24 August – A Perfect Day

I enjoyed the drive to Petworth. I took a detour through Riverhill and Byworth to look at the views across the Rother Valley. The air was clear and the cloudscape impressive.


I got to the river and had a look at the Rotherbridge stretch. There was no sign of fish but the conditions were perfect. Overcast with a slight breeze. Strangely there were no insects about. The river was flat calm, not even a Dace broke the surface. The river level had dropped to 0.033m and most of the colour had gone. I checked the Fish Pass and that was also lifeless. I met Jonathan in The Badgers car park as arranged and we made our way to Keeper’s Bridge. We had the entire river to ourselves. On our last visit we fished downstream. I suggested that Jonathan went upstream towards Perryfields Barn and said that I would follow him up after an hour messing about by the bridge.


The big brownie was still leaping around at the top of the First Pool and I left it for Jonathan while I went down to the pool under the Alder trees. Yesterday I tied some Black Nymphs with lead wire ribbing and long hackles so that they sunk quickly and were easily seen in the slightly murky water.


I worked the fly slow and deep, down and across, using the current to cover every square yard. After thirty minutes I had a double-tap and assumed it was a Chub or wild Trout. I concentrated my efforts on that area of the pool and was rewarded with a slow draw on the leader. It was unmissable. I didn’t miss. The Trout was strong and took a while to coax into the landing net. It was about 2lb and rested near the bank before swimming back into the deeps.


I had several toffees to celebrate. Jonathan had moved upstream so I spent a while trying to catch the big brownie but although it kept jumping, it wouldn’t take a fly. I’d previously lost a good Trout above the bush at the top of the First Pool and decided to spend some time on the fifty yard stretch between the big Alder and the Willow. The current was gently swirling the streamer weed and the near bank was accessible all the way down. I was confident that I would get a take. I worked down the river, taking a couple of steps along the bank at the end of each cast. Half way down the leader drew taught and I lifted into another good fish. I had to retreat upstream to find my landing net but eventually banked the fish, took it’s portrait and watched it swim away.


My confidence was sky high, the conditions were perfect and the plan was working. Further upstream, above the very tall Alder tree, I cast the nymph to the far bank and watched as the line curled around. After several casts the leader dragged under and the third Trout was hooked. The fish was not as large as the first one but fought like a three pounder. I released the fish and then I rested for a while. Three fish in such a short time was nice but I didn’t want a cricket score. All three fish had taken the nymph fished deep and slow, the takes were positive. They had all been caught on the same fly, not just the same pattern.

My next stop was the Gaps, I felt sure Jonathan would have passed by the narrow slots in the trees as the casting is tricky. My fly soon found it’s way into the top branches of the tree on my left and I pulled on the line to free it. I was surprised when the twig snapped and my fly was returned together with a nymph I lost on my last visit.


We walked back to the cars, had a drink and planned our next session. More of the same. My first stop was the Sandy Pool. I worked hard covering the water systematically and expecting a take any second. Nothing happened so I went back to the Gaps and explored the other slot between the trees. There were several fish splashing under the tree branches but they were all out of reach. Jonathan returned having caught a Trout on a deep sunk nymph. We were both exhausted and agreed to celebrate at The Badgers. The river level had dropped to 0.027m by the time we left, nearly a normal summer height.

It had been a perfect day, the river height and colour were just right, the tactics were logical and the Trout quite hungry. I hope the rest of the season is as good.