I always find it tough deciding where to go fishing. So many different species and venues to choose. Of course, weather conditions come into play, as do a host of other things not even on the fishing radar. But there’s one day every year where and easy decision can be made. Come rain or shine, flood or drought, and even if only for a few hours, I make my way to a local river and celebrate the opening of the new season trying to catch some of the shadows that swim beneath the surface in its currents.
I was keen to get to the river but I wanted to fish into dark. The hours seemed to drag on and on. I didn’t want to arrive to early. The river I’d be fishing is no push over so I wanted to give myself the best chance of catching. I also didn’t want to burn myself out. I got to the river at three o’clock and for the first part, I simply had a walk up and down the stretch. With the river being clear and fairly shallow one, I fed a few spots to see if there were any chub or barbel present. There was some dappled sun and the day was muggy. In fact, I couldn’t ask for better conditions. I found no fish on my travels however so a few hours later I made my way to the weir.
Once at the weir I set up a rod and had a lead around. I do this without the hook on of course, and much as you can do on a stillwater, you can assess the bottom. There was some lovely gravel runs towards the back of the weir, outside the main current, and some areas of weed. With no snags in this area I found where the lead would come to rest and made a mental note of where I cast in. It was here my rig stayed, occasionally shifting position when I lifted the rod a little. I fished small cubes of meat and fed the same, with the occasional pouch of halibut pellets. There was plenty of wildlife to keep me entertained; grey wagtails fluttering on the bankside stones where the dragonflies were sunning themselves in the warm blanket of sun. I saw sea trout leaping up the weir regularly throughout the day and although there was a salmon pass in place, they chose not to use it. Well, at least some of them.
On the fish front however it was quiet and although I fished well into darkness I did not have a bite. Given the clarity of the water, I think a maggot or small pellet approach would have been a lot more productive. Maybe presented on the float rather than a semi static lead. Something to consider for next time if the water levels remain the same. Still, it was a lovely session, and apart from the grass pollen setting off my hayfever with annoying regularity, I enjoyed every minute sat in the countryside. Surrounded by wonderful things to watch and listen to.
I was desperate to catch my first river fish of the season though so after work mid week I headed back to the same river. I fished a different swim than on my first visit but on the same stretch. I changed tactics for this visit using just a mixture of small pellets, in 2mm, 3mm, and 4mm sizes and different types. Halibut pellets, general course pellets and a few I had been soaking in something. With the water being so low I fished well into darkness. Low and clear rivers are hard to fish but the fish still need to feed. I fed the swim little and often hoping to build the swim and gauge when, if at all, any fish became present in the swim. Hookbait consisted of four halibut pellets glued to the hair. Its a lovely presentation that can withstand lots of chub plucks, so you dont have to constantly recast and possibly disturb the swim, whilst waiting that barbel.
Just before dusk I had my first sign. A very aggressive chub pluck. The bite didn’t develop any further. Maybe it was a line bite or a fish spooking? I couldn’t decide, instead I just carried on feeding five or six pellets. I was touch legering the whole time and to me this becomes invaluable as darkness falls. I almost stop concentrating on the isotope, as your senses become heightened I am sure you ‘feel’ more through your fingertips. Sensitive fingers we’re not needed this time though. Just as total darkness fell I had the proverbial ‘three foot twitch’. I sharply raised the rod and anticipated a heavy weight and powerful run. But I connected with nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was almost certainly a fish, as moments before the line was bristling with tiny tremors. I was devastated! Bites are at a premium on this river, at least for me, so to miss such a confident bite was cruel. Though I suppose its moments like this that drive us to keep going. For the next time the ending might be much sweeter.
So I still havent caught a river fish this season but I think, with a few days of rain forecast, the rivers will be fresher and a few fish might be on the cards. Hopefully!
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