Don’t you just love those summer evenings when it all comes together after good may fly hatch, and the evening show opens with a magnificent spinner fall?
As I write this, in the midst of the bitter Norwegian winter, these moments are just distant memories. But the reminiscent of fading evening light, may flies falling like snowflakes and rising trout is what makes the clock tick, the day and weeks pass. Actually, the very thought of these rare fly fishing days makes the winter pass.
I remember a couple of years ago. We had been out in the river all day. The summer had been forgiving and had given a frozen northern angler some pretty good days out. The little birds had been hatching evenly and well distributed throughout the season. Sparse but enough to entice trout to the surface on a regular basis. I was also blessed with a few memorable moments earning more than one page in the fly fishing diary. Up here, close to the polar circle we’re not spoiled with long hatch cycles. The season is also short, the water cold, the weather and hatches unpredictable.
Every opportunity is a gift. But, we’re blessed with pristine waters world class nature and a wilderness you’ll find very few other places in the world. And the light. The Scandinavian mid-summer light with virtually no darkness makes the season twice as long. Or, so it feels.
That summer a few years ago, there were spinner falls every other night – mirroring the hatches a few days before.
I had been fishing an Epmemerella hatch (Aurivilli). It was mid July, and as the evening approached I felt content. Satisfied with what the river had given me and how the little bugs triggered fish to the surface. The trout had been kind, giving me more opportunities than I was able to take. But still, I landed quite a few golden speckled beauties that day.
“My God I’m glad these moments come rarely”, I was thinking to myself as I waded ashore and out of the ice cold water. Gratitude to days like these increase exponentially with the absence of them.
Sleeping bag next
And as I sat there by the river bank, sipping the traditional Aquavit (a damn harsh Norwegian liquor), the rising gradually (but still) suddenly stopped. For an hour, no activity on the river. A quiet calm came over me as I sat there and let the sight and my thoughts wander away to a place where tranquility and peace govern. The place you’ll only reach in the wild, at your river with your favourite rod at your side.
“That’s it for today. Now it’s back to the tent, the sleeping bag and a few more of those Aquavits. Then there’s tomorrow. There’s always a tomorrow”, I softly said to myself as I started packing.
But just as I got up, looked up to consider tomorrow’s weather forecast, I saw them coming dancing towards the rivers. Small mayfly bombers loaded with little eggs, ready to dive into the water to fulfill their final mission. And, to die.
Christ almighty. They came in numbers. There were Aurivillis (Aroni), Ignitas, Baetis and even a few Danicas. What already had been an unbelievable day out, was obviously going to end in a bang. A crescendo and a firework. A Grand Finale!
Undo the packing
As the packing routine went in reverse, I felt a shiver of excitement when I started preparing my rod for a night out in the river. But then I stopped setting up the rod. I felt content. Didn’t have to wade out in the ice cold water again. I have had enough, I can just use this moment at this godforsaken heavenly spot just to observe what happens. Observewhat a spinner fall look like, when not participating in it. I could use the opportunity to learn more about the behaviour of both fish and bug. Usually at moments like this, I’d be standing out in a river waving my stick. Sometimes with a calm, but just as often stressed about the fact that opportunities are so plentiful that it’s difficult to choose which fish to go for.
I decided just to sightsee the squadrons of may fly bombers as they left their eggs on the river bed, and then slowly die on the smooth surface of my river. Too rarely had I taken the time to do this. Tonight was the night for learning and observing the spinner fall and how trout responded to the floating crucified bugs on their predestined final journey.
Thus my diary had a new chapter written that night. Thoughs on what I saw, coupled with nearly 40 years of practical fishing and experience, finally became structured and documented. First of all for myself and my family. But here they are, somewhat structured and hopefully well presented, my thoughts on fishing a spinner fall.
Seven key learnings