A roasting hot Bank Holiday Friday was not an ideal time to visit the river but I was bored and hadn’t flicked a fly line for 18 days. The river level had dropped back to the normal Summer level and I thought that exploring the deeper pools at dusk might produce a fish or two. I’d tied some heavy nymphs to experiment with prior to my day on the Itchen and I wanted to try them out on familiar water.
The Ultimate Driving Machine let me down for the second time in a week and it was 5:30pm before the more reliable Defender clambered through the potholes along the lane at Rotherbridge.
I looked upstream through the bridge railings and scanned the sandy bottom between the clumps of streamer weed. Nothing moved. The sand was dimpled where the shoals of tiny Dace had been feeding.
I turned and looked downstream, careful not to throw a shadow. A Trout about 2lbs was hanging close to the bottom below a few straggly fronds of streamer weed. I could see a Cormorant mark on its shoulder. A much darker fish was moving around, changing its position in the current and obviously feeding about a yard above a Willow bush. Both fish were out of casting range, hidden behind the bridge and overhanging bushes. It was a sign that fish were in the area and I decided to spend the evening on that stretch of river.
I settled down on the lush grass in a position where I could cover a pool fringed with weed. It looked promising and as I was choosing a fly, a Trout rose about ten yards downstream. I dropped a GRHE along the line of the rise and extended the cast until the fly was positioned correctly. There was a big swirl under the fly but no take. I was a bit miffed; a gentle cast, no drag and a trusted pattern had failed. I swapped to a dry fly but the fish had gone down, deep in the weed. I decided to try it again later.
I walked up to the New Riffle and fished hard with a nymph for half an hour but the water was very shallow and the surface was only broken by tiddlers. As I walked back to the bridge I saw a huge fish rise in the middle of an overhanging Alder tree. It was deep in the trailing branches and I thought it might be a Carp. I sat behind the balsam and watched the river. A Trout rose in a gap between the two large Alder trees. The gap was about a yard wide and went deep under the trees. An impossible cast. I fired a Parachute Pheasant Tail hard and low across the river. After two or three attempts it found the target but landed with such an impact that it frightened the fish which didn’t rise again.
I had a few casts above and below the bridge but there was no sign of fish and I left the river. A chilled bottle of wine was calling to me.