Trout stream shows promise

April 6, 2018 at 7:23 pm

A few days of warm dry weather, saw the flood level dropping on my syndicate trout stream this week, but with heavy showers forecast to follow, it was now or never and I loaded up the van for my first visit to the Hampshire river today.

Just two weeks ago I stood at this spot and watched a snow blizzard blowing horizontally across the river. Spring is creeping into gear, but two days of temperatures in the low doubles is not going to make much difference.

The river was still carrying surplus water, but the gravel was clean under my waders as I worked my way upstream to a favourite pool, watching the line for tell tale movement, as my gold head Hares Ear bounced along the bottom back toward me. This pool and the one above have given me some early season sport in the past, but today nothing was happening.

More swirling water, the expected Grannom flies swarming just above the surface absent, as I cast the gold head nymph to all the likely and not so like spots on the river. Looking down the gravel was clean, washed by regular flood water this winter. A good sign for fly life hatches later on.

Once again no sign of a take, but it was good therapy just standing in the flow pushing the fly line out with my 7 foot No 3 weight rod, against a gusting downstream wind.

Further down I met three of the syndicate’s bailiffs, trying to catch up on cancelled work parties, cutting out trees to form more flow deflectors to be put in place later in the year, when the levels drop back further. Talk was of more fish to be stocked and weed to be sourced to provide a better habitat.

It is early days yet, spring may be late with no sign of fly life, but nature has a habit of making up for lost time. Another two weeks could see a trout rising at every corner. As anglers we live in hope of better days.

A true wild brown trout taken on an early season visit a few years ago, when this little river was full of surprises.

Trout stream work party blizzard

March 19, 2018 at 9:57 am

When the early March work party was cancelled on my syndicate trout stream, due to the Beast from the East snowstorms, another was booked for the  middle of the month. In that time snow turned to rain threatening the work party with flooding, but the river levels were subsiding again and work on another flow deflector was planned for this weekend. Then the Beast from the East 2 was forecast to sweep across southern England during Friday night with travel warnings in place.

Rising early, there was no sign of snow, the forecasters had got it wrong again. Checking my email, Facebook and phone texts, there were no cancellations, so with tools loaded, set off on the fifteen mile drive to the river, arriving to find myself alone in the car park. Sipping a cup of tea from my flask, I was aware of wisps of snow fluttering down on a freshening wind. I would wait another five minutes, then return home. The crunch of tyres on gravel was welcome, as bailiff Kevin’s 4 wheel drive pulled alongside. A sick list of flu victims, meant that it would be just the two of us, not enough labour for the intended task, but weather permitting, we could tidy the upstream bank for the start of the fly fishing season in two weeks time.

Fly fishing in two weeks time! As if it had been waiting for us to step through the gate, a full on blizzard blasted horizontally across the river in defiance of our intentions. The best antidote to the cold is hard work and we made our way upstream, cutting back old and new growth, folding saplings down into the water to create summer cover.

Madness, or what? At the weir on the upper boundary of the fishery, we called it a day, the snow had beaten us into submission. It was settling and who knew what the road conditions would be on the eastward drive home?

Back at the farm, green had already turned to white, transforming the landscape. Walking to the cars, the open exhaust of a motorbike broke the silence, standing still as the farmer’s son, grinning from ear to ear, gunned his machine over the farm bridge toward the wooded hill beyond. We thought that we were bonkers?

Big Freeze opportunities

March 2, 2018 at 9:23 pm

With the UK grinding to a halt, as the Beast from the East swept snow across the North Sea from Siberia, storm Emma rushing north, picking up rain over the Bay of Biscay, collided with the freezing east winds over southern England. The stage was set for unprecedented snowstorms, that continue to halt road, rail and air travel. With most schools closed, Government advice in many areas has been to stay at home.

Unwilling to attempt the uphill road out of the housing estate, we left our car on the driveway and walked to the supermarket for more provisions yesterday, pausing only to feed the ducks that were keeping an area free of ice on the local pond. The first day of spring the weatherman said. Yeah!

The return trip saw the start of a snow storm that continued into the night unabated, to greet us this morning, deep, crisp and even. No walkies today. With a stock of logs from the wood pile, I was ready for a day in front of the fire watching TV, when an email message pinged through. The work party planned for tomorrow on my syndicate trout river was now postponed for a couple of weeks. I had already discounted the event. Ten miles of twisting English lanes in this weather? Not a chance.

On a day like this it is hard to believe that the trout fishing season is less than a month away. That message was a prompt to at least check out my river fly fishing kit, which had been hung up in the workshop and ignored since the season ended.

My last few sessions had seen me struggle with a reel that was reluctant to turn, forgetting to look at it until the next outing. Bringing the fishing bag out of the cold into the warmth of my study, the reel was soon stripped and the cause found. It had been dropped on the fixed outer rim, resulting in a dent that had pushed through to the spool rim, restricting rotation. Back in the workshop, with a screwdriver placed in the slot and reel body rested on the vice, a few taps on the screwdriver pushed the dent back out. Back in the warm it took minutes to reassemble and prove the success of my repair. A free running reel with a sweet sounding ratchet is a fly fishing must.

While in the mood, the fly line was stripped from the reel and run through a tissue soaked in line cleaner, until the dark deposits ran clear. Ten minutes later the line felt supple to the touch. Another last minute job done well before time.

With no other distractions, the fishing bag was tipped out. I’d had a flybox open while fishing and tried to retrieve the flies from my bag on the bank, obviously not too successfully, as klinkhammers and sedges of various sizes now revealed themselves among the lining. Returning these dry flies to their appropriate box, I realised that I had too many, being unable to resist the many offers in flyfishing catologues.

Opening up the box of nymphs, again the same story, too many, although I only had a couple of my own tying of Black Devil.

My most successful early season fly, probably because I have confidence in it, this nymph has just enough weight to bounce along the bottom, where I think that it represents a caddis, although it is a buzzer pattern. Another visit to the cold workshop, saw a quick return complete with fly tying materials and vice. After ten minutes preparation, I was ready to start on the first Black Devil, having four new recreations with the varnish drying by lunch time.

After lunch and more logs on the fire, my enthusiasm had waned. Those deer hair emergers would have to wait. The snow was still falling steadily and I had TV to watch.

Trout stream work party gets results

February 4, 2018 at 5:49 pm

The second work party of the year on my syndicate trout stream dawned with steady rain and  I expected a text saying that it had been cancelled, but no message meant that a few hardy souls would be turning out to continue the work started a month before. Then we had cleared the banks through a copse, due to the farmer placing an electrified fence along the pasture side of the river, which made it impossible to fish.

I arrived to find empty cars in the farmyard and the sound of a distant chainsaw. It was lashing down with rain, but in for a penny, in for a pound, I set off downstream in search of company. As usual it was the same old faces that had turned out, the chainsaw being used to supply sturdy poles to build a berm that would speed up the flow.

Others were busy pounding stakes deep into the riverbed to support the lateral poles, which were then to be wired in place.

Having the title of chief firestarter, I was given a sack with a few sheets of paper, to get a fire going. On previous work parties, I had been given a box of matches with only one match, but today with no letup in the rain, they had taken pity on me and included a full box. Searching out a some dead twigs I broke them down to form a small pyramid above the paper, which was getting soaked by the second, but the gods were with me and after a few false starts the twigs began to burn. As branches were felled, a steady supply of fuel for the fire arrived, keeping two of us busy for the morning. Hot work in more ways than one.

The new berm raised the water level above it by about a foot, while creating a fast run below that would keep the gravel free from silt.

On the opposite bank, branches were trodden in, then wired down above the berm, where the main flow follows the bend, to act as a silt trap.

With eight weeks to go before the start of the trout fishing season, more river improvement work is planned, hopefully on warmer, drier days.

 

 

 

Manningford Trout Fishery winter rainbows

January 18, 2018 at 1:51 pm

A dusting of over night snow was thawing, as my friend Peter and I arrived at Manningford Trout Fishery this week. Tucked away in a quiet part of Wiltshire close to the village of Pewsey with its statue of Alfred the Great and Anglo Saxon heritage, it is better to stop and ask a local of the fishery’s whereabouts, than rely on your Sat Nav. Fed by the upper reaches of the famous Hampshire Avon, there are two lakes, Squires stocked with table size rainbows and Manor with larger fish, where we intended to fish.

Tackling up in the carpark, we sheltered in the lee of the boot lid as freezing gusts blasted across the lake, 5 C temperature reduced to 2 by the wind chill factor, the day chosen as the best of a bad bunch of forecasts. Having caught well on unweighted white lures in similar conditions at Latimer Fishery before Christmas, we opted for these to start, a home tied white chenille with a white marabou wing for me and a White Fritz with a hint of green for Peter.

Walking round to cast across the wind at the first platform, Peter was into a fish first cast before I had gathered up my tackle and I watched him land a deep clean rainbow of about 2 lb. Slotting in twenty yards further round, a rapid take took me by surprise on my first cast. Looking back at Peter he was into another fish, which he lost. A slow retrieve brought a solid take and I struck into a very good rainbow that broke the surface, before steaming off down the lake into the wind. A tumbling fight followed, seeing the deep fish briefly again close to before the line went slack. It had come off. My line was festooned with weed and called to Peter that I was moving round to find deeper water. Keeper? No deeper! The wind was snatching my words away.

Opposite an island there was some relief, trees behind diluting some of the gusts, while the main force of the wind was carrying from left to right, ideal for a right handed fly caster. Pushing the lure close to the island, a dead slow retrieve brought a response of some sort most casts, a steady straightening of the line being met by solid resistance at last and I was in once more, this time a smaller rainbow fighting hard to the net. This 2 lb 6 oz rainbow was a credit to the on site fish farm, with a thick shoulder and full tail.

Peter now had his second fish after several false alarms and now moved up twenty yards downwind, also experiencing short takes. I was into another nice rainbow, bringing it near to the bank I could see the lure in the tip of its nose. Close to the net it tumbled and the hook came out. This was the start of a frustrating half hour, with three more lost at the net. Peter had landed number three and was walking back to the clubhouse, when I hooked another which broke the surface. He gave a cheer. It came off again! There was definitely a hook there. I stopped fishing and washed down a sandwich with cups of hot calming tea.

Having weighed in his fish, Peter returned to the bank to assist two novice fly fishers, who had asked for advice earlier. One was a fly fishing virgin, what a day to learn to cast! They both managed a fish apiece before we left.

A pair of anglers walked by on their way back to the clubhouse, they each had a good fish in their bag, the best being 5 lb 8 oz, the other 3 lb 8 oz. They had been fishing Blue Flash Damsel lures stripped back fast. This can be hard work and I preferred a lighter lure with a slow retrieve, which worked for me, all I needed was to be able to get them in the net. The line tightened again and I struck hard, pulling the fish to the surface. I was not going to lose this one, letting the rod take the full force of the runs, not relaxing until the rainbow was in the net. This very silver fish weighed in at 2 lb 8 oz.

With Peter busy on his tuition duties, I walked down to the River Avon running behind the lake for a look. On my last visit to Manningford the banks had been overgrown, but now overhead trees have been trimmed and the right hand bank cleared.

This is also available as a catch and release beat, holding wild brown trout and grayling, while in season an additional stock of browns will be introduced.

This was a deep run, ideal for big grayling and trout alike. Well worth a visit later in the year with my 7 ft 3 weight rod.

Returning home, the trout were cleaned ready for the freezer, but the sight of rich red flesh put one of the rainbows on the menu for the following day.

Latimer Park Fishery winter rainbows delite

November 29, 2017 at 5:48 pm

The last few days of November were suffering a chill Arctic blast, when my friend Peter rang to invite me to fish as his guest at Buckinghamshire’s Latimer Park Fishery this week. He had just returned from a successful three hour fly fishing session, landing four and dropping another three rainbows, before retreating back to the comfort of the clubhouse and the woodburner. I had been waiting for this call all year and Peter had left it a bit late to remember his old pal, but who was I to complain, when an opportunity to fish this exclusive fishery was on offer gratis.

Word of Peter’s success must have spread, as the banks were lined with hopeful club members, when we arrived, the single figure temperatures no deterrent to this hardy bunch. Blowing from the Northwest, the wind was perfect for a right handed cast, running down the length of the Capability Brown inspired lake, left to right, overlooked by Latimer Place.

Peter produced a well chewed unweighted white lure from his box, “This is what you want”. No problem, I had one that I had made many years ago, white chenille wound round a long shank hook, with a bunch of white marabou for a trailing wing must be one of the easiest to make, yet most successful fry imitators going.

Punching a line out toward the middle, where the deeper water of the dammed river Chess lies, I waited for the lure to sink close to the bottom, before starting a very slow figure of eight retrieve, watching the line set into a gentle curve with the wind drift. To my right on a jetty, Peter was into a fish first cast, only to lose it seconds later. Further down, close to the dam, one of the boat anglers had hooked into a big fish, which was taking him all over the lake. Every time I looked up, he seemed to be playing it.

On my third cast, the bow tightened, not a pull, but I struck anyway and felt the solid weight of a nice rainbow, seeing it flash in the bright sunlight. This is a clear shallow lake, where the rainbows run hard and fast, the trick being to give line, keeping the trout below the surface, yet applying enough pressure to stop them boiling and throwing the hook. This one fought well, helped by a full tail; hooked in the tongue, it had taken with confidence.

Ten minutes later the line tightened again and I was playing number two, a similar size 2 lb rainbow, this time hooked firmly in the scissors.

The white marabou lure only needed a quick run back and forth through the shallows each time to clean off any blood and it was ready to catch again. It is nothing fancy, but effective, black chenille and black marabou an easy to create alternative.

Off the jetty Peter was getting regular takes from the deeper water, but failing to make contact with most, having only one rainbow for his efforts. The wind was now picking up, sweeping waves along the lake and requiring extra effort to cast the line out toward the middle, while hands wet with handling fish and line were now beginning to numb with the cold. A firm pull saw my rod arc over again, almost in unison with Peter, who had also set his hook, both fish running back to the centre of the lake.

Smaller than the first two, this rainbow was soon netted and returned, Peter already netting his third fish before I could make another cast. With three fish each, Peter opted for the comfort of hot tea in the club house, leaving me to catch the seventh and last fish on our guest permit, suggesting that I tried the jetty, as there were a lot of fish out in front of him.

Taking him up on the offer, my first cast saw the line streak out, striking into thin air. Stabbing takes were the order of the day here. Usually ignoring these, while continuing the slow retrieve, will result in a build up to a firm take, but not today. I missed several quick pulls, before a cast straight back in after a miss, saw the lure taken on the drop, the rainbow pulling the rod top down hard and I was playing number four, which began head shaking, a sign of a lightly hooked fish. As the rainbow rolled close to the bank, I could see the lure in the tip of its lower lip, but the hook held to the net, only to drop out once the pressure was off.

I could have taken this rainbow, but chose to release it to grow, two fish would give me enough work to do on my return home. The sun was bright, but ineffective against the increasing wind, two busy hours had staved off the cold, but now it was time to join the others in the club house.

 

Trout stream under pressure

July 14, 2017 at 9:36 pm

Six weeks have passed since my last visit to the syndicate trout stream near my home, hot drought conditions and weak river flows, due to arable farmers extracting their full quotas from the head waters, have kept me away, but heavy rains early in the week raised my expectations.

Many of the syndicate members join only to take advantage of the excellent mayfly hatches on this little river and I too would have been happy to make this season’s memories last until next year, but with my wife keen to get me from under her feet, while she sorted out bric a brac for an upcoming car boot sale, a couple of hours fly fishing was the easiest option.

The full flush of spring was long gone, as I trudged across a field of freshly mown hay, stopping at a favourite pool, where the Himalayan Balsam was now over six feet tall, crowding out the opposite bank. Floods in recent years have worn away the gravel tail of this once deep holding area, but it is always worth a few casts, often bringing a few surprises in the shape of a big chub, or trout.

I started out with an unweighted Hares Ear nymph, standing on the shallow gravels casting up and across along the bank, but the nymph was untouched as it drifted at the pace of the current, only when it sped up toward the shallows did it attract attention, short tugs and swirls each time causing me to strike into thin air. Stripping back the last few feet answered my curiosity, not a small trout, but a six inch perch had clamped onto the nymph, dropping off as I swung it in. Bumps and swirls continued each time, until the shoal of stripeys got bored and swum back to the pool.

Further up on the bend, there was a rise close to the bank, then another. Small black flies were hatching and drifting down, being casually sipped down, or attacked by minnows. The smallest fly I had in my box was a size 18 sedge, which I struggled to tie on, realising late in the operation, that there was varnish in the tiny eye. Greasing the leader, my first cast brought a swirl to the loop on the tippet, while the sedge sat up proud, but ignored. A longer second cast brought an immediate boil and a small dace tumbling across the surface, again to drop off in front of me. The other fish was still there and I made several false casts to dry the sedge, watching it sink into the surface film before it too was engulfed by a fish. A rapid side strike brought better resistance, that rolling fight being another dace of about 3 oz, which again released itself from the barbless hook. On a slow day anything is worth catching.

I moved back up above the road bridge to another old favourite pool, where I felt confident that the sedge would bring success, the low level allowing me to wade deep into the pool to present the fly into the flow, where it crosses to the right hand bank. Trout lie up under the bushes waiting for their food pass over their noses. Not today though. I considered putting on a big bushy Humpy in the hope of shocking a trout to rise, but decided to push on upstream.

Looking down from the bank into the pool I had just been fishing, my wader crunched on a bright plastic container. Picking up the box, I turned it over to see what it contained. Heavy duty swivels and shot. A poacher’s tool kit.

This answered a few questions. Close to the road, with no regular bailiffing it is too easy for gorge lines to be set to catch whatever takes the bait. It doesn’t take long to empty a river this small.

This discovery took the wind out of my sails. What is the point of fishing an artificial fly, when you are up against the sort of mentality, that want fish for the pot at any cost to the local environment. There are enough natural predators in the river, pike, mink and herons without the human kind.

Trout rise to last of the Mayfly

June 6, 2017 at 11:28 am

A day spent cutting back hedges in the garden, bagging up the off cuts and a couple of trips to the recycling centre, had just about worn me out. Relaxing in the sun with a well earned cup of tea, my wife commented that she was surprised, that I did not want to go fly fishing, as it was going be a lovely evening. I had been sitting there considering the most diplomatic way to broach the subject, when the words had fluttered from her lips like poetry. Realising I was on a winner, I shrugged my shoulders saying that the mayfly would be finished by now and the chances of a trout would be low, but I could go after dinner if she didn’t mind. It was true, the mayfly would be over, but it was still worth a visit.

Arriving after 7 pm the sun was still warm, the air still and a variety of flies were lifting off, even a few mayfly were about, flying low across the river. The only thing missing was the sight and sound of rising trout as I walked downstream, casting my mayfly into runs that held fish last week. The trout were still there, ignoring my artificial, making a mental note for my return upstream.

I tied on a GR Hares Ear nymph with the leader greased to the last 18 inches and began to work my way back. One observed fish sat on a corner out of the flow and the nymph induced it to move out for an inspection, but no more. Working my way back upstream, the sinking sun began to blind me, blocking out my sight of the leader on the surface. It was time to go. Nothing was rising. The trout were full of mayfly and were no longer interested. I should have stayed at home.

Close to the road bridge a fish rose under trees. Greasing up the nymph to float, I tried casting up to the rise, but caught the fly in a branch on the back cast. Pulling it free, the 4 lb tippet broke. Mayfly were now lifting off in numbers and I tied on a Mayfly to the new tippet. Giving up on this fish, I walked up to another in open water. A messy cast put the fish down.  Ten yards on another splashy rise was covered. Success a fish, but a small one.

This wild brown was a welcome sight, but not what I had hoped for. At least I had caught a trout. Reaching the van, I decided to walk to the bridge for a look upstream, the sun was now below the trees, but the light was good and mayfly were still filling the air.

A fish rose below the bend, then again as I watched. I climbed the stile into the field, then got into the river. It was still rising, lying in a deep run between shallows and I moved as slowly as possible to get in range. There was no wind and my first cast was ignored, despite what I considered to be a perfect cast. Another rise and I cast further up. Wop, it took. All hell let loose as the trout flapped on the surface, before dashing round the corner beneath a tree. Grabbing my landing net I followed it, putting on pressure to drag it out into the open. This was a good fish, that I did not want to lose, letting it run down the channel past me, netting it on the return.

I was tempted to continue upstream, but I was now satisfied with my good fortune. The mayfly had switched on for me for the last time this year and I had been there to take advantage of the feeding frenzy. Duffers fortnight had lasted five weeks this year.

Mayfly keep trout interested

May 29, 2017 at 5:38 pm

A week had passed since my last visit to the syndicate trout stream, once again only having the time for a couple of hours on the fishery. The rains had been light in previous days, reflected by the clear chalk stream running at normal pace and a mayfly alighting on my hand as I pulled on my waders, mean’t that the trout would still be ready to rise to the artificial.

From the road bridge I walked up toward the first pool seeing that the mayfly were passing by unmolested and thought that maybe the fun was over for another year, the trout having grown fat on these winged beauties, were finally sick of them. A ripple coming from beneath a bush said otherwise, getting down into the river and worked my way up into a position that gave clearance for a back cast. Trying a few casts into open water to get the distance, I waited for another rise, a mayfly being gently sucked beneath the surface suggesting a small fish, possibly a chub. Another rise confirmed it was lying close to the bank protected by an overhanging branch and third cast the Mayfly dropped into the pocket above it. Drifting next to the branch, the fly disappeared in a casual swirl, that exploded as the hook took hold. The 2 lb cartwheeling trout took me by surprise, far stronger than I expected, it raced deep into the pool taking line, then turned back to the shallows, skimming from side to side, before diving back into the depths. One second it was in my net, then it was out again leaving only stones from the riverbed. Following it into the pool allowed me to finally get the net under a fat trout.

What a lump. There has been a steady hatch of mayfly this month and this stockie has taken full advantage of the extra protein. The artificial was sodden, but still in good shape despite the struggle and a wash in the river, followed by rub in with floatant soon had it ready for action.

Short on time, I decided to trek across the fields to reach a spot, where last week, four fish had been feeding on a deep bend, only to find another syndicate member in the river complaining of a lost fish. After swapping fishing stories, I continued upstream toward another favourite pool, but stopped short, when a fish rose close to the bank ahead of me. Retracing my steps, I slid down into the river again, keeping my eye on the rises. With a high bank and an overhanging tree, it was not an easy cast, but closing the gap allowed an angled cast that put the fly in the perfect spot for an interception. Plop! The fish took and I was soon playing a smaller, but equally plump brownie, that was promptly netted.

Released without the need for recovery it swam off, leaving me unable to climb back out, due to the steep bankside. Wading round the bend another fish rose in a riffle, then stood on it’s tail to chase an escaping mayfly. Once again shielded by trees, this was another difficult cast, but within a few yards of the rough water, several flick casts were needed to put the fly above the feeding trout. Darting from cover it hooked itself, lifting the rod bringing the 12 oz wildie tumbling back toward me and to my feet. The big red spots of its flanks flashed as the brownie spun round and came off. A picture would have been nice, but maybe next time. At this point I was able to climb out of the river again, just managing to crawl under the electrified fence without a buzz. The farmer does not make it easy for us fishermen.

From a hundred yards away, I saw a rise at the mouth of a wooded pool and walked up the left bank before getting back into the river. In that time the fish had not risen again, but waded up to be as close as possible. This a hard fished pool and decided to make long casts into the area. As the fly drifted back a fish nosed and sank it. A couple of false casts dried it and a shorter drop put it on the top of the rise. A swirl and a miss. Dace? Next cast a lightning strike answered my question and a small dace launched skyward, then dropped off.

The larger fish rose again in the left hand corner as I rubbed in more floatant, then a noisy boil. A long cast dropped at the base of the left hand tree, the deep water creating little flow and drift of the fly. Splosh! I was in again, the trout running deep into the pool, before turning to run down the deep channel on my left, fighting below me for a second, then powering back up. About a pound, the game was soon up for this trout and with its head out of the water, the net was waiting.

The fly was well down inside the jaws of this deep sided brown trout, the forceps pushing the barbless hook free.

Three fish landed and one lost in under two hours was good enough for me and I headed back. By next week the mayfly hatch will be over for another year and each trout will hard earned from then on.

Trout between the showers part 3

May 23, 2017 at 7:03 pm

Working in the garden between downpours had earned me a two hour fishing pass from my wife and I headed off toward the syndicate trout stream, hoping to find the mayfly in full hatch mode. Strewn around my kitchen were various fishing jackets drying over chairs, retrieved from the washing line too late to save them from another soaking. An old moth eaten gardening jacket had been pressed into service, pockets filled with a few essential accessories, along with the all important box of mayflies, before setting off, but whether it was still shower proof was soon to be tested.

Crossing the river in the van, the road was still running with water, but once parked up the worst of the shower was past. The sun was out and somewhere there would be a radiant rainbow, but with chest waders to wriggle into my mind was on the mayfly. Joining the river at the bridge, the jacket was doing an acceptable job of warding off the rain and I made my way upstream under the trees to where a feeder stream comes in, seeing that it was carrying at least 6 inches more flow, the gravel run on the main river, now a speeding glide. No mayfly were visible and and certainly no fish rising.

Carrying on upstream, gulls were sweeping low over the river at what I guessed were mayfly awakened by the sunshine, but the trout were not taking. With no time to waste, I pushed on until rounding a bend the tell tale ring of a rising fish was spreading across the surface. Here mayfly were landing and taking off, being harassed by at least two trout, getting down into the river well below to wade up toward them. The wind was sweeping in gusts across the river making long casts difficult, the only option was to keep low and cast a short line. Yesterday’s successful Bodied Mayfly was routinely ignored, while the real thing were slurped down with abandon. My next choice was also snubbed, and plumbed for a traditional Winged Mayfly.

The trout at the head of the pool broached a couple of times as if determined not to let any mayfly pass to the fish below. It was a broad fish and I edged closer to present the fly, the wind controlling the last foot of descent. Close to the bank it took, leaping clear when it felt the hook, then rushing upstream to the bend. Without giving line, I let the rod take the strain, walking five yards down to where I had left my landing net in the reeds, the trout swimming straight out again at my first attempt, regaining strength for another run.

This 16 inch stockie full of high protein mayfly needed no reviving, swimming off upstream the moment it was released. The fly was a bit bedraggled after the fight, but squeezing floatant grease into the wings and body, followed by a few false casts, had it ready for action again. There were now rises further up round the bend and I waded up spooking the other trout, that bow-waved into the upper pool. The fly dropped to the surface, drifted a foot, then disappeared with a wallop as it was engulfed by another good trout, that powered away round the bend. Keeping the rod high, I waded after the trout, leaving the landing net again, my hands too full to carry it. The line went solid and I rounded the bend to find the fly lodged in a clump of reeds. To get the fly back meant wading through the middle of the pool, so that was the end of that little pocket of feeding trout.

Time was now marching on, I’d been rewarded with some fish, but now it was time to go and I headed back to the van, stopping at the feeder stream to see a trout rising mid river in what would normally be an couple of inches of water over the gravel. Wading out to it, I kept the line tight again due to overhead trees. He was missing many of the mayfly probably due to the shallow water reducing it’s cone of vision, but for me it took after half a dozen offers for the take and I was soon playing a very silver wild brown trout.

The colouring of this trout is unique as far I am concerned, the pound fish an added bonus on such a brief visit.