June 2023

Mayfly: Final Verdict

The comparison between the returns for May and June this year is an unusual one. Normally (as was the case last year) many more fish are caught in May. This is not surprising as we are inevitably taking advantage of the inexperience of our stock fish which have been in the river for barely a month, and have only just discovered the delights of Ephemera Danica. This season, quite unexpectedly, you have recorded precisely the same number of takeable brown trout in June (391) as you did in May. However you did catch many more grayling in June (263) than in May (147), and indeed more than twice than those you caught in June last season (122). . That is really good news on grayling, as their population is very variable being so dependent on suitable spawning conditions in April. They will provide a lot of fun this season from now on as the stock fish get more and more street-wise.

But as for trout I honestly believe we have a lot to be thankful for on our water when listening to the stories this season from other chalk streams. Even those lucky enough to fish the famous beats on the Test will say that the Mayfly period has been very difficult this season with that cold, wet start and high flows, followed by record air temperatures and dazzling sunshine in June. One wise comment in our early June returns noted how fish were becoming “more cautious” and that “one really had to stalk and work for the fish”. That is as it should be in June but it is clear from numerous returns that those of you who stayed on to fish in the evening were remarkably successful. I was particularly interested to see that some big hatches actually took place in late evening when one would expect to see falls of spent fly rather than emerging duns. So although some of our rods may feel disappointed because the daytime hatches simply did not stay on the water long enough in the hot weather to be picked off by hungry trout, some of those evening hatches were remarkable. One rod, who has fished our water “off and on since 1966” witnessed “the biggest hatch I have ever seen on this river” on Reach 9, with very similar comments from others about the “amazing hatches” on Reach 7. So I hope you all feel you had your money’s worth from the Mayfly this season!

Dry Fly versus Nymph

This is the first season we have asked you to record whether your catches were on a dry fly or a nymph. In April of course the nymph outdid the dry, with the reverse true in May, not surprisingly. However in June, dry fly continued to be the preferred choice – with well over twice the number of fish caught on a dry fly than on a nymph, and it will be most interesting to see if this trend continues as we move into the post Mayfly slump of July and then on into the late season hatches of olives. Hopefully we will see more Blue Winged Olives this year, too, as our invertebrate counts do show that they are currently more abundant in their nymph stage than they have been for several years.

Swans and Weed

The brief panic over the cancellation of the Avon weed cuts was quickly overtaken by the realisation that weed growth this year was at best patchy and often absent altogether. Water Crowfoot or Ranunculus is very important to the health of a chalk stream for all the well known ecological reasons. Normally we have it in abundance and I have a big challenge in dealing with the June cut. However it is also the principal food source for swans, and this year we have had a herd of juveniles both on Reach 10 and around Crossing B. So despite the cancellation of the cut there has been very little impact on access to fishable water as the swans have performed the weed cut – leaving only parts of Reach 6 and 7 affected by excess growth. Nevertheless every year is different and I am very anxious to establish a strong presence of territorial swan pairs throughout the fishery to deter the juvenile herds. Many of you will remember “Rambo” and his mate who ruled Reach 10 with such style – woe betide any trespasser, be it another juvenile swan or one of our rods. See photo below of Rambo in his finest hour downstream of Figheldean road bridge!.......



For some reason this has been worse than usual this year, with some rather alarming reports. Many thanks to those of you who took action when you encountered poaching. The action required is clearly laid out in the Message Board on our web site, together with the telephone numbers that you should use when reporting it so I will not repeat it all here, but I would ask you to check that you do have all the relevant details and know what to do.

Bank Safety

I am well aware of those parts of our banks which have become difficult and even dangerous as bank collapse has brought the fence line ever closer to the bankside path. We have already arranged a meeting with one of the main tenant farmers and are looking at the costs of new fencing if we are able to negotiate a new fence line in certain places. I know one of our rods has experienced an involuntary ducking already this year, so at the moment please just take great care in places where the path is obviously difficult, while we work at the problem.

Corfe End Lakes

I have just advised the Management Committee that the Lakes fishing should now close for the summer as weed and algae have now made them unfishable. We will of course let you know when they are reopened. We are all very grateful to Peter Esser, who is the committee member for the Lakes. As you will have seen, Peter has put a lot of work into getting .the system at Corfe End back into order, and those Lakes rainbows have given a lot of fun in the early part of the season this year. I am pleased to say too, that we have repaired the bridge linking the first lake to the remainder, so that is one more big and expensive project that has been completed.

Meanwhile do not hesitate to get hold of me if you have any concerns or queries – and do keep those excellent returns coming in!

Martin Browne
Tel: 07768 354788