13 and 14 May – Mayflies and Buzzers

13 May – Little Springs

A cool north wind gently rippled the surface of the lake and blew the leaf debris from the Alder trees towards the dam. A few fish rose in the centre of the lake and mayfly were hatching sporadically. Everything looked good. As I set up my rod I made sure that no rings were missed and that my tippet was in good order, it was no time for amateurish mistakes.

Alder flies were everywhere and there were a few drowned spinners in the margins. I chose to start with a nymph in the margins but soon swapped to a dry fly.

I walked around the lake, stopping at the likely looking places, expecting a rise at any second. By lunch time I had exhausted the selection of flies and myself. It was time for cherry cake and tea in the hut.

I returned to the lake and spent an hour chasing mayfly in the grass and spent flies on the surface of the water near the bank. If I kept still, the columns of spinners rising and falling, didn’t seem to mind my intrusion.

From a high vantage point I saw a cruising fish, dropped the French Partridge Mayfly just ahead of the trout and lifted gently as it rolled over and gulped down the fly. It was a good fish, about 2lb 8oz and unmarked. I revived it in the net and watched as it slipped away, back into the cool water. Job done. I spent another hour wandering around hunting for insects in the grass before a leisurely drive home. It had been hard work but very enjoyable.

14 May – Little Bognor and Luffs

I had a plan. Catch a few brown trout at Little Bognor in the afternoon and a big rainbow from Luffs in the evening.

It was a late start, partly because most of Sussex seemed to be queuing for the bottled water being distributed from giant articulated lorries in a car park at Billingshurst. Southern Water had failed again !

After a detour, I arrived at Little Bognor to find my special place under the beech and chestnut trees. There is no need to cast far and I set up the Pezon et Michel. The rod suits margin fishing as the load in the tip produces a nice action with only a few yards of fly line extended.

I crept along the bank keeping low and well back from the water. Several good trout were cruising the margins in plain sight. I sat on the moss and flicked the fly out a couple of rod lengths. I watched the buzzer sinking and before it had dropped out of sight, a trout cruised up to it, opened its mouth and turned away. I lifted gently and allowed the fly line to peel of the reel, keeping a check on the rim. The fish found the back of the net and was released further along the bank.

A few casts later I saw a shadow move past, I lifted the rod to induce a take and saw another good fish roll, deep down. It took nearly all the fly line in its first run across the lake. I landed the trout, released it and returned to my comfy seat on the mound of moss.

After the third trout things quietened down. The fish had moved further under the trees to my left and were feeding on midges and alder flies. I crawled along to the steps and roll cast the buzzer into the margins from my hand. A trick that works well under tree cover. A small trout took the fly under the trailing leaves about ten feet from me. It wriggled off the hook and the group of fish went down. Time for a change of scene.

I had lunch at Little Springs, a nice sandwich, tea and biscuits, before setting up my rod at Luffs. The wind had swung round to the west and it was warmer than yesterday, 19 degrees. Fish were rising everywhere but I had information that the main groups of trout were in the corner of the dam and also at the north end of the lake cruising the weed beds.

I had the lake to myself. It was a warm May afternoon, a weekend and the mayfly were rising. It doesn’t get any better. Where were people, perhaps they were watching football ?

I started just up from the dam on the south side and had a good rainbow first cast on a mayfly. I’d cast to a rising fish which had taken the fly confidently. I fished every clearing up to the shallows where a group of fish were harassing the tadpoles in the marginal weed. I soon got fed up with the head wind and tangles in the Potamageton natans.

I fished a Black Gnat from the dam wall and lost two good fish at the net. They fought well and pinged off as I pressured them towards the landing net. I was not disappointed as it avoided unhooking them !

I scared a few other good fish by lifting too soon. My casting deteriorated as I became hot and tired. It was time to go. I drove back through lovely Sussex countryside, via Kirdford and Loxwood, avoiding the queues for water.

It had been a very successful weekend, everything had gone to plan. Next weekend is the club picnic and the river should finally be fishable.