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Yellow May - First of the Summer Wine?

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The Yellow May The Yellow May

GAIA instructor Stephen Cheetham offers up this insight into the harsh life of a Northern nymph. Is it just me or do you hear the voice of William "Compo" Simmonite when you read it!?

Ee by gum it’s been cold down here. I have been down at the bottom of the Wharfe since last year, crawling over stones, eating bits here and bits there, and now it’s time to go to a party of all things.

Oh! first of all let me introduce myself, I am Heptagenia Sulpherea, very posh eh? Well you can call me Yellow May. Seemingly I am part of a very large family which are called Mayflies, so called because we “hatch out”, that is we get changed out of our working clothes, put on our party dresses and go to a big gathering in May. The trouble is a human being called King George II altered the number of days in what they call a year and didn’t tell us Mayflies. Subsequently we are always a bit late, our party doesn’t start till June, can you believe that?

Anyway like I said, ever since I got out of the egg last year I have been down in the river amongst the stones This last winter was a wee bit horrendous and I was knocked about when the river was in full flood. My branch of this Mayfly family is what you humans call 'The Stone Clingers' and I am what is specified as a nymph; short, flat and broad in the beam, if you know what I mean. My job is to cling as tight and flat as I can against the rocks and stones so I don’t get washed off and then clean the muck off the rocks, or so I was told. All winter I have been grovelling about, once or twice I have grown out of these overalls and shed them and had spanking brand new gear to wear.

“Ee lad you look grand”

Anyway, like I said it’s party time soon, I have an ache across my shoulders and a lump has appeared. The guy on the other side of the stone has one too and it turns out to be a wing case forming. Wings eh? Soon I shall be able to fly. So my mission now is to get up to where I can see the sunshine without some stupid fish making a meal of me.

Eh up!!! I have an urge, the sun is shining for a change, OK lets go for it, swim May swim.

I am up on the surface now, time is important, I have to get out of my overalls and into my flying gear. Now to get these overalls off. Gosh! my back has just cracked open and there is something coming out. Looks like two large blankets, perhaps if I try and pump them up they will spread out. Right done it, now if I flap them about and get the water off maybe, just maybe, I can make those trees across there on the bank without a fish seeing me.

Wow this is brilliant, the faster I flap the faster I go. Oh heck those trees are coming closer very fast, humph, that was a bad landing but never mind I am safe for the moment. Now to get my party outfit on. All I have to do is pull this dull gear off and underneath there should be the best suit of clothes you have ever seen.

“Ee lad you look grand” my mum would have said. All yellow and shiny. Now for the fun bit, I only have 24 hours to find a girlfriend and start a family. Looking out there are lots of other Mayflies but I cannot see one of my kind, perhaps if I fly around for a while. Wait a minute over there, one very attractive female just giving me the eye, looks promising, here we go boys. OK readers job done -  all I ask you to do now is to watch out for my kids when you are wading eh!


Stephen Cheetham - GAIC Trout, GAIC Fly Dressing

Stephen Cheetham is a qualified member of the Game Anglers Instructors Association (GAIC) and member of the Angling Development Board (ADB). He has fished for trout all his life and runs various fly fishing courses for the Salmon andTrout Association and is also a demonstrator and a course tutor at Otley Prince Henry's Grammar School in Fly Dressing. Stephen, a published author to various magazines, is heavily involved in a monthly fly fishing column in The Yorkshire Post newspaper. Stephen is a firm believer that: "Fishing should be fun".

See Stephen Cheetham's Instructors page for further information.

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