Well, it’s here again. That white fluffy stuff that usually brings havoc to our transport system and has every child rushing to find something suitable to slide down hills on. As the snow begins to fall and the temperatures drop, so the stillwaters begin to freeze over and once more its the rivers that offer any angler ‘committed’ enough a chance to wet a line.
Obviously then, this is where I was going to be heading this week but I couldn’t decide what to fish for. Should I trot for grayling with maggots or fish for chub exploring any likely spots with a big, smelly bait. Another question popped into my head. ‘What would Jan Porter do’? I don’t know why it did. A quick message via twitter saw Jan reply opting for grayling but then again he couldn’t rule out the chance of a chub even in the bleakest conditions. A decision had to be made and simply because I feel I have neglected chub of late I decided it would be wandering the banks with a handful of cheese paste and a ledger rod.
I arrived at the river after noon and made my way towards the head of the stretch taking with me nothing but the cheese paste. Looking for any likely looking swims, like the one above, I worked my way downstream feeding a few pieces of cheese paste in each. Once at the downstream limit and having fed six swims, I headed to collect my gear from the car. I like to travel light when fishing like this, so it was simply unhooking mat, landing net, scales, a small bag with essential tackle items and a flask of tea. Oh, and a rod of course. I headed back to the first swim I had fed, baited the hook with an almond sized lump of cheese paste and crept into position. As the swim was very close in I had to keep low. There is no point going to all the trouble of feeding swims only to approach the swim with heavy feet. The ‘fearfullest of fishes’ will not abide this. The flow was very slight in this swim and was eddying back on itself. I dropped the running link ledger of a single SSG shot into position and let a little slack line out. I knelt on my unhooking mat, line wrapped around my finger and waited for any signs of fish. It took a full minute for the tip to start vibrating and a quick strike met with solid, lumbering resistance. Definitely a chub and what a way to start! I had to be careful playing the fish however as the nearside of the river was full of twigs and snags, ready for any wily chub to make a dive to safety.
I managed to safely net the chub and it is pictured above. A pristine and chunky 4lb fish with a definite liking for my cheese paste. I returned the fish well away from the swim although felt that I wouldn’t get any more fish from here due to the nature of the fight. The fish bore hard for the trees to the left and probably disturbed any fish that lay in the slack water there. Even so I gave it another cast. A motionless 15 minutes went by and confirmed to me there was no more fish willing to feed here so I headed to swim number two. No fish were forthcoming. The same could be said about swim number three and swim number four. I felt sure I was fishing correctly and the fish I had caught in the first swim gave me hope that I would eventually locate another fish or two in another swim.
Swim number five was called upon. Would there be any fish here? I baited my hook and looked at the swim. I decided to add more shot to the link for this swim as the pace was greater here. I also wanted to fish further out in the slightly deeper water towards the far bank. The rod top bounced around as the rig found its way into position. Two minutes later the rod tip arched over and I was playing chub number two, a little smaller than the first fish at around 3lb but a welcome fish all the same. I was able to play the fish well away from where I hooked it so I decided to have another cast. A little more cheese paste was fed before doing so. Another bite came within minutes and proved to be a surprise grayling, a respectable fish of around 1lb. It’s the first one I have ever caught on cheese paste. Maybe the fish had an identity crisis either way it brought a splash of colour to an otherwise dull and drab day. I decided to fish this swim for awhile longer as the fish didn’t seem to be backing off. I started to feed small bits a cheese paste quite regularly and fish a larger lump in various places of the swim. For the next 30 minutes I had a run of bites resulting in some nice sized chub all between 3-4lb.
As dusk approached I felt I had the best chance to get amongst a bigger fish. I had purposely left a swim for this time of day and it was a swim I had fished before. Although there was still fish to be had from my current swim I decided to see if I could snatch a bigger fish as the light levels fell. On arriving at swim six I went through the same ritual as I had done all day. Baited my hook well away from the swim, then made my way carefully into position and cast my rig. It settled beautifully and I was sure I would get a bite. It took a little while for one to materialise. A few taps made way to a typical huge chub knock before a more pronounced rattle gave me something to strike at. Unfortunately the fish itself wasn’t a monster but a welcome fish to end the session on.
Today’s session proved that, when it comes to small rivers, if you give yourself a chance by feeding numerous swims, approaching them quietly and more importantly, you are lucky enough to locate a few fish, even in cold, winter conditions you can catch some quality fish in just a few hours. As I am writing this entry the snow is now falling outside and a quick look at the forecast reveals that the temperatures are only going to get colder over the next few days. This means that the stillwaters will no doubt have a lid on them for a week or more so and next weeks entry will more than likely see me on the river once more where this time I may turn my attention to grayling. After all variety, as they say, is the spice of life.
If you have enjoyed this why not follow my blog. That way you’ll never miss another update, which is every Saturday, by the way. You can also follow me on twitter @NorthwestFish where I can alert you to new updates. You can always re-tweet if you know of anyone else who might enjoy my blog too.
Until next time,