Mayfly Bonanza

OK I admit it, this time I can report that things  were about as Halcyon as they get (on Sunday the 27th May between 5 and 8pm).  

It’s said that good things come to those who wait, although I didn’t do it all that patiently … for all my moaning about bad weather and the slow start to the season, I perhaps shouldn’t have been lucky to perfectly time a visit with the Mayfly hatch in full bloom.   It was more intense than I’ve seen it for all the years I’ve studied the river but I’ve now developed a sense for when these things happen and if you listen to your instinct, then things work out fine.  

How’s the song go? ‘… summertime … and the fishing is easy, fish are jumping …’ or something like that anyway, although I wouldn’t say it was easy, they’re hidden away as ever but just more up for taking dries, you still need to use stealth to get near and it’s funny how they’re always positioned just behind a branch or where something is ready to grab your back cast!  Creeping up close, avoiding disturbing the water and good presentation was the order of the day, I worked the averages by moving from one rise to the next and not dwelling too long if the fish was risen but missed or even let off via ‘long range release’ and put down.   Videos and pictures of some of the evening are shown below, I only photographed the better / calmer fish; for every one I caught there was at least one I missed and moved on from.  

The fish which stick in my mind the most though are the two that bent the rod over and broke me off, some of the runs are tight and you’re working close up, with branches all round and tree roots nearby, this means if something big hops on the end you’re in for some close combat, which is exciting of course but sometimes goes wrong … one fish managed to get into the tree roots breaking the line and another was simply powerful enough to snap a 1KG Stroft tippet clean as I tried to hold it back.  When this happens you are left wondering how big they were, I’ll try for them later in the season of  course but these fish are old, wise and wily, my chance to catch them in a devil-may-care mood may have gone until next year?


Start point with dappled sun, the cooling effect of the river and the late afternoon temperatures meant there were  bugs everywhere:

Later on the sun was paler and golden:


This is the type of fly I used all evening:

The fly did its job well:

The prettiest fish:

The biggest fish:

The supporting cast:

Finally, the site where one of our Riverfly sampling teams reported 300ish Mayfly nymphs last sampling session:


Tight lines, Splash


2 responses

  1. Nicholas Steedman

    Perfect, simply perfect Toby! Seems like you got to the river at the perfect moment. I must say I’m very jealous I wasn’t there with you!!

    What were you doing using 1kg line though?!? Usually for fishing May flies you would use 5-6lb line to turn them over and avoid line twist. You would also land the big boys then;-) ill call you later for a full report…

    May 29, 2012 at 7:37 am

  2. Was good – nothing wrong with my 1 Kilo most of the time, it doesn’t spiral with my nifty flies and arguably you might catch less with a heavier tippet – it’s not often you get a close combat brute but yeah OK you’ve got a bit of a point (although I’ve got two smaller sizes yet 😉 – in my small stream world I was fishing heavy LOL ) . Interesting question – I usually go with the fish as light as you think you can get away with thing but you don’t know what you can get away with until you haven’t.

    May 29, 2012 at 11:13 am

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