The anticipation that comes with May – the Mayfly

grayling, river dove, mayfly, fly fishing, angling, fishing, the tree trout

May is upon us.

Well It is now Sunday the 21st of May so the above title I guess should state May has nearly gone. Non the less Its that time of the year when all Fly anglers around the country eagerly wait with anticipation to see the Mayfly begin to hatch. The past few months I have found difficult with mixed weather and extremely low rivers so the thought of the Mayfly most certainly excites myself.

(Note to self: this is where you should of inserted the picture you’ve never taken of the mayfly’s that have landed on you.)

Yesterday was the first day this year that I’ve seen mayfly hatching in small numbers. So it all begins from here and the next few weeks are what I’ve been eagerly waiting for. But before all that I’ll put a quick update of what I’ve been getting up to the past couple of weeks.

The Brook.

I have almost lost sleep over this place the past month, eager for it to come alive. The water level has been extremely low, almost as low as the height of summer last year. And this has made the residents become very wary and very fussy with what they will accept as food. Not to forget the low levels have allowed the silt to feel at home in the slower sections. Although I will note the rain the past couple of days has shifted it and its looking a lot better down there. Jase Coggings has managed a few fish out of there, check out his Instagram for more pics of his recent visits. My past few visits have either resulted in being rained off by torrential down pours which after work I couldn’t cope with. Or just out done by the wary nature of the Brook. Hopefully these downpours of rain will have awoken the fish and some good fishing will be in order in the next couple of weeks.

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Small but perfect

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Jase sneaking up on 3 feeding browns

The Churnett at Alton.

This was my first visit to this particular beat. Myself and Jase had visited the Dove on the morning and dropped onto the Churnett on the afternoon. Parking here is horrendous I must note, after driving to the ramblers retreat we eventually retreated to a lay-by further back downstream. Upon arrival to the river we were met with the Churnett’s very characteristic colour that can appear chocolate brown. The shallower sections are pretty clear where the river runs over a bed of gravel though. This was to be a short session so we flitted between likely spots and only fished the nymph as we saw no rises. The fish came fast and all were taken in the faster deeper water. The browns were stunning examples of wild fish and a return visit will definitely be in order.

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very versatile beat with plenty of variations in water

The Dove – Rocester / Uttoxeter.

I have a massive soft spot for the dove, there’s just something about it. Whether it be the upper Dove or lower Dove I tend to dismiss all other rivers at the moment which I know is a potential flaw in my fishing but its just a stunning place to fish. I’ve visited the Dove frequently as of late whether it been Dovedale/Milldale or down the lower Dove around Uttoxeter way. My most recent visit was quite frustrating but resulted in the most exciting days fishing I’ve had this year.

Dove/Churnett confluence beat.

Arriving early doors with the sun beaming down I quickly made my way to the confluence to check the state of the river after the recent influx of rain. The rivers both seemed in a better state with levels being ever so slightly higher than my previous visit. Working my way up stream I switched between nymphs and dries and gave every opportunity that arose a go. My efforts weren’t rewarded until I reached the section beneath the weir. Czech nymphing a fast stretch with some deep pockets I quickly found a wild brown lurking in the depths which took a liking to my nymphs on offer. Now full of confidence I worked the rest of the water up to the pool beneath the weir where a small Grayling now hung on the line beneath my dropper. I’m now at the end of the beat with very little to show for it. So a change in beats was on the cards and began the trek back to the car.

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Hiding in the fast water

Buzzing over failure.

keeping an eye on the water I spotted a rise in a place I’ve never seen a fish before so sneaked down the bank and got into position. The fish was feeding just at the edge of a gravel run before it dropped into some deeper water. 2 more rises in a short spate of time and this time I caught a glimpse of the culprit and what a cracking fish it was. Casting upstream and out of the riffle I worked out my distance before quickly re-casting into the lane. First cast was met with a boil which was either my fly or something next to it, was hard to tell. Fortunately the fish was still having it and next cast I saw the fish swim upstream into the riffle and engulf my fly which was racing and bobbing its way down to the dinner table. Fish on and the rod was bent double, fish finds sanctuary fish off. Tippet material gave way in a snag and that was the end of that but what a buzz. I’ll continue my stroll to the car.

River Dove at Rocester.

Arriving in the rain I was still buzzing from being obliterated by a fish further downstream so was not deterred. Marching through the knee high nettles at the top of the bank I could see Andy Buckley was guiding so moved on upstream. I plonked myself on a gravel bar next to an uprooted tree with some fast water entering a very deep pool so began tackling up to run some nymphs through it. Lobbing upstream I saw a golden brown flash and a tug on the line but no fish. Next run through was met my a tiny pluck which I lifted the rod thinking it was bottom. The rod tip bounced then bent over, this felt an extremely good fish. Dropping the rod to the side I kept tension on and persuaded him to come upstream away from the uprooted tree. Easing the fish out of the fast water and into the slacker water I was stood in I caught a glimpse. Stocked rainbow which looked to be pushing 4lb or more, chuckling to myself I began walking backwards hoping to coax the fish into shallower calmer water. At first it worked but then the fish decided the deep pool with the uprooted tree was a better option and stripped line. The fight seemed like an age but was more like 2 minutes, I began to gain ground and the fish was slowing. The fish entered the deep hole for the last time, seeming like he’d got a bit close to the tree I lowered the rod to apply some side pressure and felt 2 bounces. Unfortunately what I felt was the hook bouncing out the fishes mouth!. Smiling to myself I walked off upstream.

Heavy rain, Strong winds and rising fish.

Moving upstream the heavy rain moved in and I took sanctuary under some trees. Watching from cover I could see the odd rise over a deep pool to the edge of a fast riffle. Already having an F-fly tied on and knowing it was similar size to what was coming off I gave it a run. I tried various runs through the riffle trying to tempt the fish but no joy until I changed fly. Tying on a JT olive and flicking out into the riffle the fish in question flashed from the depths and ate the fly. One of those takes that makes you laugh or is that just me? well anyway a stunning Grayling broke the surface and entered the net.

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Keep em wet

I managed a few more fish through out the afternoon and nearing my departure the Mayfly began to hatch in very small numbers. Like a child in a candy shop I didn’t know where to look, the excitement of seeing what was coming off the water and the realization of what was to come.

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