I’d joined the local angling club too late last year to hit mayfly season, or duffers fortnight, so I was desperate to give it a good try this year. Fortunately, Coronavirus restrictions were relaxed just in time to get a couple of visits in.
On my first visit I arrived just after lunch on a baking hot, sunny day. The beat was mostly deep and slow moving with no fish visible and nothing rising. There were odd Mayfly rising but they were not provoking much interest from the trout. I tried some blind prospecting with no luck as I wandered up the beat. At the top section, there was a shallower section with more gravel with three large brownies sitting in the middle of the river. I threw half a dozen different flies at those fish but they were just not interested. As dusk fell, the Mayfly started to hatch off in more substantial numbers and the trout eventually followed. There was a mad hour before it got dark with fish rising all around. I managed to rise a couple but just couldn’t get them to stick.
Over the next few days I did some more research on Mayfly patterns, as I thought the ones I had in my box looked too big and over-dressed. With some new flies to try, I was back down the river a few days later for an evening session.
I arrived just after six to find most of the beats taken. The only one left would mean I was casting from the right bank (better for a left hander) with trees at my back and looking directly into the setting sun. Not ideal but it was a lovely evening and there were already Mayflies hatching and a small number of rises.
I set up with one of my new flies, a size 12 foam headed emerger pattern and worked my way upstream. After 30 minutes of blind prospecting, I noticed a consistent riser just ahead. I crept up close and managed to put my first cast on the money but nothing, I tried again, still nothing. Third cast and the emerger was taken with gusto my what turned out to be a small grayling. There seemed to be a group of them rising here so I continued in that area and managed another grayling.
Two to the net, on Mayflies, was lovely but I was after the brownies so I moved further up the beat. As the sun set, the fish started rising in earnest with some fish clearly taking Mayflies consistently. I aimed my little foam-head at one of these risers and it took the fly instantly. This immediately felt like a better fish and a decent size brownie eventually came to the net.
Unfortunately, I managed to lose the fly in the trees so I decided to try another one I has tied up, the Grey Wulff. Wow, the trout couldn’t get enough of this one, I had another three brownies in quick succession, each one taking the fly as soon as it touched the water.
So, a lovely evening out on the river, my Mayfly virginity taken and some proven patterns to boot.