It was incredibly hot. The wind was kind, from the north west and with a slight chill. I discussed the previous week’s catch returns over a cool glass of beer and decided to fish the top beats. The middle beat had been recently fished and the river at Rotherbridge looked completely lifeless. The fish were probably all hiding in the tree roots. I signed in at Taylors Bridge about 5:00pm and leant over the rail of the bridge searching for any fishy signs. There were none. The deep pool at Ladymead seemed the best bet. I sat on the grass under the Lime tree with the breeze at my back and patiently waited for a fish to show. I was patient for about fifteen minutes. The water looked cool and the shadow of the trees might be hiding a trout. As there were no fish rising I worked a GRHE nymph through the run just under my feet. Then I tested the slack between the lock pillars. I gradually extended the search into the main pool, just beyond the sand bank. I kept my fly line over the sand bar and with an eighteen foot leader, dragged the nymph up the far slope of sand. Nothing. I extended my cast into the Lime tree behind me and lost the fly. I decided to leave the pool until later.
Great Red Sedge
As I walked downstream I saw female Mayfly spinners occasionally dipping into the water to lay their eggs. The air was thick with midges, damsel flies and terrestrials but strangely there were no birds. Perhaps they had gone to find a roost. I crossed the bridge and walked down the south bank, there were no cows to distract me on that side of the river. I walked down to the pool below the willow tree island and saw several small fish rising. One was very close under the bank. I lowered a parachute mayfly over the fish, it rose and snapped at the fly but missed. All the fish stopped rising.
I walked slowly back to the bridge looking upstream for rising fish. There was a big splash under an Oak tree but the cast was tricky and I put the fish down. I searched the shallow pool which is usually guaranteed to produce a fish but the prolonged hot weather had made it uncomfortable for the trout. As I walked upstream I saw a Barn Owl drifting across the water meadow, it settled in a big Oak. Too far away for a portrait.
I got to the bridge and heard a rise in the pool below, near an overhanging branch. I crept into position and saw two good fish circling around and sipping in flies. I lowered a parachute Mayfly onto the surface and waited. A fish rose, inspected it closely and went down. I swapped to a smaller pattern. The fish looked carefully at the fly but decided not to take. My next fly was an Adams, a sure thing for fussy trout in the evening. That was an improvement but it was rejected by both fish. I tried a Neoprene black buzzer but that was completely ignored. In desperation I tried a large Royal Coachman. That bought a response but I could see the trout’s displeasure at such an obvious fake.
My last chance was the ginger dry fly with the palmered hackle. I tied on a size 14, left the foam untrimmed and lowered it into position. The biggest fish rose, saw the fly and took it confidently. It was about 2lb. I released it and the trout dived back under the tree branch. I’ll catch it’s partner another day. I left at about 9:15pm and smiled all the way home. Very fussy trout.