I last visited the Rother on 29 September 2020, six months ago. I marked the end of last season with an exceptional fish and it would be nice to start the new season with an overwintered monster. The morning was cold, grey and windy but bright sunshine was forecast. A sunny Bank Holiday Saturday is not the best day on which to open a new season but I hoped to find a quiet corner and winkle out a Trout, one fish would be sufficient.
Flies had been sorted out, new leaders and tippet purchased, everything was in order. It was not a day for messing about, I wanted to catch something. I stopped at the Fish Pass and was surprised to see that the water was well above its normal level, slightly coloured but fishable. I worked a black spider around the slacks, expecting a solid pull at any moment. I moved above the weir and fished down the long straight and into the bend but had no response. The wind was cruel and I decided to drive to Rotherbridge, I thought the slower shallow water would help the fish see the fly.
I fished the pool above the bridge but the New Riffle was calling me and I lost concentration. The width of the riffle had been reduced and the speed of the current increased. The water was clear and the pool deeper, the restoration had achieved the desired effect. I worked the pool carefully and after about thirty minutes, a good fish rose and took a terrestrial fly blown onto the water. It rose again a few yards downstream, the strong wind was creating a hatch. I switched to a dry fly, then a GRHE, followed by a series of different imitations. The fish had disappeared, I may have lined it.
The cold north east wind increased and it became difficult to cast, it was time to visit Little Bognor and sit in the sun. The lakes were deserted and I sat on the moss under my favourite tree. Rex Vicat Cole’s old Spanish Chestnut had been tilted by the winter storms. I flicked a GRHE nymph into the margins and after a few casts, the tip of the fly line snaked away. I lifted into a spirited brownie and eventually released it from the landing net. My first Trout for six months. I had a couple of casts and was planning to move further along the bank when another fish grabbed the fly as I was about to lift off. It was a bigger fish which raced off down the margins to my left and transformed itself into a stick. I released the stick which was neatly hooked in the middle. How do fish do that?
I wandered around the shaded side of the lake casting randomly and became uncomfortably cold. It was time to leave. One fish was sufficient. I will return to the New Riffle when it’s warmer.