4 September – Lakes

The weather had been changeable over the weekend. Hot, dry and dusty on Saturday then cold, blustery and damp all day Sunday. The gauge on the River Lod at Halfway Bridge read 0.04m and rising. I thought that the river would be unfishable. As I drove over the North River below Billingshurst I was surprised to see that the level was normal and that raised my hopes. I went to Rotherbridge to check the colour of the water and looking down from the bridge, I could just see the bottom. However, the river was rising and I thought the lakes would be more productive.

As I drove over the crest of the hill towards Great Springs I could see rain clouds blowing over the Downs but the road remained dry. Midhurst and Petersfield would get the rain. When I arrived there were Trout splashing on the surface of both lakes. After a cup of tea and some chocolate, I walked down the path to Little Springs and hid behind the bull rushes. I watched a few small Trout moving around within casting range but they were not feeding. I tried to intercept the fish with a GRHE nymph but they were not interested. The Trout definitely saw the nymph, several deliberately moved away as it dropped across their noses. After a frustrating hour I returned to the Land Rover for more chocolate.


I decided to concentrate on Great Springs, the water was crystal clear and deeper. That would give me more options. There were a lot of fish splashing on the surface, both Trout and Roach. The gentle breeze behind my right shoulder helped with casting and presentation. I used a long tippet of 2lb Stroft GTM and worked the GRHE nymph in an arc across the breeze. After an hour I changed to a Black Nymph but there was no response. In desperation I swapped to a size 16 Red Buzzer and let it drift across the lake without any retrieve.

A good fish swirled in the debris falling from the Willow treed on my right. I presented the buzzer quietly and had an immediate take. It was a nice Roach with dark, Autumn colouring. The shoal was moving along the edge of the weeds under the tree and it was tricky to position the fly. I caught another four Roach and lost several. Some of the takes were very gentle, almost impossible to see. The takes petered out and my attention returned to the Trout. As the light faded several Trout began feeding at the surface, not exactly an evening rise but it was encouraging. I fished intently for another hour expecting that, at any moment, the leader would draw away as a Trout inhaled the buzzer. Although I was convinced that I would get a take, I eventually lost my concentration. It was time to leave.

I hope the weather settles and the river level drops so that I can explore the top beats before the season ends.