The weather had changed for the better. The forecast predicted warm Spring sunshine for the rest of April. For several days I’d checked the river level while having breakfast and lunch. The latest level was shown as 0.234m and falling but that was clearly wrong because when I arrived at Keeper’s Bridge, it was much higher and the colour of a Werthers Original. Totally unfishable. I wandered around Ladymead which looked bleak and scarred by over enthusiastic tree felling on the opposite bank. The trunks of two large Alder trees had become snagged in midstream. Good cover for the Trout but casting would be tricky. It was cold, grey, damp and felt like Autumn.
I walked around the lakes and saw fish rising and swirling in the margins. Luffs looked inviting but I decided to fish at Little Bognor as I could return the fish. I drove to Little Bognor and used the back of the Defender to set up my rod and reel. I chose the Hardy Duchess with the cut-down Cortland 444, it had quickly become my favourite reel. I must change my other reels to right hand wind. I tied on an imitation of a hatching midge and flicked it out on a short line. It sat nicely on the surface of the water. After a few casts a Trout rose confidently from directly beneath the fly and gulped it down. I waited a couple of seconds then lifted into the fish. It shook itself free just as I was reaching for the landing net.
The rising fish had moved away from me and I decided to target cruising fish with a buzzer. I had a few takes but couldn’t connect. I changed the pattern to a semi-buoyant black Neoprene buzzer that hung just under the surface. The tuft of Partridge represented the hatching fly.
The leader seemed to pause in the ripple and I lifted the rod not confident of a response. A Trout had taken the fly very gently. It made several long runs and I let the reel spin silently to release line. I released the fish and concentrated on my technique. I had a few more tentative takes but didn’t hook anything. It was getting cold so I packed up, took a few photos and headed for home. I hope the river soon becomes fishable, Little Bognor is a lovely place but it’s not a substitute for flowing water.
The last few trips have been interesting. Fly patterns that I have developed have proved to be successful and I now feel confident that I can catch Trout that are preoccupied, feeding on caenis, midges and hatching buzzers.