19 July – Christening

The harvest was in full swing. The school summer holidays start on Friday and that usually heralds bad weather. Last years harvest was ruined by heavy rain and the contractors were keen to take advantage of the long dry days. Huge tractors and even bigger trailers, thundered down the country lanes leaving spilt loads on corners and decorating the hedges and overhanging trees with straw. Three black plastic covered bales had fallen off a tractor turning too fast at the Rotherbridge cross roads.


I visited Little Bognor and was surprised to see quite a few Trout feeding. The surface of the water was covered in dust and debris from the trees but the fish were able to select buzzers from amongst the rubbish. The river at the Fish Pass looked lovely but lifeless. I leant over the railings at Rotherbridge and watched hundreds of Dace flashing silver on the sandy bottom. I heard the pop of a rising Trout behind me and turned to watch the shaded water downstream of the bridge. A good Trout, about 3lb, rose and took something too small to see. The fish continued to rise so I hunted for grasshoppers in the field and dropped three, one at a time, to drift towards it. The Trout rose and inspected each hopper and rejected them all. How is that possible ? A wriggling, twitching meal with no hook or leader. An artificial fly stood no chance. I saw a mink at Taylors Bridge and having finished my tour of the river, drove to Great Springs for a long, leisurely lunch.


I wanted to christen my Southwell cane rod, ideally with a fish from the river, but I needed a backup plan to ensure success. My cunning plan was to visit Little Bognor where I was reasonably confident of a fish or two and then go to the river for the evening rise.

Fishing under the trees was worrying. I usually hit the overhanging branches with my carbon rod several times each trip and so far, it has survived. Brittle, valuable, collectable split cane deserved more care. Trout were rising all along the east bank under the Beech trees. I sat behind the ferns and flicked a black spider on a short line towards cruising fish, moving along the bank each time I missed a fish. The cane rod handled the short line better than my carbon rod.


Eventually the leader twitched and I nervously lifted into the fish, not knowing how the fish or rod would react. I needn’t have worried, the rod had backbone with sensitivity which protected the 2lb bs leader. I returned the fish and moved down a few yards to another gap in the overhanging branches. I lost a few flies in the trees but hooked another fish close to the bank. It went on a long run to my right and threw the hook.

I moved again and sat above the flight of stone steps. There was plenty of room on my left for a short cast and soon another fish was dashing about under the trees, bringing the rod to life. I released that fish and thought about leaving Little Bognor for the evening rise on the river.

It had been a nice afternoon, I had christened the rod and the river would wait until Saturday.