The early evening was hot and sultry and the river low and clear. There were still plenty of mayflies hatching, but strangely the trout were ignoring them. Further up I noticed Blue-winged Olives and the trout were already onto them. I had a little pattern in the box in a size 18, tied with a turkey biot body and blue dun hackle, and with the finest tippet I could muster, up it went.
A heavy trout snatched it without hesitation, and after an angry tussle eventually came thrashing into the net. A beautifully coloured fish of ample proportions. But it was impatient for its freedom, and after a quick and rather difficult record shot, away it went. Plenty of damsels everywhere, and kingfishers, and a few more small trout too. A lovely session.
I got exasperated (again) by trout after trout coming short to all of my mayfly patterns until eventually suspecting that they were chasing and taking lots of the rising nymphs under, on or near the surface, as well as occasional newly hatched duns floating down. A rough representation was tied and next day… instant success, Floating the scruffy dressing in the surface film produced aggressive takes. The more it was taken the more mangled it became, and the more they seemed to like it!
Here is a cracking grayling bug and one that fishes well in coloured water, exactly the conditions yesterday during the grayling workshop. It is based on a traditional grayling dry fly the Sturdy’s Fancy and was one of Reg Righyni’s favourite flies. I switched this to a nymph added a tungsten bead to get it down to the fish and it works very well, ask Elliot next time you see him!
Hook: 12-16 barbless
Tag: Bright red wool
Body: Dark hares fur
Rib: Gold wire
Wing: One turn of CDC Hackle (any colour, but here it is a yellow/olive)
I’ve managed to get out a few times over the last couple of weeks to make the most of the mayfly hatch when it finally got going. One of the most striking observations of the river is how the conditions are in stark contrast to last year; the flows are continually strong and high and weed growth very prolific. The river looks in fantastic condition but never seemed to loose some slight colour.
Because of the conditions, sight fishing with a nymph has been nigh on impossible when no rising fish were encountered, so it has just been a case of covering greater distances in order to find the odd rising fish and 90% have been taken on the dry. My favourite pattern is an Oliver Edwards ‘Mohican Mayfly’ which I use almost exclusively unless a fish is being particularly fussy. During a couple of evening sessions with Dave R we have come across steadily rising fish that have completely ignored mayfly and olive patterns despite there being plenty of fly on the water. In these cases it has been necessary to go down to a size 18 or even 20 CDC emerger in order to get a take.
Hatches seem to be picking up now with various olives including yellow may duns and some good hatches of sedge have also been seen. Overall I think the season so far has been quite challenging due to less rising fish but I did manage to land my first 2lb’er last week and my last session produced 5 fish with 4 over a pound including 1 stockie (along with several more lost fish) but I had to walk a few miles to find them!
In the coming months we hopefully won’t have a repeat of last year’s floods and it will be nice to see the river settle and fine down a little.
I’ve fished a bit over the weekend, and having seen some odd flurries of mayfly down on the lower water on Saturday, I went back there again today. The wind was challenging to say the least, but by late morning the mayfly were just starting to come off in ones and twos. After a quick lunch at the Wise Man, I returned to find the hatch well and truly on, and finally the better trout were on to them and showing themselves. It’s been a long time! I wouldn’t call it spectacular, and the hatch was very localised – some short stretches with dozens streaming off, and then round the corner nothing. Fish came pretty regularly up until about 5.30pm but the best time was around 3 o’clock. Nothing to break the record books, but it was pleasing to bring a number of good wild fish to hand and actually outnumbering the stock fish. The best went over 16 inches. It seemed like I had the whole of the Lower Water to myself today, so I hope that others were similarly enjoying themselves in more sheltered surroundings.
For those that tie their own flies, I have to recommend Davie McPhail’s videos on Youtube. These are my attempts at the Emerger Mayfly and Detached Body Mayfly – they are not exactly like his, but they work really well, and were rarely refused today. Of course the fish aren’t so fussy at the start of mayfly, so it remains to be seen if they are still working in a fortnight. Don’t be put off by the detached body, they are pretty easy to do, and I use a bit of foam from “The Range” in Dorchester which is just cut to shape and segmented in the McPhail style on a pin.
I have to say that the river looks an absolute picture at the moment, and our keeper John and his team have really been excelling themselves to get the Lower Water and elsewhere looking so good – thanks John! Of some concern was the fact that I caught two fish ( one stock fish, one wild ) with cormorant marks on them – the picture of one shows the telltale beak mark across the back. Perhaps now that there should be more fishermen out and about, these devils might reduce their activities.
Now, we just need the weather to behave itself for a while, or is that just asking too much?
Whilst standing on the bridge trying to decide which colour of polaroid lenses would be best for the light conditions I was entertained by a treecreeper working its way up the trunk of a nearby tree. I decided to pay a bit more attention than usual to the water immediately above the bridge and after about half an hour managed to tempt a decent 36 cm grayling from a corner pool on a single peacock quill nymph.
( Peacock quill nymph dressing: A very small black or gunmetal tungsten bead head followed by a slightly larger gold head bead on a size 16 klinkhammer hook, Tail – grizzle cock hackle fibres, body – peacock eye stripped quill then varnished, thorax – peacock herl green, thorax cover – bronze mallard flank) Various combinations of bead sizes and materials can be used to produce a range of sink rates.
I then spent an hour moving upstream without further fish so I changed to a pink hot spot shrimp (tungsten bead hotspot) plus a small grey UV ice dub nymph on a short dropper. I felt a brief contact with a fish having changed my tactics so I moved on to fish through a nice streamy run between the Metal Bridge and Dairy Pool and missed one good take before hooking and returning a lively and pretty wild brown which must have been 20cm in length.
The pink hot shot shrimp did the business.
As I was walking back to the bottom of the run for a quick snack John A and Elliott appeared in the trusty landrover to check on my progress. Amongst a variety of subjects we talked about were a couple of salmon kelts that I had seen, one very slim, alert and in good condition, whilst a second one looked very ragged having lost many scales and was much more lethargic in its movement. Strange how two fish of similar size travelling to similar parts of the river for the same purpose can suffer different fortunes which can mean the difference between life and death.
Once John and Elliott had departed I fished through the run again and for a second time missed a postive take from a very good grayling which I saw swim off downstream. My mood was soon lightened as I continued fishing when I hooked and landed a 39cm grayling which fought hard all the way to the net. A quick
photograph and measure against the scale on my rod then back into the water to swim away strongly after a short recovery period.
I continued upstream and had my third grayling 32cm, from a pool below Deadmans before moving up to fish a run below Crab Orchard where I had two sprod grayling and a fiesty brown trout of about 33cm. The Shrimp pattern was the most successful acounting for two good grayling plus two brown trout whilst the nymph dropper only interested the smaller fish which I guess were lying higher in the water column. The shrimp photo is of the actual fly used.
On my return journey back to the car the combination of cloud, patches of blue sky and a setting sun produced some really magical light which is hard to capture with a camera but I hope the photos give some idea of what it was like.
Just back from a weeks holiday fishing the San River, Poland – fishing was hard going, but enjoyed every minute..
My fellow guest Keith Wallington is a brilliant fly tier and it was a joy to watch him tie his realistic spider pattern. He also showed me a mayfly pattern that he tinkering with and it ticked all my boxes – lands gently on the water, buoyant and remarkably robust! I will be tying a few of these for next seasons mayfly hatch… Full instructions please visit his blog Keith Wallington.
This fly has worked well so far this season, even when the grannom are hatching fish will take it. The tuft of Snowshoe Rabbit Foot really help this little fly stand out on the riffley runs…
Hook: Size 16 barbless
Body: Hares Ear
Tail: Optional – hare guard fur
Rib: Fine gold wire
Wing: Snowshoe rabbit fur (natural or olive)
This is as good as CDC but a lot more durable
Just got back – terrible homeward journey this evening.
Yesterday afternoon, I got a half-pounder on a hackled Red Quill (my own dressing – see below). Saw John Aplin by the river. He recommended a small sedge, twitching it now and then, as described in his recent blog article. I tried it and got a swirling rise from a good fish almost straight away, but when I tightened there was nothing there. I had to stop shortly afterwards in order to drive to Piddletrenthide, where I was staying, and get something to eat (and drink!).
Saw two members by the river yesterday. They’d fished the same stretch that morning, but saw no rises and caught nothing. At one point, I heard what I thought was probably a pike or very large trout slashing at a smaller fish in the margins. Whatever it was, it was definitely a fish, and it certainly wasn’t taking a fly!
Today was slightly better, although I ended up blank. When I arrived there were a few olives around. I didn’t bother to check, but assumed they were probably spinners left over from the previous evening. By 1030, though, there was precious little sign of fly life apart from the odd crane fly in the bankside vegetation. During the next couple of hours, I managed to find and cover three rising fish. The first showed no interest in anything at all. Same with the last one. I spent some time on the middle fish, though, resting him every now and then to make sure I hadn’t put him down. He ignored my Red Quill, but rose (short) to a size 14 Little Red Sedge. I tried him with a Hare’s Ear Nymph, but he wasn’t interested. An interesting couple of days. The river looked absolutely lovely in the September sunshine, and I didn’t really mind the slightly awkward cross breeze.
The Red Quill dressing is one I discovered nearly 40 years ago on the Derbyshire Wye, when it was the only pattern to succeed in September with the wild Rainbows on the stretch near Bakewell. Since then, it’s proved reliable at the back end of the season, particularly when the fish are rising short to other olive patterns. It’s meant to imitate an olive spinner.:-
Tying silk: orange (but not Hot Orange – it should turn a sort of mahogany colour when waxed and wettened)
Body: Undyed peacock quill from an eye feather
Hackle and whisks: Dark red or even dyed maroon cock.
Looking forward to next season.
Due to a torn knee cartilage I haven’t fished since April, but today the lure of the hatching mayfly was too much…
I knew I wouldn’t be able to venture far with this dodgy knee, so I selected a spot that had easy access. I was greeted by a wonderful sight of flowering ranunculus and a few rising fish.
With such amazing weed growth I needed a fly that would stay afloat down the narrow runs and one I could bounce off the bank into the tight holes. I selected an old favourite, French Partridge, with a nice genetic hackle along the body to make sure it floated like a cork.
This was soon taken by a willing trout, only about 8 inches long, but a perfect Frome wild brown trout. I fished all along this stretch picking trout out from tiny pockets and impossible runs, my best landed was a stunning 15inch brown and of course I lost a monster – don’t we all?
I drove up to the Upper Water and found Adrian on Withy Bed corner trying to tempt one of the many rising fish – mayfly season is truly in full swing….
Don’t forget the spinner fall in the evening, this is when the big fish come out to feed!