Judging by your catch return comments (and many thanks to those of you who take the trouble to enter these – they are really helpful), June has been an exceptionally successful month. There has been quite a contrast with last year, when the Mayfly hatch was very early. This year, for all the reasons we have already mentioned, particularly the cold spring and very late winter rains, the hatch did not peak until well into the first week in June when there was some really tremendous fishing to be had. One or two big fish have continued to be picked up in June – a 21inch brown from Reach 7 being probably the top of the list, although another rod reported a 3 ½ lb fish from Reach 8. Several were recorded over the 2lb mark, and given some concern expressed in May I was relieved to see a favourable remark about the quality of our stock fish. On that note could I also just stress the importance of careful handling of released fish: do unhook and release them in the water from the net if you possibly can.
Given the late hatch of Mayfly it is not surprising that the June totals greatly exceeded those recorded in May – 406 takeable brown trout in June, and equally pleasing, 274 under-sized (wild) fish. Indeed one rod remarked after a great session he had had on Reach 12 that “most of the fish were wild, with stock fish not showing” so I hope that our final results this year will demonstrate that we really are continuing to build up a flourishing wild population. The late arrival of ground water which delayed the Mayfly hatch this season has certainly brought the river into wonderful order, conditions which can only benefit both wild fish and fly life. However this did give me considerable problems with the weed cut. This always presents dilemmas for me, because there is such a fine balance to be struck between the need to provide the maximum amount of fishable water and the equally important equirement to preserve as much ranunculus as possible in order to maintain fly life and to hold up water levels as the ground water drops away. This year I was ambushed by a very late surge in weed growth – indeed it was happening while I was actually cutting, which is a very unusual state of affairs! So please be tolerant if you have difficulties with weed, in particular downstream of Gunville, – there is another cut later this month (July) when I can sort out any particular problem areas.
I was interested to see a few of comments about pike sightings and pike-damaged fish. We did not do our usual pike cull last October because of the exceptionally low water, but as many of you know there is a strong lobby by fishery scientists that pike should be left to find their own population levels. Large pike eat a lot of small pike which is the main stabilising factor, and although more research is needed, my own view is that when we have stock fish and wild fish sharing a stretch of river, pike will probably go for the easiest option! But we will continue to monitor this and I would be glad to hear any views on the matter.
Looking ahead, we now seem to have entered a period of exceptionally hot weather. With some winterbournes still running (the little river Till for example) this is no cause for concern as the river is unlikely to show any signs of stress until the ground water falls right away. But my advice at the moment is to avoid blazing hot afternoons, and if you have the energy do get down to the river after supper, to fish those magical two hours either side of sunset. I truly believe we should see better hatches of small up-winged fly this season than we have seen for some years. While a nymph (and what better than the Pheasant Tail?) will always work well, the various tyings of Elkhair Caddis, Black Gnats, C-de-C emergers, Klinkhammers and Adams – in small sizes – can all prove deadly in the dusk.
Fishing in late evening should also avoid the hassle of dog-walkers and trespassers,. We have always had these problems in hot summers and I would strongly support the committee advice to avoid confrontations. However I think we all draw a line at a rider swimming her horse in one of our better pools upstream of C Crossing. How the old guard must have been turning in their graves!
Martin Browne (Tel: 07768 354788)