25 October – Keepers Bridge

I walked part of each Beat trying to assess my chances on what might be my last visit to the river until next season. The sun was warm and I took my time strolling along the river bank waiting for a fish to show. The weir pool was full of turbulent grey water and looked dead. I was not impressed. At Rotherbridge the water was a lot clearer but there were no signs of life. I walked downstream to investigate what looked like a rise but it turned out to be a Little Grebe. A few fish had been caught at Keeper’s Bridge but although I stood and willed a fish to move, the water was flat calm. I remembered the Impossible Trout in the wooded area below Keeper’s Bridge and decided to spend a leisurely afternoon trying to winkle one out from under the trees. I visited Taylor’s Bridge and walked down to the Shallow Pool but saw no signs of fish. I was confident that Keeper’s Bridge was the correct choice.

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I was comfy in a big Musto coat and walked slowly across the bridge and downstream towards the pair of Alder trees that would hide me from the fussy Trout. The warm Autumn sun was on my right and as I leant against the tree trunks, I cast no shadow. A fish rose under a low hanging branch which was encouraging. I chose a lightly weighted Black and Copper Spider which sunk slowly, dragging the leader through the surface film. I cast through a letter box formed by rushes and Alder branches. The fly landed close to the trees on the far bank and drifted down and across. I worked the tree line for about thirty minutes them moved to the other side of the tree trunks. After a couple of casts the line felt heavy and I lifted into a fish that stayed deep. It was a long, lean hungry-looking Trout that glowed gold in the low Autumn sun. I was relieved to have caught a fish, I wanted to end the season on a high.

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After returning the Trout I went upstream and spent a few minutes exploring the pool below the Alder tree where, on a previous visit, I’d lost a good fish in the roots. I saw a fish rise about fifty yards upstream in the shadow of another Alder. I knelt above the rise and was careful to work the fly gradually down the far bank, I didn’t want to line the Trout. It came up in a big swirl and took the fly. It was a plump fish and in great condition.

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Content with two fish, I wandered back to the bridge, stopping occasionally for a few half-hearted casts under likely looking bushes. I wanted to stay at the river and take a few photos of the sunset but a big grey cloud built up above the tree line and obscured the sun. There would be no sunset. Cold weather with Arctic winds had been forecast overnight and the angry evening sky looked wintery. I had an urge to fish the riffle but as I got there I saw another member on the opposite bank. I retreated downstream to give him room.

As I wandered towards the broken gate I heard a fish rise behind me. I turned and saw a small circular ripple near the far bank at the end of the Sandy Pool.ย  I thought a vole had dived into the remains of the streamer weed but went back to make sure. A small Trout seized the fly on the third cast and immediately jumped. It tangled the fly line and dived into a snag on my side of the river. I twitched the fly line loose and bent the rod from the butt to bully the fish into open water. It was a wild fish that nearly sneaked out of the hole in my landing net. It was very silver, a stark contrast to the stocked fish.

I had been in a relaxed mood all afternoon and was happy to have caught three fish. The river looked beautiful and I had ended the season well, the trip would remain in my memory until next April.

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