I listened to the radio as I drove south. LBC was very negative. London-Europe sounded like an alien culture and I was glad when the Defender hit a pot hole and the radio switched itself off. I felt a world away from the Working Dead in the capital. The heat wave continued but was moderated by a south westerly breeze. As I drove down the lane at Riverhill the South Downs looked spectacular. A patchwork of yellow and brown fields edged in dark green. It was a lovely day in the Sussex countryside and Hell if you were commuting to work.
I greeted the gnomes at Little Bognor and parked in the shade of a Silver Birch. The diesel engine clattered to a halt and there was silence. Except for the gurgling spring and the cooing of wood pigeons. I walked around the lakes and removed a few twigs that had interfered with my casting. The fish were not very active but the breeze had moved most of the dust and leaf debris into the margins and the lakes looked good.
I left the lakes and drove back through the woods towards Fittleworth. The mature Beech trees cast dappled sunlight on the track and the tyres crunched over last years mast. As I made my way south towards the river I saw fleets of tractors with trailers loaded to overflowing with various cereals. The bales of straw made geometric patterns in the fields of stubble. A pair of buzzards were tearing at the corpse of a squirrel on Kilsham Lane and newly sheared sheep were charging around the field. I stood under an Alder tree beside the river and looked in vain for the big chub. The sound of the water cascading over the fish pass was comforting. There were no fish rising.
At Rotherbridge I saw a few Dace but there was no sign of the Trout or the big carp. I could see the dimples in the sandy bottom and every leaf in the clumps of streamer weed but no Trout. A swan was uprooting weed and the river looked untidy.
The top beats looked good but I was not inspired. I saw a trout in midstream just below Taylors Bridge but it saw me and turned downstream towards a raft of rubbish. I waited a few minutes and the fish returned but although it was feeding, it was uncomfortable with my presence and drifted away again. It was a spooky fish, I thought it might take an Adams at sunset.
I left the river and drove north to check the lakes and collect the rest of the catch returns. The landscape looked like the Mid West dust bowl. The sandy soil was parched, a cloud of yellow dust followed the Land Rover to the fishing hut.
I returned to Little Bognor and had lunch under the Beech trees. The little seat was perfectly placed, it was in the shade and I could see the entire lake. A few Trout were taking flies off the surface but I was in no hurry to set up my rod. I wondered how many people had rested on the little seat and perhaps, like me, enjoyed the scenery with their picnic.
After lunch I tackled up and started with a dry fly, flicked out from behind the ferns. A couple of good fish ignored the fly. I wondered if it was hard to distinguish from the tree debris and swapped to a black spider. The response was immediate, the fish darted away in alarm. I tried various nymphs but although the fish examined the flies, they were too well educated and refused everything.
I moved along the bank and hooked a fish on a black spider with a red hackle, it came off after a few seconds. I moved along a bit further and sat on the stone steps. I hooked another fish but after a long fight, it snagged me in the tree roots and got off.
The third fish took an Adams and towards the end of the fight, I was determined to keep it away from the snags. The hook pulled. Nevermind, it had been a lovely day. The fish had escaped but I had connected with the best the Sussex countryside can offer.