1 August – Top Beat

The weather forecast was for heavy rain from 4:00pm onwards so I left earlier than I had planned. It was overcast with a gentle south-westerly wind and showers. I was in two minds which beat to fish. The middle beats would have been fished over the weekend and although I hesitated at Keeper’s Bridge, I went with my intuition and headed for the Top Beat.

As I drove up the old railway track a flock of Gold Finches kept ahead of the Land Rover, flitting from one bunch of thistles to the next. A very large Buzzard was circling over a tractor cutting the meadow, no doubt looking for lunch.


While I was setting up my rod the Keeper, Andrew, drove across the field for a chat. He told me that the Environment Agency had electro fished the stretch of river below The Badgers and had found nothing; no Trout or Sea Trout. Either the fish had not arrived or they had all migrated far upstream during the high water in June/July.

I started with an Amber Nymph that I had tied over the weekend. It was weighted and sunk nicely. The pool immediately below Ladymead looked very inviting, as I crept to the edge of the river a trout splashed at the head of the pool, above the fallen tree. I covered the entire pool carefully and was surprised not to get a take.


Although I was only wearing wellies, I was able to wade onto the sand-bar at Ladymead without getting my feet wet. I searched the pool with the nymph but there was no interest. I walked up the beat searching the deepest pools. I heard several fish splash under the trees but only where it was impossible to present a fly.


I got about half-way up the beat but at about 4:00pm dark clouds welled up over the South Downs and the rain started to fall. It was time to go. I walked briskly back to the Land Rover but I had left it a bit late, I was soaked. I dried off in the Badgers with a pint.