1 May – Sea Trout

Over Easter I stayed away from the river and consequently missed a couple of opportunities to catch a decent fish. So I started early in the hope that I would have the river to myself for a few hours.  There was a strong southerly wind and heavy rain was forecast. Another Barbour day. Despite the overnight rain the river level was 0.030m, very low. I discussed the catch returns with Andrew, ten wild fish had been caught from the river including three small sea trout. Mayfly had been seen at Little Springs.

Ladymead was not an option, the weekend campers shatter the peace and quiet. I decided to start at Keeper’s Bridge. The bluebells and wild garlic looked spectacular but it is an odd combination of scents. I set my rod up and worked the pool by the big Alder tree. Then I started again from scratch. I had missed a rod ring. Again.

There were no fish showing so I walked slowly downstream towards the new riffle looking for fish. I was nearly at the riffle when I heard a fish rise behind me. I turned and watched the water,  the fish rose again. I sat on the bank above the rise and waited. After five minutes there was a violent splash, a good fish circled around and took a fly on the second attempt. I renewed my tippet and tied on an unweighted Black Nymph. After a couple of tentative casts across the river to get the length, I flicked the fly down and across to where the trout had risen. It took the fly just under the surface and I lifted the rod. Too soon. I pulled the fly out of it’s mouth. Bother. I would have to give the fish time to compose itself.


I left the pool and walked down to the new riffle. I searched the riffle without reward. I think the fish there have become educated.  On the way back upstream I saw a fish rise just below a fallen tree bough. I swapped the fly for a GRHE nymph and started well above the rise, intending to work downstream. The leader shot forward and I lifted into the fish. It felt like a wild brownie but when I first caught sight of the fish, I knew that it was a sea trout. I bullied it into the landing net and let it rest while I searched my pockets for the camera and forceps. The hook dropped out easily and I took a few photos. The fish dashed away from the net, eager to find shelter. It was about eight ounces, not a big fish but my first sea trout from the river. Hurrah.


The sea trout lifted my spirits. I walked back upstream with a purpose, the big brownie was next. I knelt upstream of the fish’s position and waited. It rose for a fly and disappeared. I drifted a Black Nymph over the fish. It came up, carefully inspected the nymph and rejected it. I tied a size 14 dry Olive on and rubbed the tippet with mud. I flicked the dry fly out, the fish rose and took it confidently. The trout fought long and hard,  nearly pointing me on a couple of occasions. It took a long time to recover. As it swam away it looked four pounds but was actually only two. A very long, lithe fish.


On the way back to Keeper’s Bridge I saw another rise and covered it. The fish was very small and wriggled off the hook. I was thirsty and tired so I drove to Great Springs and had a cup of tea.


The trout and wagtails were taking mayfly from the shallows at the top of Little Springs. Brian helped me photograph a newly emerged mayfly. Very appropriate for 1 May. If we get a few sunny days the main hatch will start. It had been a long, tiring day but one that would  stay in my memory for quite a while.