21 May – River Rother

On Saturday the family went to the club lakeside BBQ and had a great time chasing trout with a mayfly. Three boys learnt to cast and a team effort produced one trout. We missed lots of takes and a good fish rolled off the hook as it approached the net. The food was yummy, particularly the chocolate cake.

A strong, warm wind from the north, left to right, helped roll the fly line far enough to reach cruising trout. The fish were taking emerging mayfly and checking out the debris from the alder and willow trees. The fish were easy to see in the bright sunlight.

On Sunday I made my first visit to the river, the water level was a few inches higher than normal and the slight colour kept the fish from rising. I didn’t see a fish rise all afternoon and persisted with deep sunk nymphs.

I started prospecting with a nymph in the first pool, under the alder tree. The winter floods had collapsed the bank and washed away some of the overhanging branches. I eased myself into a routine running the nymph down the far bank, under the tree, across the current and up the near margin. A big boil behind the fly was encouraging but despite a change of fly I couldn’t convince the fish to take. It may have been following the fly but the colour in the water prevented me from seeing anything.

I wandered downstream to another overhanging alder tree, stopping occasionally to watch the water and check out the changes to the pools. The pool under the tree had been enlarged and the water flowed along the far bank before swirling around and backing up under the tree. It looked good and I spent a while dragging the nymph around the river bed. Along that stretch of river the sandy banks had split depositing more silt. Each year the Rother matures, the river widens and slows. The new riffle, built a few years ago with hundreds of tons of gravel, was sure to hold a trout or two.

The deep fast water down the centre of the riffle required a good mend to the fly line immediately it landed. Patches of gravel were just visible, possibly cleaned by spawning chub. There was no silt and the marginal weeds were just under the surface. I ran the GRHE nymph down the far bank and across the deeper water before twitching the fly back towards me beside the weeds. I moved a few steps after each cast.

Half way down the riffle I had a take in the shallow water along the far bank. I immediately knew it was a wild fish, it had no bulk. To my surprise it zoomed off down the riffle, stopping in midstream about twenty yards away. I coaxed it back into quiet water but it went on another long run. I wondered if it had been seized by a small pike ! It fought well above it’s weight of about 1lb. It was a very silver fish and when I first saw it I thought it might be an escaped rainbow. It was too big for a sea trout smolt. It was a very strong fish which bolted from the landing net as soon as I dipped the rim.

I walked back to the car and rested. After a sausage roll and a drink I was ready to explore another Beat. The wind had dropped a bit and the sky was overcast. Mayflies were hatching along the entire Beat but there were no signs of fish.

I walked up to the sandy pool and and used the same tactics. Nothing responded. The trees around the old riffle had been thinned out on the north bank. I couldn’t find a fish in the glide above the riffle and slowly made my way back downstream.

It was good to get my first trout from the Rother this season, a pristine wild trout. I’ll be back in June.