As the Mayfly draws to a close, the fish start to reject most flies that they are offered, gorged by the heavy hatches in preceding weeks they may only be tempted by the smallest offering, preferring to rise to an Iron Blue or a Black Gnat rather than stuff themselves with another Mayfly. One sure sign that the Mayfly hatches are waning is the appearance of the “Yellow Sallies” slightly smaller than the normal Mayfly they are much more yellow in colour and always appear late. Fish rarely seem to rise to them although this may be because they arrive late when the fish are sated.
The weed cut started this week, first job being to sort out the fringe that, along with the grass has grown at an alarming rate. With the heavy showers of the past few weeks it has been necessary to edge the fringe in hard, making the river channel as big as possible to accommodate the extra water.
Fishing during the weed cut can be sporadic. This particular stretch of the river is high up in the system; there are only three or four people above this stretch who will be cutting any weed. Further down on the main river their will be weed coming down constantly throughout the weed cutting period, whereas here we will often get a few days when nothing will be cut and the river is clear. A constant flow of weed coming down the river often unsettle the fish, and make fishing difficult although occasionally you will get a fish feeding hard sub surface on food that is dropping from the cut weed.
This week it has been necessary to strip all of the weed out of the bottom fifty yards of the beat, in order to drop the level of the river that is now coming over the banks. The remainder of the river I will cut into horizontal bars across the river. Bar cutting helps to maintain depth where required, spreads the flow out evenly across the river so spreading the fish out between the bars. One particular right hand bend at the top of this stretch can be altered drastically through weed cutting. Over widened due to two spring ditches entering on the bend, the flow rotates in an anti clockwise direction with no weed, but in a clockwise direction with half a bar of weed at the head of the pool. One week the fish are facing one way, the next week they are facing the other way.
My son and I have been over to the North New Forest to play cricket at the weekend, my wife travelling as scorer. The two grounds we played at were situated in the Avon valley. Stopping at the bridges as most fishermen seem to do I was amazed by the weed growth across the whole river channel. One particular stretch was two thirds flowering ranunculus in six feet of water as far downstream as you could see. A daunting prospect for one bloke with his scythe, and one that would now be undertaken with a weedcutting boat; it would have taken gangs of men with links and pole scythes to clear it fifty years ago coupled with various people moving the cut weed on downstream.