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Mayfly - and a trout in a pipe!

Posted by arbocop , 28 May 2009 · 204 views

A long planned trip to the Kennet at Barton Court with a fellow professional.  We had been watching the weather forecasts eagerly as it was approaching peak mayfly time and a dull day would keep them down.  I had scant time enough to commit to my fishing these days, Patrick - my trout hunting colleague - was a consultant and had even less.  I only ever see Patrick at Conferences and this was to be our first day out fly fishing.  We both wanted a good day out.  True to form for many of my early season trips out, the day didn't deliver on the weather front, dawning blustery with drizzle - the maximum temperature was going to be 14 degrees.

We had arranged to team up at the car park as he had not been there before.  Arriving first, I wandered the water searching for signs of life - there was nothing other than a few sedges, and no signs of rising trout.  When he arrived I took him on a tour of the water and he started to get excited.  We set up in the car park and I mocked his old rod which he said he got when he was 11 - I can't recall the manufacturer, but he claimed to have caught a 13lber on it.  

Comparing flies, I set up on the nymph with a PTN, he tied on a grey wulff.  We set off down a feeder and started to fish ata couple of likely looking holes, but the wind was terrible, and after an hour we had nothing to show for our efforts, but at least two fish had started to rise.  

Moving in different directions I found a small  pipe feeder on the opposite bank which had scoured out a swirl.  Casting the ptn near it I followed the current back towards me, but on the third attempt I dropped the ptn right on the sweetspot and it was taken immediately.  A hard fighting but stocked brownie was landed.  At around 2.5lb it was a good start.

After a tot of tea (we had nothing stronger!) we started again moving up the feeder stream, this time in the same direction. I had another offer but was too busy watching a water vole and pulled out of it.  Patrick had still had nothing but the mayfly were starting to move even though the wind was blowing them along the water like racing yachts.  We listened to yellowhammers, reed and willow warblers, and suddenly spooked a hare which promptly took off upon seeing  us.  This and a few splashy rises warmed us up and we chatted while we fished.

We cast to a few fish, and they were not really intersted, by now I had tried the gold head grhe, mayfly nymph, olive nymph, ptn, coves ptn, but there had been little interest.  We walked to the end of the fishery and spotted  a huge fish cruising the edge of weed.  But it was in the fast water and we had to cast over the lillies in the slow silty water for 10 metres before we could reach it.   We agreed that I would cover it as I spotted it first.  Two casts and I got the fly in front of where I thought it was - the surface was riffled and I couldn't see it.  Pulling for a second cast I snagged the weed and had to pull for a break.

Watching it again Patrick decided that he woluld have a go.  Changing the dry fly for a killer bug he covered it first cast with his crap rod, he saw the white mouth open and bingo it was on!  He kept it's head up and somehow managed to get it over the weed without it struggling and it then fought it in the shallow water above the weeds close to the bank.  We landed what was a near 4lb brownie.  Maybe the rod was OK after all.

We went to the pub for lunch, after a hearty steak and kidney pie and some fat, pub chips and a pint of West Berkshire ale, we felt ready for the rest of the afternoon.  We covered more water as the weather got better and were joined by more anglers, reducing our available water.  By now there were more mayfly showing and we were both on the dry fly. We discussed over lunch the need to let the trout take the mayfly before striking, I rose at least three over the next hour and lifted, or struck too early each time!

I watched Patrick walking down a dead end feeder which went into the woods - what's he doing I thought?  he crouched and I watched him cast - then lift and a fish was on.  How did he get one there I thought, but it was so overgrown he was going to struggle to land it.  I went towards him and he lowered the rod and nearly poked my eye out (had I not been wearling sunglasses).  I said 'You stay there and I'll go down here - when its tired, pull it this way and I'll net it'  He hadn't heard me, and followed me to try and play it from my end of the feeder.  The feeder had a pipe which fed the main river.  You guessed it - he hadn't noticed it - as he played the fish past it the fish went down the pipe!  He was still attached to it, but the fish was swimming in the pipe!  Now we had a sitation!  I was laughing and went down to the other side of the pipe, with the net covering the exit.  Two water voles scarpered as got down into the water.  I hoped that the fish would go down the pipe as Patrick let line out, giving me the opportunity to cover the flow with the net, but the flow just pulled the net away.  Before we could do anything else the hook pulled, and we both let out a sigh of relieved laughter.

The rest of the day was spent chasing rising fish, they were very tetchy.  Some would come up and nose the fly before turning away.  For duffers fortnight these fish were challenging.  We managed four each all on the dry mayfly before finally calling it a day at 6pm.  We checked the book - we had done well many had blanked.

It was alovely day of widllife too, the rare but increasingly frequent cetti's warblers were banging out their loud song.  The ubiquitous (in these parts) buzzard and red kite were soaring above.  Brimstones butterflieses, speckled woods, small copper, loads of orange tip, small tortoishell and speckled wood.




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