Lasts weeks wind and rain had kept me away from the river. I’d monitored the water level every day hoping for a significant drop but it rose quickly and fell slowly. Before our regular Monday meeting to discuss the catch returns, I had a look at the river at Rotherbridge. It was high and coloured as I expected. I visited Great Springs a week ago to prove to myself that Trout could be caught despite the high water temperature. I was inclined to repeat the experiment at Luffs, a lake I haven’t fished much. It is open to the south westerly wind and drains a short valley that is mainly moorland. When I got to Luffs I walked along the bank looking for signs of fish in the shallows. A huge wasps nest made me turn back towards the Estate road. A young cormorant was fishing and did not react to my waving arms and shouting. I couldn’t find anything to throw at it. The combination of the wretched bird and the wasps spoilt my plans. I decided to fish at Little Bognor. As I drove away from Luffs the contractors were busy with a huge combine and a fleet of mega tractors cutting the wheat.
At Little Bognor I sat on the bench under the Chestnut tree beside the top lake and set up my rod. I didn’t miss any rings. I’d glued a new 5lb tapered leader to my fly line. To the end of the leader I tied a 3 foot tippet of 2lb mono. A very delicate approach because the brownies at Little Bognor are spooky.
The Trout were feeding very close to the edge of the lake so I crept behind a chest high clump of ferns and flicked a size 14 black buzzer close to the Willow tree. A trout inspected the fly but didn’t like it and moved away. I changed the fly to a size 14 dry fly with a palmered ginger hackle and a neoprene tag. I trimmed the tag with my snips so that the fly sat low in the surface film. Several inspections later a Trout was fooled and sipped in the fly but it came adrift after a few seconds. Small hooks don’t hold the fish very well, especially when a palmered hackle obscures the gape of the hook.
That part of the lake went quiet, the fish had retreated to the other side of the Willow tree. I moved along the bank and hid behind a tree, casting through a gap in the trees and over the lily bed. I saw a fish rise, flicked the fly into the ripples and had an immediate take. I missed and everything went quiet.
I could see a fish feeding in the far corner of the lake so I crept round and stood behind another huge clump of ferns. The ferns are great for hiding behind but they reach out and knot my fly line. The fish was feeding in the roots of the fern. I lowered the dry fly over the top and dapped it as close to the bank as I could. It was impossible to see the fly. I heard a splash, gently lifted the rod and connected. I was as surprised as the Trout which put up a spirited fight, it was about 1lb 4ozs.
I had spooked the fish in every part of the lake so I wandered around the lower lake for a few casts and then drove home. It had been demanding fishing but not impossible.