The weather looked good for an evening session. The light rain had cleared and left behind a muggy, overcast afternoon with a warm southerly breeze. It was over 70 degrees when I left home and the humidity was 100%. As I drove over the bridge at Billingshurst I was pleased to see that the North River was neither high nor coloured. The Rother would be fine. I parked the Land Rover under the Hazel tree at Keeper’s Bridge and checked the Beat record book. Not much had been caught over the weekend. I wandered down to the river and checked the water temperature with my newly acquired thermometer. It was 62 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t like the Centigrade scale, it’s too clumsy. The water was up a few inches and had a green tint but I could still see the ribbons of weed in mid-river. A fish rose gently and sipped in something so small I couldn’t see it, probably a buzzer.
I chose a leaded black spider and crushed the barb with artery forceps, it makes unhooking a fish so much easier. I had a new leader and a tippet of 4.4lb breaking strain Frog Fluorocarbon. I’d been to Albury Game Angling over the weekend and bought some goodies but I handed back the Hardy Duchess 3″ reel that Peter had tried to sell me. Next season perhaps.
I crept along the bank to a rising fish and carefully worked the cast downstream. After about thirty minutes of delicate casting a fish took the fly just under the far bank. It was on for a few seconds and then the line fell slack. It looked like quite a nice fish. I thought the fly had pulled free but on checking the hook I saw the point had snapped off. Another lesson learnt; don’t crush barbs – buy barbless hooks.
I was confident that I would get a fish or two and I decided to go further downstream to my favourite Alder tree just below the bridge. The pool looked good and a fish rose as I tied on a new fly. I used a lightly weighted black spider with a bushy hackle. The fish rose again, it had taken up station in mid-stream intercepting flies as the current delivered them. After a few casts the fish took the spider just under the surface. It fought hard, I nearly messed things up when the fly line caught on the reel handle. The new tippet material was a success. It is not as brittle as the Orvis fluorocarbon and a third of the price. I returned the fish and it shot off after I poked it with the landing net. A small pan shaped net made it a lot easier to release the fish but I need a longer net handle.
I made my way down to the bend but just as I was preparing to cast, Andrew the Keeper arrived in his Land Rover. He said the riffle above the Sandy Pool had been improved and a new riffle would be built near the water pump above Rotherbridge. The digger was in place and after modifying the banks, 500 tons of gravel would be spread across the river bed. That is a lot of gravel.
I walked downstream to the site of the new riffle and started working the pool down and across. Three fish rose repeatedly in the same stretch of water. One Trout followed my fly but sheered away at the last moment. There were a couple of nips at the fly but I couldn’t connect with the Trout. I walked slowly back upstream casting to several rising fish but they went down as soon as I presented the fly. I need to approach the fish more carefully and measure the first cast accurately. I often overdo it and ‘line’ the fish.
I was hot and tired, the tropical weather had taken its toll on me. A cool pint awaited me at The Badgers. September had started well.