I woke at 6:00am, not a good start to a long day. I had four fishing adventures to plan and gardening to do before the forecast evening rain arrived. It was mid afternoon when the Defender scrunched to a halt on the gravel at Little Bognor. I walked up to the top lake and stood in silence as a young blonde Buzzard drifted from the woods behind me, across the lake and into an old Chestnut tree on the far bank. It looked at me for a few minutes, decided I wasn’t a threat, lazily launched itself from the dead branch and continued down the valley in search of a meal. The light was changing from overcast to intense yellow every few minutes and several Trout were sipping down buzzers in the gentle ripple. The scenery was stunning.
I checked the Fish Pass and was relieved to see that, although the level was slightly up, the water was not too coloured. The rain had arrived at just the right time to encourage the sea trout up the river. I started fishing at Keepers Bridge late in the afternoon, there was a light breeze and weird cloud formations over Petworth. The ground was rock hard, most of the rain had soaked into the fields and the river had held a steady level for the last three days. I decided to fish with a nymph and chose my Rio line but took along a small box of dry flies just in case.
I saved the first few pools for later in the evening and started in the deep run below the Sandy Pool. I found it hard to concentrate. I was day dreaming about the pools higher up the Beat and had no confidence that I would find a fish in the run. I moved to the top of the Sandy Pool and worked hard, exploring the main current and the eddies under the near bank. After thirty minutes a fish swirled and rolled over as it took a lone sedge from the middle of the pool. I worked the black and silver fly down and across and was rewarded with a peck then a tug. I changed to a black and red fly and a few minutes later the fish took but was gone in a couple of seconds.
The rain arrived and for twenty minutes, I sheltered next to the trunk of a large Alder tree below the Old Riffle. I gathered my thoughts and ate a few toffees. I was sure that the fish in the pool above the riffle which I had seen on a previous visit, would still be there. When the rain eased I tried under the trees at the top of the pool with a black and silver fly but had no response. Sixth sense told me that although they had shown no signs, the fish had seen the fly and rejected my offering. I moved down towards the riffle and a fish swirled but turned away from the fly. I swapped to a black and red fly and immediately made contact with a good fish that went airborne and fought hard all the way up the pool to where I could use the landing net. Job done, the pressure was off.
I wandered back to the pools I had skipped earlier. The Trout that lived just above the Willow Bush had occasionally checked out my carefully presented Mayflies and sedges but more often than not, had simply ignored them. I dropped the black and silver fly into the most likely square yard of water and true to form, there was a golden flash and swirl as the fish turned away. I rested the fish and tried a new pattern resembling a weighted black dry fly which bought instant success. The fish was in fin-perfect condition and I quickly released it from the landing net.
I walked upstream and down looking for rising fish but although there were millions of midges hatching, nothing gave away its location. The air was warm and damp and the grass was wet so I found a warm sandy patch, sat and waited for a sign. My aching back and shoulders were a sign that I should go home.
I had enjoyed the soft feel of the Rio line and the silent presentation that it enabled. I was glad not to hear the metallic hissing sound of the silk line sliding through the rod rings. I planned my next fishing trip on the journey home and finished the day with a glass of Port.