5 April – Spring Day

Easter had been grey and wet. It had rained every day. In fact, it hadn’t stopped raining for over a week. The river at Billingshurst had risen into the fields and retreated leaving silt and rubbish everywhere. The Rother had roared through the fish pass and stranded flotsam high in the bankside trees. It had been the sixth flood of the winter and hopefully the last. This morning was the first real Spring morning. Fluffy white clouds, a blue sky and clean air. I enjoyed the drive along the country lanes, particularly at Riverhill where I paused to look at the view down the valley.

I visited Little Bognor, checked every beat on the river and had breakfast at Great Springs. After tea and chocolate biscuits I returned to Little Bognor to continue my casting practice. The air was warmish and the gentle breeze supported three Buzzards mewing and circling high above the trees.


I had tied some very small imitations of the hatching midges I had seen at Little Bognor on my last visit and I was keen to try them out. Tying flies after the event is flawed, on my return the fish have usually found another food source. That proved to be the case. There was a hatch of small, black terrestrial flies, too small for Hawthorn flies. I tied on a Black Buzzer and left handed, flicked it over the green rush shoots in the margins. It landed about four feet from the bank, sunk about a foot and was taken by a small Trout. I was surprised by the suddenness of the take and the fish wriggled free after a few seconds. I cast a little further into the lake and immediately had another take. The Trout was very dark in colour and had no hook marks in it’s mouth. A fish was feeding in the corner by the overflow but I couldn’t interest it in my buzzer. I tried the opposite corner but the fish had moved away from that end of the lake. I thought a black Neoprene Buzzer would do the trick but although it sat nicely in the surface film, the fish were not fooled. I had a nice take at the other end of the lake, under the Beech trees, but the fish came adrift. Size 18 hooks don’t hold well.


I had a few casts on the top lake but quickly lost interest and walked back down the slope. I persevered with a white Neoprene spider which sat on the ripples and blew around under the tree beside the overflow. A fish inspected it and twenty minutes later I had a good take which I should have left a little longer. I lifted too quickly and missed the fish. The air was cooling and I was tired. I had a nice bottle of claret in the Land Rover, bought on the recommendation of the nice man in the wine merchants at Petworth.