17 October – Little Bognor

There was nearly an inch of rain over the weekend and the river level had risen.  It might encourage the Sea Trout to run up the river but I would have to wait until later in the week to find out. I had been planning to visit the lakes at Little Bognor in November. However, there was no guarantee that the club would extend the fishing season another month.

The early rain had cleared. With a gentle south-westerly breeze the conditions would be ideal. Little Bognor is deep in the woods and sheltered from all but the strongest of winds. The Brown Trout are super fussy and a slight ripple helps to hide the leader. Normally the fish look upon a large or badly presented fly with scorn. A quiet approach and a fine tippet are essential.  Buzzers and tiny nymphs usually tempt the fish. The lakes are spring fed and contain wild Brown Trout.  The wild fish are easily identified and must be returned to the lakes.

As the Land Rover thundered towards Petworth the rain returned. When I got to Fittleworth is was torrential. I swung off the little lane and drove up the muddy track into the woods. I parked under an Oak tree and sat watching the water while I had a sandwich. An acorn fell on the aluminium roof and gave me a shock. Eventually the rain stopped and the sun came out. I tackled up beside the lower lake and walked up the slope to the outflow of the top lake. I stood behind a clump of ferns and looked for rising fish. There were a lot of Roach on the surface sipping buzzers and a few Trout swirling among the floating leaves. I decided to start with a buzzer and cast to a rise near the Willow tree. No response. I persevered with buzzers of different colours and sizes but I couldn’t get a take.

I moved to the other side of the tree behind a chest high, bushy fern. I was well hidden but the line kept snagging on the fern and the Chestnut tree behind me. The chestnuts were thumping on the ground like hand grenades.


The fish were rising only a couple of rod lengths out. I flicked a green buzzer to the nearest rise and had a take straight away.  I missed. I cast to another rise and missed the second take. I tried to relax and to delay lifting the rod. After a few more casts the fish moved away into the centre of the lake. I swapped to a dry fly, a size 18 Black Neoprene Spider, which sat in the surface film and remained visible. A Trout moved towards me from the right, head and tailing as it fed on buzzers.  The fly was right along it’s feeding line and the fish rose confidently for it. I knew it was a small Trout and I tried to keep it quiet to avoid frightening the other fish away. It fought well and the lake remained still for a long time after I had netted it.

I crept along the far bank looking for fish but they were wary and stopped rising as soon as I cast. As the sun went down the Roach stopped feeding and everything went dead. I went to the Land Rover contemplating a pint at the Black Horse. A Trout was feeding at the far end of the lower lake and ‘one last cast’ was in order. I watched the fish rise among the leaves, it was moving away from me. I waited until the fish turned and put an Amber Nymph in it’s path. I gave the fly a little tweak and the fish seized it. After a few twists and turns it came off. It was a good time to leave.