Friday, 24 May 2019

My Mayfly day


By now thousands of you will have caught thousands of fish on the Mayfly. My personal score stands resolutely at zero. I am yet to cast a Mayfly. For my days around this magical time evolve in a slightly different manner to yours.

I'm up a dawn but not, sadly, to fish. Email is a marvellous thing but it's also a choke chain on my life. Some of you clearly wake up in the middle of the night with the dread question: is my fishing tomorrow? Did I really book it? Where are my maps? Or a myriad of other things that invade our sleep ahead of any trip. And being as we all are (and I am not complaining) you send an email. I truly don't mind. I'd rather answer an email over my first cup of tea of the morning than field a frantic phone call later on.

Then it is off to the river to greet guests and corral the guides. I am a veritable travelling fly shop and mini mart - everything from cool beer to some of the most esoteric mayfly patterns in existence. We all like a bit of novelty. Then it back to the office for yes, more emails and writing. I sacrifice time on the river to bring you this newsletter. And then it is back to the river to collect the empties. Console the unsuccessful. Congratulate the victors.

I like to stay until everyone is gone; the car park finally empty. It is for me one of the greatest pleasures in life to sit on a bench, deserted of human company, to absorb the silence and quiet. Watch the river slide on by. See the occasional dying Mayfly sucked down by a trout who has mastered the art of the effortless take. I never feel inclined to fish though I do err towards that arrogant belief that I would indeed catch every rising fish should I have a rod in hand. But somehow the act of fishing seems unimportant. The fish have suppled their side of the bargain: sport for the day. In the dying light I feel they have earnt the right to feed unimpeded.

Eventually the occasional rises peter away to absolutely nothing. A glass flat river. It's done for another Mayfly day. It is time for me to leave. I feel my phone vibrate on silent in my pocket. The final round of the day beckons. Home. Eat. Sleep. Reboot. Tomorrow is another Mayfly day.

Is it a plane? Is it a bird? Well, sort of ....

.... it's a swoose. I never knew such a thing existed, the product of a swan and a goose. However odd the combination this stuffed specimen lived to the goodly age (at least for a hybrid bird) of fourteen years, born in 1910 at Beeston Priory in Norfolk where it lived out its life.
There are a few other swooses documented in more recent times. There was one living close to the estuary of the River Frome that was variously seen between 2004 and 2011. If our stuffed version was more swan than goose; this Dorset one was more goose than swan. More recently one was born at the National Trust West Green House in Hampshire in 2016.

If you would like to buy this rare stuffed exmaple it is in the Summers Place Auction on 11th June. The guide price is £2,000-3,000. 

From odd fowl to odd fish

Here is a weird looking brown trout, in fine condition bar the obvious, that came out of the River Test on the Main beat at Mottisfont Abbey earlier this week.

It is now back swimming around, but we think it may have been caught once before in the One Fly, though that was some years ago. It did, as you might, imagine cause a certain amount of discussion as the One Fly scoring is based on the length of the fish. Now clearly this fish would, under normal circumstances be a quarter longer than it currently is. There was some attempt to argue for a higher score based on what-it-should-have-been, but our rigorous scrutiny committee dismissed the appeal i.e. we just laughed at the notion.

We are undecided as to whether this is a wild or stocked fish, though are generally erring on the side of wild. A disfigured fish of this kind would rarely get through the quality control of any decent fish farmer and if it did it probably would not have survived for so long and in such good condition.

If you do happen to catch Stumpy again do take a photo but do put him (or her) back.

Father's Day weekend

My father had absolutely no interest in fishing, fly or otherwise. But even though he never really understood my fascination, he happily ferried me around the rivers and trout lakes of southern England in the days before I could drive. He always seemed perfectly happy to read the paper or nod off in the car. Maybe he did get that bit of fishing where we are all very capable of filling a day doing very little.

The journey home was inevitably interrupted by frequent stops at wayside inns where we occasionally traded my catch for scampi-in-the-basket. My father had this uncanny knack of becoming the publicans' best friend in the matter of a few sentences. We were treated as regulars despite being miles from home in pubs we hardly ever visited. As you might imagine the remainder of the trip could sometimes be something of an adventure ......

I am not sure my childhood experience is the best template for inculcating your own children to fly fishing, but we do have the chance for fishing with your son or daughter here at Nether Wallop Mill on Saturday 15 June, the day before Father's Day proper.

It is a half day led by one of our patient instructors which aims to teach the essential casting skills, how to tie a fly and all importantly, catch plenty of fish. As the parent you will sit out the first 90 minutes (we serve excellent coffee, have comfortable chairs and Wi-Fi) but after that you'll buddy up with your child to catch fish.

The sessions run 9.30am-1pm or 2pm-5.30pm. There will be up to four father/child (8-16 years) pairs at each session. All tackle and flies provided. You may take home fish if you wish. The cost is £125/pair. For more details and to book click here .....

The Quiz

So, with all the swoose in mind our quiz this week is on hybrids. As ever it is just for fun 
with answers at the bottom of the Newsletter.

1)      What is a hinny?

2)      What bee species were crossed to create the Killer Bee?

3)      What two trout species are crossed to create the cutbow?

Enjoy the Whitsun break.

Best wishes,
Simon Signature 
Founder & Managing Director


1)     The reverse of a mule: a cross between a female donkey and a male horse.

2)   The European honeybee and an African bee. A laboratory attempt to create tamer more manageable bees that then escaped into the wild. 

3)     Rainbow and cutthroat trout.

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