The heavenly weather drew me to the riverbank, and, thanks to my friend Simon Cooper (www.fishingbreaks.co.uk), I found myself casting my line across the upper reaches of the River Test. My timing could not have been better-not only did the countryside look utterly beautiful in its new verdant outfit, but my visit coincided with the start of the mayfly hatch, or duffer’s fortnight, when fishing, for once, becomes ridiculously easy.

The ephemeral mayfly is an enormous meal compared to the rest of the trout’s diet, and, with such an easy feast on offer, the fish go crazy for them. Instead of gently sipping little gnats or kissing the surface to pluck insects stuck in the surface film, the trout take wild slashes at mayflies, often leaping clear of the water to snatch one as it dances and flies above the surface. This recklessness is an angler’s dream.

What is normally an intellectual game of chess between the angler and the fish becomes a less subtle contact sport. At the peak of the hatch, I caught five fish from five consecutive casts. Some fishing purists turn their noses up at such ease, but I was more than happy to have the odds, for once, in my favour.

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