The lakes opened on 11 March. Spring was early, the wild flowers were out and the trees were in bud. The Winter had been mild and without severe floods. Everything pointed towards a productive start to the season.
I promised myself that I would not use a strike indicator when nymphing. It was an experiment to determine whether or not an indicator gave me an unfair advantage.
The weather in March was warm, the South of England raced towards a long hot Summer. The sport at Great Springs was a bit slow but Little Springs fished well.
The season on the river started on 4 April. The weather throughout April was more like summer. The river was low and I had good sport with wild Trout and overwintered stock fish.
The Mayfly started hatching on 1 May which was very appropriate. There were not as many Mayfly as last year but there were very few birds about to eat them. There should be good hatches in 2018. As the months rolled by it became apparent that there was a marked decline in all species of flying insects throughout the country. Very worrying.
I caught my first ever Sea Trout on 1 May, by mistake. It was just a smolt but I was pleased to see the fish and release it carefully. I also caught a much bigger fish which was later identified as an overwintered Sea Trout, a kelt returning to the sea. Perhaps I will meet her again next season.
We had quite a lot of rain during mid May which raised the water level in the river about two feet and put the fishing on hold. The last part of the month was very hot and dry. The water temperature rose to 21 degrees at Great Springs on 30 May and the Trout were not happy. The high water temperature and rapidly growing weed caused wild swings in pH and clogged two of the lakes.
June was very hot. By the middle of the month the river had returned to it’s normal level but then we had a heat wave. At the end of the month there were six consecutive days over 90 degrees. I had five days ‘keepering’ while Andrew was away on holiday, it was interesting to spend quality time by the river and lakes.
In July we went on holiday to Dorset and I returned with a new Rio fly line. Throughout the month the weather was crazy, with strong winds from every direction. It felt more like Autumn. The rain in June had encouraged the Sea Trout to run and after July’s first full moon, they were leaping about everywhere. Something to remember for next season. The first two weeks of August were very wet, the river was high and the harvest was ruined.
I fished Luffs during September while the river was high and I had a great time. I got to know the lake well and caught some big Trout. October brought extreme weather. The tail end of a hurricane, red dust from the desert and quite a lot of rain. It was a productive month with a lot of takes converted into fish.
The New Riffle appears to have had an immediate effect on the river. There is already a good population of shrimps and the well oxygenated water has been colonised by the chub and the wild Trout. There were lots of Sea Trout smolts below the riffle early in the summer and mature fish in the 4-5lb class later in the year.
I fished the lakes during November and had a couple of fish. The water was clear and they were very shy.
Overall, I got to know the river better. I was able to locate the fish and turn most takes into hooked fish. I was consistent throughout the season.
I didn’t miss the strike indicator when nymphing, most of the takes were very positive. I also avoided the problem of trout rising for the blob of fluorescent putty ! I had a feeling that a couple of fish may have tweaked the nymph while I was fishing the river. Late in the season the fish are ultra-shy and I might have added a few to my tally if I’d used an indicator. The biggest change this season was probably my new Rio fly line, it improved my presentation tremendously.
A lot of restoration work is being done at Lower Figgs and Great Springs during the winter and I’m looking forwards to fishing there again next March.