Heavy rain delayed my departure but the weather forecast was reassuring, the afternoon would be fine. I arrived at Taylors Bridge and decided to fish downstream on the north bank as the Sussex cattle had been moved further along the valley. I crossed the bridge but paused at the gate. The south bank was calling to me. I discarded the logic of easy access to the water and the sun in my face, in favour of intuition. An old memory or experience, locked away beyond conscious recall, prompted me to choose the high banks and the shadows of the south side. It was illogical but I went along with my instinct.
I passed all the usual pools until I reached the Monster Pool, it looked so inviting. I rolled a Copper Nymph from under the gnarly old Ash tree for ten minutes but the anticipation dwindled and I moved downstream. I couldn’t resist the deep run on the bend above the Shallow Pool. The wind was against me and I had to wait for a lull and for the Himalayan balsam to stop swaying, before I could side-cast upstream into the run. The nymph sunk quickly and as I drew in line for the next cast, a small wild Trout swirled on the surface. It just missed the fly. Several casts later I decided that the frightened little fish had retired into the streamer weed. I would try again on my return journey.
I saw a fish on the surface in the pool opposite the big metal gates. It was swimming about aimlessly and might have been a chub. I flicked a Black Spider close to the fish which looked at the fly and disappeared. I spent longer at the pool than I should have, the fish had gone down. I booked an appointment for the Chub/Trout later that evening. I was pleased to see Perryfields Barn. It’s such a lovely place, the old Sussex barn, the mature Oak trees and the fast flowing river. I ate too many blackberries while waiting for the Barn Owls to appear, I hoped to see the newly fledged chicks. I never catch a fish near the bridge, there are too many distractions.
The series of pools below the bridge, overhung with bushes and trees, were my best chance of a fish. I had caught and released several fish there during the Mayfly season. At the first pool everything went to pieces. Several lost nymphs, tangles and rod wraps forced me to rest and to take stock of the situation. My hat was preventing me from seeing the branches overhead, I took it off. My Polaroids were misting up, I put them in my pocket. I tied on a realistic nymph imitation, which sunk quickly under the bushes along the far bank. Order had been restored and with it, I found new confidence.
As I arrived at the next pool a fish rose close to the far bank beyond an overhanging branch. A direct cast was impossible but I allowed the nymph to drift to within ten feet of the rise in the hope that the fish was cruising upstream. It wasn’t, the Trout rose again in exactly the same place. I moved below the fish and tried an Olive and an Adams. Both were ignored. The cast was tricky, close to an Alder tree on my left and opposite a bunch of sedge. The Trout was in the main current picking off flies as they drifted downstream. I tied on a parachute Pheasant Tail with a blob of Neoprene foam to help it sit in the surface film. The upstream wind helped me bend the cast round the tree and land the fly gently. After a few casts the fish took the fly confidently and battle commenced. As I was about to net the fish it went on a long run upstream, through the overhanging branches and I had to bully it back downstream. Getting the fish into the landing net was a fiasco and I was glad nobody witnessed my efforts. I returned the fish upstream as another Trout had risen at the bottom of the pool.
The second fish had probably been put down by the ‘Landing Net Fiasco’ and not surprisingly, didn’t rise to my fly. I fished the other pools along that stretch but didn’t see any rises. It had been over three hours of walking and creeping about but one more cast was in order. The Wide Pool was nearby and I imagined a fish rising next to the sunken tree. As I walked towards the pool the calm surface was dimpled by a delicate rise. I assumed it was a small wild Trout and was confident of a take. I hid beside the half-dead tree and was careful not to backcast into the overhanging branch which had claimed so many of my flies. The third cast was perfect, the Trout rose and gulped down the fly. It was not a small fish. I released it from the landing net upstream of the pool where the bank was lower.
Two good Trout, caught on an upstream dry fly, was a great result. As I walked back to Taylors Bridge I pondered over my use of nymphs when the Trout were obviously rising. I had been too slow to adapt and the early evening rise clearly required a dry fly. On my return journey the Chub/Trout was hiding and the little fish in the deep run didn’t rise.
I had trusted my instinct and had been rewarded. It had been a long, tiring afternoon but very enjoyable.