Although I've been about this business now for more years
than most people want to remember - though I don't wish to
forget a single moment of them - it is still a source of
amazement to me that two days on the river can be so completely
This was certainly the case between last week when I was here
Today was a lovely warm morning when, filled with anticipation
and excitement at the prospect of dealing with 'Mayfly hunting
trout,' I arrived on the river at about 10 o'clock.
I should have known better.
For that brief moment, that singularity in time, buoyed with
expectancy, I had forgotten all that life had taught me to expect
of fly fishing.
A lovely first of June it might be, but there were no Mayfly
hatching and not a sign of a fish moving anywhere on the river.
With no wind to speak of the river surface was glass like in
countenance. The only disturbance being caused by the odd Water
Hawthorn blooms breaking through the surface and being moved
lazily to and fro by the current. Last week, with its miserable,
grey and damp start, there were Mayfly hatching, and the Trout
Filled with a wild, almost desterate, hope that things would
improve fairly rapidly, I tackled up and perused the river from
a point just up-stream of the Copper beech. The warm air was
heavy with the scent of new cut grass where the banks had been
mown, making it a pleasant spot to sit and contemplate things.
From this vantage point I was able to observe the river up-stream
as far as the flow meter, and could hear any activity in the
carrier or down-stream of the beech. Nothing.
A movement up-stream caught my attention but it turned out to
be a Dabchick (Little Grebe) diving. It so often is. Over the
years I suspect many a fly has been cast unwittingly to the last
known position of a Dabchick.
After about half an hour I moved down-stream below the beech
and opposite the fishing hut to where one can usually rely upon
seeing some movement if only from grayling. And there were one
or two little tiny grayling close in to the bank making a splash
out of all proportion to their size, but there was still no sign
of fly activity of any sort.
At twenty to twelve there was a sudden burst of rises, all from
grayling, across the width of the river. At first it was difficult
to see what was causing the movement because no flies were
immediately in evidence on the surface or taking to the air.
After a while I saw that there were one or two Mayflies making
it to the surface and away. The grayling appeared to be intercepting
the fly just before it hatched. Pleased though I was to see that
things were on the move, I was disappointed that there were so few
flies about, and that I could see no Trout anywhere. By half past
twelve even this little hatch had stopped and the river once more
resumed its somnabulent air.
The only thing to disturb its tranquility was a running dispute
over territorial rights between a pair of Canada geese and a
Just before lunch I moved over to the garden wall, Micawber
like in the hope 'that something will turn up.'
About mid afternoon there were one or two Mayflies hatching, but
it could in no way be described as a 'hatch'. There were also one
or two fish rising steadily. One fairly large trout half way out
in the river was feeding quite clearly on the Mayfly. I put on
a Grey Wulff and cast to it.
Time after time this fish either ignored my fly or, worse still,
actually pushed it around the surface with its nose!! There were
even occasions when it moved several feet to one side to do this.
I changed my pattern but to no avail. Why is it that when one finds
a feeding fish it isn't feeding on what one has to offer it?
At about this time my wife arrived for a fleeting visit to give a
little much needed moral support. Clearly her influence extends
beyond that of mere mortals because in her presence this fish that
had been playing for so long decided to actually take my fly. She
landed it at just over two and a half pounds.
As there were no other trout willing to take her on we spent
a pleasant hour before she left, watching a pair of Tufted ducks
flying up and down the river for no apparent reason, and a very
young brood of Mallard ducklings dashing back and forth across
the river for the very good reason of trying to catch the hatching
flies before they took to the wing.
Later in the evening a friend of mine arrived at my invitation
to try his hand at Mayfly fishing.
Although I felt that there was little activity in this area, he
avowed that there was far more than he had witnessed before in
his fishing experience. Having made himself aware of the beats,
he promptly brought a 3 lbs 14 oz trout to the net from under,
of all places, the Chestnut trees.
As the evening wore on there was a heavy fall of Mayfly spinners
which the fish went mad over. This was a fine spectacle but it
made it hard for the caster of an artificial fly. It was nye on
impossible to persuade them to take the artificial. I did manage
to make momentary contact with a couple just above the island point
before I finally managed to bring one to the net only to find I had
caught a superb specimen of a Roach of about a pound. It was a
pleasure to be able to release back into the water such a beautiful
fish. It was of interest that it took a large Grey Wulff.
With the light fading the fly activity declined and the fish stopped
feeding; it was time to go home. ~ Mike Pratt