29 July – Taylors Bridge

A strong southerly wind and partial cloud cover was a pleasant change from the hot and humid weather last week. The record temperatures mid week had kept me off the water and I was keen to fish. The light rain over the weekend had soaked into the sandy soil of the Rother valley and the river level was normal, 0.03m at Halfway Bridge.

Heavy rain had been forecast for Glorious Goodwood and I knew I would have to wait another week before the conditions were right again. I would have to make the most of the day.Β I imagined creeping through the long grass, searching for a lone fish above Taylors Bridge. Below Rotherbridge was also an option, it was lightly fished and the tree cover would give me plenty to explore. I considered each option as I drove towards Coultershaw Bridge and settled on the top Beat.

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I crept to the middle of Taylors Bridge using the overhanging Alder tree as cover. I spent a long time looking for the Trout that lives below the bridge but it must have seen me and hidden in the tree roots. I planned to search the entire Beat for a fish and assumed that I would only get one chance.

I stood and watched the pool under the first tree tunnel and was surprised to see a fish rise just upstream of a sunken tree trunk. The fish rose again and then moved down the pool into midstream. The trees overhanging the river, the stinging nettles and bushes behind me restricted my cast. There was only a narrow slot through which I could present the fly.

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I lost a GRHE nymph in the tree. The fish rose again and I decided to switch to a dry fly. The fish swirled at the parachute Pheasant Tail a couple of times and eventually grabbed hold. Negotiating the head high nettles was tricky but I steered the fish downstream and netted it in shallow water on the third or fourth attempt. It was a wild fish about 1lb and in excellent condition, fin perfect and silvery with little colour. It reminded me of the wild fish I caught on my last trip. Too late for a Sea Trout smolt and too small for a returning fish.

I fished the pool at Ladymead for half and hour, convinced that I would get a take but there was no response. I made my way upstream and worked a couple of pools but the southerly wind was against me. I returned to the bridge and paused to look for the resident Trout. It rose in open water and I couldn’t resist one last cast. The fish seized the fly and fought hard, it was another wild fish. It looked completely different to the first fish, perfect fins but brightly coloured. No hint of a Sea Trout.

I had fished for less than two hours, it had been difficult. Casting in such a restricted area had been demanding but very satisfying. The top Beat does not produce many fish but it is the most rewarding.

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