Start of the Season – May 2020 Report

I wrote my first set of notes for the 2020 season in mid-March, assuming a kick-off on April Fool’s Day. I now find myself rewriting the notes on May 9th in the hope of a start in the next week or two. I hope you have all avoided Covid 19 completely, and your loved ones are all safe and well.

In March the aquifer was well topped up, and while flows have reduced in April, we are still in a very fortunate position. Our stock fish have over-wintered well and will go to the river as soon as we have a restart date.

Whilst there has been no invertebrate monitoring during lock down, we expect a good Mayfly hatch, and the prospects for small fly are also good. In April, we had above average hatches of Grannom (not a fish rose), reasonable Spring Olives, and the start of a Hawthorn fall. There were very few rising fish in April, and the first significant rise, I witnessed, was to Hawthorn on the 6th May. (There was a good reason why fishing didn’t start until May day when I arrived in 2002. April has always been very slow on the Upper Avon.)

One of the main issues to be resolved, is weed cutting. We do not do this of right, but by mutual consent, and with an EA permit. That permit is dependent on the Agency inserting weed booms down river. The first cut was cancelled, as the EA saw setting the booms up as an unnecessary risk to its staff. Social distancing is very difficult in such circumstances. We hope that we may get our later cuts, but all is to play for. If cutting is cancelled for the season, don’t be put off fishing in weedy areas, just beef up your point nylon and dominate any larger hooked trout.

Corfe End lakes has not been stocked this spring. We have chosen a contractor to do the phragmites removal and await consents from Natural England and the Environment Agency to undertake the work.

Later in the season, I will be most interested in Anglers’ views on the Grayling population. This is especially so in the recently restored reach upstream of Gated X-ing. I’m very pleased with this project, from a wild trout perspective, but it never pays to consider success or failure by the fortune of one species only. Please be very careful wading this stretch, avoiding large woody debris. I can’t advise caution enough when in chest waders. I have only had to drag one angler out of the river, and that was on the Lune nearly 30 years ago.

The heavy flooding, followed by the C-19 lock down, has caused us a number of unexpected headaches. Please bear with us, we are all trying to rescue an enjoyable season’s fishing for you all.

Please don’t hesitate to call me if you want advice on the unusual circumstances 2020 brings us. If I don’t answer the phone, just leave a message, I will get back to you.