16 September – Keepers Bridge

I had unfinished business at Keepers Bridge. I’d tied some parachute Adams to avoid the missed takes with the conventional dressing and I wanted to test the design. I visited Little Bognor and Great Springs which delayed my arrival at the river until late afternoon. It would be a short experiment with the new flies.

It was overcast and the breeze was awkward but I expected to find several rising Trout. I walked down to the tree tunnel, fishing a nymph in all the likely places. I couldn’t find any fish despite concentrating and persisting with a variety of nymphs. The slow action of the ‘Chew Valley’ by Bob Southwell helped me relax and present the flies quietly.


As I made the return journey upstream I had to shelter under the Alder trees on the bend while a misty rain blew over. The light drizzle was hardly enough to dampen the wooden seat and I rested there while waiting for the evening rise. I was puzzled about the absence of rising Trout. The overcast sky and breeze should have encouraged the fish to leave the weed beds and come out from under the trees. Nothing moved, perhaps the Trout were feeding in mid water.


I felt confident that I would find a rising fish in the short stretch between the bushes above the broken gate. The pool would be the perfect place to try out the parachute Adams. I started at the top of the pool with a nymph but as I had anticipated, a fish rose near the end of the short straight. I shuffled into position, renewed the tippet and tied on the new fly. I tested everything and waited for the fish to rise again. It came up twice in mid-stream beyond the rush fringe. The first few casts were short, I didn’t want to line the Trout. I flicked the fly out lower down and the fish flashed silver, it had seen through the deception. I wondered if it was a Sea Trout.

I rested the fish and changed to a Quality Street sedge. First cast, the Trout rose and grabbed the fly with a bang on the rod. I kept the cane rod at a shallow angle and gave only a little line to avoid the tree roots. The fish went airborne three times and again I wondered if it was a Sea Trout. It was a very pale, silvery fish. The hook dropped out in the landing net and I nursed the fish to ensure its full recovery.


Black clouds were gathering over Petworth and I decided to leave the river. On the way home I had to use the wipers and the headlights. I realised that the Defenders water temperature gauge climbed only when the headlights were switched on. It was a relief to know that the engine was not at risk.

I listened to Natalie Clein’s interpretation of Elgar’s cello concerto on the way home and pondered my lack of success with my redesign of an old classic fly. A glass of Lagavulin 16 year old single malt resolved the matter.