I hoped the river level had dropped. I checked the level on GuageMap, it was 0.026m. The weather had changed over the weekend, it had been dull and windy on Sunday. The temperature had dropped and the river should be in good condition. I wouldn’t know if the river was fishable until I crossed the bridge at Billingshurst.
Monday is always a good day to visit the river. A few members would have fished on Sunday evening but that keeps the Cormorants away. The weather forecast was unhelpful, sunny and 72 degrees. An evening session was my best option. I wondered about the temperature of the river. Was it one of the reasons why the fishing has been so difficult recently?
Dissolved oxygen levels decrease as the temperature rises. Trout use about 50-60 milligrams of oxygen per hour at 41F. At the lethal limit of 77F they would need five or six times that amount. Fish need more oxygen at higher temperatures because their metabolic rate increases. At 86F there is hardly any dissolved oxygen. So the lower the temperature of the water the better it is for fishing. I will have to buy a thermometer, something I’ve always dismissed as a gadget.
I stood on the bridge at Rotherbridge, the place that gave the river it’s name. Not the other way around. The water was clear and there were a few fish dimpling the surface, they were Dace not Trout. A member had already ‘signed in’ and I decided to go to Keeper’s Bridge. When I approached the arch of the old railway bridge I could see a car under the trees. I drove past and headed for the top beats.
As I walked around the edge of the field to Taylor’s Bridge I could hear voices. Two members were walking upstream chatting but not fishing. They didn’t see me as I crossed the bridge and went downstream to the shallow pool above the Monster Pool.
There is always a Trout in this pool, usually a small wild fish. I crept to the edge of the river bank and worked an Amber Nymph under the trees and down the edge of the weeds. After a few casts a frantic bow wave followed the fly but the fish missed it. I covered the whole pool working my way downstream towards the Monster Pool but I couldn’t get a response. I am always nervous at the Monster Pool as it produced my two best fish last year. I fished for about twenty minutes expecting a solid take at any moment. The fish had other ideas.
I moved to the Long Pool and after searching the edge of a weed bed, the line went solid and I thought I had hooked the roots. The rod thumped and a good fish thrashed on the surface. It showed a deep golden flank and then dived to the bottom of the pool. Luckily the pool had a sandy ledge and I was able to scramble down to the waters edge and net the fish. It was about 2lb and swam off back into the weeds. The water felt cool as I released the Trout.
The clouds were building in the West and I felt like a pint to celebrate. I walked back to the Land Rover and drove back down the old railway line. When I got to Keeper’s Bridge there were two cars parked under the trees. I decided to walk down to the river to see if the Trout were rising. I had a chat to the members who were waiting for the evening rise. The water looked good but there were no signs of fish.
I had a pint at the Badgers and as I drove home the contractors were cutting the Wheat. Combine Harvesters the size of a small house were cutting precise lines through the fields. In the dusk the head lights and spot lamps made them look like alien machines from a sci-fi movie.
I will buy a thermometer and make a habit of recording the water temperature at each visit. August has been a difficult month for the last three years. Next week I’m having a break from Trout fishing. No doubt the River Wye Barbel and Chub will be just as demanding.