29 September – River Rother

It was a miserable, drizzly morning but by lunch time the weather had changed and a bright, warm afternoon with a gentle breeze summoned me to Petworth. I sat beside the lake, chatted for a couple of hours and saw a few fish but they were not feeding. Petworth was deserted but the river was not. By 3:00pm several members had already visited Rotherbridge. I stood in the middle of the bridge and watched the water flowing gently over the sand. I saw three good Trout under a Willow tree just above the bridge. They were cruising, feeding fish and I decided to focus on them.

I sat on the long, warm dry grass about twenty yards above the bridge and methodically worked the near margin, then explored midstream around the clumps of weed. I was surprised not to get a take and changed the fly to a leaded size 14 GRHE nymph. I extended the line to cover the far bank run anticipating immediate success. Nothing. I assumed that I had spooked the fish and moved upstream resolving to return later.

I flicked the fly under the far bank trees and bushes, letting the leader swing round so that the fly searched under the branches. I became a little frustrated at the lack of response but remained calm, confident that the rod would slam over sooner or later.

As I worked the fly under the far bank there was a big splash about fifty yards downstream. I thought it was a Sea Trout and walked downstream to check it out. I sat behind the rushes and watched as the big fish launched itself into the air twice. It was only twenty feet away and although I was sure it was a Sea Trout, I flicked the nymph into the ripples. On the second cast the fish swirled as I lifted the fly off. On the third cast the fish thumped into the fly and went on a long run downstream. Throughout the battle the fish seemed to grow in size. It was a struggle to land and I had to nurse it for ten minutes before it swam away. Wow, what a fantastic Trout, 4lbs of angry brownie. I didn’t want to continue fishing but another splashy Trout below the bridge distracted me on the way back to the Defender. Only for a couple of minutes.

I leant on the gate and watched the river, sipping a Red Bull and nibbling chocolate. The Rother season continues into October but I would be in Devon and unlikely to visit Petworth again before the end of the season. It was good to end on a high note.