16 May – River and Lakes

One of my first thoughts, while greeting the morning with a Nespresso, was ‘What shall I do today ?‘ The luxury of retirement enabled that thought most mornings. I wanted to walk beside the river, appreciate the Sussex countryside and to find a few Trout.

The sky was bright blue and the clouds seemed reluctant to move ahead of the brisk east wind. The clouds had a pink tint. When I arrived at Keepers Bridge a light aircraft was practicing aerobatics along the river valley. The planes engine alternately raced then cut out. The noise was not intrusive, it was part of the countryside charm.


I expected to catch a Trout, perhaps two. I wanted to walk from Keepers Bridge to Rotherbridge before lunch and to Perryfields and back in the afternoon. Covering a lot of ground and stopping only at the best pools would help find the fish. I fished the pool immediately below Keepers Bridge, the first corner, the big cattle drink and eventually the New Riffle. There was no sign of Trout anywhere. I turned back before reaching Rotherbridge and chased a Cormorant, too heavy with Trout to fly away, well beyond Keepers Bridge. I was angry and not inclined to follow the predator upstream. It would trash every pool, there was no point in continuing. I left the river and drove to Great Springs for lunch.


A long leisurely lunch, chatting over a glass of white wine, calmed me down and I looked forward to an afternoon in the sun chasing rainbows. The water in Great Springs was unusually clear and to my surprise, Mayfly were hatching along the southern bank. I was surprised because I had assumed that all the nymphs had perished when the lake was partially drained over the winter. A Little Grebe was making a sound like a blunt drill on sheet metal.

I sat on the bench on the island at Great Springs and drifted a nymph across the wind. A few fish were moving near the opposite bank. I presented the nymph to a cruising fish several times but it was ignored. I tried dead drifting a dry fly but had no response. I also tried a dry fly from the first point at Little Springs but the Trout were not interested.

The highlight of my day had been lunch, there would be plenty of other opportunities to catch a fish.