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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


19/04/2018 - A Grannom Hatch

Mayfly nymph and beaded nymph


A Grannnom Hatch


Many fly fishers get excited waiting for the mayfly, it’s not the mayfly for me, but the grannom hatch which is the first of the caddis flies, which takes place in April. It can last three to four weeks, some anglers reckon it lasts for just a couple of weeks, I disagree as from my experience the grannom hatch off for three weeks sometimes going into four weeks. What you will find is the grannom can be on one stretch of water then go half a mile or so up or down stream you will just see the odd one. The rise can last for two or three hours often coming off in thick cloud, on other occasions it just for thirty minutes or so, if the wind should suddenly get up the hatch will end dramatically. This morning I was on the river around 0700 hr, it was most delightful time to be out, nice water level flowing clear, the surface was smooth as glass, small dimples could be seen in various places no doubt smolts taking tiny insects.

As I got close to a small deep fast pool towards the bottom of the beat I could see dozens and dozens of sand martins hawking the surface of the river, “Must be a hatch coming off” I said to myself, two hundred yards further downstream I was engulfed in grannom, I punched the air in delight. I had though that with all the big floods of winter, along with the very cold weather I feared that I wouldn’t have a grannom hatch to talk about. Grannom larva builds a case from small bits of vegetation then fastens itself to some water plant, such as water crowfoot, for the past three years this wonderful plant with its daisy like flowers has been ripped out by the floods, I am hoping that I can find enough of the plants to replant in other areas, we shall have to wait and see. It wasn’t just sand martins in a feeding frenzy, wagtails, chaffinches, along with a few swallows and of course the fish were all in on the act. At a fast walk I headed off upstream to collect my rod, landing net and waistcoat from the car, hoping the hatch wouldn’t be over before I got back.

I was in luck the flies were still hatching off, having attached a 15 foot leader with a 2 lb tippet I tied on a size 18 grannom imitation with I lightly greased then degreased the last two feet of the leader. Sitting on the bank I waited for a fish to show, within minutes three decent rises were observed, I picked one then watched the area, ten minutes later the fish showed again, as the fish showed for a third time I made a long cast upstream in line with the feeding fish, then watched closely for a take, the fly drifted down and away no interest, I made four more casts, still no action, though I could see fish taking the odd emerge. I gave it half an hour with no action and the hatch diminishing, it was time for a change. This time I chose a small Walker mayfly nymph which has proved very good in similar situations over many years.

Two Brace of Trout

In the next twenty thirty minutes I had some exciting sport, my first fish was an out of season chub about 4lbs which really did give me the run around. My next fish was a trout of around fourteen inches, both fish had intercepted the nymph some inch or so under the surface. Slowly the grannom disappeared, the hatch had lasted around fifty minutes, the birds flew off to pastures new. I had three more trout the best around sixteen inches, retaining a brace for my doctor. I fished on for another half an hour then decided it was time for a mug of tea with two slices of buttered toast the end of a delighted early day session.


Brace of trout

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Martin James Fishing
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