17 July – Rotherbridge

The morning brought sunshine and a brisk north easterly wind, a combination more suited to Autumn than Summer. The air was moist but clean and everything looked bright and new. I’d probably missed the best part of the day.

By the time I had checked the lakes and collated all the catch returns it was 2:30pm. It was hot. Very hot. The river level had dropped to 0.02m on the gauge at Halfway Bridge, slightly lower than a week ago and the water was clear-ish. The wind was upstream which was a big advantage as it minimised drag. Earlier, while collecting the catch return at Rotherbridge, I sat and watched the river for thirty minutes. I had seen a mirror carp about 15lb swimming down the margin towards the trees. Several sea trout were splashing about above the bridge and a couple of trout were taking flies amongst the trees below the bridge. With so much activity it seemed sensible to start by the bridge.

I sat in the shade of the bushes expecting a long wait but the fish I had seen earlier were rising all over the pool. I couldn’t decide if it was several fish or one hungry fish dashing around. I tied on a parachute Pheasant Tail with a white foam hackle post and flicked it out gently into midstream. The breeze curled the leader upstream and held the fly in position. The trout inspected my offering and declined. I swapped the fly for a lightly dressed mayfly and that too was rejected. The next fly I tried was a small Walker’s sedge. The trout looked at it for several seconds but refused. I was running out of options. I rested the trout and browsed through my fly box. A black Neoprene nymph with a sparse badger hackle looked good. It would sink very slowly and hide the tippet.

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I cast the fly upstream of the fish, another much bigger trout immediately grabbed the fly and when I lifted the rod, dashed off downstream at high speed. Most of my thirty yard fly line slid off the reel heading towards Coultershaw Bridge. I grabbed the landing net and walked downstream, windingย in the lineย as I went. When I got to the weedbed where the fish was hiding I splashed the net on the weeds and the trout dived into midstream. It looked big. This procedure was repeated several times until the fish was exhausted and I guided it through a gap in the weeds into the net.

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Unfortunately I couldn’t revive the fish, the warm water and frantic fight were too much. I weighed it and presented it to the farmer’s wife for their dinner. It was 2lb 4ozs but looked 3lb. It’s tail was huge, a slightly curled dorsal fin meant that it was not a wild fish.

I was hot and exhausted. Too tired for the pub.

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