Sussex Opening Day

Heavy overnight rain was forecast to continue into the afternoon. The traffic on the drive south soon petered out and it was good to be back on quiet country roads through the Sussex countryside. The view towards the South Downs at Stag Park was spectacular and I stopped for a few minutes to watch the dark clouds well up over high ground.

I walked around the lakes watching the coots distribute broken weed stems liberally across the surface. The westerly breeze hardly ruffled the surface and the air was warm. Trout were moving but as I returned to the hut for a cup of tea, heavy rain settled in and it was ninety minutes before I set up my rod.

The new Robjent Special coiled around everything and I regretted not taking the time to comb out the twists and stretch the line. The coiled spring contracted and gradually drew the fly towards me. I persevered on auto-retrieve until I got fed up with the tangles and invested ten minutes untwisting and stretching the line.

I assumed that catching a couple of fish was a formality and didn’t bother to change flies, a size 14 weighted GRHE never fails. After an hour without a take I realised that I would have to up my game. The clouds disappeared and bright sunlight put the fish down. I moved to deeper water and let the fly sink a little deeper.

I had a couple of tweaks on the line which felt like submerged weed. That woke me up and I paid more attention to the tip of the fly line. The breeze picked up allowing the line to drift into a gradual curve which resulted in a solid take. The loose line slid out through the rod rings and a nice trout became airborne. The fish raced back towards me and came off in the weeds.

A shoal of fish were splashing about in the coloured water around the inflow pipe but I preferred to sit in the sun and take a few photos.

It had been an odd afternoon. I enjoyed wandering around with the rod, expecting a fierce take at any moment but I was not disappointed to leave without netting a trout. The season is long and in a couple of days I return to the spate rivers on Dartmoor.