The early morning north wind and overcast sky confirmed the arrival of Autumn. There had been light rain over the weekend, enough to keep the river level from dropping back to normal. By the time I left for Petworth the sun was out and the sky was full of fluffy white clouds but the wind had an edge.
I peered through the railings at Rotherbridge and was relieved that I could see the sandy bottom and the roots of the decaying weeds. I stood and watched the river for half an hour but no fish showed themselves. The water had a brisk flow and was slightly coloured but not enough to prevent the fish finding a nymph.
I visited the Fish Pass and saw a few Chub and Dace in the fast water below the bottom pool. The fish disappeared into the streamer weed when I positioned myself to take some photographs. Several good Sea Trout had been hooked and lost during the recent high water and some big end of season Trout had been caught from the bottom beat. However, the bottom end of the river didn’t inspire me, I decided to fish the upper beats and drove to Taylor’s Bridge.
I had tied some size 14 GRHE nymphs to replace those lost during recent trips. I hadn’t included any lead wire, the only weight was the copper ribbing. I started at the big pool at Ladymead. I concentrated hard for about thirty minutes but there were no signs of life. On the way back downstream I scared a young Cormorant from the deep pool below Ladymead, that explained the lack of Trout. It seemed reluctant to leave, looking back at me over it’s shoulder as it flew up over the trees.
I wasn’t confident about the pools by the bridge so I started fishing again near the Oak tree at the top of the straight. I systematically explored the water with a Black Nymph to no avail. I thought the next pool looked promising and reeled in slowly anticipating a take on the retrieve. It worked. A small, wild Trout took the fly close to the nearside rushes and dashed upstream towards me. It looked about a pound in weight and came off before I could get it under control.
I walked down to the Shallow Pool where a new cattle drink had been dug. The top of the pool was quiet but while fishing the middle, I saw a good fish rise just opposite a bed of rushes. The fish took a fly from the surface. I couldn’t see anything hatching but worked a dry fly down the run a few times. The fly dragged, my presentation was hampered by the rushes. I changed to an unweighted GRHE nymph and before I could cast, the fish rose again. I put the nymph slightly upstream of the rise. As the nymph swung across the current the Trout took it and dashed down the pool. I was determined not to lose the fish and took no risks. I lead the fish upstream in mid current and played it from the cattle drink. I unhooked it in the net and released it.
I tried the Monster Pool and the Long Pool but there were no signs of fish. As I walked back upstream I saw a good Trout rise under the newly pruned Alder tree. I couldn’t find enough room to cast downstream so I crept below the fish and cast a nymph upstream under the branches. I think I overcast and lined the fish. It didn’t rise again.
I went back to the Land Rover, had some Wine Gums and a drink then drove home content that I had caught a nice fish in demanding conditions.