weighing into double figures as an adult, it’s safe to say I have been a fishing fan for most of my life.

Indeed, I’m often asked how I became an environmental consultant and the quick answer is I’ve had a lifelong interest in nature, wildlife and the environment and I love business so combining the two in a career was an obvious route for me.

I was born in Crofton, West Yorkshire, and from an early age I could be found digging up worms or catching sticklebacks in the lake at Thornes Park in Wakefield.

This interest in anything that wriggled or flapped was galvanised when my Grandpa bought me a fishing rod when I was seven.

After a few stormy fruitless days at Sharlston Dam in West Yorkshire I tried my luck at Coppers Lake in Crofton and bagged my first ever fish – a whopping 2oz roach. That was it, I was ‘hooked’.

I quickly became obsessed with anything to do with fishing and soon decided to take up fly fishing for trout while on holiday near Cirencester in the Cotswolds. After a number of hours thrashing the lake to foam, the fishery manager took pity and gave me some lessons in the gentle art of fly casting and, as an added bonus, he stocked the lake with hundreds of hungry rainbow trout straight in front of me.

I’ve never caught so many fish so quickly and probably never will again but I was a regular customer to that fishery for many years afterwards.

As a youngster I was, and still am, fascinated by using artificial flies to catch fish – this method imitates natural insects using feathers, fluff and thread.

Today presenting the ‘fly’ to a rising trout on one of Yorkshire’s many spectacular and famous rivers is my idea of heaven.

I spend most of my trips on the River Ure in Wensleydale particularly around Leyburn and Aysgarth a superb river for grayling with fish over the magic 2lb mark if you’re lucky.

When you’re stood in the river you can often seem almost invisible to some animals and I’ve been lucky enough to share the water with otters, fishing osprey, lamprey, water voles, crayfish and salmon.

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