The early Mayfly hatches last month have resulted in an equally early and very abrupt finish to the Mayfly period this year. Indeed it was almost like turning off a tap in the first fortnight of June: very few stragglers were to be seen once the weed cut got under way, which is unusual. Your catch return comments show how towards the end of the period the hatches got later and later in the day, and into the evening, with one comment on the 18th June: “Mayfly gone now”, summing up the situation. Afternoon air temperatures of up to 32C made both fishing (and weed cutting!) hard work, but with the end of the Mayfly those rods who switched back to a nymph, olive emergers, or the consistent favourite on our water in high summer – the small elk hair caddis (imitating Grannom or so –called Silverhorns) – were working well for those who got down to the river in the late evening. So although some local fisheries are talking gloomily about drought and low flow conditions approaching those of the dreaded 1976 scenario our catch return figures for June are quite healthy, in particular for wild (under-sized) fish.
So 1976 it is not (yet), but you will all I hope have seen the message I put out through the Secretary about the difficult balance I had to strike on the weed cu t. The result is now plain to see. Where I have left some extensive solid blocks of ranunculus, the levels have held up well, although looking rather untidy. I am also happy with those places where I have cut a relatively narrow channel along the fishing (west) bank of the river. Although these are challenging to fish, the trout like them, and move out of cover into the runs in the evening or if attracted by day-time hatches. Obviously you have to hold on tight once you hook a fish when there is so much weed about, and hence perhaps use a rather heavier leader than normal. The same applies in places like Reach 10 upstream of Gunville, which looks rather over-weeded but where it is possible throughout the reach to “pick pockets” of clear water if you can spot a rise or see a fish lying. There the technique, as many of you already know, is to be almost brutally quick once a fish takes your fly, dragging it on to the top of the surface of the weed before it understands what is going on, and then draw it, flapping, to clear water on your side of the river where you can play and land it. This will not work with a 3 lber but is always worth a try!
Of course the chalk stream cycle will help us, and as the weeks pass. I confidently expect a good growth of marginal cress to become established gradually during the rest of the season. This in turn will narrow the channel quite drastically in many places, producing a healthy energised flow which again is very attractive to feeding fish. However this is unlikely to happen where packs of grazing swans have trashed the ranunculus, which I regret is the case downstream of Gunville, through Crossing C and as far as Barn House.. The same applies, sadly, to the bottom Reaches, 13 and 14 – where with no weed to hold up the levels the bare bones of the river are only too apparent, and the fishing probably only a sensible proposition in very late evening. And sadly the low flows have put Corfe End Lakes out of order almost completely.
But as one committee member has just reported, there really is plenty of fishable water: the top two reaches up to our top boundary at Coombe, upstream of Choulston bridge as far as the Cress Bed corner, upstream of the Gated Crossing, Reaches 9 and 10, and also the Cemetery meadows, these are all potentially as productive as ever. And in all these places as we predicted earlier, it really does help if you wade quietly and carefully, keeping well down from the high bank.
We will be restocking shortly, so I will read your July catch returns with great interest. Meanwhile please do give me a ring or text if you have any suggestions or comments.
Tel: 07768 354788