Pandemics, Night Time Fishing, The Mighty Mito
These are strange times, strange times indeed! The Coronavirus has shaken our world and how we live. We are living in the great unknown and one of the frightening things is that we can’t plan with any certainty for what lies ahead for us. As I write we are currently under lockdown here in Ireland until the 5th of May and as I have just said none of us know what lies beyond that for us. Should we find that after this date the restrictions here are eased then we may just have a chance to go fishing. As our sport is one that can be carried out in isolation then it may be the case we will get out. Whatever is decided however, we shall heed, the lives, health and wellbeing of all us are the most important thing. The measures that are being taken by the authorities are there to save lives and this they have done.
So, if we find ourselves free to fish then a shot at some evening fishing on the Mito buzzer would be worth a go, it is one of my favourite hatches and has given me some fantastic evenings. So, I write in hope rather than certainty of getting out, if we don’t then there is always next year!
While the month of May is associated with Mayfly and all the madness surrounding it, there is another hatch of fly that occurs at this time, a member of the buzzer family, the Mito buzzer, for me I look forward to the arrival of this trout morsel as much as the Mayfly. This chironomid has a slightly different cycle to other buzzers; it hatches mainly at dusk/night time although at times it can appear during the day so be prepared. The fly begins to get active close to sunset so as dusk progresses and the light fades, all of a sudden in a matter of minutes the water becomes covered in them. My own experience is that from 10:00 pm to midnight has been the best time for me.
The Mito hatches from silty bottom bays, sheltered from exposed winds, indeed the areas where boats are kept on the Loughs can be perfect for Mito as these spots, as a rule, are sheltered and not exposed to the prevailing winds. Don’t be put off by the depth of the bay either; the fly will hatch in areas that may only be 2’-3’ deep. These spots are mainly off limits during the day as fish will be incredibly spooky but it is a different story at night and from my own experience the boat does not tend to scare them. Indeed, quite often I will be casting to fish just a couple of metres from the gunwale.
I have fished Mito on Corrib, Mask and Carra and had great fish on all three. I know that they are present on most other Irish trout Loughs and on some of the midland waters fantastic sport can be had. I also feel that some of our lesser trout Loughs are worth investigating at evening time. If I had more time in May, I would love to check out some of these lakes, as I feel it would give the angler a chance to get trout from water that may not give up too many!
What to expect; I penned the below paragraph a couple of years ago and it describes what to expect when the mito is on.
‘With the sun after setting in the West throwing its last rays of amber for that day, the waters before you are deadly still in the failing light. You are just after listening to the snipe drumming his wings in flight in the sky above when you hear the rise away towards the east. Looking into the dark horizon you scan where you think it was, then he moves again ending the brief life cycle of one of the hundreds of adult buzzers that are scurrying on the surface, you hear him but still don’t see him. This is no splashy take but a gulp by a large trout who has thrown away the shackles of caution feeling secure in the cover of darkness, what you are hearing is his mouth closing. You crouch low in the boat and spot the next rise, only ten metres away, the tiniest of dark nebs as the fish engulfs another fly. You drop your fly two metres ahead of his path and can just make out where it has landed when he takes another adult just short of yours. The anticipation is unbearable as you wait what seems an eternity. Then that same neb appears where you are sure your fly is, you lift your rod, the line tightens bending the rod and suddenly the dimple explodes into an eruption, shattering the stillness before you but at the same time your rod straightens and the hook comes away. Too quick! Far too quick! You utter a profanity that can be heard on the Carrick shore a mile away, that maybe the only chance you get for the whole evening. Three or four pounds? Probably more, you’ll never know, God you will never know’.
Tactics and Set-up
Dry Fly is the tactic and while I have caught on nymphs, particularly at the start of a hatch, Dries are your only man!
The set up I use for my Mito dries can raise a few eyebrows as it differs greatly from my normal dry fly outfit. I use a 10’ #7, fishing a single fly on 2x tippet material 10’ in length. It is heavy duty. While during the day I prefer to fish a #5 weight, sometimes a #6 rod for Dries, I opt for the heavier outfit for my Mito fishing.
There are 3 main reasons for this.
- Tippet strength: if we are using finer tippet material this necessitates softer lighter rods as so not to smash on the take, not so with the Mito. I use FM Masterclass 2x which is 10lb test. At night time there is less for the fish to see and also as the Trout are moving in definite paths, you cast your single fly in front of them so all they will see first is your fly.
- Obstructions: While I have no problem subduing a bigger fish with a #5 rod, at night-time things are different, there can be reeds, weed beds, fenceposts, rocks etc a whole host of things that can hinder your chances. You need to be in charge, you need to bully him.
- Welfare: Releasing a fish and its wellbeing are crucial. Doing these things in the light of day are fine doing this under cover of darkness can bring problems. My mantra is get the fish in quick so you can get him back quick.
The whole thrill for me in Night-time fishing is the hunting, stalking, covering and then ultimately hooking the trout, I can enjoy playing fish on light tackle at other times. Also, it is worth remembering that the average size of fish on the Mito is much bigger than normal. I see from my own diaries that the trout would average around 3lb. This is from an area of the lake where the normal average size of trout during the day would be a pound and a half.
The Mito patterns are probably some of the simplest to tie and for any of you that are just trying out the fly dressing gain due to isolation then they are easy to do.
Night Time Buzzer
Hook; FM-1180 #10-12 (#10 is best)
Body; Claret Seals Fur sub.
Head Hackle; Cream Badger Cock
Day Time Buzzer
Hook; FM-1180 #10-12 (#10 is my best)
Body; Dark Grey Seals Fur sub.
Head Hackle; Cream Badger Cock
There is a phenomenon with the Mito whereby on occasion a lot of adult males will attempt to mate with a female on the water’s surface. When this happens big clusters of flies will appear, almost the size of golf balls. The trout will turn on to these in quick time.
Hook; FM 1180 #8-10
Body Hackle; 3 Genetic Cock Grizzle
Rib; Soft Wire
Head Hackle; Cream Badger Cock
So, if we are lucky enough to get out for the 2020 Mito hatch give it a lash, fingers crossed.