7 May – Rotherbridge

I had been invited to a private lake for a days carp fishing, a civilised affair with tea and cake, deep in the Sussex countryside. The Defender had other ideas. The clutch failed yesterday, Bank Holiday Monday. The heavy duty clutch had been fitted only 20k miles ago. All the garages were shut. I had to spend all of my carp-fishing-morning arranging recovery to a local 4×4 specialist. By late afternoon I was in need of respite, the river beckoned.

The Ultimate Driving Machine wafted me to Coultershaw Bridge but I remembered the damage from the previous BMW off-road adventure and stayed on the farm track. I was looking forward to a peaceful evening with a hatch and a few rising Trout. The first Mayfly had been seen at Little Springs on 29 April and it would be nice to see a few along the river. The wind was from the South but was cooler than I had imagined, I was glad of my jacket.


The river at Rotherbridge looked perfect. I could see the streamer weed shoots on the sandy river bed below the bridge. A couple of Dace rose for a fly while I was watching the river. After a chunk of banana and nut cake I started at the head of the pool immediately below the bridge. I concentrated and fished hard, exploring every square foot with a variety of different nymph patterns and weights. After an hour I moved to the next pool down and repeated the process. The white furry seeds from the Willow bushes covered the surface of the water and caught on the leader. Alder flies were everywhere, I saw a few Olives and a solitary Yellow May. Clouds of midges buzzed over the surface in the shelter of the steep banks.

I had an apple while mulling over my options. I was sure that I would catch a Trout but where? I fished the pool above the bridge and saw a fish rise twice. It was going downstream which I thought was a bit odd. I switched to a dry Black Gnat and covered the runs between the developing weed beds but nothing was interested. I walked up to the New Riffle and worked the deep water from downstream. I rested the pool, switched to a GRHE nymph and started again from the top of the pool. About half way down a fish rose and I lifted the rod but didn’t connect. I tried a Mayfly imitation where the fish had shown itself but there was no response.

After three and a half hours focusing on the river, willing a Trout to grab the fly, I’d had enough. I drove home content that I had done my best to catch a fish. It had been a lovely afternoon and I was relaxed. I arrived home without the car breaking down. Result.