17 May – Keepers Bridge

It was a beautiful morning, bright sunshine with the remains of a light frost. The breeze from the north was unusual but welcome. I visited Little Bognor and took time to soak up the atmosphere. It was peaceful and the Trout were feeding. Very tempting but I had other plans. I drove to the top of the old railway line at Coultershaw and walked upstream to have a look at the pool at Ladymead. The pool had been transformed by the winter floods. A hill of sand had been deposited in the centre and the current split around it leaving two pools below each of the old sluices. I sat and watched the pool but didn’t see any fish. I checked the river around Keepers Bridge, the level had dropped and the water was less coloured. Rotherbridge looked good, the bright green clumps of Starwort had survived the floods. I visited all the lakes in the north of the Estate and was surprised to see that several were coloured. The ripples had been washing against the banks of exposed clay.


After a yummy lunch of hot pasty at Great Springs I drove back to Keepers Bridge and set off upstream full of confidence. I worked a Black Spider along the near bank, beside the sparse weed beds and under all the bushes. I fished hard all the way to the wide pool below the barn without a take. I didn’t see any signs of a fish. In the early afternoon Mayfly started to hatch in good numbers. There was also a good hatch of Olives. Millions of midges buzzed around under the trees. There was no shortage of fly life but the Chub, Dace and Trout were nowhere to be seen.


As the afternoon morphed into evening I went back to the Land Rover for a drink and a pork pie that I had saved from lunch. I was tempted to leave the river and spend an hour at Little Bognor but I wanted to see if there would be an evening rise at Keepers Bridge. I sat on the grass opposite the Alder trees. I like it there because there is lots of cover and I can watch about two hundred yards of river.


I waited patiently for any signs of a rise but although the Mayfly continued to hatch there was no fishy activity. My next visit to the river ought to start in the evening. The weather is settled and the river should be in good condition for an evening session next week.