2 and 4 August – River Rother

2 August – At 4:00pm it was hot and overcast with a strong downstream wind. I wanted to explore Rotherbridge before an important trip on Thursday. It was a pathfinder mission. I stood in the middle of the bridge and watched the shallows upstream. Lots of little dace twinkled on the sand close to the true left bank but there were no trout. Similarly downstream. The bankside cover was lush and about six feet high in places which helped me to conceal myself and get close to the water.

I was a little surprised at the lack of trout but I was confident that the usual holding places would produce a fish or two. The long deep pool above the bridge looked good and I soon got into a rhythm, cast-drift-hang-retrieve. I covered every square inch with a nymph expecting a solid bang on the rod but there was no reward for my hard work. I then spent about an hour playing with the camera, waiting for the sun to drop behind the tree line. I concentrated on a few places under the alder trees and beside the streamer weed but the nymph was not touched, there were no signs of fish. I left the river about 7:00pm none the wiser. Plan B kicked in.

4 August – Plan B; we met at The Badgers and made our way to Keepers Bridge, the marginal plants had been mown to their roots and there was very little cover on a bright sunny afternoon, not a good start. We departed, one upstream the other down and arranged to meet in a couple of hours to swap stories.

I chose my usual GRHE leaded nymph, confident that if I could find a trout, it would take the fly. It was a formality, what could possibly go wrong ?


I wandered up and down the river between the First Pool and the Sandy Pool, looking for signs and prospecting under the trees. Nothing. A fish splashed in consecutive pools as it made it’s way up the Beat, another sea trout which was not worth chasing. After a fruitless session we met back at the cars for a much needed drink and a rest, ready for the evening rise.

Downstream, no cover !

It was my turn to fish downstream of the bridge. I tried all the usual fish holding places but it looked as if I was heading for another blank evening. I eventually arrived at a pool with an alder tree and a wide expanse of deep water. The wind was upstream and I put on my polaroids to protect my eyes from any wayward casts. They cut the glare and after a few casts I was surprised to see a faint golden swirl behind the fly which went untouched. It dawned on me that I might have already had quite a few fish turn away at the last moment and resolved to continue with the sunglasses even though it was dusk. I worked the pool for twenty minutes but the fish had gone down. A big splash in the pool above sounded like another sea trout.

7:00pm geese

We met below Keepers Bridge and sat on the grass looking up and down the river for any signs of a fish. A dimple in the fast water looked like a dace and I ignored it. The fish rose again, three times, clearly feeding on something tiny. I flicked the nymph into the channel between the opposite bank and some streamer weed but it was ignored. I rested the fish which resumed rising. I only had two dry flies, both size 14 olives. After a couple of misplaced casts I dropped the fly above the fish and on the correct line for it to be intercepted. The fish grabbed the fly and exploded amongst the streamer weed. It was about 2lbs, in good condition and it swam away back into the weeds.

First Pool

The pool was trashed. We wandered upstream to sit on the grass by the first bend, watching the sun sink slowly and chatting. I was inclined to adjourn to The Badgers for a pint but I was out voted, we would wait a while and enjoy the countryside. To my surprise a fish rose infront of us, another dimple in the surface which could have been a dace or small chub. The fish rose several times and it became obvious that it was another trout.

My dry olive was soggy and a bit scruffy from it’s earlier encounter with the trout. I teased out the hackle, dried the fly and had a few false casts to measure the distance. The first couple of casts were behind the rise. I fired an accurate cast across the river and the fly landed heavily. To my surprise it brought the trout to the surface and the fish took the fly confidently. I bent the rod to keep the trout away from the willow tree and after a little net juggling, scooped up another two pounder. It swam away strongly, with a little flick of it’s tail to confirm that it would be more careful in future. The Pezon et Michel had not performed well in the strong breeze earlier in the evening but redeemed itself in the calm air of dusk.

We waited for another sign which came from just below us in the middle of fallen tree debris and roots. It was a splashy rise and although I dabbled a fly amongst the branches, there was no response. I think it was a sea trout. We finished the evening at The Badgers with a pint and the best cheesy-chips in the world. A perfect end to a demanding evening.

Things to remember: always wear polaroids, don’t ignore dimples and don’t use a nymph on a rising fish.