9 April – River Rother

I was inspired by tales of Grannom hatches and clear water, patience and water craft. Sitting beside a favourite river, watching and waiting. My patience ran out at 2:30pm and I fired up the Defender which signalled the start of the adventure. The plan was simple. The last two days of warm weather should produce an evening rise. I would up my game and catch an overwintered fish.

Three days earlier I’d spent an hour taking photos at the lakes. It was extremely cold and windy and although I took a rod, I put little effort into fishing and consequently had no takes. The recent change in the weather boosted my confidence and I expected success.

There were two cars at the Fish Pass and another two at Keeper’s Bridge so I headed for the top of the river along the old railway line. I wanted to fish alone, sharing a Beat would be a distraction. The river looked bleak, the bankside trees had been blasted by the winter floods and barren sand lined the bends. The water level had dropped a little since my last visit but the green, grey tint persisted. Drab flies would be hard to see. I chose a black and silver fly and wandered upstream to the pool at Ladymead. Sand had been washed into the pool and the bar down the centre extended further into midstream. It was difficult to cover the deep water along the far bank and after a few casts I returned to the bridge.

The raft of tree debris along the near bank had gone. I drifted the fly under the branches beside the tree roots but there was nobody at home. I worked the deep run below the sunken tree stump,  alongside streamer weed shoots and anticipated a take but the line failed to tighten.

The Wide Pool looked good, there is usually a Trout in the centre. A log deflected the current and funnelled the water into midstream. I spent a long time searching but despite my concentration I couldn’t get a response. The Monster Pool surely held a fish. I swung a fly down and across in the head of the pool and explored the deepest part, between the trees, with upstream casts. Nothing.

I sat at the head of the Long Pool, below the skyline, making myself comfortable on the dry sand and short grass. I spent thirty minutes drifting a variety of flies down the seams in the flow and was puzzled at the lack of action. Further downstream the Island Pool had been devastated. The Willow trees on the island had been knocked over and a heap of tree debris had been snagged on them. It looked a mess but a deep channel had been scoured out under the near bank and a long sand bar extended the island. I dropped a black and red spider into the run and worked it along the side of the sand bar. After a couple of casts I had a solid take and a strong fish dashed off downstream.

The fish failed to escape despite my amateurish attempts at netting it. The Trout was very silver and looked like a Sea Trout smolt in the final stages of transformation on it’s way to the estuary. I rested the fish in the landing net, the hook dropped out of it’s jaw and I lowered the rim of the net so it could swim away. The grey shadow disappeared and would soon be in salt water.

I was a good start to my season on the Rother. I had caught only one small fish but I had enjoyed the walk and the sunshine.