18 March – Little Springs

The weather on Saturday, the Opening Day, was horrible. Gale force winds and rain. It had been an easy decision to stay indoors and wait for calmer weather.

The Defender rumbled along the narrow lanes and then turned across the cattle grid into the Estate. I drove slowly between fields of bright green shoots, the warmth and rain had produced an even covering of cereal crops across the gently rolling escarpment. The cloudscape was impressive, banks of dark clouds had formed over the South Downs and were marching north-east.


The lakes were coloured and no Trout were rising. There were plenty of small Roach dimpling the surface of Little Springs but I couldn’t see any signs of the recently stocked Trout. I had a cup of tea and watched the lake. I had two objectives; to catch a Trout and to christen the Sharpes ‘Aberdeen’. I put the rod together and threaded the Rio line carefully through the rings. I didn’t miss any. I chose a black and copper spider and decided to fish the margins around the first point. The rod and line were awkward in my left hand. The rod was not working the short line, it was not loading correctly. I persevered and moved around the lake convinced that a fish would take. As I sat on the east side of the lake a Trout splashed in the margin where I had started. I changed to an unweighted black spider, it would be more visible high up in the water.

As I crept along the bank at the deep end of the lake a Trout swirled close to the brickwork by the overflow. I dropped the fly into the ripples and the fly line was drawn towards me by the water pouring out of the lake. The line twitched and I lifted the rod but not quickly enough.


I flicked the fly back out, further from the bank to allow it to sink before the movement of the water dragged the fly line down the outflow. The line drew away from me and I connected with a good fish. It fought hard and was in very good condition. I released it from the net and congratulated myself, the fish was about 2lb. Earlier I had seen a fish swirl on the eastern side of the outflow. I had slowed my casting and adjusted to the rhythm of the rod. After a few gentle casts the line tightened and a very good fish went on a long run up the lake. I held the rod low and feathered the spool of the reel. Eventually the fish rolled over the edge of the net, it was about 3lb and in fin-perfect condition. The fly fell out of the Trout’s jaw and I nursed it in the net until it dived away back into the cold, deep water.

I had caught a couple of excellent fish in about two hours and had tuned in to the Sharpes. It had been a perfect start to the season.