23 May – Springs

It was good to have the Defender back. My fishing bag and rod case were at home beside the tools and hydraulic fluids. I filled the picnic hamper on the way to Petworth, the chocolate didn’t make it to the fishing hut.

The lakes looked both beautiful and relaxing. The flat calm was occasionally disturbed by a slight breeze. I walked around Great Springs and looked through the crystal clear water at the roots of the water plants spreading over the clay. The lake had benefitted from being partly drained over the winter. The plants, insects and algae were in balance.

I sat behind the yellow iris watching the Trout cruise past. They were feeding on mayfly nymphs, hundreds of Duns were popping up through the surface film holding the leaf debris and pollen dust. I used a light tippet and a size 12 copper ribbed Hare’s Ear nymph. A fish took the fly on my first cast but I was too quick. I flicked the fly back and the same fish took again. I missed.Β The next two hours were a repetition of that process. To quick and the Trout had not turned, too late and the fly had been rejected. I sat on the bench for half an hour and had several takes on a nymph fished deep alongside the wall.

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I had a leisurely lunch by the hut and was joined by a tired Spinner. I thought it ironic that instead of chasing the Mayfly with my camera, a perfect specimen had landed next to me and posed for a photo. The dark colour, very long tails and clasper at the end of its body confirmed it was a male. After a brief rest it flew away to join the cloud of Spinners between the lakes.

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I watched Little Springs while finishing my beer, most of the activity was at the southern end of the lake. The grass was dry and warm and I sat twenty feet back from the waters edge to watch the fish. They were head-and-tailing for nymphs, there were not many Duns on the surface. I tied on an imitation of a Mayfly nymph on a size 12 long shanked hook. I squashed the barb and worked it along the margin with only the leader on the surface. As I dibbled the nymph at the end of a cast, a Trout shot across from my left and grabbed the fly. It was only a yard from the bank when hooked and went on a long run out into the lake. The hook dropped out in the landing net and the fish swam away probably puzzled by the nymph that bit back.

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I dropped the nymph into the deep water around the second point but it was ignored. The fish had switched on to the spent flies. I covered a lot of rising fish with a variety of patterns and eventually hooked a fish close to the Potamageton weedbed at the end of the last point. After a long fight the hook pulled out but I was not disappointed. Deceiving the Trout was sufficient.

I was tired and decided to leave. As I was walking back to the hut I thought ‘one last cast’. A big blue Trout was cruising towards me in the centre of the lake, its path was clear. I gently dropped the fly about a yard ahead. The fish rose, took the fly and turned down. I was surprised to connect and panicked when the fish shot away. The line was tangled on the reel, the rod pointed and the fish became airborne. Miraculously, after several long runs, I guided the fish into my landing net, helpfully wielded by another member. A great way to end a very memorable day.

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