15 September – Bullocks

Record temperatures this summer have made Trout fishing difficult. During the day the fish hide under the Alder and Oak trees,  deep in the roots. They don’t venture out of their shelters until late evening. This week has seen regular midday temperatures over 86 Fahrenheit, boosted by hot southerly winds straight from the Mediterranean. Much too hot for fishing. On the plus side, sundown is 7:15pm,  a civilised time for a few last casts and a pint.

The river had been busier than normal as members avoid the luke warm lakes and stressed Rainbows. I had seen a few fish at the top of the Rotherbridge Beat on a previous trip and planned to visit that stretch. However, as I pulled into the Rotherbridge car park I saw another car. Then Tony arrived in his Land Rover, followed by David. I decided to go elsewhere but when I got to Keeper’s Bridge two members were tackling up in the parking area. I wished them well and drove on to the Top Beat. Thankfully I had that stretch of river to myself.  I wandered across the field to the river. The remnants of last year’s potato crop were shooting amongst the stubble Pheasant poults were everywhere,  feasting on the spilt wheat grains.


Above the Monster Pool

The signing-in book was blank, nobody had fished the Beat for at least 3 days. As I crossed the bridge a good Trout spooked, swam downstream under the bridge and took shelter among the tree roots. I marked the fish down for the end of the session. I walked downstream about a hundred yards and sat on the soft grass while I set up my rod. A small fish rose opposite me in shallow water. It rose again several times making it’s way down the pool.  I tied on a Neoprene Spider and waited.  The fish rose and I flicked the fly just upstream of it. The fish came up, inspected the fly and disappeared.  The small wild fish are well educated, they have seen too many flies. I changed the fly to a Neoprene Buzzer and chopped the hackle short.  As I was about to cast a much bigger fish rose just above a Willow tree. I crept above the Willow and flicked the buzzer into the main current. The Trout rose in slow motion, looked carefully at the fly and took it confidently.  I lifted gently and the fish dashed across the river under an Alder tree.  The fight was long and hard but I eventually slipped the hook out of it’s throat and released the fish from the landing net. It swum off strongly.  I had only been there thirty minutes, things looked positive.


The Long Pool

As I walked down to the Monster Pool I saw another member walking upstream wearing a white shirt and ‘sky-lining’ the entire stretch. He’ll probably complain about the lack of Trout in the river.

I fished the Long Pool and Monster Pool with little hope of a take and then walked back upstream to the fish I had marked down earlier.  Before I got to the bridge I saw a swirl under a low hanging Alder tree, then another swirl.  A good fish was feeding greedily on midges. I peered under the branches and saw two fish competing for the hatching flies. I tied on a Neoprene Spider and put it under the tree with a neat side cast. A fish flashed at the fly but was put off by the leader which had curled downstream. The presentation would have to be improved.


Above the Monster Pool – Wasps Nest

I rested the fish which had moved down a couple of yards. They were soon back, swirling under the branches. I cast above the fish, let the bow in the leader drag round then released the fly line to drift down under the leaves. I saw both fish swirl and lifted into the biggest. Hurrah, it had all gone to plan. The Trout reacted strangely, it swam leisurely towards me just under the surface, wagging it’s tail. I immediately thought it was the fish I had caught an hour earlier so I turned and  reached for the net. That was premature. The fish woke up and dashed upstream, ‘pointing’ me and nearly breaking free as a loop of fly line caught around the reel handle. I eventually unhooked the Trout and nursed it in the landing net for about ten minutes.


After it had swum off I turned to climb the bank and saw a bullock standing over my rod. It’s front feet were perilously close to the expensive carbon fibre. My heart sank, the stupid animal was going to ruin my evening.  I crept along the grass on all fours towards the butt of the rod and slowly the curious beast backed away. Thank heaven, I nearly went home with a seven piece rod. Note to self: do not lay my rod in the grass.


I was happy with my brace of Trout and decided to pack up. As I got to the bridge the fish I had seen earlier jumped clear of the water in a two-fingered gesture.  It was unfinished business, I’ll meet him next time.

The pub was crowded, David arrived with a prospective new member who had caught a Trout in the weir pool.  It was raining heavily as I drove home and the temperature had dropped about 10 degrees. A cold front had moved in from the West. We need the rain.