After several failed attempts at catching a Sea Trout and the news that the Environment Agency annual survey had not found any fish, I was lacking confidence. The last trip to the river was unproductive. I needed to catch a Trout to get back on track. South of Ockley torrential rain slowed me to 20mph but by the time I got to Five Oaks I needed sun glasses. Weird weather.
As I drove over the bridge at Billingshurst the North River was high and very coloured. It feeds into the Rother which I realised would be unfishable. I thought the lakes at Little Bognor would also be coloured so I turned right at Petworth and went to Great Springs.
As I entered the Estate the view across the Rother valley, the patchwork of fields and the cloudscape looked magnificent. I was surrounded by hundreds of acres of White Kidney Beans destined for cattle feed and to make humus. The millions of black seed pods made the fields look like the aftermath of a wild fire.
Tony, the Keeper, was at the club house carrying a thermometer. He said the water temperature was 26 degrees and a lot of fish had died. Things were not looking good. I took Tony’s advice and went to Luffs. I walked past Great Springs, it looked very quiet. A few fish were moving in the lower lake but they looked stressed and it was obvious that they were not feeding. The path through the woods was cool and quiet but it was too dark and enclosed for any wild life. Luffs lies in open ground and there was a steady breeze blowing up the lake from the dam end, it was enough to cool the water a few degrees.
While I set up my rod I sheltered from a shower of rain under a big Oak tree. Fish were rising along the far bank close to the weed beds. The rain stopped and everything looked soft and clean in the late afternoon sun. I flicked a size 16 Black Buzzer out across the ripple and almost immediately a fish flashed at it.
I explored the wooded bank at Luffs and saw a few fish rise but I couldn’t get a take. I wandered onto the dam end and saw a good fish cruising within casting range. The fly dropped perfectly, the fish rose in the water and turned towards the fly. The leader moved and I lifted the rod expecting a Trout. A small Roach had got there first. I caught another Roach and then moved to Upper Figgs. I didn’t see any signs of Trout so I walked down to Lower Figgs. It was looking lovely, the lilies and rushes made it seem like the perfect Tench water. There were no Trout, they were probably all dead.
It was a long walk back to the club house but it was peaceful in the woods. I’m glad I went for a walk around the lakes, the Estate is an unspoilt part of Sussex and it’s very calming. Catching a Trout is not as important as I thought.