Mayfly fishing bonanza, mostly small stuff

June 10, 2014 at 3:36 pm

With the mayfly hatch in it’s second week on my syndicate water, I was eager to get down to the river for a decent afternoon session, before the trout became sated and turned their noses up at their favourite food.

Getting out of the van and resting my rod against the wing mirror, I was treated to the sight of a mayfly ready to take to the air. A good omen for the next few hours. Continued heavy showers, with some thunder mixed in, had added to the flow and colour of the river, but the sight of trout topping, spurred me on as I walked down through the meadow to begin fishing.

The lush green shoots of late spring were now hemming me in, as I waded upstream casting to rising trout, trying to place the Mayfly imitation with a light touch onto the surface. A boil and a brisk lift of the rod, saw the first of many small wild brownies skittering across the surface, as it battled for freedom.

Mayfly were lifting off ahead of me and I watched the Russian roulette, that is their last day of life, waiting as they sailed majestically downstream, wings upright ready to fly, some making it, while others were gobbled down by preoccupied trout. One such fly sank without trace amid a solid boil, that spread a ring across the river fifteen yards away, a flattened surface indicating deeper water at that point. Wading up a few more yards, I stopped to squeeze some Mucilin grease into the body of my Mayfly, then cast into the fast water above where I’d seen the rise. Three feet of travel and it was gone, this time the trout staying put as the hook was set, before exploding into an upstream run that took five yards of line from my reel. The trout dropped back at speed below me, to begin darting and spinning in the strong current, a lost fish seeming inevitable.  Reeling back the slack line, until tension was felt again, I tried to bring the manic brown upstream to my net, as it searched for an escape, managing to scoop it up, as it made another pass.

This was 14 inches of pure muscle, that was not beaten, even in the net and when unhooked, powered out of my hands back upstream without the need to recover. Further up a rise beneath overhanging bushes, offered a challenge.

Several side casts eventually put the fly under the branches, just inches from the edge and the trout dutifully rose to it with a swirl. Got him! Not the biggest trout in the river, but the satisfaction was in the presentation.

Thirty yards upstream, I could hear a large fish splashing at mayfly from a tight corner protected by an overhanging branch and moved up towards it. Getting into position to cast was not easy, with an overhanging tree behind me and the high stinging nettles on the bank, a roll cast across my front upstream was the only chance of getting the fly to the fish.

This corner had held a very large brown, that I had managed to lose earlier in the year and I had no doubt it was the same one aggressively slashing at every mayfly that came in range. Another fish was rising close to it and my first successful cast was taken by this, my elation at raising the trout vanishing, when I felt the resistance of a younger brother.

Not to decry this one, it fought all over the river, being charged up with a full belly and in perfect condition. All these trout have bred naturally in the gravelly runs, that give our little river character and it is a privilege to be able to fish for them.

The much larger trout continued to feed, ignoring my offerings. I put on my last undrowned bodied mayfly and watched it come up to nose the fly, then sink away with a flick of the tail. A big brown of about two pounds. Another cast saw the fly hit the water too hard and sink. I instintively pulled back to recast and the line went solid with a take. The rod arched over, then flicked back. It was gone and the line was now wrapped in a bird’s nest, tangled round a branch overhead. The fly was retrieved  and another tippet tied on, but that was my last chance at the big one. Maybe later in the year.

Wading further up round the bend, I saw a 12 oz brown clear the water chasing a mayfly, as it lifted off, the golden-green flanks of the brownie heavily dotted with big red spots. Another determined rise behind a clump of weed gave me a ready target, although once again overhead branches claimed my fly, proving that patience is a virtue needed by all fishermen. Ten minutes later I was back in action, having watched several rises from behind the clump. A cast to the side, a rise and fish on. The trout jumped, but it wasn’t the fish on my hook, a bright silver dace had taken and spooked the brown.

I decided that this would be my last fish from the two hundred yards of shallows and pools, losing count of those  hooked and released, eight to ten in the two hour session, which I knew would not be repeated once the mayfly bonanza was over. Walking the half mile back to the van with this in mind, I couldn’t resist the occasional cast, putting two more four ounce trout on my tally for the afternoon. Next week the fun will be over for another year, at least I know where the fish are.