The morning started with a bright overcast. The sky looked like an enormous lightbox with a uniform white from east to west. As the morning progressed the overcast burnt away and by lunchtime the sky was blue with high wispy clouds. I saw two red kites on the stubble at Stag Park Farm, they were the same colour as the soil. The gentle breeze from the north made it difficult for them to get airborne.
After checking the lakes I drove to Keepers Bridge. I’d seen from the catch returns that quite a few Trout had been caught there and I was confident that I could find some fish under the trees. I arrived about 2:00pm and was undecided which Beat to fish. The water had a dirty grey tint, as if something had disturbed the silt upstream.
There were no signs of fish. The complete absence of flying insects, except wasps, meant that there was no reason for the fish to feed at the surface. I decided to concentrate on the deep pools with a nymph and therefore headed downstream. As I was working a nymph through the shadow of the Alder trees above the bridge, I was surprised to see a fish swirl on the first bend.
I crept into position below the tree so that I could cast upstream and have wind assistance. The fish swirled again a couple of times but although I tried a parachute Pheasant Tail, Adams and Olive it wouldn’t take a dry fly. The glare was intense but I thought I saw the fish inspect one offering before going down, spooked by the tippet. I degreased the tippet with a dock leaf but it wouldn’t sink. I tied on a Partridge and Amber nymph which sunk a few inches. There was a big yellow flash about a foot down and I tapped the hook home. The Trout wandered about for a few minutes, not fighting hard. It looked a bit tatty in the landing net and I was sure it had been caught during the previous week. It was about 2lb and recovered in the net before disappearing into the weeds.
I decided to fish into the evening and thought the pools below Perryfields Barn would be a better option. I walked upstream missing out the pools I intended to cover on the return journey. As I walked past the Old Riffle there was a big swirl under an overhanging branch. It was a tricky cast through a gap between the branches and just above a clump of weed. The water was very coloured so I swapped to a Copper Nymph which would be easily seen.
I lengthened the fly line and put the fly over the fish on the first attempt. Before I had the chance to work the fly and while looking at the reel, there was a big splash and I instinctively lifted the rod. There was a big thump and the fish bored deep, it went down about six feet. The line grated on the streamer weed and the fish fought like a Carp or Barbel. I didn’t see the fish for a few minutes and was quite shocked when it surfaced, it looked big. I struggled to lift the landing net. The Trout was as long as the net ring and I estimated it to be at least 3lb, probably a bit more.
I walked upstream and fished the series of pools around the cow drink. Several Trout were rising but I only attempted the fish where I had a clear cast. The Sussex cattle were in another field and I intended to fish the other pools from the north bank as I walked back. I marked down the fish and crossed the bridge after a snack of berries. Yummy.
The first rising fish was in the middle of the shallow water of the cow drink. It looked like a small wild fish. The first cast was clumsy and I put the fish down. I moved to the Wide Pool where another wild fish was rising in the main current down the centre of the pool. I cast, the fish rose, was hooked and immediately came off. It was only a few ounces and a long distance release was the best outcome. I strolled downstream to the pool with three Alder tree trunks to hide behind. I saw a ripple under my bank and peered around the tree trunks. A very dark trout was hanging in the current about a foot from the bank. I lowered a series of dry flies but each was rejected. There was only a few inches of tippet on the surface but it was enough to alert the fish.
The air temperature dropped at 6:30pm as the sun hid behind clouds. I crossed over to the south bank at the riffle and walked slowly back to the Landrover. It had been a long walk but I was pleased with the results. It had been my first late stay of the summer. As the days cool and shorten there will be more opportunities like that.