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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


01/06/2022 - Today A Big Hawthorn Hatch

A Brace Of River Trout


Like many fly fishers I get excited when the first grannom and mayfly hatch, today I was certainly all smiles when I arrived on the river to see a big hatch of hawthorn flies, they were everywhere, some even landing on my clothing and hat. What a joy to behold on this late April day of light wind with bright sunshine, also a gin clear river making it possible to watch the trout having a feast. Not only the trout but the terns, wagtails, chaffinches were also busy. This morning I was on the river around 1000 hrs, the river surface surface was smooth as glass, small dimples could be seen in various places no doubt smolts dace and minnows feeding. Sadly not a single sand martin was hawking the surface of the river, normally I would see dozens and dozens of them feeding, the big floods of winter, have done a lot of damage, again no sign of crowfoot, the month of April has also been very cold with just some light rain.


Two weeks ago I was bitterly disappointed only to get a small Grannom hatch one lunchtime, lasting for around forty five minutes. Grannom larva build a case from small bits of vegetation then fastens itself to some water plant, such as crowfoot. For three years this wonderful plant with its daisy like flowers has virtually disappeared, I have been hoping I could find enough of the plant, to replant in other areas, but sadly not, I can’t risk taking it from another stream, As I want know what disease I might transfer to my water. Back in the car park I put together a 9 foot 4 weight rod, with one of my T&T reels, ideal for lines between three and five weight. I then extended my nine foot leader with a 4lb tippet, with an extra six feet of 3lb line, then attached a size 14 Hawthorn with its trailing legs. It is in my opinion the perfect imitation tied by Dave Riding who in fact ties all my flies, as Mark Sarul ties most of my coarse fishing hooks from 18’s to 8’s. With landing net attached to the back of my waistcoat by a magnet I was ready to angle, walking upstream slowly I carefully watched the water, after about six hundred yards I sat down on the bank, watching the water in the bridge pool.


Within thirty minutes I’d seen several fish take an Hawthorne fly now and again a fly was swept onto the water, when a light breeze blew downstream. Sitting on the bank I pulled some thirty plus feet of line off the reeI, then waited for a fish to show, within minutes I observed three decent rises, I picked one then watched the area, ten minutes later the fish showed again, I made a long cast upstream and across, in line with the feeding fish, the fly drifted down as it come to the feeding spot it was taken, the fish turned down leaving an air bubble on the surface, I set the hook. Soon I netted a trout around two pounds which was quickly released. In the next two hours I had three more good trout two on the hawthorn fly, one on a black bodied klinkhammer, probably only making around ten casts. After half an hour with no more signs of taking fish or hawthorns, caused I reckon by a cold wind I ended the session. Keeping a brace for my doctor, which I dropped off on the way home.

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Martin James Fishing
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