Friday, 14 April 2017

April rivers report and hatch update

News and tips for the chalkstreams this month

In this update:
Hatching this month
Tackle tip
April weather & climate statistics
Close seasons

Welcome to April

I must admit a few months ago I was worried as we ended 2016 on the back on the driest July-December in more than two decades. However, the rain gods have smiled on us since so you will find the April rivers full and sparkling.

You will see no shortage of hatches; plenty of olives of all sorts, a few grannom and the odd rogue hawthorn.

Difficult to be precise about timings as everything is early this year. I usually take my cue by the Bluebells in the wood at The Parsonage on the River Test. Some years we will not see a hint of blue until the opening May Day but this year today (13/April) they are in bloom.

My outings thus far have been generally successful. Plenty of fish being seen, that have overwintered well. They do have a  tendency to 'look' at flies, so regularly changing the pattern to a curious fish will often do the trick.

Happy Easter!


April days are always full of excitement as the new season starts; you are straining at the leash after months of confinement and there are new rods, lines, flies and assorted kit to be tried out for the first time.

Large Dark Olive
It is difficult not to let your mood, and by association your fishing tactics, be dictated by the weather that prevails on the day. 

On a sunny, spring day the river will look alive; on a gloomy, rainy day as dead as a door nail. But it is worth reminding ourselves that for the fish the water temperature, flow and insect activity changes very little from day to day.

For the early season angler it is cold winds that are the killer, especially when from the north or east. On days like this fish nymphs well down in the water or seek out sheltered spots. On better days wait for the temperature to rise around mid-morning and have Large Dark Olive patterns ready for the hatch or fish a Pheasant Tail Nymph just beneath the surface.

These are the four main groups to be found hatching on the chalkstreams during April:

Large Dark Olive
Kite's Imperial
This is the predominate hatch for the month and the default fly to fish if you are not certain what to try.

Nymph Pheasant Tail Nymph size 14
Emerger JG Emerger 14
Dun Kite's Imperial 14 (pictured)
JG Emerger
One of the two speciality hatches this month. This member of the sedge family will hatch for 10-14 days in great abundance, though the hatches may be very localised.

Grannom 14

Islay loch and boat
The second speciality hatch, usually appearing for two weeks starting in the last week of April.

Hawthorn 12-14
Black Gnat 16-18

These are the commonest creatures that trout eat; if you see a trout turn on their sides and 'wriggle' along they are dislodging shrimps from the gravel bed.

Green or Pink shrimp 12-14
Sawyer's Killer Bug 14


Not everyone approves of strike indicators but in choppy, dark water and at the start of the season when reactions are still slow (!) they are a great boon.


There seems to be no middle ground in April - the days are positively spring-like or as gloomy as can be, but it is the wind that is your enemy. A cold north or east wind will kill off any hatches as it chills down the surface film, sending any emerging nymphs back down to wait another day.
Source: Met Office 1981-2010 averages


The close season for grayling, all coarse fish and eels is in place until 15 June.
All game fish (brown trout, sea trout and salmon) are in season. 


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