7 May – Luffs

Saturday, warm and humid with a gentle breeze. Not the best day of the week to go fishing but I ignored the hoards of pensioner Lycramaniacs cluttering up the roads and drove south to the privacy of the Estate where the trout were waiting. The Rother valley landscape looked spectacular, the clouds billowed up over the South Downs and threatened rain.

Pezon et Michell, 1939

I had two vintage split cane rods with me and I decided to use the Pezon et Michel, the Bob Southwell stayed on the bench as substitute. My fascination with the lightly restored French rod centered around the time it was made. The rod was built at Amboise in late summer 1939 just before France declared war on Germany following the invasion of Poland. What on earth were the French thinking about ?

Hackle mayfly

Luffs is a mystery, the fish are spooky and despite the rich flora and fauna, the trout are unpredictable and feed sporadically. I sat on the grass in the corner of the lake and flicked a mayfly at a cruising fish which promptly disappeared. I repeated the process with a selection of my best imitations, all of which were rejected. The fish moved away and of course, I followed. I should have waited. The fish returned, downwind, to a corner of the lake where the surface film trapped thousands of flies among the dust and tree debris.

I dropped the quill and badger hackle mayfly pattern infront of a trout which bow-waved towards the fly and grabbed it confidently. Trout 1 was soon released from the landing net. Trout 2 took the same pattern but was much bigger and surged up the lake towing most of my fly line. Trout 3 also liked the imitation. Most of the long, one-sided battle was fought far off in deep water and I expected a 6lb-er. It was foul hooked in the dorsal fin and slid into the net sideways.

Ephemera danica, male spinner resting

I stopped for tea and sat watching the mayfly spinners. When the breeze strengthened they dropped to the ground and rested, fluttering back into the air when the wind eased. I stretched out on the mown grass and looked up, the male and female spinners were pairing.

Male and female spinners pairing

I found a lot of male spinners in the short grass but no females. Presumably they had returned to the water to deposit their eggs leaving the smaller males to expire.

Resting or dead ?