18 August – Taylors Bridge

The top of the river is rarely fished. It’s a long way up the old railway line and access to the water is tricky. The pheasant poults cluttered the track at Keepers Bridge and a long line of swallows decorated the telephone wires at Kilsham Farm. Their early departure is probably due to a lack of flying insects. I picked a few blackberries and had an apple for lunch, very healthy. Each time I visited Taylors Bridge during the last six weeks I crept along the metal bridge and looked for the resident Trout. It was a good fish which disappeared downstream under a raft of rubbish every time it saw me. On a recent visit I hadn’t seen the fish and I wondered if the Black Death had eaten it.

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As I signed the book and set up my rod, there was a big splash directly under the bridge. The fish rose again as I inched my way along the steel mesh floor, making best use of the overhanging Alder tree for cover. It was close to the north bank, hanging in mid water. It was a pale fish, easily seen without Polaroids.

I sat behind the dying weeds on the fringe of the pool and watched the fish, it was only a few feet away and it was testing each piece of leaf debris in the main current. I lowered a Copper Nymph into the water but got no response. I changed to an amber sedge but the fish rejected it after a prolonged examination. I think the hook was too big and shiny. A Black Spider was also rejected. I rested the fish and went for a walk to the big pool at Ladymead. The campers were making a noise and the wind was against me so I didn’t stay long.

On my return the fish rose and examined an Alder leaf. I decided to switch to a dry fly. The strong current and 4lb tippet would be a problem so I dapped a size 14 shrimp imitation which held the Trout’s attention for a few seconds before it sunk. I browsed the fly box and chose a size 14 Partridge and ginger hackled nymph which I hoped would sit in the surface film. The fly floated down the current, was examined very closely for ten seconds and then gently taken. I paused, lifted the rod and the fish seemed genuinely surprised to be hooked. I released two pounds of annoyed Trout back into the pool and wondered if I would see the fish again during the Autumn. The fine wire, small black hook had helped the fly float and was less obvious to the fish.

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As I walked downstream I heard several ‘rises’ under the Oak trees. It took a while before I realised it was acorns not Trout. I lost several Copper Nymphs in the bushes but I was not concerned, the hooks I had used were too big and ugly. The weight of the nymphs enabled me to explore a few deep runs that I usually ignored. I hoped for another fish in the Shallow Pool but before I got there, I was distracted by a small, deep hole under my bank between the Oak and Alder trees. I had fished that hole many times and never had a take. I cast to the far bank and let the fly settle back towards me. I wasn’t concentrating when the line drew tight and the rod bent into a circle. I put a lot of pressure on the fish to keep it away from the tree roots. It was a fat, wild Trout about a pound, it fought well above its weight. The hook fell out in the net and as I went to release it, the fish jumped out of the landing net and skipped upstream through the streamer weed.

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The little fish was immaculate and might have been preparing for migration to the sea. It had the look of a potential sea trout smolt.

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I lost another nymph in the bushes and abandoned my journey to the Shallow Pool, two fish from a slightly swollen and coloured river was enough. On the way back to the main road I stopped at Keepers Bridge for a chat with another member. As we held a post mortem on the afternoons sport, a fish rose under one of the Alder trees. I foolishly decided to spend an hour walking upstream to Perryfields. I chased a couple of rising fish and enjoyed the walk but after a couple of hours I was exhausted.

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