4 October – Rotherbridge

I was a grey day, a stark contrast to Monday. A gentle breeze from the South barely managed to move the slightly broken overcast. It was warm, humid and perfect for fishing. As I toured the Estate I needed to use the windscreen wipers but the roads were dry and I didn’t bother with a jacket. I saw seven Red Kites on the newly sown fields at Stag Park, one large pale specimen looked like an eagle but lifted off and moved away when I stopped the Defender to take a photo.

As I approached the river at  Rotherbridge a Cormorant flapped off downstream which was annoying. I thought it would fly to Coultershaw. I peered through the railings and saw a shoal of Trout and lots of coarse fish. The fish looked like Roach or small Chub about 8ozs. I thought the wretched bird had forced them upstream into the cover of the bushes and weed beds around the bridge. The water had a grey tint but I could clearly see the Trout as they moved over the sandy bottom. I decided to return after visiting the other Beats.

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I returned about an hour later and the Cormorant was in the pool above the bridge. It flapped off upstream as soon as it saw me. I was fed up chasing the Black Death around the Estate and was inclined to abandon the river. From the centre of the bridge I was surprised to see the same shoals of fish moving around. Perhaps the predator had arrived only a few minutes before me. I set up my rod and chose a size 14 copper ribbed Black Spider. It would be visible in the slightly coloured water and would sink quickly, concealing the tippet. It was also small enough for the Roach to take.

My first cast over a patch of sand in mid-river produced a flash of gold and a wrench on the rod. One of the biggest fish in the group had seized the fly. It was a very strong fish which dived into several weed beds. I thought about “Trout for dinner” but after a long, tough battle I didn’t have the heart to kill the fish and returned it to the chilly water. It was a lovely looking Trout about 3lbs and very long. I was about to leave the pool when another fish rose under the Willow on the far bank. Several casts later that fish also took the fly and fought hard. I realised that these were new fish, probably stocked earlier in the week.

I moved upstream to the New Riffle and trundled the spider through the tail end of the pool. There were a couple of bald patches in the algae on the stones which looked like Sea Trout scrapes. Not redds, they have gravel humps. I had no response at the riffle and remembered the shy fish that lived in the pool by the landing stage.

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The resident Trout conveniently rose as I approached the pool, it was a very aggressive rise. I flicked the spider out into midstream and a fish followed it to the bank but wouldn’t take. I dropped the fly behind the weeds near the trees and the fish followed it twice but sheered away at the last moment. I changed the fly to a bigger, heavy silver and black spider. I let the fly sink and then slowly raised it. A big fish grabbed the fly, not the Trout that had followed the smaller fly. It dived deep and made the reel scream. It was the resident fish that I had targeted. It was a long lean fish with a big head and a slightly hooked lower jaw. He had been in the river for a few months and looked annoyed. I put him back and wondered if I would see him again next season.

I felt as if I had fished a different river. Saturday had been bright and windy, the fish had been difficult. This afternoon had been still and warm, the fish had co-operated.

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