It was hot, 75 degrees, courtesy of the warm wind from North Africa. I left at 3:30pm to make the most of the evening rise. The bright hazy sky became a deeper blue as the South Downs came into view. In the shade of the valley at Little Bognor the sun was retreating from the eastern side of the lake leaving ideal fishing conditions.
The bracts from the overhanging Beech trees covered the surface of the lower lake. A raft of the tiny bright orange leaves had been washed into one corner by the gentle breeze. I wanted to see the river before deciding where to fish although several rising trout nudged me towards returning to Little Bognor. I had bought a new landing net, the old one had several extra large holes from ‘landing’ barbed wire and branches. I couldn’t go home without christening the new net.
The river looked in great condition, the level was higher than I expected and the water had a pale bottle green tint. Shoots of streamer weed were just starting to show along the edge of the river and the current generated small eddies and seams. I stood on the bridge and watched the river, there were no signs of fish. Not even a Dace. There were no insects. The stage was set but the actors had not turned up.
The bluebell woods were spectacular. The smell of wild garlic couldn’t overpower the scent of the bluebells. It was quiet. The muddy path to the river was imprinted with deer tracks and the bluebells were flattened along the badger’s regular route through the trees.
I was hoping to see a sign that would encourage me to return to the Defender for my rod but a kingfisher whizzing upstream at low level was the only river dweller I saw. Little Bognor beckoned. When I returned I was pleased to see that the entire valley was in shade and that I had the lake to myself. Trout were rising everywhere, encouraged to the surface by the leaf debris.
I sat under the trees and decided to start with a GRHE nymph but after twenty minutes without a take from the Trout swirling all around me, I switched to a dry fly. I flicked it out just past the edge of the floating leaf debris and watched the tippet. Eventually a fish took the fly but I had been distracted by a dog walker on the footpath and only saw the swirl of the departing Trout.
I remembered my last trip to Luffs and switched to a size 14 black buzzer. A couple of casts later the tippet moved away from me and I was into my first fish. I managed to get the fish into the new net despite tangling both the rod and net in the trees. A couple of walkers in bright white shirts clumped along the stone path and stood next to me. I politely asked them to retrace their steps, which they did. The Trout also departed.
Dinner at The Angel in Petworth was excellent and I finished the evening at home with a glass of limited edition Scotch from the distillery in Cumbria. Happy Easter.