It was a cold, grey morning with a gusty east wind. Not traditional weather for fly fishing. I wanted to fish a stretch of the river that I wasn’t familiar with. It would be more of a challenge. I decided to fish in the wooded section between Keeper’s Bridge and Ladymead. I haven’t been there this season and it would be like fishing a different river. I made an early start as the evenings are short and the light goes about 6:00pm.
I walked upstream from Keeper’s Bridge. I paused and watched each pool for a few minutes to see if the Trout were rising. It was about an hour before I reached the footbridge by the abandoned Sussex barn. There’s a Barn Owl’s nest inside the old building. Although I waited in the bushes, the owls didn’t show themselves. I found lots of Blackberries on a south facing hedgerow. They were sweet and not ‘pippy’. I left a few for the birds.
As I was admiring the clouds a fish rose in a narrow section of river just below the fallen Oak tree. It was impossible to cast so I lowered a Black Spider into the water a few times but the Trout had gone. I walked back towards the riffle, casting into the likely looking gaps under the trees. When I got to the Sandy Pool there were signs of fish moving. I covered every part of the pool with a weighted nymph but I didn’t get a take.
I was contemplating an early visit to the pub when I saw a fish rise in the straight section of river below the pool. I could see the fish hanging in midstream just under the surface. I swapped my fly for a weighted Black Spider and crept down the bank until I was opposite the rise. I kept still and watched the river, nothing happened. I cast the fly across to the far side of the river and watched the leader. It twitched then drew away from me. I lifted into the fish and kept it out of the bushes and weeds. After releasing the fish I decided to go to the pub as I was convinced that I wouldn’t get another. I picked up my rod and net and started walking but another fish swirled.
The fish had torn the fly but I decided to trim the hackles and use it again. It looked like a black nymph, I must tie some like that. First cast there was a flash and a swirl at the fly but the Trout did not take. I rested the fish and tried again but it had gone. I saw a fish rise in the tail of the Sandy Pool but it had also disappeared by the time I got there. I wandered back towards Keeper’s Bridge and stood on the corner waiting for a fish to show itself. The light was fading fast but a couple of fish rose just past the big Alder tree. The trees behind me made it difficult to cast properly but I flicked the fly out just under the branches. It was taken without hesitation. As I was struggling with the landing net another fish splashed downstream from the bridge.
The two Trout had torn the fly to pieces. The silk thread was coming undone and it looked a mess. I tied on a new fly and went in search of another fish. I found the fish below the bridge and presented the fly just upstream of it’s position. After a couple of casts the leader tightened and I was into my third fish. I unhooked it and released it from the landing net. I was using a pan-shaped landing net which is not very traditional. However, it is easier to nurse the fish and allow it to swim off from a shallow net. The light had gone, I could no longer see my leader and the fish had stopped rising.
I had thought that I would return home without catching anything but three fish in the last hour was a good result. If I had gone to the pub earlier I would have missed the evening rise. There is no doubt that the hour before darkness is the best time of day.