Mayfly fishing between the showers

May 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Being a member of a syndicate on a small Hampshire river, my fishing days are Thursday, to Saturday and reports of larger trout now falling to the Mayfly, had me itching to get to the river on my opening day. However, heavy overnight rain and thunderstorms during the day made me doubtful, that the river would be fishable, when I finally ventured out in the early evening, encouraged by a break in the clouds.

Driving over the river, a look upstream confirmed my worst fears, it was the colour of Cadbury’s and up at least six inches. Hopeless. Parking up, I decided to walk back to the bridge and peered over. Downstream the air was filled with criss-crossing mayfly, having run the gauntlet and survived at least half a dozen trout dining on their brethren in the soup below. Back to the van in quick time, I was soon pulling on waders and grabbing my tackle, ready to cash in on this surprise bonanza, climbing the fence, before wading through wet, chest high cow parsley to reach the bank.

Last season’s No 1 artificial for me last year was the Shadow Mayfly, which was my choice today, it’s delicate palmer style body floating high on the surface. Float it did and ignored it was, trout rising all around it, but none taking. Try something different. The opposite in the box, a long bodied Mayfly Spinner, was cast among the feeding frenzy in front of me and equally ignored. Spoilt for choice, the trout seemed preoccupied with the mayfly still within the surface tension of the river, before they climbed out of their shucks to inflate their wings. Snipping the body in half, I cast back in to an instant take, an 8 oz brown tumbling beneath the surface, before being lifted clear of the high bank. At this point I realised that in my haste to fish, I’d left the camera in the van, so fish returned, I walked back to retrieve it. The pitter patter of rain, turned to torrential before getting back to my rod, sheltering against a tree trunk, while waiting for the storm to pass.

Five minutes later the worst was over, but so was the hatch and I headed off downstream through long grass to an S bend, where the river opens out to a large pool, seeing on my approach steady rises across the shallows at the tail. Swallows were swooping across the meadow and a white barn owl silently patrolled the hedgrows, as I worked my way round in a wide loop to keep out of sight of the trout. On such a wet evening, my chest waders allowed me to push through the fresh growth of nettles without a soaking, although waves of light showers were rapidly dampening my top half.

Despite constant false casting, my clipped spinner sank each time, so another was tied on and cut short, to disappear in a boil, the second it touched the surface. I’d not recovered from the cast and missed the take. It could have been a dace, there are plenty here. More casts, another boil and a silver fish was on, a V shaped bow wave spilling over into the run below. A hint of gold and a solid rod bending fight, revealed a chunky brown, that was soon planing against the current to my net.

The rain came on again in earnest, but the trout were still hitting the mayflies as they drifted down, and with fresh shortened Mayfly Spinner tied on, another trout had fallen to the artificial.

I’d never experienced catching trout on dry flies during a rainstorm, let alone with added hail, as in the above picture, but it was happening and not putting off the fish, or the flies. With cold, wet, hands the soaked fly was removed, a new spinner clipped down, then tied on to be cast up and across to deeper water, where a better trout was showing. This was in the area where I’d missed the first take, this time it smashing into the fly with a wallop that was unmissable. What a difference another six ounces makes to a fish, this time it was a two way fight, with no guarantee, who would win, as it dived back into the depths of the pool, before surfacing, then dropping down into the fast water below me, where I allowed it to take line, until it stopped. Reeling the trout back upstream, as it bucked and dived is a pleasure, that has often resulted in a lost fish, but this time the size 10 hook held on.

My last fish of the evening, again another very fat, silver, brown trout, that fought all the way to the net. The rain was falling steadily and the light was waning, as I struggled through the waist high greenery back to the van. You don’t have to be mad to do this, but it helps!