22 May – Mayfly

Fishing on Friday was a non-starter, gale force winds bent the trees into an alarming angle and it would have been impossible to get a line in the water. I don’t normally fish at weekends but the Mayfly were hatching in clouds and the weather was perfect. I collected the landing net that I’d left at Keepers Bridge weeks earlier, confident I would need it to safely land an angry rainbow or two.

The lakes looked immaculate and the cloudscape completed a perfect picture. The marginal rushes were waist high and a slight breeze ruffled the surface making it easier for the Mayfly to escape the surface tension. Mayfly were blown across the lake by the westerly breeze, Olives hatched occasionally and Alder flies were everywhere. The sky above Great Springs was filled with swallows and wagtails. A swift wooshed past me as I sat on the bench. With a click of its beak it plucked a newly emerged Mayfly from the sky. The Mayfly’s life span had been about ten seconds.

Trout were swirling on the surface all over the lake, not splashy rises for adult flies but sub-surface turns and flashes that indicated a feast of ascending nymphs. I started with a Mayfly Nymph but it sunk too quickly and was ignored. I swapped to an emerger and that got some attention but was rejected. The fly was too big and the tippet too visible. I chose a size 12 Partridge hackled nymph which hung sub-surface concealing the tippet. It was soon grabbed and the initial run of the fish nearly emptied my reel. The fish battled long and hard and was in fin perfect condition. It weighed about 3lbs and I released it from the landing net without handling it.

The sun broke through the clouds and the Mayfly stated to hatch from the margins infront of me, the fish were feeding within a couple of rod lengths. I knelt behind the rushes on the soggy grass and flicked the nymph out but the Trout had switched to adult flies. The simple olive green Mayfly, that I had designed last year for the river, was eagerly taken by a cruising Trout which was the twin of my first fish. I was using a 5lb tippet and bent the rod into a circle but it was a long time before the bar of silver slid into the landing net.

A third fish was not so energetic and had probably been caught and released earlier. I have a self imposed limit of four fish which I rarely exceed. After four fish I feel that I have had a good day and that more would be greedy. Besides, I get tired after a couple of hours. My attention wandered as I looked for photo opportunities and although I hooked a couple of fish they soon wriggled free of the barbless hook.

A brief shower was not enough to drive me to the shelter of the hut. I sat on the bench in the rain watching the flies hatching and the birds whizzing about. I found some Mayfly spinners in the marginal weeds and watched as a Mayfly broke free from its shuck and fluttered into the sky.

I could have stayed longer but it had been a perfect afternoon and the Mayfly would still be hatching next week. The weather during May had been wet and windy, not so nice for the two Bank Holidays but ideal for fishing. The water temperature had stayed low and the fish had not suffered, the prospects looked good.