June 16 - the day anglers have waited and waited for

Peter Cockwill with a lovely Sussex carp
Peter Cockwill with a lovely Sussex carp

Coarse fish anglers throughout the country have waited three months for today – the beginning of a new season, writes Roger Poole.

Yesterday was the end of the traditional and necessary close season and now our rivers re-open for the new season.

With the opening of the new season comes great expectation from those of us who love river fishing. Our two main rivers, the Arun and Rother, are very different.

Roger Poole

Clubs and anglers respect the close season, during which coarse fish in particular seek safe spawning grounds necessary to maintain the life cycle that provides healthy new stock.

Despite calls from some quarters to disregard the close season, most anglers respect and support a period when rivers and some still waters are left alone.

Many of my fellow anglers take it a step further and refrain from fishing still waters that do remain open.

From early April, I go fly fishing, which has a different season when trout are rising to the fly hatches that are in full flight, especially during May.

For trout it’s a time to gorge on a feast of mayfly. Why one should decide to take that offered by an angler is sometimes a mystery, but they do and the variations perhaps of colour and size offered by these man made offerings are just enough to tempt a hungry trout.

Trout are not the only fish caught on the fly. Salmon are the one fish every angler would love to catch, but pike, dace, grayling and chub willingly oblige, and even a carp can’t resist as the photograph of Peter Cockwill’s specimen confirms.

With the opening of the new season comes great expectation from those of us who love river fishing. Our two main rivers, the Arun and Rother, are very different.

The Arun, tidal for most of its length, runs north to south entering the sea at Littlehampton and through those salty waters come sea trout, amazing strong fish that jump weirs and mill-streams as they head upstream and luckily decide to enter the non-tidal Rother, a lovely easterly-flowing freshwater river that rises to the north of Petersfield before joining the Arun at Stopham, near Pulborough.

Both rivers hold a wide variety of coarse fish. Barbel, chub and roach as well as bream, dace and some very big pike are in the Arun, a challenging and sometimes wild river where the unexpected can happen.

On our club’s stretch at Watersfield, small roach and dace keep you busy, but one day I switched baits to bread and found a shoal of bream – 11 came to my landing net. These were no mild lake carp but strong heavy fish, and they disappeared from my swim as quickly as they arrived, one of my red letter days on the Arun.

The Rother, my favourite local river, is very different but holds some wonderful mixed fish. Who would imagine so many quality barbel in the lower stretches of this tiny river.

Helped no doubt by two riffles at Coultershaw and Shopham Bridge, these ma- made gravel based stretches, the Shopham one being funded and built by the the Arun & Rother Rivers Trust, are designed glides of water that speed the flow, allowing more oxygen in the water.

At the same time the gravel and stone base are ideal spawning areas and it’s on these that barbel and chub love to roam and feed, so together with all the other varieties the choice of which fish to target is challenging but most enjoyable.

We return the fish we catch back into the rivers and ponds. It’s all about the chase, the skill required, which bait, which tackle, it’s an never-ending story.

So welcome to the new season, what better than being in the countryside and engaging in a pastime I can guarantee will take your mind off all your troubles and woes.

Did that float dip? Did the rod tip react to a bite, and will it happen again? Do I wait or re-cast my line? Has the bait gone? Questions that won’t lead to a headache or the need for another urgent call on the mobile... fishing is fun.

For details check www.sussexangling.co.uk

Roger Poole

Petworth & Bognor Angling Club

Read What’s The Catch? by Roger Poole on this website and in the Chichester Observer every month

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