It was a glorious morning and my journey along the lanes towards Petworth was uplifting, particularly as there were no cyclists about. I stopped at Riverhill and looked over the gate. The air was clear and the clouds were building as the prevailing south westerly wind climbed the slopes of the South Downs. There was complete silence at Little Bognor. The fish were rising but cautiously, examining the pond life with care before sipping it into their mouths. There was no breeze and the temperature was oppressive, I wasn’t tempted to fish there.
I heard the river roaring through the fish pass long before I saw the murky water. It looked clear as it passed over the lip of the weir but then became muddy as it swirled off towards the sea. The water was far too coloured to fish, even the shallow stretches would be opaque. I went to Rotherbridge and walked upstream to the New Riffle. About half way there I saw a fish swirl, it might have been a Sea Trout making the most of the high water. If the level drops over the weekend the evenings should produce a fish or two.
The river valley around Keepers Bridge looked lovely but only the Sussex cattle were moving, the fish were huddled under the tree roots waiting for the water to clear. I returned to the Land Rover and drove to Great Springs. The edges of the fields were lined with wild flowers and I stopped for a few minutes to look at the view up the Rother valley.
When I got to Great Springs I had a cup of tea and two chocolate biscuits while admiring the scenery. The wind was ruffling the surface of the lower lake and the surroundings had been manicured. I felt privileged to be allowed access to the Estate and stood by the lodge for a few minutes soaking up the atmosphere. A few fish were moving under the trees at the shallow end of Little Springs and I knew I would be able to catch one.
I wandered around taking photos for nearly two hours but the temptation finally got the better of me and I crept towards the little seat between the Alder trees. The grass was wet but I didn’t mind, my trousers would dry quickly in the hot sun. I sat quietly for longer than usual, the fly I had chosen wouldn’t accept the 2lb bs tippet. The eye of the hook was blocked. I gave up the struggle and chose another fly, a parachute emerger.
Several fish were within range but two clumsy casts frightened them away. While waiting for a Trout to appear I flicked the fly into the margins and promptly caught a very small Roach. I was reassured that it had been fooled by my choice of fly. I saw a Trout cruising on the edge of the ripple and presented the fly, the fish moved away at speed. I changed to a size 14 ginger, palmered-hackle dry fly with a tag of Neoprene foam to keep it afloat. I dropped the fly on the edge of the ripple and a couple of minutes later a Trout rose and was hooked. It quickly became airborne and I saw that it was a small fish. It weighed 1lb 4ozs, not enough for a Trout supper but, as a member remarked, sufficient for a sandwich.
When the river level drops the Trout will be hungry and in the absence of Mayfly, should give some good evening sport.