To say that this has been an odd year would be a bit of an understatement, but what I was not expecting was the weather to follow suit! The last week on the rivers has been akin to fishing in early April conditions. This week has been the first that temperatures have crept out of freezing at night. The overall effect of this has been to slow the spring down by about a month. I look at photos from the same time last year and we were in shorts and T-shirts rather than three layers and a waterproof! Looking at the river we are yet to see the waving tendrils of ranunculus and the riverbank fringe looks about six inches shorter than it should be. Many of the fish are still holding in the deeper areas along the edges, pockets and under tree branches.
Temperatures this week have swung between 5°C at night to highs of 12°C during the day interspersed with sporadic cold rain bursts. Not ideal for our normal May fly life by any means. However, its not all doom and gloom as the fish are hungry. During the course of the day when the wind dies off it’s been warm enough for hatches of large dark olives, iron blue, BWO, medium olives and olive uprights. Bizarrely quite a lot of Hawthorne are also in evidence which I would have expected to see a month ago. These have been very effective in tempting fish holed up under the branches. There have been alder beetles on the reed stems and also an abundance of alder fly. These are often mistaken for Sedge, but are smaller and darker. Although I have seen a few hit by fish, certainly on the Anton the fish were not targeting them.
I saw the first mayfly at the end of last week as it was promptly blown into a bush, but this week as seen a slow build of numbers despite the weather. Perhaps proves the theory that the hatch is related to length of the day rather than conditions. One or two have been smashed, but the fish at this point have not quite focussed on them which I am hoping will start next week. It seems very odd to be getting Hawthorne fly and mayfly at the same time with a few grannom thrown in for god measure.
Tactics wise stealth has been the key. With the lack of cover the fish have been skittish. It’s been necessary to keep very low, sometimes crawling up to fish has been the difference between success and failure. Longer leaders have also been the order of the day, 12ft if you can handle it down to a maximum of 6X. for fishing some of the larger terrestrial patterns I have had clients on 4X just to prevent spinning. Unless you can find a fish tuned into olives and rising consistently the game plan has been using terrestrial patterns such as the Robjents Daddy Long Legs or the Fulling Mill Aero Hawthorne which has been particularly effective. I have resorted to using a CDC high rider Sedge as well dropped off a branch.
Despite the tougher conditions rods have faired well and we have tempted some really stunning fish this week with no one going away empty handed. Roll on next week with some warmer conditions and I think the fish will tune into the Mayfly fairly shortly as the numbers build. They are already hitting the nymphs so I look forward to next week with anticipation.