There was a frost overnight, the morning air was clean and still. I was hoping for dry weather over Easter so the river level would drop for the opening day next Tuesday. The sky had clouded over by the time I left for Petworth and I had to check the lakes before fishing could commence. I walked around the lakes with a cup of tea in hand, it was good to see Great Springs full to the brim. The high water level hid the digger scars and most of the muddy colour had gone. The ripples were washing reeds and grass, not bare clay.
I saw a Trout beside the overflow at Little Springs, it had been there on my last visit. It saw me but only darted away when I knelt down to take its portrait. The other lakes were coloured and uninspiring and I decided to continue with my casting practice at Little Bognor. When I arrived a member was already fishing the top lake. The fish were rising well on the bottom lake so I tackled up and walked down the track, along the side of the bottom lake. The wind was from my right and that would help with casting.
I stood between two mature trees and rolled the size 14 black spider into the margins. I planned to move to my left a little after each cast, covering the water. On the second cast the leader dipped and I was into my first Trout. It was about 1lb and it darted back into the dark brown water none the worse for visiting me.
The fish were frantically rising to tiny grey midges on the surface. The hatching flies blew down the lake, tumbling across the surface and driving the Trout wild. It looked like a stew pond. I changed to a bushy nymph with a Partridge hackle at the head and a ginger hackle palmered down the body. I thought it was a good match for the adult flies. The Trout did not, several looked at the fly and moved on. It was too big. I changed to a buzzer and that was also ignored. It wasn’t floating.
I went back to the Land Rover for my dry fly box. As I returned to the gap in the trees it started to rain. Things went rapidly downhill. The fish were rising very close to me, I took ages poking the varnish from the hook eye and tying on a size 18 Adams variant. My hands were cold and my casting became erratic. The fly line was in the tree, the leader was around a twig on the ground and the fly stuck in my coat. I laughed and told myself to calm down. Eventually I rolled out the fly towards a cruising fish but it ignored my offering. I was surprised, the presentation was good and the fly was convincing. The wind got stronger and helped with casting, the ripple also hid the tippet. Finally, a fish accepted the Adams and was hooked in the scissors. As I landed and released the fish, the other Trout were continuing to rise. They were not spooked by the splashing, they were hungry and preoccupied.
The wind got stronger, the rain started to soak through my Musto jacket and my casting became amateurish. I waited in the hut for the rain to stop but after thirty minutes I decided the rain was set for the rest of the day, climbed back into the warmth of the Land Rover and headed home.