19 April – Taylors Bridge

Spring lasted about a week. Summer had arrived. Yesterday was a scorcher, temperatures in the low seventies and a clear blue sky. Our English climate is now more continental than maritime. I’d watched the river level drop to 0.110m yesterday. No rain was forecast for at least a week. There would be a few days to catch over-wintered and wild Trout before the river was stocked.

On 18 April last year the river was at 0.032m following a very dry winter. A lot of over-wintered fish were caught plus several good Sea Trout. Last April the oil seed was in full bloom and the water flowing through the Fish Pass was crystal clear. A year later the level was 0.96m and the water was coloured.

I looked at the Fish Pass but the water was turbulent and too coloured so I drove to Rotherbridge. Somebody had caught ‘my’ Trout the day before. I was disappointed not to have made its acquaintance. I checked the catch returns at Keepers Bridge and wandered down through the woods to look at the river. The scent of the bluebells was strong with just a hint of crushed wild garlic. The bankside grass was being cut so I decided to spend the morning on the Beat below Taylor’s Bridge.


The wind was from the South and it was quite hot as I stood beside the Land Rover and set up my rod. The clouds were high and wispy, they looked like the remnants of vapour trails from aircraft heading towards Europe. Although it was mid-morning the temperature was already in the mid seventies. I fished the first pool below the bridge thoroughly for about thirty minutes and was surprised not to get a take. The fly was working well and the marginal weed looked very fishy. I swapped the fly and tried again to no avail. I walked slowly to the Shallow Pool, it was too hot for striding out. I sat on the grass and watched the pool. I saw a young mink on a raft of rubbish, it was scratching itself and enjoying the sunshine. It didn’t take any notice of me and eventually disappeared into the bushes. I spent an hour covering the pool but the heat got the better of me and I returned to the Land Rover via Ladymead. It was lunchtime.


I had lunch from the back of the Land Rover in the shade under the trees at Keepers Bridge. Very civilized. After lunch I drove to Lavington and had a walk in the woods. That was not a good idea. I got overheated and dehydrated. I later learnt that it had been the hottest April day since 1949, I should have gone to the pub. I called in at Little Bognor on the return journey, the fish were rising in the shallow corner under the old Yew tree and all along that bank. I was exhausted, too tired to cast a line. After a brief rest under the trees I drove away. Hopefully, next time the river will be clearer and the Trout will be easier to find.