As I depart for a week’s holiday the weather has – inevitably – turned grey, windy and wet. However there are Mayfly about in some numbers already, very early indeed this year, so this weather should not worry our members. As we say every year: the fouler the weather the better the fishing during the Mayfly period quite simply because the fly are pinned to the water in cold or wet conditions, and the fish have plenty of time to feast on them. The hatching duns need the warmth of the sun to generate a quick lift-off, which of course then results in the exciting slashing rises which we all know so well.
But returning to April, my concern, and that of the committee, has been to examine the catch returns to see if the decision to advance the river season to 1 April and to permit nymph fishing and wading from the outset has had any adverse consequences. The answer as far as brown trout are concerned, is as we expected: April will never be an easy month, which is the reason why the Association has up to now always delayed the opening day until the 24th. So it is clear that while some of our more experienced members did have quite a lot of success and enjoyment out of the earlier start, others found it really quite tricky even though the weather was unusually warm and pleasant for much of the month. Interestingly the over wintered trout seem to prefer the shallower, faster water, while once I had made the initial stocking, those introduced fish of course sought the security of the deeper, slower sections and were reluctant to come up to the quite prolific hatches of Grannom and wind-blown Hawthorn and the occasional hatch of Large Dark Olives.
The fish of the month was undoubtedly Robin Davies’ glorious 20 inch (6 – 7lbs) fish which fell to a Mayfly nymph in the hatch pool at Gunville. Robin believes that the fish and a smaller one caught on the same day (and another caught later on in the same pool) were early run sea trout. Certainly the photograph (see bulletin board) shows a very typical sea trout profile if it is compared to the detailed descriptions at the start of Hugh Falkus’ famous book on sea trout fishing. But without a scale reading it is not possible to be certain: some of these triploid brown trout are very silver, often with only sparse black spots. But whatever – that is a great fish and it must have given a tremendous battle, and like 55 other takeable brown trout caught in April it has been returned to the river. And that number was eclipsed by the under-sized, wild fish also returned: 82 of them for the month, a very satisfactory figure indeed.
One concern which perhaps should be considered by the committee is the large number of grayling caught in April on nymphs. They are of course out of season until 16 June, and therefore should not be fished for deliberately, although we recognise that some grayling will inevitably be caught by rods fishing for trout, as has always been the case. Perhaps we should have pointed this out more specifically at the beginning of the season.
Corfe End Lakes have been a disappointment. This was largely due to the very dry winter and the consequent lack of ground water, on which the lakes rely when the river itself is too low to generate a good through-flow. I can manipulate the hatches at Haxton to improve that, but this of course affects the river downstream, and in any event a good supply of ground water is much better for water quality within the lakes themselves. This year there was a bad algal bloom from the outset which undoubtedly affected the stocked rainbows which were very reluctant to come to a fly, a condition exacerbated by the warm spell in April.
On wading, those of you who fished in April will have noticed the new posts we have put in to assist rods to enter and exit the river. I hope that is helpful, but I also hope that we do not go overboard on wading in the early part of the season – that is until the June weed cut. I hope you will agree that I have improved the back cast space in many places, and that therefore wading is not essential in most parts of our water until the fish get really shy in high summer, when there is certainly an advantage to be had by getting below the horizon of a feeding trout. I would be interested to hear any views on the effect of relaxing the wading rules, as this is another aspect of the changes this year which have yet to be properly assessed by the committee.
By the time I return I hope that the Mayfly period is in full swing and is giving everyone a lot of fun. Many thanks indeed for your catch returns and the comments you have made with them. They are extremely helpful to me and to the committee: keep them coming!
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