Its Mayfly time, Duffers fortnight they call it! I try to avoid going to the river at this time of year to be honest. The banks are generally crowded with expectant anglers waiting on the hatch of Mayfly or Ephemeroptera. Mayflies "hatch" from spring to autumn, not necessarily in May, in enormous numbers. Some hatches attract tourists. Fly fishermen make use of mayfly hatches by choosing artificial fishing flies that resemble the species in question. The ones on the Avon are a fair old mouthful for a trout as can be seen from the image below.
Everything has been a little behind this year and the Avon has still not really woken up yet. Large amounts of rain and an algae bloom has ensured the river is anything but in pristine condition. Its been very frustrating every time I have had the opportunity to hit the river the heavens have opened. I was undeterred this time though despite thunderstorms the previous day. So after work, I made the effort to get to the river. Stonehenge is my favourite beat on the S&D rivers, it is not stocked and you get some lovely marked wild brown trout. Today though the Bailiffs' were busy improving the habitat which pretty much killed any enthusiasm to fish that stretch.
Back in the car and a quick run down to Durrington. The recreation ground car park was busy, aye really busy. I made my way down to the river and sure enough, there were plenty anglers around to speak with. The story was the same not much hatching not much rising. I found a bit of bank to get in and had a few casts. The water was much deeper than I am used to and very coloured. After twenty minutes or so I had not even seen a fish move. It was time for a move.
I went to the big weir it always holds fish, but they were not playing today. I decided to take a walk down to the bottom of the beat to the bridge that marks the boundary with the Piscatorial society water. Rather than fish, I thought to watch the river for a bit, it was eerily quiet, I had a cup of coffee and sat contemplating life. I was staring into space when a huge splash not far in front of me caught my eye. I watched a bit more closely but there was no other rise to be seen. I did try and cover the water where I saw the rise and after several changes of fly, I abandoned the area.
A move down to the wading section saw things pick up a little and the very odd Mayfly could be seen coming off. The odd fish started to show and were starting to rise steadily and they could be targeted. The first fish was on the small side but very pretty and most welcome. As I moved up covering fish where I could I managed another small wild fish. I watched as a Mayfly struggled to break free of the surface film and just in the nick of time it was airborne. The trout had missed out on its meal by half a second and left still hungry.
At last things had picked up and I made my way up the river there were lots of small fish rising. I heard the fish rather than seen it first, it just sounded a bit more substantial I searched around and spotted it under an overhang on the opposite bank. It took me a couple of casts to get the fly right where it needed to be, but when its right its right! The fish took the fly sweet as a nut, not a monster but great fun on a #3 wt rod. It was my first time fishing with the Wychwood Drift and I was fairly impressed, it cast a lovely line and played the fish well enough.
The fish was all the better for targeting the rise and presenting the fly just so, most satisfying. I was going to call it a day but the fish kept asking me to stay....lol what can you do. I had limited time this visit but made the most of it and managed to take four wild fish for my short session before having to hit the road. I think the Avon is about to explode into life and I just hope I am there for it.