Wild trout respond to the Mayfly on the urban river

June 4, 2021 at 7:46 pm

My first evening visit to an urban trout stream paid off this week with a hectic hour of action, until heavy rain forced me to take shelter, before finally giving up. I had left home in bright sunshine, but the sky was black on the horizon. I had not heeded the forecast of isolated showers, keen to get to the river while Mayfly were still flying, trouble was that it isolated over me!

Walking over the bridge at 7 pm, I could see Mayfly in the air and trout rising upstream. My rod was already set up with a small White Mayfly and made my way past the bus stop to begin fishing from the green. I had just needle knotted on a new 11 ft weight forward leader and was keen to see how it performed. Casting up to a rise, I was impressed to watch the leader punch out, then gracefully float down to the surface. Second cast a fish rose and a small trout was on, but then buried in the weed. Easing the pressure, but keeping up the tension, saw the trout swim out of the other side and the battle commence, until beaten it drifted into my landing net.

Due to the barbless hook, this 8 inch wild brown was quickly returned unharmed to swim off strongly against the flow, although the artificial Mayfly had not survived the head shaking fight and required replacing. Fortunately I had a duplicate and was soon ready to fish again, but the hatch was over, with just the occasional fly floating down.

Suddenly the river was alive with rises again, as another flurry of Mayfly began lifting off, skidding across the surface. Smaller fish were launching themselves out of the water as they chased their prey. On the far side, a larger trout was smacking at the flies, sometimes clearing the surface, its golden flanks flashing as it turned. Protected by an overhanging bush, it remained close to the edge ignoring my imitation each time it drifted by.

Measuring out another couple of feet of line, I managed to bounce the fly off the bank and watched with anticipation as it drifted under the bush. Plop! The fly was gone and the line tightening as I lifted the rod. It boiled on the surface and I stripped line to pull it from the roots. My 7 ft rod took the strain as I rewound the spare line onto the reel, only for a sudden run to strip line off it again, back to the far bank. I could see that this was a good fish for this small river and had my landing net ready, when it dived toward a bank of weed close to my side, but thankfully side strain pulled it round and after a run downstream it was on its side and in the net.

I am afraid that too much adrenaline had caused camera shake and this was the best one that I took, but it is still a pretty fish, these wild trout fat with their Mayfly bonanza.

By the time that I had tied on a small yellow Mayfly, it was spitting with rain, but the trout were still rising and after a couple of missed fish, I moved down to where I heard a better trout rising just upstream of an overhanging horse chestnut tree. It was only rising occasionally and waited for it to come up between the far side and a long raft of weed. Making rapid casts to avoid line drag and the tree, the yellow fly was like a beacon, drifting a yard then being extracted at the last second. The fly was becoming waterlogged by the rain and I blobbed drying powder over it, making false casts, before watching the fly float down, travel a foot and disappear. Wham! I was in again as it ran straight down under the tree, forcing me to keep the rod flat as it fought unseen, the rod bucking and bending. This was not as big as the last and was soon playing it on the reel, bringing it out from cover on the surface to the net.

The light had gone, but the rain was now beating down and after releasing my last captive, I headed for cover and the comfort of my car, then home.

My evening had been saved by a speedy delivery from Barbless Flies, www.barbless-flies.co.uk, a friendly Yorkshire company with the personal touch, that supplied my new leader and fly floatant powder.