13 May – Unlocked

I was not prepared. I remained in grass cutting mode, a gardening zombie. My mind was locked down. Although the rods and reels were super clean I’d forgotten how to fish. Opening Day II felt strange, the cold North wind was in stark contrast to the May bank holiday heat wave. At 5:00am the air was chilled, the sky was completely void of clouds and vapour trails. The Defender shone in the early morning sun, it had been washed and serviced ready for action.

Last year on 13 May I’d spent the day at the lakes experimenting with Mayfly patterns. This year, although I’d had months to tie new flies, I hadn’t been in the mood and I felt under-gunned. I have hundreds of flies but when I look in the boxes I can never find what I want.

Where to fish? I would let the Mayfly decide. There would be a hatch at the lakes around noon. I might then spend the evening at the river, the top Beat was calling, nobody would have fished that beat for over six months.

I arrived at the lakes at lunchtime and spent too long chatting. The cold North wind swept down Little Springs funneled by the tall trees. The few Mayfly that were hatching tumbled along the surface of the water and as they became airborne, were snatched away.


Southwell III needed christening. I planned to explore the shallows and the edges of the weed beds with a Mayfly nymph. I started between the two Alder trees at the top of the lake but the water was coloured and there were no signs of fish. I sat on the grass beside the first point and flicked a nymph over the Potamogeton natans. The fly line occasionally slipped under a leaf but I was confident that I would get a take and the odd snag was a minor inconvenience.

The rod was more powerful than I had imagined, it had the tell-tale, crisp, steely feel of all Southwell rods and handled the #4 Cortland with ease. I had a tap on the line after thirty minutes working the fly around the weedbed but failed to connect. I was cold and found it difficult to concentrate. An hour later the line slid away and I lifted into a good fish which thrashed on the surface for a few seconds before escaping.


I sat in the Defender, had a toffee and warmed up. After a walk around Great Springs I sat on the bench and worked a weighted nymph alongside the brickwork. I saw a fish rise on my left and dropped the nymph in that direction. A few seconds later I lifted into what felt like a small trout. It burst into life when I put a bit of pressure on. The blue trout swam a figure-of-eight around the swimming ladder, rested while I untangled the line and then dived deep into a weed bed. It was about three pounds but I’ll never know the exact weight.

The wind dropped a bit and the sun came out. I walked around Little Springs and decided not to wait until the evening, I was too tired and cold. The south east corner of the lake was Mayfly soup, the margins were full of nymph shucks, crippled duns and emergers.

It had been a great afternoon. I hadn’t made it to the river but I had christened the rod.