21 March – Springs

Yesterday it rained all day but I visited the lakes and the river looking for signs of fish. The lakes are all spring fed. The trickle running into the top of Great Springs won’t sustain the water level through a long hot summer. It was sheltered at Little Bognor and the trout were rising. The spring filling the lake was flowing nicely and the gravel bed was clean. Good conditions for spawning trout. I’ve caught small wild trout at Little Bognor every season, they were all returned.

The river looked murky,  it had a muddy green colour. The Environment Agency monitoring station at Halfway Bridge measured 0.064m. That’s about a Wellington Boot above normal summer level. The wind was south westerly and a blustery 15 mph. I saw a trout rise just above Rotherbridge.

The Rother valley is a mix of greensand, clay and chalk escarpments. The problem with rain is that it washes nitrogen and phosphates into the rivers and lakes. The cereal and salad crops grow well on the sandy soil but spring top-dressing with Nitram is not good for the water. With little weed to remove these chemicals, the scene is set for algal blooms in the summer.


Today, during the drive to Petworth, I thought about where to fish. Great Springs or Little Bognor? A big overwintered brownie had been caught at Little Bognor. That opportunity had passed me by, it probably won’t be repeated. I decided on Great Springs. The water temperature was 12 degrees,  quite warm for March. I decided to use a dry fly, not because there were a lot of fish rising. Just to make it more difficult !

Great Springs looked lifeless but the fish were rising all over Little Springs. I had a cup of tea and set my rod up. I only took the dry fly box out of my bag. I sat on the grass well back from the water and flicked a neoprene spider at rising fish. They ignored it. I could see shadows cruising around, feeding on buzzers. I persevered with the dry fly and after about thirty minutes, I had a splashy take. I spooned the trout, it was full of buzzers. Not wishing to reach my self imposed limit of a brace too soon, I adjourned to the club house for another cup of tea.

Fish started rising on Great Springs but despite concentrating hard, I failed to get another take. I’d made it slightly too difficult.