The river level at Halfway Bridge registered 0.024m on the gauge which was the lowest I had seen for several weeks. The long hot spell and the lack of rain had lowered the water level and reduced the flow. Trout don’t like warm, slack water. They seek out faster, well oxygenated water with shelter from the sun and cormorants.
Ladymead was fast flowing and deep but I needed waders to get to the gully on the far side of the sand bar. The pool lies near one of the old locks on the Rother Navigation. Built in 1791 by the Third Earl of Egremont, the lock was one of seven between Midhurst and Stopham. The canal bought coal for the iron works and took stone down to the coast at Littlehampton. Ironically, I had driven along the disused railway line that put an end to the canal, one of Dr. Beeching’s many victims.
Ladymead Lock – circa 1791
The pool could only be fished ‘up and across’, mature Oak and Alder trees hang over the twin sluices at the head of the pool and give shelter to the resting Sea Trout. I’ve fished the pool a lot but I’ve never caught anything there. The steep sandy edge of the pool and overhanging trees had kept me away from the run that undercuts the Alders along the far bank but this time I had waders with me.
I got to Ladymead about 6:00pm, there was nobody there. I waded out onto the sand bar and fished a GRHE nymph methodically up the right hand run. The sand was coarse and supported my weight. There was a spring bubbling up through the sand just infront of me. I was careful to keep well away from the bubbles. I gradually worked up the run, lengthening the line, until I could drop the fly under the overhanging Alder tree. It was hard work keeping in contact with the fly as the current washed the line back towards me. After about an hour I had a take but I missed it. I repeated the process with a black spider but had nothing. I switched my attention to the left hand side of the pool and again worked up and across, gradually lengthening the line. After thirty minutes a fish took, it was a wild fish about 1lb and it scrapped for ages. It was in fine condition but I couldn’t take a photo and hold the fish and the net and the rod….
There was a splash just behind me in the left run. A small fish was rising so I changed to a dry fly and covered it. It rose to the fly three times and each time I missed.
A Kingfisher wizzed past me and flew between the stone pillars of the derelict sluice. There were quite a lot of pale yellow Olives hatching but the Trout seemed to be taking something very small.
My arm was hurting so I got out of the water and wandered downstream to the Long Pool. It looked great but I couldn’t find a fish. I tried the Monster Pool on the way back to the Land Rover but after a few casts I packed up and walked across the field, the pub was calling. I saw a member at Keeper’s Bridge car park, he’d had two fish and seen a Sea Trout. Perhaps I’m fishing in the wrong places.