Yesterday the river received it’s first stocking of brown trout. The lower beats had been stocked with chalk-stream reared fish but the top beats would be left unstocked until later in the season. The big trout in the pool at Ladymead had evaded capture on my last two visits. I planned to fish the pool again at dusk. The low light level should make it harder for the fish to see me crawling along the bank. I fitted a new leader, cleaned my fly line and sorted out my waistcoat pockets. Too many toffee wrappers were clogging things up. I even cleared out the back of the Land Rover. Preparation is everything.
It was extremely cold for late April, I wore a jumper and a Barbour jacket. The sun was bright but the strong north wind took away it’s warmth. I approached the pool at Ladymead carefully, following the tree line. I approached quietly enough to get within twenty feet of a vixen laying on the short grass and enjoying the sunshine. She ran off then paused, looking back over her shoulder indignantly. I had interrupted her siesta.
I kept well back from the edge of the pool and relaxed in the sun, just like the fox. I watched the water for about an hour and saw dark shadows, the wobbly chub and a few small trout. The dark shadow was cruising along the far edge of the sandbank, under the branches of the oak tree and then back down the main current near the stone work.
I cast a Black Nymph upstream, near the overhanging oak in the slack water down the centre of the pool. The take was violent and as I lifted the rod I was prepared for the big fish. It was a trout but not the one I had targeted. It fought strongly, thrashing around the pool and somersaulting on the surface. I eventually got the trout in the landing net and allowed it to rest while I found the artery forceps and prepared for a photo. I had a good look at the fish, it was about 1lb 8oz and in perfect condition. The biggest wild trout I had caught from the Rother.
I lowered the edge of the landing net, the trout wriggled out and sped away into deep water. It’s nice to see them swim away unharmed. The pool was trashed and although I had a few more casts, I knew I was wasting my time. I walked back to the Land Rover and drove to Rotherbridge. I fished above the bridge and in the new riffle but the wind was getting colder and I decided to head for home. It had been a great evening.