bellyboats and mayfly madness

bellyboats and mayfly madness

t.z. | Thursday, 25 June 2015

How many of you have not caught fish? How many of you have done so in the midth of rising fish? How many of you have done that after you boat exploded? I guess pretty much all have been in such or similar situations. Maybe not as extreme, but we all have our frustrating moments. There is only one fix - lift your view, take a deeeeep breath and look around you. Try to see the bigger picture. Tough ... but that is the only thing that works - and laugh. Be happy about you have a story to tell.

My story for today started in Denmark at the Danish Fly Fair. Great event by the way. Fantastic mix of tuition, product shows and flytying. Make sure to be there in 2017. Anyway, while casting and testing rods and watching Konstanse getting taught flycasting by Paul and Chris Rownes one of the rings of one of my rods snapped. Very funky how it happened, but anyway. I did not see the dots line up, but was sure they will line up eventually. 

Back home in Oslo I went to see Dr. Rod - Glenn Sørvik, rodbuilder and fly fishing enthusiast extraordinaire. We have not met in person before, so I was very happy to find out what an amazingly nice guy he is. Of course he fixed the rod and replaced all rings to more sturdy versions, so it is even better than before.

Glenn lives a bit outside Oslo, not too far from some very very interesting lakes. He  invited me to fish with him. Last saturday the day had come that finally the Ephemera Vulgata (stillwater mayfly) started to hatch. Everybody waits for this day. Big fish come to the surface to gulp these huge mayflies.

I stole a bit of text from Wikipedia. I think it is interesting to have bit more background information on these insects.

From Wikipedia:
Ephemera vulgata is a species of mayfly in the genus Ephemera. This mayfly breeds in stationary water in slow rivers and in ponds, the nymphs developing in the mud.mEphemera vulgata can be told in both adult and subimago stages from the rather similar green drake (Ephemera danica) by its duller colour and slightly smaller size. The wings are more heavily veined and the upper side of the abdomen has pairs of dark lateral markings on each 

Ephemera vulgata is found throughout most of Europe. It mostly breeds in sluggish rivers and still waters such as ponds. This species is in decline, probably because of pollution of waterways by pesticides and heavy metals, and because the adult insects are disorientated by light pollution. The nymphs of Ephemera vulgata burrow into the sediment at the bottom of ponds. Most burrowing mayfly nymphs use the gills on their abdomens to create a current of water through their burrows, thereby ensuring sufficient oxygen is available to absorb through the tracheae in their skin.

The motile, filamentous gills of Ephemera vulgata seem to act as secondary respiratory surfaces and their presence is necessary to the nymph in the low-oxygen environment in which it lives. By contrast, nymphs of Baetis and Cloeon spp. that were deprived of their gills, maintained a normal uptake of oxygen even in low-oxygen environments. The sediment in which the nymphs live is rich in organic material, and in polluted environments, heavy metals may accumulate. The nymphs bioaccumulate the toxic metals cadmium, copper, lead and zinc. The males perform a nuptial dance and this takes place over land, above open areas or single trees, or in the lee of trees in windy weather. This swarming activity takes place between June and August, in the morning and evening and at other time of day, influenced by the temperature and amount of cloud cover. In between bouts of swarming, males rest in the vegetation. Females fly into a swarm and are inseminated from below by a male taking part in the up and down motion. The eggs are laid by the female dipping her abdomen into the surface of the water. This mayfly usually has a two-year life cycle (one- and three-year cycles have also been recorded), with the nymphal stage lasting for most of this period and the adult being on the wing briefly in summer.

Reading the text one must notice a few key words - mud, sediment, organic material ... all this means the bottom of waters where these insects live in is not really an ideal wading area. The mud can be thin - or thick. You don't know until you find out. OK - message is clear - that place is to be fished from a floating device. So Glenn advised to bring the Bellyboat.

Since many years I am a proud owner of a Outcast boat. The thing is like a home from home. Floats well, relatively fast and lots of room. It makes a day on the water very pleasurable. So I was looking forward to this like a little boy for Christmas. Arriving at the water I quickly dragged the boat out of the car and pumped it up. Quite hard I must say. Yeah, maybe a bit more air? - yeah that should be good, I told myself.

I dragged the boat to the water and sat in it. Paddled out a few meters and started rigging my stuff ... but than all of a sudden - BAAMMMMM - it felt like the thing exploded under yours truly. I was in shock and tried to think. First was to analyse the situation. What happened and will I be sinking? - negative. Where has the stuff landed that was catapulted out of the open sidebag? Which Items do you need to rescue first. Amazing how quick all this went. I collected the floating things, watched some drown because I could not reach them and then paddled back to shore.

Alarmed by the loud explosion (I reckon something around 130dbA) Glenn came to help. However, he could not help laughing when he saw me and the boat. I leave commenting on what the exploded boat resembles up to you. Keep it down though - there might be kids around.

I got out fine, packed away the boat and fished from the bank and tested wading on muddy ground. All went very well. There were hundreds of fish rising, some quite big ones. Glenn lost one which took him right to the backing twice. - Ayway, I got one as well. The fish were very picky and simply dumb. They didn't even get the real insect on many occasions. They simply weren't used to such big insects. It was hilarious. Sunday was similar. Lots of rises but nobody was lucky to hook one. It drove us crazy.

Sunday night,  just before I had to leave, spinnerfall started. What a ballet. I stood in a cloud of flies all fluttering around me. It was amazing. Nature is amazing. There are things going on we do not know about. We can talk and discuss and reason for ages and still do not understand how the hell such simple creatures like mayflies are behaving like this. I stood in awe and felt soo fucking lucky being able to experience this.

Even more though, after having read more about how clean the water that Vulagata needs to survive. Truly humbling.

So whenever something fucks up, a boat explodes or rod breaks ... I think about how lucky we are, with this planet we are allowed to live on.

Cheers, t.z.

P.S. - The bellyboat was replaced under warranty without questions asked. I can only recommend Outcast boats and their remarkable service. One should note that bellyboat or similar floating devices should NOT be pumped too hard. The sun warms up the air inside quite a bit, which leads to expansion and a small rip or cut can lead to epic disaster. ;-)

tz_exploded boat1no further comment

2015-06-20 17.38.49luckily my brand new Vosseler wasn't with the other stuff on the bottom of the lake

2015-06-20 17.42.28
goodbye lake - I will be back


picture by Al Pyke

Thomas Züllich, or - “t.z.” as most call him - is a German flyfisher & flytier living in Norway. His flydressing is based on old traditions as well as very modern and innovative methods of creating flies. You can book Thomas for guided trips, flytying classes and presentations. He regularly gives speeches and demonstrations at fly fishing fairs. Thomas is member of the ProTeam at Partridge of Redditch as well as Regal Vises.