I watched the water level over the weekend hoping the river would drop before the last day of the season. On Monday the wind had been from the north, cold and dry. Tuesday was warm, overcast and with a gentle south westerly wind. Just as it should be. I wanted to visit each part of the river but I didn’t have the time or stamina to walk three miles in muddy boots. It would be nice to catch a Trout on the last day but it was not essential.
I took the Land Rover for an MOT and was a bit miffed when it failed. Nevermind, I drove to Petworth via Kirdford along roads I’d never seen before. It was a nice drive along narrow country lanes bordered by mature trees in various shades of orange. I stocked up on toffees at Northchapel and drove to the Fish Pass. Another member had beaten me to it but I found a large fish in the tail run on a patch of sand opposite a feeder stream. I drove to Rotherbridge and looked upstream. A couple of small Trout were feeding among the dying streamer weeds. They were probably looking for shrimps. I returned to the Fish Pass to find it deserted, the large Trout was still in the run accompanied by another fish twice it’s size. A big black monster of a Sea Trout. The Monster saw me and disappeared upstream. The other fish ignored my carefully positioned Black Nymph. Several times. Eventually it became agitated and followed the Monster upstream into the roots of an Alder tree. I decided to rest the fish and return to the run at sunset.
I went back to Rotherbridge but three other members were fishing both beats so I turned around and drove to Keeper’s Bridge. Hurrah, it was quiet and the catch returns told me the Beats had not been fished that morning. I went downstream and saw a fish swirl just below the Alder. I crept along the bank until I was just below the fish and flicked my last Black Nymph upstream and across. On the second cast the leader snaked away as the Trout took the fly. It put up a spirited fight, looked about 1lb 4ozs and dashed away from the landing net. It was happy to be back in the cold water. I was also happy, I’d caught a fish on the final day of the season. I had a toffee and walked on.
I fished a few pools without any response and started to lose concentration. The big pool below the Alder tree on the bend looked good. I lost my last Black Nymph in the tree and tied on a weighted Black Spider with a bright red palmered hackle. After a few casts I was distracted by the mew of a Buzzard but just as I looked away I noticed the line tighten and lifted into a better fish. It was about 1lb 8ozs and nicely coloured. I nearly fell into the water while netting the fish. The bank had collapsed during the recent floods.
I thought the two fish were sufficient but I was also conscious that it would be five months before I could fish the river again. One more cast. I walked through the tree tunnel and stopped below the last tree. The bank was covered with teasel and casting was tricky. I was confident there would be a fish under the bushes and several casts later a big fish flashed under the leader. I drew the line tight and the fish went berserk. It was bright silver and I was sure it was a sea trout. It took a lot of line and buried itself in the sunken branches on my right. I didn’t panic and netted the fish at the first attempt. It was a very silver stocked brownie about 2lb.
I was content with three fish so I walked slowly back to the Land Rover. The river, fields and woods looked lovely in the misty overcast. The clocks had changed and the light was failing as I drove away. It had been an excellent afternoon. The river had been kind to me all season. The fish had been fussy on occasions but not impossible. If we have another mild winter a lot of the fish should survive and put on weight.