Having pegged the river on Saturday at lunchtime when conditions looked just about perfect it looked as if after two months of the season and three cancellations we would at last get a match on the Rother. We did not count on persistent rain almost all evening and night so when we got to the river on Sunday morning it was up about a foot, pushing through and with a lot more colour than we expected. We did decide that we should go ahead with the match particularly as we were hosting teams from Rother and Stedham for the first round of the Rother Valley Shield. We decided to drop the duration back to 5 hours for the match and also give those that were having to walk down to the end pegs a little extra time so fishing commenced along with another load of rain at 9.30. By 10.00 it was obvious that the river was still coming up and anglers were readjusting there position further up the bank as the river continued to rise. By the end of the match it had probably come up a further 18 inches or so.
Those that fish rivers regularly will tell you that you might as well forget fishing a rising river as the fishing will be very poor and this is not exclusive to coarse fish as even a salmon angler I talked to the day after said even on his annual pilgrimage to Scotland when he has to pay hundreds of pounds a day for a weeks fishing he just does not bother if the river is rising. So we thought that we were all going to struggle particularly as being a match with 24 anglers on the water there is no opportunity to roam around and find some slacks.
In the event the river was kind to us and most people had a few fish. It was particularly noticeable that bream put in an appearance all along the river with fish of around 31/2lb coming out from the very top to the very bottom of the stretch. Not loads of them and nobody found themselves sat on a shoal but they were there to be caught all along the river. We also found that eels were caught all along the river they seem to have been in short supply over the last few years but there were certainly plenty again all along the river. Like them or loathe them they are at least fish, give a good account of themselves and help to make up a bit of weight in the match net. As expected the smaller silver fish were not around and these were not the sort of conditions to catch chub but the larger roach put in an appearance with fish up to 1lb being recorded.
Top man on the day was Malcolm Weeks from Stedham who was on peg two close to the bottom fence. With a large slack on the far bank and the main flow down the middle Malcolm found a couple of bream and bits from the crease for 9 – 4 – 0.
Second man on the day was Bognor’s Keith Hughes who fished the peg just below the outlet in the second field. This swim under normal conditions responds well to a stick float down the middle where you will find 10 – 11 feet of water and mixed bags of roach, dace and chub respond well to hemp, caster and maggot. With the extra water and the pace of the river Keith opted to concentrate on a small feeder on an inside line this yielded a mixed net with one decent bream a few bits and pieces and a handful of small eels for 9 – 3 – 0.
Experienced Rother man Chris Boxall was on the second big left hander in the trees and had 7 – 5 – 0 for 3rd place.
On the team front despite being a man light Rother put in a great performance for 24 points and first place. Stedham were second on 22 and Bognor are slightly bringing up the rear on 16 points but with two more legs to fish at Stedham and Midhurst they might be able to claw their way back into contention.