Photograph by Steve Barnett

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Wishful Thinking

A cool wind and thick cloud made the day quite unsuitable for Bibio marci today but "Wishful Thinking" had me start with a Charles Cotton's Black Fly, even though I had seen no Hawthorn Flies at all on our wander down river to Ogden Island.  A lucky cast and a silly mistake by a trout in the eddy at the tail of the long Reed Mace beds below Meaden almost convinced me to persevere with the little black fly.  However, as Henry and his pal, your faithful blogger, settled among the Fleur de Lys at the tail of Ogden Island it should have been instantly clear that this fly was NOT what the fish  all around us wanted!

Charles Cotton's Black Fly
 Sitting down to hide in the "Swords of Green", we could see that there was a very vigorous rise going on.  Everywhere we looked there were fish rising steadily.  I'd guess that each fish was rising at about six rises to the minute.  A glorious sight, especially when considering what a late starting year we are having.  The season is still about six weeks late.  Anyway that little black fly, which normally fills me with such confidence, had to come off.  What to put on in its stead?

Pheasant Tail Dry Fly
Most of the flies were in fact Blue Wiged Olives but sprinkled amongst them were Large Dark Olives and some other olives of a pale sandy appearance.  The decision was made to use a Pheasant Tail dry fly with a pale honey dun hackle and tail.  In fact the fly selected was the one tied for you in the Step-By-Step last year.  

Wild Brown Trout In My Lap
It was immediately proven to be the very fly for the task, as a lovely young wild brown trout, with red spots and white leading edges to its pelvic fins, snaffled it at the first chuck.

The Actual Fly Tied in the Step-By-Step
Henry and his pal then worked our way slowly upstream, revelling in the fine Sport that came to us simply by being there, being stealthy all the time, observing carefully and casting as neatly as possible to "where the fish are".  It was a big reward for little effort.  In the end we moved on to the weirpool at Black Barn as Henry was getting a bit cold and bored having been ordered out of the water after he tried to "help" as all the fish were once again escaping as soon as his pal had taken that fly thing out.  He must wonder how I get to eat...

Henry Bored Amongst the "Swords of Green"
At Black Barn the light was making the river into a silvered sheet.  The fly was invisible to the angler!  So that ploy of breaking the "match the hatch" rule was tried.  Charles Cotton's Black Fly was reinstated and the Pheasant Tail demoted to the hat band to dry.  The ploy worked with a couple of strong rainbow trout heaving the rod over as if they were ninety pound Tarpon instead of nine ounce bejewelled torpedoes! 

Below Black Barn Weir
It became clear that the cold wind, Henry's recent haircut, his excursional soakings and sitting doing nowt was having its effect on him.. The Cocker Spaniel needed to move about a bit, so we set off upriver towards home. On the way we paused in the recreation ground to watch more fish rising, met up with Warren, exchanged pleasantries, met Alisdair, another good friend with Henry's half sister, Purdy, as his outdoor companion!  Before we knew it, we were back at the garden door and home. It had been a good day.

Saint Mark's Fly, the Hawthorn Fly, Bibio marci
Maybe the Hawthorn Fly will be out later this week if the weather warms up a little, or is that just more "Wishful Thinking"?

Regular Rod


  1. Hi Rod! The flies are all familiar but I don't know what a Hawthorn is. Peculiar looking guy isn't he?

    1. They are terrestrial flies that live among uncultivated grass roots. They need natural grass that is not sprayed or excessively fertilised. They appear usually around 25th April, St. Mark's Day, hence the name Bibio marci, and they hang around (again "usually") until the second or third week in May. They are not the most agile fliers and on a sunny day with intermittent breezes they get blown onto the water and are quickly devoured by the nearest trout. The very useful side effect of this is that by the third week in May, in most years, anything black landing on the surface is seized, violently, by the fish. It is sometimes unnecessary to even strike as the fish take the fly so violently, they hook themselves. The presence of the Hawthorn Fly can be a big festival.

      This year, so far, it is not...



  2. A friend called to say he had seen Hawthornes catching olives today.