It had been three weeks since my last visit to the river. Our holiday in Rye had been an opportunity to visit Romney marsh and kindle some old fishing memories. Since fishing the Puddledock and the White Kemp as a lad, the marsh had been drained and these once great waterways were choked with pond weed and reeds. The irony is that sprinklers were drawing water from small reservoirs to irrigate the potato plants that have replaced the sheep. Madness.
The roasting hot weather on Monday had moderated to a mere 25 degrees with a north wind and occasional cloud cover. I planned an evening visit to the river and as the broken Land Rover had returned from it’s expensive holiday at the local garage, I had access to the top beats. The river around Taylors Bridge had not been fished for at least a month and the bankside trees gave the fish shelter from the sun.
I arrived at 4:00pm and decided to fish a few pools on my walk downstream towards Perryfields Barn. I ignored the shallow runs and pools, concentrating on the big beds of streamer weed and the shade under the Oak trees. I trundled a black spider, lightly weighted with copper wire, down the edge of the weed beds. At the pool below the gateway in the hedge there was a combination of thick weed beds and the shade of a large tree on my side of the river. The current was strong and it looked ideal. I gradually extended the cast so that the fly drifted back towards me, under the branches and deep alongside a weed bed. I kept extending the cast, taking a risk with the branches and allowing the fly to sink deeper. The line tightened, I lifted the rod and connected with a wild fish about 8ozs which I quickly unhooked and released. An hours fishing, one take and one fish. The plan was working.
I explored the weed beds in the Shallow Pool and rolled out a fly under the trees at the Monster Pool. The horse flies were like F-35 stealth fighters armed with Novichok, they drove me from under the trees and along the open bank towards Perryfields.
I walked past the barn on the south bank where the openings in the tree line gave access to a series of holding pools. I had the river to myself and I hoped to fish all the usual places, downstream as far as the Old Riffle. The sun was low and directly behind me, I had to crawl towards the pools using the bankside ribbon of nettles and balsam for cover.
I saw a fish swirl in midstream, it had attempted to snatch a damsel fly skimming the surface. Having found a good fish I was determined to stay at the pool and catch it. After several casts down and across the line drew away from me and I tightened into a good fish. The Trout jumped and skittered across the surface towards the tree on my right and into the roots. I staggered to my feet and wound down to the snag expecting the fish to shoot out into open water but the fly returned garnished with a twig. It’s always a surprise to me that a fish can shed a hook so easily.
I moved downstream to the next gap in the trees. A cast down and across then held, allowed the fly to swing in under the Alder tree on my right. I felt a little tap on the line and thought it was a wild fish. Several casts later the end of the fly line moved and I hooked a fish that stayed very deep and swam upstream. Just like a carp or barbel. It kept away from the snags and I eventually slid the Trout into the landing net. It had pulled well above it’s weight which was about 1lb 8ozs.
The pool was trashed so I moved downstream and in a similar pool, had a trout follow the fly but swirl away at the last moment. I found a fish rising at the top of the Wide Pool but after a couple of casts into the Alder tree behind me, it departed, unimpressed by my casting and my shadow on the water. I saw a couple of members working upstream towards me from Keepers Bridge and decided to retrace my steps. I tied on a dry fly and walked slowly back upstream hoping that the evening rise would start. I saw a few olives hatch but there was no response from the fish. I should have arrived later and stayed until dusk.