8 September – Fish Pass

The road to Petworth was busy with lovely old cars on the way to the Goodwood Revival. For once the Defender was not the slowest vehicle in Sussex. After checking the lakes I drove to Coultershaw and walked across the field to see if the big Chub was still in the pool below the Fish Pass. The swans had torn some of the streamer weed away and while I watched, five big Chub cruised along the far bank then circled the pool. They were alert and feeding. The biggest fish was about 5lb. I checked the other Beats and was pleased to see that the muddy colour of the water at Taylors Bridge had gone and the water was clear. I returned to Coultershaw and stood behind a bunch of chest high balsam and dead cow parsley watching the Chub. They seemed to have a patrol route; slowly upstream along the far bank, turn downstream and swim alongside the weed, a couple of circuits of the pool, repeat.


The group contained five big fish and a couple about two pounds. There were no tiddlers. The odds of a good fish were in my favour if I could induce any of them to take. The first few casts had the fish following but sheering away at the last moment. They inspected the tippet on the surface. I cast upstream a little and had a good take from deep in the middle of the pool. It was one of the smaller fish. It buried itself deep in the weed and was tricky to extract. I netted the fish and released it to rejoin the shoal.


I remembered the large Trout I had seen jump on my previous visit. It had been close to the far bank of the weir pool where the current starts to slacken and where a bit of driftwood had lodged on a clump of rushes. I started exploring the deep water on my side of the pool with a black and copper spider. A fish rose in the hot spot and I immediately dropped the nymph close to the rise. As I twitched the fly back towards me I saw the line draw tight and lifted the rod but it was too late. The next cast the line moved again, two short pulls. I thought it was a small wild fish. I missed. The take on the third cast was positive and the rod bent alarmingly as the fish dived for the bottom of the pool. The fly line thrummed as the fish bored downstream. I was wary of the overhanging bush near the lip of the fish pass and steered the fish upstream into the middle of the pool. The Trout fought just like the three pounder I had caught above the Old Riffle a few days earlier. Except it felt bigger. It went on a long run upstream and the line fell slack. The size 14 fine wire hook had slightly deformed.


I walked upstream and fished for a while, running the fly under the overhanging Oak trees. I was just filling in time before my return to the Chub. When I got back to the Chub pool, two swans were tearing at the streamer weed and the fish had moved away. I will return next week.