Little Bognor – I left later than usual, the local roads were clogged with Bank Holiday Lycramaniacs but once over the county border, the lanes were empty and I had a relaxing drive to Riverhill. I was looking forward to exploring the woods at Little Bognor. The sky was baby blue and the sun shining through the young Beech leaves made them glow bright green. I intended to explore the area but as I walked beside the lake several Trout were feeding close to the bank and the temptation was too great. I collected my rod from the car and settled down under the Beech trees close to the seat. I sat still for ten minutes, watching the fish under the bank. One was even feeding underneath the fishing platform. The steep sided valley, the ancient trees and the near silence created a magical atmosphere. It was easy to watch and wait.
I decided to try something different, a winged Olive. I only needed to flick the fly into the margins, it wouldn’t twist the tippet. A fish was patrolling the water just beyond my rod tip. A bow-and-arrow cast dropped the fly in it’s tracks. The fly floated well, the surface film was thick with dust and I could easily see the tippet. So could the Trout. I waited patiently, occasionally flicking the fly into different positions and allowing it to drift close to the bank. A fish swirled under the fly, the water heaved and the ripples subsided leaving the fly half submerged. I changed to a Black Spider but although several fish passed close to it, none investigated. It seemed too small, it was indistinguishable from the dust and plant debris.
I tied on a size 12 parachute emerger and flicked it out, the movement of the rod frightened two fish infront of me. Perhaps it flashed in the sunlight. After a short rest the fish resumed their patrol. A Trout made it’s way towards me. I jiggled the rod tip to make the fly twitch, then raised the rod to induce a take. The fish grabbed the fly and charged out into the centre of the lake. Twenty yards of fly line poured off the reel. I didn’t touch the reel, the tippet would have broken. The thick grease I put on the spindle stopped the spool from over-running without a screeching ratchet. After a lengthy fight I netted the fish which had swallowed the fly and was bleeding. There was no point in returning a damaged Trout, it would die. It was 2lb and very plump. The first fish I have retained from Little Bognor this season.
I went for a walk in the woods and visited Rex Vicat Cole’s twisted, old Spanish Chestnut tree. It has been there at least two hundred years. He sketched the dead tree between 1901 and 1907, it’s lost some top branches but still looks much the same.
Little Springs – I was thirsty and hungry so I drove to the fishing hut and had lunch sitting beside the shallows at Little Springs. The fish were feeding on the surface very close to the bank, similar to Little Bognor. Several Trout about 3lb were within range and once again, the temptation was too great. After lunch I set up my rod beside the car then crept back to the shallows. I sat on the grass well back from the waters edge and waited for the Trout to cruise past. I cast a size 14 Neoprene Black Spider infront of a couple of fish, both of which inspected the fly. One swirled but I lifted too soon. The next fish rose in slow motion, poked it’s nose out of the water and gulped the fly down. I waited. When I lifted the rod the fish exploded, thrashing the water then speeding away on a long run. A very long run. It wasn’t 3lb but it fought like it. I gave both fish to a Guest who hadn’t caught anything.
A Cuckoo was calling loudly as I left the lakes and the fish were still rising. I searched the rushes and trees for Mayfly but I couldn’t find any. The weather is set fair and the river level is falling. On Monday it would be nice to catch a fish from the river with a Mayfly.