The main UK game fly fishing season runs from March through to September. This is partly due to local byelaws dictating when you can fish, but it also follows the natural feeding pattern of UK game fish species. Insect eggs start hatching in spring, with larvae developing over the summer months, luring trout and other game fish up to the surface.
But you can fish in the winter months, too. Take a look at this month-by-month calendar breakdown of when to fly fish in the UK.
March — fly fishing season starts
Let’s start with March, since this is the typical beginning of the fly fishing season. The close season for trout and salmon fishing ends in most regions around the UK (check your local byelaws to find out when the close season ends for you). The coarse fishing close season runs from 15th March to 15th June on rivers in England and Wales, so fly fishing becomes more popular around this time.
Fishing so early in the season won’t always bring success. It can still be quite cold in March, causing trout to remain deeper in the water. But be patient, and inspect the environment for clues. Wet flies are often effective in March.
April often brings warmer temperatures, encouraging fish to rise from the riverbed, making them easier to spot. Choose your fishing days carefully; warm but overcast weather is best. If it’s windy or sunny, seek a sheltered spot where nymphs are emerging and terrestrials are landing safely on the water.
Chalkstream season begins in April. Most chalkstreams in the UK are in Hampshire. Our fly fishing schools are based here, so book an early-season lesson to brush up on your technique.
May — Mayfly hatch begins
The famous Mayfly hatch typically occurs during the last two weeks of May, as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer. This is primetime for fly anglers — make sure you have mayfly patterns ready for fly fishing season in the UK.
The evening rise tends to start in June. This is the biggest feeding time for trout, so be prepared to continue fishing as the sun starts to set and the shadows get longer.
The mayfly hatch often continues into early June, but after this you’ll need to experiment with other flies to see ongoing success.
The coarse fishing season resumes on 15th June, so expect rivers to get busier throughout the summer.
July — August
The bright summer sun will make fly fishing trickier throughout the day. Position yourself in shaded spots and fish with utmost accuracy to lure trout out of their lazy post-feeding slump.
Evening time is often when anglers see the most success. Wear polarised sunglasses to reduce glare reflecting off the water so you can see rises more readily.
With its long, cloudy days, September is a good month to extend the fishing season. Invest in warmer fishing clothing so you can extend your days out on the water, even as the weather starts to chill.
Experiment with different patterns this month. Food supply is plentiful, and the remaining trout are tough to trick, so keep trying different patterns until you see success.
October — the final month for fly fishing
The migratory trout close season begins in many areas in October, so check your local byelaws to see when it affects you. In some places, it doesn’t start until November, giving you this month to attempt some last-minute fishing for trout or grayling.
Be stealthy when fly fishing in October to see the greatest success. Limit your casting and stay a safe distance from the water so you don’t spook the remaining fish.
November — February
The close season for salmon begins in many areas in November. But lots of fisheries stay open over winter, so you can continue fishing even during these cold, short days. Many fish will stay deep in the waters during these months, so try a sinking line and sink tip to reach trout lurking in the depths.
Fishing with smaller patterns on rivers can lead to greater success. Nymphs and flies are very small at this time of year, so take it slow and don’t spook the fish with unnaturally large flies. If you’re fishing stocked still waters or reservoirs, other larger patterns may also be successful.
Stock up on fly fishing supplies
Lots of reservoirs and fisheries allow year-round fly fishing, so ardent anglers can fish even through the winter months. But to stay safe, warm, and dry, you must have the right gear and clothing for winter fly fishing. Find out what you need to fish grayling in the winter, then stock up on your winter must-haves: