The much-anticipated Mayfly Dinner, the grand opening event of the season, was held at the Grosvenor Hotel in Stockbridge. A hundred guests gathered to celebrate the tradition opening of the season, hoping for a promising start. However, the first real taste of spring didn’t arrive until April 30th, a sunny day that hinted at the pleasures of Mayfly fishing on the river, though the banks remained boggy and the water levels high.

The mayfly season on the upper Test this year has been marked by a series of challenges and triumphs, making it one to remember for both its unpredictability and its brief moments of angling bliss. The season, which started in late April, was delayed due to unusually high water conditions. The spring weather felt more like winter, with northerly winds and water levels high enough to flood many fishing beats, pushing the start of the season into June.

The mayfly hatches on the Itchen were in full swing from 30th April and lasted until May 30th, with the Test lagging slightly behind. Despite the less-than-ideal weather, with persistent drizzle and rain, the mayfly found these conditions suitable for hatching. By May 22nd, the Test experienced a remarkable day—the peak of the mayfly hatch. It was a perfect “duffers’ day” with an extraordinary number of fish caught a rare but delightful event for anglers.

However, the success was fleeting. As the season progressed, hatches became sparse and irregular, making fishing increasingly difficult. The fish, well-fed and uninterested, mirrored the infamous Monty Python sketch of Mr. Creosote with the wafer-thin mint, showing little interest in any more mayflies.

For those of us guiding, it meant living out of the boots of our cars, enduring a relentless cycle of driving to the river, guiding, eating on the go, and returning home late only to repeat the routine the next day (sounds a tough life). The mayfly season of the upper Test in 2024 may not have been the most bountiful, but it was certainly one filled with memorable highs and lows.

 Despite these challenges, the lunches and camaraderie each day were fabulous. Even on days when the fishing wasn’t bountiful, the delightful meals and stunning scenery more than made up for it. A group of young Germans, in particular, loved their day out in the English countryside, enjoying a pub lunch by the river and heading home with sun-tanned faces. Another group cooked a BBQ fit for a king or was it Fred Flintstone two of the biggest Tomahawk steaks I have ever seen cooked slow over a wood fired BBQ a highlight of the season so far.

All in all, the last month has been amazing with international teams stringing  5 days back to back to single days with a novice ,to an elder brother introducing his younger racing car driver brother to the finer art of flyfishing and catching his first fish on the fly then celebrating with an espresso martini after lunch all good fun and creating great memories for all and plenty of laughter along the way.

Get ready for the next blast of fishing dates as  June and July waits for no man and with better weather and an election on the way no better place to be than on the river.

For more information, mayfly fishing 2024 availability or to book please do not hesitate to contact Justin Hancock or Alex Jardine, alternatively you can call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.