I listened to a Ludwig van cello concerto with Jacqueline Du Pre during the drive to the river. I could listen to the music in the hushed cabin of the motorway-cruiser, chosen in order to boost the battery charge. The soft leather and air conditioning were a change from the noisy, drafty Defender. Normal noisy, drafty service would be resumed on Friday.
I was relaxed and hungry when I arrived at Ladymead. I had lunch on the tailgate in the bright sunshine. It was 1:00pm before I filled my pocket with toffees and wandered around the headland to the river. The water looked perfect and I stood on the bridge scanning the tail end of the skimpy weedbeds for signs of Trout. There were none. A kingfisher arrowed underneath me. The river was deserted, only the wind broke the silence.
The pool at Ladymead had been rebuilt during the winter floods. A huge sandbank had appeared along the north bank and a sheer cliff scoured out on the opposite side. Hundreds of tons of sand had been moved about. The main current had increased in speed and a bar with a steep drop-off, ran the entire length of the pool. It looked like a good place for trout and chub. I worked a black spider down the pool and explored the upslope of the sandbank. I was tense, expecting a thump on the rod. Nothing. I wandered upstream and explored a few pools before deciding to spend the rest of the afternoon at Little Bognor.
Southwell II, the ‘Chew Valley’, continued my #caneonly approach to slow fishing. The rod is lighter than its length would suggest. I don’t like short rods. It has a compound taper which gives a nice flick at the end of the cast and suits a light line. The lower lake at Little Bognor looked stunning and the tall trees reduced the strong wind to a flukey breeze. Perfect.
I sat in my usual place under the beeches and watched a couple of nice trout cruise along the margin sipping down midges. A few fish flashed under the surface, turning a golden brown as they rolled over an ascending buzzer. The fly choice was obvious. I slumped into the new ferns and flicked a slow sinking buzzer under a bush to my left. I was happy to wait for a cruising fish to return. Eventually a good fish took a buzzer close to my imitation. It looked at my fly, sneered and drifted away. The sunlight and ripples prevented me from seeing the leader at any distance from the bank. Fish were rising along the shaded west bank and the water was calm, it was time to move.
I crept along the bank and sat on the bone dry grass behind a clump of ferns. I drifted the buzzer from left to right in an arc about ten yards from the bank. Fish were moving but the leader remained slack. I swapped to a lighter tippet and almost immediately the leader slid under the surface. It was a dark overwintered fish about a pound which I returned. Presentation is everything.