I fancied a relaxing day beside a lake, walking miles in the early Autumn sun would be too much after a tiring weekend. I visited Little Bognor in the morning and it looked good, there were lots of fish rising on the lower lake. By the time I had visited the other lakes and river Beats, collated the catch returns and had lunch, it was 2:30pm. The south westerly wind had an edge. It had blown all the dust and leaf debris to the shallow end of the lake. Fish were rising everywhere, picking off emerging buzzers where the surface was clean and also among the floating Beech leaves.
I would be fishing at close range and therefore chose the Bob Southwell cane rod. It’s slow action is great for flicking out flies under the trees and roll casting. The ten feet of tempered cane helps me reach over the ferns and avoid most of the snaggy twigs in the margins. The weight of the rod is not an issue as I spend most of the time watching and waiting for the Trout to come within range.
I started behind the ferns, sitting on the warm crunchy Beech mast. A constant rain of acorns and Beech leaves dropped into the lake and I quickly learnt to ignore the splashes. A sizeable branch crashed to the ground close on my left. Fish were cruising past just under the surface. I tied on a small black dry fly with a white hackle. A Trout ignored it but then turned, rose quickly and grabbed the fly. I didn’t allow for the momentum of the heavy rod as I lifted into the fish and it escaped.
Normally, after losing a fish, I move further up the bank. However, another fish appeared. It took a fly off the surface and moved away, unimpressed by my imitation. Trout wandered into range every few minutes but as usual, the tippet was putting them off. I changed to a black buzzer with a sparse white hackle so that it would sink slowly. At first it floated but the fly became waterlogged and hung about a foot below the surface. I twitched it occasionally and as it neared the bank, there was a swirl and a good fish was on. It ran under the trees and I lowered the rod to keep the line out of the branches. It moved into the middle of the lake, then into the shallows. I thought it was foul hooked. After a long fight I drew it into the net, it was about 2lbs and fairly hooked in the upper jaw. I nursed it in the landing net and watched it recover. I lowered the rim of the net and the fish escaped, back into the brown stained water.
I was about to move but once again, a fish swirled so I resumed my seat behind the ferns. I used the same fly and after a few casts the line moved away and I was into another Trout. It was a smaller fish but spirited. When I eventually got it in the landing net I was surprised how small it was. It might have been a wild fish. None of its fins were deformed.
I moved up the bank and sat on the mossy hump at the top of the stone steps. A Trout was rising under the branches. I flicked the fly out several times but it was ignored. I lengthened the line and stupidly cast the fly into the branches. I tugged the line and a dead branch crashed into the water. I laughed but was annoyed. I walked around the lake and had a few casts in the corner near the old stone quarry.
A fish rose under the trees and I crept back among the Beeches below Rex’s dead Chestnut tree. I lost a fly in the margins, snagged the back cast, tangled the line in a small Holly tree and generally messed things up. When I managed to get the fly in the lake a Trout grabbed it without any warning. I held the rod low to my left as the fish ran up the lake into the shallows, it must have gone twenty yards. It was a long drawn out fight because it was foul hooked in the dorsal fin. I released the fish and as a party of other fishermen had arrived, decided to leave the lakes and head home. It had been a relaxing afternoon, a nice change from the river.