Floods and stormy weather had kept me away from my syndicate trout river at a time when it should have been at it’s best, but after a few warm days, I was ready to brave the Friday evening rush hour traffic in the hope of a few hours fishing the mayfly.
Since my last visit the bankside vegetation was now in full bloom and mayfly were lifting off in droves, although very few fish were rising to them. I stood and watched a pair of black-headed gulls swooping down to the surface picking off the protein rich insects, a sight that I’ve not witnessed before. In the distance a cuckoo was calling.
Tying on a parachute hackled bodied mayfly, which I liberally greased with floatant, I went in search of rising fish, that were accessible to my casts. This part of the fishery does not enjoy the benefit of working parties and every impenetrable section of bank seemed to have a large trout swiping with abandon at the mayfly among the overhanging branches.
I’d walked half a mile downstream before I had half a chance of a cast, where a fish was rising up inside a tunnel of trees, dashing around taking multiple flies, as they drifted down to toward it’s holt. Picking my way along the high bank, I was eventually in casting range, extending my landing net in anticipation, while I waited for another burst of action.
Splosh! The action began again as more mayfly climbed out into the surface film, to be gobbled down before they could stretch their wings. Aided by an upstream wind, I measured my false casts to the side of the fish, then aimed for the centre of the commotion. The fly was slashed beneath the surface, the trout’s tail flicking to carry it to the next victim. The strike saw an eruption of the surface, followed by head shaking rolls as it scorched off down stream, taking line and bending my little seven foot rod to the limit. Having lost my previous three fish from the river this season in these opening seconds, I was relieved when the brownie turned and dived deep, setting the hook firmly in the jaw, being only a matter of time before it would be beaten. I was in no rush, the landing net just reaching as I drew the trout over it.
Already fat from feasting on nature’s short lived mayfly bounty, this 18 inch fish was soon returned in my landing net facing upstream, swimming out after a ten minute wait to recover it’s strength.
As I continued downstream, I could hear more crashing takes among the trees and pushed my way through to the bank to see another trout attacking the mayfly as they drifted from under a branch. Gradually extending my casts, my fly was constantly ignored, the trout taking the genuine article only inches away each time. Taking a chance, I pushed the fly to the base of the branch, it settled, then was engulfed in a swirl, that exploded when the hook found bone. Not giving the trout time to dive to safety of it’s lair, I dragged it back on the surface, causing it to tail walk, before crash diving into the open water. Once again my 4 weight rod bent double taking the shocks, as another big brownie sought out sanctuary among the out the roots, firm pressure bringing it back to the surface and the net.
This trout measured 19 inches and fought like a demon despite despite obvious damage caused by a heron. Once released after recovering in my net, it headed back upstream to sulk beneath the safety of the overhang.
I continued down to the end of the beat, watching other trout mopping up their free harvest of mayfly, but unable to cast a line, waders and definitely a pole saw would have helped, but it was good to see fish rising in a river that appeared barren a few cold weeks ago.