26 July – 35 Degrees

It was hot. Very hot Even the wind was hot. There was no point staying indoors, it was too stuffy. I wound the windows down and pointed the Land Rover south, towards the coast. The sky was baby blue and the skimpy clouds were very high. The sun burnt through the clouds and melted the tarmac. I felt the tyres squirm under braking.

The lakes at Little Bognor were cooler and there were fish rising under the trees. The mature Beech trees and the steep valley provided shade and funneled the wind to make the temperature almost bearable. I sat under the Oak tree beside the top lake for half an hour and watched the Trout cruising past in the margins, head-and-tailing for buzzers.

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I thought I might return to Little Bognor later in the day if the river didn’t inspire me. I stopped at Coultershaw Bridge and had a look at the fish pass and the Archimedes screw, they didn’t look particularly fish friendly. I couldn’t imagine a Sea Trout climbing the ladder, it looked too steep. My next stop was at the bottom Beat. I walked across the field to the river and looked for fish under the streamer weed. I couldn’t see the big Chub in the bottom pool but I found a very good fish rising in the pool immediately above the top cascade. I walked back to the Land Rover and tackled up, there was no point in driving away, I might not find another active fish.

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When I returned to the pool the big fish had gone but I walked upstream a few yards and found a shoal of Chub including the big one which looked about 4lbs. There were over a dozen fish in the shoal, mostly small. I chose an Adams and flicked it towards the far bank into the middle of the shoal, aiming for the biggest fish. A few Chub looked at the fly but they wouldn’t take it. I changed to a spent mayfly and put it down close to the big Chub but a much smaller fish cruised over and gulped the fly down. I lifted into the Chub and bullied it into the landing net, hoping not to scare the shoal.

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I released the fish in a pool upstream and crept back to the shoal, some of the Chub were still there, including the big one. I dried the fly and flicked it towards the big Chub which sauntered over to it but didn’t take. I lifted off and recast, another small fish swam towards the fly, upended and gulped it down. After I had released it the shoal had disappeared. I waited a while but they didn’t return. I drove to the top Beat and had lunch from the back of the Land Rover. The sun was relentless and the wind was like a hair dryer.

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It was so hot at Ladymead that after lunch, I decided to return to Little Bognor, I thought that it would be much cooler. I had planned to fish the bottom lake but another member beat me to it. I sat under the Oak tree beside the top lake where I had seen the feeding Trout earlier. They were still there and feeding close to the bank. I was very quiet and dropped a size 14, ginger, palmered dry fly only ten feet from the bank. A fish swam under the tippet but ignored the fly. I swapped to a black hopper and missed a take. I eventually hooked a Trout on a black neoprene spider but it got off just as I prepared the landing net. I must learn to leave the net alone, it is a distraction.

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I rested that part of the lake and moved to the far side of the Willow tree. There were a few fish rising but there was too much debris on the surface to present a dry fly effectively. When I returned to the Oak tree I was surprised to see a couple of fish feeding, the earlier disturbance hadn’t put them down. I positioned a neoprene spider close to a feeding fish which took the fly but shook free. Again. I was hot, dehydrated and tired. I drove home with all the windows open but didn’t cool down until I’d had a couple of beers.

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