Rain streaked windows, spelled out no fishing for me on my only available day this week, but the good old English weather relented once again and I found myself on the banks of my syndicate river by late afternoon, hoping for a last chance at Mayfly gorged trout.
Always an optimist, I tied on a Shadow Mayfly and went in search of rises, but the surface was undisturbed by any sign of fly, or fish, as I made my way downstream and paused at the tail of a deep pool. I thought it was worth a chuck and pushed down through the now tall undergrowth to the edge of the bank, from where I was able to parachute down the big fly. It had barely settled on the surface, when from below, a shape appeared and the Mayfly was gone in the boil of a take, as a fat wild brown dived back to the riverbed. Now the fun started, the trout running in all directions, only for me to realize, that I’d not extended my net, with the fish crashing around unseen, somewhere below the bank. On the third attempt, I steered the beaten fish to where I thought my net should be and lifted to feel the weight of a successful netting.
This 13 inch brownie was quickly returned and I moved down to the the next pool, where I’d seen the first rise of the afternoon, a crease between flows holding a fish. The downstream wind blew the fly back a couple of times, but third time lucky again, there was enough slack for a decent drift and it was taken, just as it began to drag, by another battling wildie.
Slightly smaller at over 12 inches, this well marked brown swam off on release and with two fish in ten minutes, I tied on a fresh Mayfly and in the absence of more rises, began searching out along the edges, while I waded up to another pool.
The fly swept by a bush and sank beneath a ripple. On automatic, I made a sideward strike and felt the solid resistance of a good fish, seeing it’s full tail, as it bored deep into the pocket beneath the bush, refusing to budge, then bursting out and speeding off down the shallows, with me in hot pursuit, landing net in hand. An overwintered stockie, it took refuge in a hollow, where I netted it from behind.
At 17 inches with a massive tail, this fish had worked hard for his freedom and it settled back to the slower pace of the hollow to recover, while I decided to take the short drive down river to fish the big S bend, where I’d had success earlier on this season. Wading back upstream to get out of the river, I couldn’t resist casting to another rise with the sodden Shadow Mayfly. Rubbing in Muccilin , the fly sat in the surface, rather than on it, but it was afloat long enough to take this 11 inch wild trout. Four individual trout, from four locations in under an hour, not bad for an old ‘un.
Resisting further temptation from more rising trout, I drove in my waders down to park at the road bridge. From here it is a 500 yard obstacle course through tussock grass to the S bend, where the stinging nettles were now at chest height along the bank.
Recovering my breath, I could see mayflies popping up to the surface everywhere, drifting down in the flow and lifting off, but no surface activity, bulges and bow waves indicating that the trout preferred taking the mayfly nymphs just below the surface. The wind was swirling about the pool, but now and then it would drop enough for a cast and I got in position at the tail to wait my turn. From that angle, the glare from the surface, even with polaroids, didn’t allow for a visual warning of trout and I kicked myself a couple of times for missing the unmissable. Having put these fish down, I waded deeper into the pool and could see large trout casually nosing into mayflies and managed to briefly hook and lose one, then miss another, before my timing was perfect and I set the hook into a water foaming stockie. Long runs gave way to short bursts of power and I eventually slipped the net under another 17 inch beast.
My need to catch fish was satisfied for another day and this one was returned, while others continued to rise despite my efforts to put them down. By the time I reached the van, I’d been on the water for under two hours, time enough to get my weekly fix, while the unfortunates toiled.