I moved away from West Sussex in the mid 1970’s only moving back here a couple of years ago having spent time at the extreme ends of our Island living in both Cornwall and Scotland. I moved back to an area not that far from where I used to live and have recently taken the time to find some of my old fishing haunts. Now these are not rivers such as the Arun or the Rother but some of the small streams and pools I fished as a lad. On my trips I have found was that some things had definitely changed whilst others have remained reassuringly constant.
I used to fish a lovely little chalk stream that ran north out of Bosham under the railway line and up towards The Ashlings to the west of Chichester. This stream had some wild brown trout which were really difficult to catch but just occasionally you managed to fool one. The stream is still there and interestingly it still contains trout but rather than wild brownies it now holds a reasonable head of rainbows that have obviously escaped at some time from the trout farm at Northbrook which takes water from this stream.
Talking of trout there used to be a mill pool at Ratham, just north of where the A27 is now, unfortunately I’ve not been able to pinpoint the exact spot. Anyway there were two fish of note in this pool, a particularly wily brown trout which was always very active and would readily take flies off the top of the water. However he seemed to have an acute sense of sight and would never touch anything with a hook in it or attached to a line. I have to tell you that I tried everything in my time and I never did manage to hook him. There were absolutely loads of minnows in this pool and one very fat and satisfied perch!
Not far from here was West Ashling pond and I used to fish this for the long and lean wild carp nothing of any great size but good fun to catch. I believe they are still there but the pond is nowadays adorned with no fishing signs.
There is also a stream that runs from south of the A259 into Bosham harbour. I have had a walk along here and I have spotted quite a few rudd.
Pictured is West Ashling Pond circa 1965, about the time I last fished it.
Picture reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.
I remember in perhaps the very early 1970’s some rudd being introduced into one of these streams and I used to fish for them and it is entirely possible that the rudd I see today are the ancestors of those that I used to fish for almost 40 years ago.
For any keen historians among you it might be of interest to mention that the remains of a roman villa were found in this area, much smaller and less grand than the one that has been extensively excavated at Fishborne just down the road.
Another great place for trout was a fork in the stream probably a mile or so upstream. I can remember that this area was blessed with two things that made it particularly memorable; vegetation wise the stream was flanked with loads of particularly brilliant yellow flag irises and the ranunculus weed was crammed full of freshwater shrimp ( gammarus ) I also found the stones that the weed was attached to were homes to abundant caddis sedge fly larvae, some about an inch long. With all this natural food this was a great place to find some good brown trout and I used to wade to the middle of the stream and fish from there. This was true chalk spring fishing that people nowadays pay many thousands of pounds for and in those more innocent days it was completely free!