15 May – Ladymead Mayfly

The weather was disappointing for mid-May. Grey, damp and with a strong south-westerly wind. I went to the top beats as they hadn’t been fished for a week. The fish would be relaxed. The big pool at Ladymead looked great but there was a lot of debris from the trees floating down the main current. I favoured a nymph, a dry fly would be hard for the trout to see amongst the leaves and seeds. There was nothing in the run under the near bank but my first cast to the top of the sand bank provoked a response. A good fish charged across the sand and took the fly. It fought hard for a few seconds and then threw the hook. The disturbance ruined the pool but as I turned to leave another fish jumped. I would return later.


I walked down to the Shallow Pool, there’s always a fish there. I started at the top of the pool and covered the deep run under my bank. Nothing. I flicked the fly near to the far bank and let it drift down and across. The Black Nymph was weighted and was probably dragging the bottom. On the second cast a big bow wave built up behind the fly and as I lifted into the fish there was a satisfying thump on the rod. It was a wild fish about 1lb and in pristine condition. The prettiest trout I have caught from the Rother.


I tried the pools further down the beat but despite the large numbers of Mayfly that were hatching, I couldn’t find another fish. Time to return to Ladymead. I thought my first cast to the head of the pool would produce a response but there was nothing. I walked back to the Land Rover and drove to Keeper’s Bridge to take a few photos. I saw a couple of newly stocked trout splashing about.

I saw a fly hatch from midstream and settle on a nettle leaf. It was a very small specimen and I wondered if it might be an Olive. It had three tails and was therefore a male Mayfly. It posed for photos, sheltering against the wind in a curled up leaf. It gradually climbed out of the leaf and flew away. A chaffinch ate it.


Alder flies were crawling everywhere. I found one on the bridge rail. It was easy prey for a passing bird. There were no swallows along the river, very strange.


I left the river and drove to Great Springs for a walk around the lakes and a cup of tea. There were thousands of male Mayfly spinners, rising and falling in columns around the fishing hut. There were columns of spinners along the banks and under the trees. I caught several in a net and then found one hiding under a daisy. The trout were queueing up downwind of the oak bench. Spinners were falling on the grass and into the water.


I will return to the river on Thursday. Hopefully the weather will improve and encourage the trout to rise.