May 2017

I hope you all agree that the Mayfly hatch has come up to expectations so far – it started at least ten days earlier this season and the peak of it is now over but the fly will still dominate the fishing for a few weeks yet. The sudden change to wet and windy weather this first June weekend may actually improve chances for those who can brave the conditions. Certainly some of your comments on the catch returns have been tremendously enthusiastic, and the number of fish caught in May quite impressive for the water conditions this season: 109 takeable browns killed, 295 takeable returned and 165 under-sized (wild) – an overall total of 572. Nor has there been much sign of the river being put under too much pressure – by doing a quick check of the car parks it should have always been possible to find a reach where there is plenty of room without crowding other rods. The dashboard arrow system also helps with this providing you remember to do it! Remember that the jury is still out on the relaxation of the wading rules and I know the Committee will discuss this at the end of the season. But if you have any strong views on any of the rule changes please do let me know.

One of the more interesting points to come out of the catch returns is the relative effectiveness of the various dry patterns of Mayfly. There seems no doubt that the old fashioned “clunky” (heavily dressed) patterns of the fully hatched dun, which sit high on the water, are being overtaken by much lighter weight versions, with c-de-c providing the wing silhouette very cleverly. The exception to this is the good old Grey Wulff – a clunky fly if ever there was one, but still remarkably effective. The hatching dun on the other hand seems still to be best represented by the well-tried partridge hackled pattern (illustrated on our Popular Flies section of the web site) – that always works if a strong hatch is in progress. But even that fly is being challenged by new c-de-c emerger patterns which sit down in the surface film rather untidily, bur which often seem irresistible even when there is little or no fly about. It will often double as the spent fly in the evening too, so is a useful addition to one’s fly box particularly at this stage of the Mayfly period when there is plenty of action in late evening. Remember too, that the June beetle – represented by the Coch-y-Bondhu – is out and about and will often tempt a fish that refuses to take a Mayfly pattern. And surprisingly the good old Pheasant Tail Nymph with also take fish that are either sated with, or suspicious of the natural hatching fly – this fact featured in several of your returns. Please do keep those comments coming in.

The next challenge on the horizon (apart from dealing with any tree blow down in the current strong winds – and please report any you find) is of course the main weed cut which in theory runs from14 – 30 June. I say “in theory” because for the first week there should be very little disruption of your fishing. I am usually off the river by 5pm in any event and if you see evidence of cutting at other times (coloured water and floating weed) the obvious response is to get upstream of it. Until we start to clear down in the last week of June most of the cut weed will hang up in any event. More of a worry for me is actually how hard to cut. At the moment the weed is holding up levels everywhere. To cut too much will “crash” the river in these low flows, while too little will reduce fishing opportunity. I will do my best, and will favour the fishing (west) bank as usual, but please be tolerant if the outcome irritates you as I will certainly have to leave some blocks uncut to hold up the levels.

Finally, please do report any incident of note on your returns: fly hatches, pike (hardly mentioned so far), otter signs or sightings, dog walkers, canoeists and so on. And you can always ring me if you feel anything needs urgent action.

Martin Browne
Tel: 07768 354788