17 March – Opening Day

The weeks had ticked by slowly. Finally, the season started on the lakes. The river would have to wait a couple of weeks. Snow had been forecast. Lots of it. I had taken little notice of the previous snow warnings, the BBC always exaggerates bad weather.

Yesterday evening I attended the club’s AGM and had a chat with the other members about the prospects for the new season. The restoration of Lower Figgs and Great Springs had gone well and both lakes had been filled by the February rain. Everyone was in good spirits.

I had planned a training session for my left arm. Developing a good southpaw casting style could take years. It felt as if I was about to start fly fishing all over again. My first proper fly fishing trip had been to Weirwood Reservoir in the early ’70s with a home-made-Hardy. Ken Sinfoil advised me where to fish and I caught three trout, including a 2lb brownie. I thought I had cracked it but I failed to catch another trout for several months.


The morning was extremely cold with a blustery East wind. By 8:00am it was snowing, I was reminded of ice cold water and frozen rod rings on Opening Day at Weirwood. I visited Little Bognor, then drove to Great Springs for a cup of tea and a chat. The fields were bright, lime green and the Downs were dusky blue shadows. The snow storm got heavier and the landscape disappeared in a white out. Little Springs looked uninviting, the wind was driving the snow horizontally. I went back to Little Bognor where I hoped to find shelter. I sat in the Land Rover watching the snow, waiting for it to ease off.


Eventually I tackled up under the old Yew tree and crept along the bank to where several fish were moving. The first cast with my left arm caught in a tree behind me and I lost the entire leader. Not a good start. I swapped the reel and on the second cast, a bush grabbed the nymph. I moved to the open end of the lake where the wind and snow became a problem. The left handed casting lesson ended. I covered a few fish with a GRHE nymph but it was ignored. I tied on an unweighted Partridge and Amber nymph and targeted a group of fish under the bare branches of a Chestnut tree in the corner of the lake. It was taken and I released a small brownie near the outflow. I hooked another fish from the same shoal but it shook itself free. The ice in the rod rings was making it difficult to cast. I tried to take a photo of the ice but my iPhone gave a temperature warning and shut down. That was a message to pack up. As I drove away I put the heater on ‘Full’ but it sulked all the way home. Home made soup warmed me up.