1 September – Autumn

It was officially autumn. The weather was not autumnal. The breeze from the south was warm and the clear sky allowed the sun to burn off the morning dew. It felt like July. I had seen two big Trout at Little Bognor cruising under the dust and leaf debris, sipping buzzers. I knew they would spook and sink out of sight at the first cast so I moved on. I found a nice fish in the run below the Fish Pass and was in two minds about spending the morning there. I decided to leave it for another day. The river had risen during the week but had dropped to 0.028m on the gauge and the water was remarkably clear. I sat in the Landrover at the junction of Kilsham Lane trying to decide where to fish. I had a hunch that Rotherbridge would be good, the wind was upstream and there was plenty of shade on that Beat.


There was no sign of life, the Dace had deserted the shallows and although I watched from the bridge for ten minutes, nothing rose. I had made the best of lasts weeks wet weather at the fly tying vice. I had tied some Pheasant Tail nymphs with extra copper wire in the thorax and close ribbing to give weight. I had also tied several copper bodied flies with black hackles, spider style. I decided to start with one of the copper bodied flies. I walked across the field on the north bank and crept up to the fringe of dead cow parsley mixed with nettles. I peered into the water, it looked perfect. The fly sunk and dragged the leader down, it was working close to the bottom. I covered the river to my right, up the tree tunnel. A fish rose about twenty feet away under the trees. Well out of range.


I switched my attention to the water on my left. The fly trundled along in the current, down and across, towards a sparse clump of streamer weed. I held the rod in my left hand and rolled the line out a few times. As I was lifting the fly off a good Trout swirled on the surface, it had just missed. I flicked the fly out and a few seconds later the line moved forwards a few inches. I lifted the rod, expecting contact, but there was no response. A few casts later the line snaked across the surface and I hooked the fish. It made a very strong run downstream and the reel handle caught on my hand, the rod pointed and the hook pulled out. The hook had straightened. My fault. Shame, the Trout was about 3lbs.


I walked down to the limit of the Beat on the north bank and fished a few pools but the sun was too bright for the shallow water. I must fish that stretch one evening before the season ends. I walked back to the bridge and saw a Cormorant. I thought about leaving but couldn’t resist one last cast up the tree tunnel. I was surprised to see a good fish rise and take a midge in the shade of the big Alder bush. I tried a parachute Pheasant Tail an Adams and a small Olive but the fish wouldn’t respond. A Trout swirled in midstream to my left. Then another fish head-and-tailed close to the trees, it looked like a small Carp. I switched back to a copper nymph and twice the line moved forwards a few inches, I think it was small Dace or Chub. Eventually I had a strong take and was careful not to touch the reel. The fish fought well but I bullied it away from the overhanging trees and weeds and used the landing net with a telescopic handle to good effect. I released the fish, which was about 2lbs, from the net and it moved upstream under the trees.

Upstream of the bridge I saw a Trout rise just below an Alder tree on the far bank but it was not interested in a nymph or dry fly. I left at 5:30pm which was probably too early. It had been a great afternoon.