The Peaks Fly Fishing Diaries - Early Hatches
April – And David Johnson is celebrating the start of the new season in the Peak District
So the new season is here, wonderful sunshine is warming, blossom is fragrant and unbelievably (considering the recent rainfall) here in the Peak District the rivers are in pretty good condition.
The fish are hungry and will take a fly, although hatches are sporadic at this time of year, consisting mainly of large dark olives and grannom caddis. Whilst out guiding the other day on the river there was a trickle of olives (I think I counted a dozen at most) and even this was enough to tempt a few small trout pop up in to fresh air and say hello.
I was re-reading that beautiful book “The Keeper of the Stream” by Frank Sawyer, where he talks about the hatches of fly life on the river:
“Though sparse hatches will bring small fish to the surface it needs a really good hatch of fly before the larger trout consider such food worth waiting for.”
This is a man who knew his rivers and his trout. It’s well to remember when wading up the river that the rises you see in front of you are probably just a small percentage of the trout population.
This year I am hoping for a really good year in terms of fly hatches. Last year was pretty poor and good dry fly days were few and far between. In fact over the last few years I have only experienced what I would call a proper flush hatch and rise once. It was March and soon after arriving on the river bank the flies started to hatch, they increased in volume until there were thousands of duns emerging.
The rivers surface was boiling with fish so much so that there were crowds on the bridge taking in the spectacle, hundreds of fish were leaping clear of the water or torpedoing through the shallows. I was staggered at the amount of fish I could see, and the size too! Some of the fish were bigger than anything I had ever seen caught. I was stood up to my knees in the river and every 20 seconds or so I felt the bump of a feeding fish as it hit my waders. After about ten minutes the hatch died down and the fish melted way. We never saw another rise for the rest of the day...
Every time I start to see the olives hatch, my mind turns back to this and I wonder - is it going to happen again this year? I do hope so!
Dave Johnson lives near Sheffield on the edge of the Peak District where he has been fly fishing since childhood. He is manager of Peaks Fly Fishing and helps run the Birchinlee Fly Fishing Club. Dave is also brand director for Harkers Fishing and a keen fly fishing writer, contributing to various print and online publications.
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