Fly Fishers' Republic

Old Dogs

June 3, 2008

by Raif Killips

A good friend and I fished the big ol’ Mayfly hatch this weekend. We trundled over to the river, going nice and slow in ‘The Van Formerly Known As Bobby’, stopping off briefly at a junction where the road switches over the river. One route takes you to the best trout and grayling beats at the edges of the Peak District National Park, while the other route takes you up and out of the valley to the beautiful Carsington Water. We were traveling out after several days of rain that might have rendered the river unfishable so we’d allowed ourselves the option of taking a boat out on the reservoir. Our stop-off was to check the river to see which road we should take. Remarkably the flow was perfect so we headed in the direction of Bakewell.

Taking it easy (middle age does have some advantages over youth) it took us a while to get down to the river, and though the hike to the bank showed no drakes other than the feathered variety, the scene at the river presented a pleasant contrast. In the heavy damp atmosphere beneath a low cloud canopy the mayflies were hanging around on the water and close to the banks. Naturally, the fish were having a party!

To cut a long story short, Simon and I joined the party and I guess we spoiled it for plenty of those fish. So many came to the dry fly that counting the catch would have been a chore. While catching so many was fun enough, I’ll just make mention of a couple of fish worthy of note.

Simon and I’ve been fishing the river together now for at least thirteen years, and I’ve been fishing it for as long as I’ve been fly-fishing. In all that time we’ve always caught the largest fish at this time of year, or at the shoulders of the season, when the fish are either ravenous or just plain aggressive. Up until last year our record for the venue stood at 2 and 2½ pounds respectively, Simon holding the record. Well, yesterday we smashed both our records with substantially larger fish.

Unfortunately we have only one-another to corroborate our story and a tape measure to estimate the sizes. One of the disadvantages of getting older in acquiring the propensity to forget things, and on this occasion we both forgot our cameras! So now we have only memories.

The fish were fit mature males that under most conditions would have never risen to a dry fly. Not unlike a few other bedazzled fish the spell of a fat mayfly hatching all nice and slow obviously proved a little too tempting for the old dogs, rewarding a couple of even older dogs with the catch of a lifetime. We estimate the fish to have been 2¾ and 3¼ pounds (they measured 20″ and 21″), and Simon still holds the record (Beer later was on him!). Both fell to a couple of home tied flies, Mayfly Emergers.

You may be glad to know that both fish were out of the water only briefly. They were successfully returned to fight another day and to continue the line of beautiful wild Derbyshire brown trout.