3 May – Lower Figgs

I started my day at Bedham. It was a beautiful Spring morning and I decided to take a detour through the woods. The single track road from Bedham to Fittleworth was deserted and I stopped for a wander through the trees. I explored the headlands of a wheat field at Fittleworth and watched the clouds billowing up along the South Downs.

The lakes at Little Bognor were calm and the fish were hiding. It was only 10:00am but the sun was warm and it was too hot for a jacket. I visited the river knowing that it was very high and coloured. There would be no chance of a Rother Trout for several days. I went to Great Springs via Tillington and had a look at Lower Figgs on the way. I saw my first Mayfly beside Little Springs, it fluttered into the top of a tree where it would be safe. I looked on the underside of the new leaves but I couldn’t find any more. The long winter has delayed everything, last year I saw my first Mayfly on 1st May. I walked around the lakes with a cup of tea and chocolate biscuit for breakfast. There were millions of tadpoles in the margins and the Trout were picking them off.


I thought it would be too easy to catch a fish there, a Black Spider twitched back into the margins would be irresistible. I went to Luffs where the air was thick with Hawthorn flies and midges. I strolled down the track to Upper Figgs and watched the fish rising under the trees. I hung over the bridge rail looking down into the stream between the two lakes and saw three good Trout patrolling just above a weed bed. The current was strong and the fish were active. I returned to Luffs for my rod and net and positioned myself with the sun in my face, watching the Trout in the stream. One fish was turning on it’s side and slapping itself against the gravel, cutting a redd.


The three fish scattered downstream at my first cast. Although I had lengthened the line on the grass beforehand, I misjudged the distance. There would be no second chance. The Trout were swirling around under a small tree at the top of the lake, waiting for a chance to return to the stream. I decided to rest them and moved further down the lake where fish were hammering the tadpoles. I searched a small bay with a Black Spider, expecting a thump on the rod. I lost three flies as a result of overcasting, the Rio line was not the best choice. It shoots out of the rod rings easily but because of it’s green colouring, I can’t judge it’s flight accurately. A fish swirled at the fly but didn’t take.


With only one weighted Black Spider left in my box I retreated to the South bank of the lake and watched another group of fish feeding very close to the bank. They were taking something from the surface, not tadpoles. I changed to a dry fly. It was ignored. I changed flies several times but the dark shadows passed underneath without a glance. I wondered if my flies were too small and selected a size 12 Walkers Sedge with a long dark wing. A fish took it in the margin as I was twitching it prior to a recast. It fought long and hard and was in perfect condition. I kept it for dinner.

I was exhausted. I had spent most of the day walking rather than fishing. I had seen the Sussex countryside at it’s best.