20 October – Autumn Wood Magic

The river level had dropped but it was a little coloured and out of bounds because the pheasant shooting had started. As I drove into the top of the Estate I noticed that the fields were devoid of any bird life. No pheasants, kites, pigeons or crows. There were no cormorants at the lakes. I hoped that the regular shooting throughout the winter would keep them away. The sky was blue and cloudless. There was no wind, a ridge of high pressure had settled over the south of England. The river would be perfect on Monday.


I decided to fish at Little Bognor, the woods looked lovely in the soft Autumn sunshine and it was quiet. I had both lakes to myself. A couple of large Trout were cruising on the surface in the shallows, occasionally swirling at buzzers. They looked about 3lbs. I crept across the grass towards the fish but they moved away, very spooky fish.

I sat on the mossy bank behind the ferns. The crunchy Beech mast was a bit uncomfortable but it kept me off the damp soil. Fish cruised past and I tried all the usual patterns without success. Several fish saw the flies but rejected them, leaving a swirl or bump in the water to register their distaste.


I moved towards the shallows and hid beside the trunk of a Beech tree. The two big fish were exploring the shallow water, probably feeding on bloodworm in the mud or buzzers as they rose to the surface. Casting was awkward and the fish avoided various flies. An exceptional cast dropped a lightly weighted fly just behind one of the monsters. It’s reaction took me by surprise, the fish turned on the fly and I lifted too soon. The two big shadows moved up the lake and I followed along the opposite bank.


At about 3:00pm as the sun sank and the shadows stretched across the entire lake, the surface came alive with feeding Trout. They were swirling and delicately sipping buzzers. I tried a black buzzer, a Neoprene Buzzer and finally a size 14 Adams. Fish swirled very close to the fly, taking naturals, but were not fooled by my imitation. A few fish boiled immediately underneath the dry fly and had obviously seen it but as usual the tippet was visible. I cast to a rising fish which immediately took the Adams. It wasn’t a monster. While landing and releasing the little Trout the rise continued. I cleaned the fly, dried it and quickly recast. As soon as the fly landed a fish rose but my enthusiasm resulted in another early lift of the rod.

The rise ended after forty five minutes and as the air was cooling, I decided to leave. The fishing had been difficult but the Autumn colours reflected in the lake and the magic of the old Beech trees had eased my frustration with the Trout. There is a mystical atmosphere at Little Bognor that is not found at the other lakes. I nodded goodbye to the gnomes as I drove away.