Chilling on the Itchen

I knew I had saved the best to last, the last day of my week off to fish the mayfly, after the previous  few days of chill temperatures mixed with occasional warmth and Wednesdays rain which died of over Thursday. I fished the Itchen, the legendary water  which I may have fished many years ago and always thought no chance to fish again. Then I remember the free stretch that runs through the town of Winchester. But this days fishing was by invitation. The mayflies had started to hatch on this river a few days before. The hatch isn’t the same on all rivers, it occurs at different times on different rivers so the chasing the hatch can go on for weeks.  The weather promised me that it wasn’t sure what to do but by lunch time it had warmed up nicely, perfect in fact.

Anyway, the mayflies hadn’t quite got going when I arrived. I managed to pick a couple of fish up on the roadkill wulff then switched to the Andelle. Not magic at first but slowly built up over a few hours. My friend admitted that he had hated the fly at first but it had become his best mayfly pattern. I was able to have some fun walking the river and picking of the fish several over 2lb. It was very visual which made it all the more fun. The end of the day I was somewhat tired but happy.



Duns not the target!

I managed to get out again this past Sunday, another day on River Avon by invitation this time. Each year I get an invite to fish on another stretch of this lovely river that doesn’t belong to my club. Separated by a simple bridge, with one small section shared by both clubs, the only difference is the numbers that fish. Anyway, the fishing was still difficult with fish seemingly going for the duns although I was suspecting they were going for the emergers and later in the day, the spinners. The river was still some what cloudy, not due to silt but a phosphate bloom caused by the heavy use of fertilizers on the surrounding farm land.


The mayfly hatch (E.Dancia) was about the same as the previous week until about 4-4.30 when it became much heavier, shortly followed by the spinners….lots of them. At the end of the day I looked across a field and there were thousands.

CIMG2500I only managed one grayling of about 3/4lb and a smallish Brown Trout until the last cast of the day when I took a nice Brown (grown on stocky). I decided to keep this fish has it took my Road Kill Wulff deep, it would also help provide the answer to the mystery of why they were so difficult.The answer was in the stomach contents, which was somewhat sparse but did so what the fish were eating. I was proved partly right. The contents were mostly very mature nymphs with a couple of spinners. It was noticed that the nymphs had prominent black wing buds indicating their maturity. It is likely that these were what the other fish were taking as most of the rises were similar to emerger forms. Indeed, I had a lot of interest (read interest), in emerger patterns but there was still something missing possibly that the nymphs were the target ant the emergers. I have a feeling that the unusual slight chill in the wind may have also been having an effect on the trouts feeding.


Its been a long time but I escaped!

I know it feels like I haven’t posted for some time but I’ve been kind of busy with work and stuff. I finally can now gladly say that the neglect is at an end…

I have new tying ideas to try and I have been fishing (finally!). I have a couple of days arranged with a friend this month but I managed to get away last night to a club stretch of the Avon and found I can get there in just over an hour. With the added bonus that I may have found I can fish a river even closer.

When I arrived at the I found that it had indeed suffered alot because of the floods late last year and during the winter but it seems to be settling down and with time will repair it self. The section of river in the picture has water at the top of the bank, when I fished there last year the water was a foot below the current level. The river is still slightly murky and running the fastest I’ve seen it in a long while.

CIMG2485With winter and its coldness somewhat lingering this year everything in nature seems somewhat delayed and the Mayfly hatch is no exception. It normally starts around the 20th May but it is only now getting going and the fish aren’t very keyed onto these large tasty morsels. It wasn’t until late in the evening that the trout woke up and started taking the mayfly better than when I first got to the river just after 5pm. The actual numbers of fly hatching appeared to be better than last year. The low sunlight in the photograph seems to show up the mayflies well enough to give an idea of numbers.

CIMG2491I missed several fish along with some ignored drifts of the fly but did get one on the roadkill wulff. I did try a number of flies which I have mentioned before but these produced very little interest. I did get some fairly good interest using a new upside fly which I tied to try and beat the weed. I thought that there would be some weed that was the result of weed cutting but there wasn’t that much. However, weed growth seems alot better this year and the flies design certainly seemed to deal well with that.



Mayfly are up!

Its that time of year when my family dread with the appearance of the laburnham (sp) yellow flowers. There is a old tradition which says that the appearance of these signals the start of Mayfly hatch. Thanks to the weird weather this year they are out of sync. But the hot weather of the last week or so as got the bugs active.

After what seems a lengthy lay of due to a number of reasons (finishing my degree, etc) I escaped. Still with my foot recovering I went fishing with my good friend Barry on a private stretch of the river Avon near Durnford, Salisbury.

The recent heavy rain and low temperatures for the time of year had somewhat delayed the Mayfly hatch (E. Dancia) so it is now just kicking off with the fish just getting used to the large flies. Tried a number of favorite flies for this hatch including the Roadkill Wulff. The rise forms did suggest that they may have been taking the spent flies which were around in very small numbers. The other option was that the few fish which were rising late morning was that they taking the emerging flies. I also tried an upside down dun which bought the fish up but these resulted in long range releases.

As is normal when I fish with Barry it was a pub lunch, a chat with the landlord/barman result in a report that the river had only cleared the day before with very few fish (actually, his exact words were nothing)caught. 

After lunch we moved to a different stretch of the river a small way up stream, there were a number of fish rising. I changed the fly to an old French fly, the Anadell (sp), which is basically a soft hackle fly (dressing tomorrow).

I fish this fly as a dry with floatant, I find that when first applied I can shape or mold the wings to fish it as a dry. It seems to be taken as a newly hatched Mayfly due to the coloration, the soft feathers probably help as well. The result was a change in my fortunes with a number of Browns to roughly 2.5lb.

There seems to be some colour variation amongst the browns.

This butter brown coloured fish.

And this small wild, fin perfect fish.

One thing I really like about the mayfly hatch is the accidental catch of large Grayling which I put back (they’re out of season). It must be the decent size of the bugs that brings them up. Roll on the autumn when I can try a heavy nymph for them.