I started my day at the garage, handing over the keys to the broken Land Rover. Somehow it was not the same driving to Petworth in a normal car. There was no sense of adventure and I arrived without any excitement, unlike Saturday. Little Bognor was pretty but the surface of both lakes was unbroken, the Trout had retired to deep water for the rest of the day.
I visited the lower beats of the river, unable to venture off road. The water was a little coloured but I could see the streamer weed and dark gravel on the river bed at Rotherbridge. There were no fish rising. Little Springs looked lovely and the marginal plants gave me good cover as I crept around the lake watching the feeding fish. I saw several Trout that looked about 2lbs, feeding confidently on buzzers. They couldn’t see me hiding behind the cow parsley and rushes. I was tempted to stay and catch a couple of the better fish.
The river was calling, the Mayfly would soon be over and the fish at Little Springs could wait. The air was crystal clear and the BBC were warning about very high levels of UV. The skimpy clouds were high and the breeze warm. As I left the estate to drive south, I paused and looked back down the Rother valley. The side of the road was decorated with poppies and daisies and on the crest of the hill, where the wind was stronger, I had a panoramic view of the South Downs. Beautiful.
I parked at Keeper’s Bridge which was as far as I could go without the Land Rover. I tackled up and signed in to fish Beat C, upstream towards Perryfields. It was very hot and humid under the trees and swarms of Horse Flies were attacking in formation. Two coats of Jungle Formula kept them at bay.
I walked slowly upstream looking for any signs of a fish. The sun seemed to bounce back off the caramel coloured water. I floated a Mayfly imitation under the branches of an Alder tree. It looked convincing but nothing rose to inspect the fly. As I was walking upstream a huge Cormorant flapped down the Sandy Pool, too heavy with fish to take off. It disappeared into the bankside vegetation. That encounter was a major blow to my confidence. I knew that I would have to walk upstream quite a long way to ensure that I was covering pools that hadn’t been visited by the black death.
I paused above the old riffle, looking for a rising fish. I thought that the fast shallow water would not have suited the winged predator and that I might get a fish from under the trees. I fished all the usual pools on the way to Perryfields. I used a Mayfly on the way upstream and a Black Spider on the way back. Nothing.
I was hot, tired and frustrated by the blustery downstream wind which made accurate casting impossible. I decided to return to the comfortable, air conditioned luxury of the car and head for home. I should have stayed at Little Springs. I must spend an evening on the river soon.