14 August – Keeper’s Bridge

The river had risen three feet during the week but then dropped back to 0.031m on the guage. I hadn’t fished the river since 27 July. I intended to walk the top two Beats and have a look at the improvements the Estate Maintenance Team had made to the river and the water meadow. However, after a long chat about the catch returns, I dropped off the paperwork at the office and then visited all the lakes. I took temperature and pH readings which were all normal.

I drove to Taylor’s bridge but then had to return to Keeper’s Bridge and sort out the saga of the lost Barbour bag. Although I left home at 10:30am it was 5:00pm before I threaded my line through the rod rings. As I was at Keeper’s Bridge I decided to stay there despite two other members presence. I walked through the wood and was surprised by the height of the Himalayan Balsam. I knotted my GRHE nymph to the 2lb tippet I used at Little Bognor but thought better of it and changed to 4lb Stroft GTM. A lesson remembered.

The river was just fishable. The current was a little stronger than normal and the water had an olive green tint. I thought it would be difficult to tempt a trout particularly as I was following another member down the Beat. I watched the river for a few minutes and saw a fish rise under the Alder tree. I sat on the grass and prepared to cast. Another fish rose just above the bridge. I watched downstream and another Trout rose below the bridge. The downstream fish were feeding, I decided to ignore the fish under the Alder and move down to the bridge. Chasing fish around is usually a bad idea.

I crept downstream but before I got to the bridge I saw a good fish rise at the end of the shallows. I worked a nymph through the water but the fish had moved back to it’s original position. I cast the nymph downstream into an eddy created by a newly fallen bush and the Trout immediately dashed at the fly. It took hold on the second attempt. It was a good fish and initially I thought it was a Sea Trout. It dived under the near bank but I bullied it out. It was a very pale brownie. My landing net was close at hand and after a few minutes, I eased the fish into the net and onto the bank. The fish looked slightly out of condition and had a red mark in it’s jaw. It had probably been caught before.


It was about 2lb 8ozs and it took a long time to recover in the landing net. An early fish boosted my confidence and I thought the fish below the bridge would be a formality. It was not. While exploring the Cattle Drink pool I saw another good fish on the bend so I moved down and resolved to stay there until I caught it. I repeatedly covered the fish, rested it and tried again but I couldn’t get a take. A smaller fish was rising below the tree on the bend but that disappeared when I presented the nymph.


On the next bend two fish were rising to midges. I changed to a dry fly and carefully presented it to both fish but they ignored my offering. I saw one of the fish as it rose to take a midge in mid current. I flicked the fly just upstream of the rise but it was ignored. The sun was in my eyes and the polaroids were not very effective. I couldn’t see if the fish had inspected the fly or just dashed away.

I was content with one good fish. Changing the tippet had ensured success. The other fish would still be there on Thursday. I hope the rain holds off.