I'd been on a promise for a while to get out fly fishing with my father and where better than to return to one of our favourite waters, Arlington reservoir, which I wrote about on my blog last month too.
The main reason was that I wanted to take him out in the wheelyboat they have on site there which is available to anyone with limited mobility, not just wheelchair users. It is a Mark II Wheelyboat provided by The Wheelyboat Trust, a brilliant organisation that promotes and provides these boats to increase access to the water for disabled and other less mobile anglers. Being able to lower the ramp at the front and just walk onto the boat was really helpful for my father - just like a landing craft in the war I cheekily reminded him. Alright, he isn't quite that old but he did do his National Service so may have seen one!?
The day was overcast with a bit of a breeze blowing when we arrived but it came and went throughout the day and we even saw some sun around lunchtime. A couple of early drifts taught us that it was a little choppy once you were getting towards the far bank so we retreated to the calmer side in the lee of the trees on the lodge side. After my father felt the first official gentle pluck of the day at his fly I picked up our first fish on a gold bead-head daddy longlegs with a green tag, a favourite pattern I often use when for searching for fish and there is no obvious signs of fly life as on this day.
The one thing I am consistently pleased with at Arlington in particular is the fighting qualities of the rainbow trout they stock. This 1.5lb fish leapt 3 times in its efforts to evade capture and pulled as hard as a fish twice its size - great sport!
A move further up the bank to fish just off from an area known as 'The Willows' (can you guess why?) saw the first couple of fish break the surface that we had seen that morning. However we still couldn't see what they might be taking so I stuck to the already proven gold bead-head daddy longlegs and was glad I did as another 1.5lb fish was next to fall prey to its allure.
After a few more minutes a good swirl off to my right looked like a better fish so I put a cast in its general direction. I thought I had missed it and do started to strip the fly back quicker to pick up and cast again when everything went solid - fish on!
This fish straight away felt different to the first two, staying deeper and pulling more consistently in one direction rather than dashing around manically and I knew it was a better trout. At a couple of ounces under 3lb it gave a very good account of itself before I was able to net it but there are larger fish to be had including a few brown trout too. This ended up being our last fish of the day before we stopped to have lunch but found the fish had stopped biting for us when we went back out afterwards. Happily we still fished on just enjoying the scenery and each others company and particularly watching the antics of the several pairs of great crested grebes that were still engaging in their courtship displays - always a joy to watch along with the swallows and house martins swooping low over the water hunting for their next snack.
June should see the start of the fry hunting season which is always an exciting time and so we will be back again to enjoy the warmer days and lighter evenings, searching for some more tasty trout to take home with us. Currently Arlington reservoir closes for the season at the end of June so if you want to visit be quick and get yourself down to Sussex. As their is only the one wheelyboat, should you need it it is best to ring and book it first to ensure its availability. There are of course other regular fishing boats available too, all with electric motors, and again it is best to book them in advance just in case.