29 May – Rotherbridge

The weather over the Bank Holiday weekend had been odd, extreme heat and bright sunshine then thunderstorms. I made the usual Monday morning visit to discuss the catch returns for the lakes and river. The river level at Halfway Bridge had risen from 0.026m to 0.064m as a result of 22mm off overnight rain. At 9:30am I could see the sandy bottom at Rotherbridge but an hour later it was obscured, the river was still rising. The shallows at Ladymead were unfishable, the only place I thought might be worth fishing was the new riffle.

I started at the top of the riffle and worked my way down covering the whole pool with a pale coloured leaded nymph. It would be visible in the muddy water. By continually mending the line I was able to keep the fly trundling down the deeper runs. There was no response. I returned to the top of the pool and changed to a black fly. I had a toffee before working the pool again. Towards the end of the riffle, in midstream, there was a satisfying thump on the rod which remained bent in an alarming hoop as the fish kept deep in the fast water. I saw a flash of silver and immediately thought “sea trout”.ย  However, there was no jumping or thrashing about and I revised my thoughts. It was a chub. I beached the fish and unhooked it in the water. It had a few scales missing, probably from spawning. There was little point in moving to another pool. I rested the main flow and fished just above the bend. After twenty minutes the line drew taught and I hooked a trout. It was an opportunity to use my landing net with the ‘new’ extending, three metre handle. It worked beautifully and made returning the fish safer. No more teetering on the edge of a high bank.

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There were lots of Mayfly hatching so I changed to a dry fly and covered several rising fish. I didn’t grease the fly or tippet and the fly hung just below the surface.ย I only had one take but I was distracted by a chaffinch fluttering around, chasing it’s lunch. I looked back at the river to see the leader stop moving and the swirl widening.

I had been lucky with the weather. The rain had been evaporating from my shirt at about the same rate as it fell. Behind me a large dark cloud was growing along the ridge of the South Downs, it was time to leave. I drove to Great Springs and had a cup of tea. I had mistakenly left the landing net on the roof of the Land Rover when I left Rotherbridge but it survived the journey.ย  The water looked dark and lifeless. A few fish were jumping, not feeding. I fished a dry fly for a while but had no takes. The water temperature was 21 degrees, rainbow trout don’t like warm water. After a final cuppa I drove away through a warm mist rising from the fields. Although it was only 5:00pm I had to use the headlights, very odd weather.

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