Due to the very cold spring the start of the Mayfly hatch has been delayed a little but it has now started on the lower River Test in the Romsey area.  Our chalkstreams guide Colin Alexander has been out guiding on the River Test and River Itchen in recent days – just as the Mayfly hatch was starting – and here is his report: 

‘I have just guided for the last four days on different waters and have seen all weathers from strong gusty cold winds, to hail and some sunny snaps in between where you could almost believe it was spring. More like early-April generally than mid-May.

On the first and last day I was guiding on the lower Test where few fish were rising, including surprisingly the smaller fish which normally provide such great sport when the larger Trout are uninterested. We secured Trout on both days on the lower Test and a black Klinkhamer was the most productive fly. There were signs of Mayfly; more so yesterday (16th May) when by 5pm there were increased numbers of duns sailing down the river but clearly the trout are deep and not switched onto them as yet.  The water was tinged compared with normal and very cold. Once that chill in the air goes the sport should increase no end. Speaking with the keeper this seems pretty consistent up and down the river at the moment.

On the middle days we fished the upper Test and the Itchen. It turned out on those days that when the fish switched on we had great sport on para Adams. Lots of risers in between strong winds and some heavy rain. With Olives hatching the best method was to present with a parachute cast soft drop to get the takes. It took a while to get going but worth missing lunch for and when fish are rising keep fishing!

On the Itchen it was a similar story…..the river looked dead first thing and clients needed convincing there was anything in the water. Fishing right to the lift…under the rod tip…reaped the benefit with a near on 2lb out-of-season Grayling and some good Trout. After 2pm with countless rises and some lovely Trout we had some great fishing over the gravels and tight to the banks on a mixture of olive representations and black gnats.

Top tip …cast and give a tug back. Drops like a feather and minimises drag…..fussy fish will take more confidently. Also, whilst Olives were hatching today so were black midge at the same time and be prepared to change if both hatching at same time. Fish can be selective and it would have been easy to stick to para Adams and get caught out with fish taking the other insects.

Also, we were on .11 diameter tippets. When I changed to that yesterday, takes increased by 50%. Also, degreasing the tippet is worth the 20 seconds it takes when takes get fussy.’

and… our guide Mick reported on 12th May: ‘Large Dark Olives in medium numbers with fish picking of the odd fly. Good hatch of very small olives when the still cold wind drops.  Trout to 4lb on ‘F fly,  Tups and Klinkhamer.  River level perfect.’