Well, in the absence of Steven Spielberg, Guy Richie or John Woo I got Alan Ward to come along for a day on the Avon to make a short film about the Mayfly. Alan and I are old pals and we go back some ways, already an accomplished photographer with over thirty front covers to his name he has moved into videography. We have already made a film on the River Test at Broadlands fishing for Grayling which was great fun to make. We had this idea about doing a film about the Mayfly in the winter and we just needed to identify the right time.
Sounds easy eh, Mayfly the clues in the name! Not so much after quite an exceptional winter and phenomenal amounts of rain tying down a day for filming was no small feat. I went out the week before for a bit of a recce and managed to see a few flies coming off. If we did not make a start soon our window would be gone so we set the date and committed. The weather forecast was not to bad unfortunately when we arrived at the river it was up another foot and a half from the previous week. At least the colour had dropped out of it a little. On the way down to the river Al was telling me about his idea for releasing the odour of farts from waders. This involved valves and what nots that would release the offending gas without letting in any water. After a few cracks about Jacuzzi’s and tails coming out the backside of the waders. I told Al to withdraw his application to the Dragons Den!
"The thing about making a film about fishing is the real lack of actually fishing "
The thing about making a film about fishing is the real lack of actually fishing, there was quite a bit of walking and lots of casting but not much fishing. Al is great company though and before we knew it we had laughed most of the morning away. After getting the arty farty shots out the way it was time to get those fish shots in. With a steady trickle of Mayfly coming off the water I was fairly confident that we would get a few fish. On que the first fish arrived in my net much to Al’s disgust, well it was rather small….lol. The next fish though was a bit more substantial and I did not even see it as it bolted past me heading down stream. As I made my way down after the fish I heard Al shout that I had moved out of shot, FFS! As it was, it was just a decent Grayling, a pretty good stamp for the Avon.
We started to move upstream looking for opportunity and Al spotted an area where he wanted to do a bit of filming with me walking up the now submerged path by the river. Alan kindly made a short video and posted it to all social media platforms. If you have not seen it you can watch below. With the river so high the main problem was access, I had spotted a trout rising in a nice seam and it looked like I could slip into the river and get a cast at it. I slipped in all right but kept going and before I knew it my waders were filling up nicely. Luckily, for me that is Al was not filming and grabbed me before my head went under. I left my dignity in the river but managed to get my rod, reel and fat arse back on the bank.
As I was trying to sort myself out Al said in a deadpan tone “I just saved your life “we both burst out laughing. Having brought along a Kelly kettle I was relieved to get a hot drink inside me. After a short rest and a couple of jam donuts each it was time to crack on. There were a lot of other anglers on the river as there always is this time of year and most commented on how difficult their day had been. It has been unusual this year and I think the river is still a bit out of kilter. It started to rain quite heavily and Al and I took some shelter under a tree. It had been a long day from a very early start 0300 for Alan and 0400 for me and we were both feeling it. It was nearly 1900 when we decided to call it, both feeling our age.
A day spent with Alan is always great fun and we had a real good laugh, mostly at my expense….lol. More filming required before the short film can be put together, hopefully, on my next visit I will be able to walk up the path rather than water plain down it. If you are of a mind check out Alans YouTube channel for more of his excellent work.