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Duffers fortnight

I have seen my first mayfly of the season, which is right on cue as we launch a lovely house with double bank fishing on Riverview Close. The mayfly season, it seems, is upon us. This is a hallowed time of year for fly fishermen, some have been waiting for it with a frenzy bordering on the rabid. It is also known as 'Duffer's Fortnight' because the trout go into a feeding frenzy for about two weeks, gorging themselves on big fat mayfly and throwing caution to the wind. The mayflies hatch, following two years in their aquatic nymphal stage. The nymphs swim upwards and struggle out of their skins, through the surface film, to emerge as a flying adult - the dun (or sub-imago). If they have been lucky enough to avoid the teeth of hungry trout, they fly to the trees, shed their skin again and the final adult stage of their life cycle is born, the spinner or imago. They hatch, mate, lay their eggs and die ' all within a day ' hence their name ' Ephemera danica 'the ephemeral dancer'. Anyone who has witnessed clouds of 'dancing' male spinners in the trees attracting their mates, knows what a sight it is to see the fall of spent mayfly once they have finished their reproductive duties. The trout go into a feeding frenzy, taking full advantage of this nutritious bounty and packing on their body weight after a more frugal winter. These two weeks are sometimes known as 'duffers' fortnight' because the fishing can be so easy. However, it is also the time when the very large trout can be tempted to the surface from deeper lies to be taken on a traditional upstream dryfly. Yet, as with many things, it is rarely that simple and all is not as it might seem. As someone afflicted with the angling addiction, my view, like other fishermen is 'Duffers Fortnight' is, in fact, a myth. Supposedly it provides the inexperienced flyfisher with fourteen days of easy fishing at the start of the mayfly hatch, at its best, the most spectacular hatch of fly on the English chalkstreams. There cannot have been many four-day periods during the mayfly hatch, let alone fourteen, where fishing is consistently easy. In JW Hills book 'A Summer on the Test' written in 1924 this very experienced fisherman describes his mayfly experience. 'Mayfly fishing is proverbially uncertain. You get days when trout will take anything, when the most dreadful bungle will not put them down, and when they mind neither thick gut, bad casting nor wretched imitations. But such days are rare. Looking back over many years, I can only remember a few. And, to put against such days, I remember many more when trout were wonderfully difficult, when fish were feeding steadily and yet accurate and delicate fishing met with scanty reward. I am talking, be it noted, of days when all is in the fisherman's favour, when there is not too much fly and trout appear hungry and eager. But you have even greater obstacles to overcome when there is a glut of fly. Both the newly hatched and also the spent insect sometimes come down in masses which no one would believe possible who had not seen them. The water is covered, trout are not taking one fly in a hundred, your artificial has to float among droves of naturals, and there seems no imaginable reason why the fish should ever take it.' But like the old joke about the fisherman who dies and awakes on a sunny riverbank, rod in hand and catches a trout on every cast he makes to a rising fish. At first, he thinks this is marvelous and he has gone to heaven - but when he realises he simply cannot stop catching fish, it dawns on him that he is really in hell - his love of a difficult (if trivial) pursuit (amongst beautiful, wild surroundings) had become mundane, predictable and controllable. 'The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope'. But buying a house with a river has little to do with fishing and everything to do with being by part of something magical, whatever the season. As so beautifully described byKenneth Grahame, in the wonderful The Wind in the Willows;'The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spellbound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.' 32 Riverside Close, Laverstock, Salisbury - guide price £850,000. Winkworth Salisbury  

I have seen my first mayfly of the season, which is right on cue as we launch a lovely house with double bank fishing on Riverview Close.

32 Riverside Close 146345 (6)crop.jpg resized

The mayfly season, it seems, is upon us. This is a hallowed time of year for fly fishermen, some have been waiting for it with a frenzy bordering on the rabid. It is also known as 'Duffer's Fortnight' because the trout go into a feeding frenzy for about two weeks, gorging themselves on big fat mayfly and throwing caution to the wind.

The mayflies hatch, following two years in their aquatic nymphal stage. The nymphs swim upwards and struggle out of their skins, through the surface film, to emerge as a flying adult - the dun (or sub-imago). If they have been lucky enough to avoid the teeth of hungry trout, they fly to the trees, shed their skin again and the final adult stage of their life cycle is born, the spinner or imago. They hatch, mate, lay their eggs and die ' all within a day ' hence their name ' Ephemera danica 'the ephemeral dancer'. Anyone who has witnessed clouds of 'dancing' male spinners in the trees attracting their mates, knows what a sight it is to see the fall of spent mayfly once they have finished their reproductive duties. The trout go into a feeding frenzy, taking full advantage of this nutritious bounty and packing on their body weight after a more frugal winter. These two weeks are sometimes known as 'duffers' fortnight' because the fishing can be so easy. However, it is also the time when the very large trout can be tempted to the surface from deeper lies to be taken on a traditional upstream dryfly.

Yet, as with many things, it is rarely that simple and all is not as it might seem. As someone afflicted with the angling addiction, my view, like other fishermen is 'Duffers Fortnight' is, in fact, a myth. Supposedly it provides the inexperienced flyfisher with fourteen days of easy fishing at the start of the mayfly hatch, at its best, the most spectacular hatch of fly on the English chalkstreams.

There cannot have been many four-day periods during the mayfly hatch, let alone fourteen, where fishing is consistently easy. In JW Hills book 'A Summer on the Test' written in 1924 this very experienced fisherman describes his mayfly experience.

'Mayfly fishing is proverbially uncertain. You get days when trout will take anything, when the most dreadful bungle will not put them down, and when they mind neither thick gut, bad casting nor wretched imitations. But such days are rare. Looking back over many years, I can only remember a few. And, to put against such days, I remember many more when trout were wonderfully difficult, when fish were feeding steadily and yet accurate and delicate fishing met with scanty reward. I am talking, be it noted, of days when all is in the fisherman's favour, when there is not too much fly and trout appear hungry and eager. But you have even greater obstacles to overcome when there is a glut of fly. Both the newly hatched and also the spent insect sometimes come down in masses which no one would believe possible who had not seen them. The water is covered, trout are not taking one fly in a hundred, your artificial has to float among droves of naturals, and there seems no imaginable reason why the fish should ever take it.'

But like the old joke about the fisherman who dies and awakes on a sunny riverbank, rod in hand and catches a trout on every cast he makes to a rising fish. At first, he thinks this is marvelous and he has gone to heaven - but when he realises he simply cannot stop catching fish, it dawns on him that he is really in hell - his love of a difficult (if trivial) pursuit (amongst beautiful, wild surroundings) had become mundane, predictable and controllable.

'The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope'.

But buying a house with a river has little to do with fishing and everything to do with being by part of something magical, whatever the season.

As so beautifully described byKenneth Grahame, in the wonderful The Wind in the Willows;'The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spellbound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.'

Island resized

32 Riverside Close, Laverstock, Salisbury - guide price £850,000.

Winkworth Salisbury

 

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