A change but not from chub (Entry 122)

There was little chance of a river in fine trim today. I was adamant my time would be wasted fishing with maggots and trotting gear. Heavy rain a day or too before my session, and some further downpours during the night, left me in no doubt. A swollen and brown river for sure. I would certainly have to ledger today. At least to give myself the best chance of a chub. Cheese paste at the ready, I gathered the necessary tackle and set of for my favourite small river. I could’t wait to walk across that cow-hoof-churned-up, waterlogged field. Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, so lets move on.

On arrival it was time to deposit the tackle somewhere out of the way and find five or six swims. The plan was to feed a little cheese paste in each, before making my way back and tackling up. It took a good thirty minutes to complete before I headed to the first swim. A nearside slack behind a fallen tree. The only problem with this swim is that the bank is fairly high so you really do have to crawl onto position. Anything to keep off that skyline and failing to do so results in an area seemingly devoid of chub. No need for any shot on this cast; the weight of the generous lump of cheese paste is enough to sink into position. Then using my finger tips to feel for indication, I waited for the bite. Which came about a minute later. A gentle pluck followed by a pronounced pull. It was enough to strike at, and with the hook set, an angry chub did its best to find every near bank snag.

A good chub to start the session withThankfully I was able to net the fish. Which turned out to be a healthy four and a half pounder. A cracking start to the day and its always good to net an early fish. If I didn’t have anymore success I would be going home happy. Of course it was now time to leave this swim; far too much disturbance from the fight to remain. I did feed more cheese paste before I left and would no doubt return if I had time. The next swim was one I had not fished before. A mouthwatering eddy well out of the main flow. Just one swan shot was needed to hold the bottom and gentle lift of the rod saw the bait trundle around. However, after twenty minutes it was clear there was no chub present so I headed for my third swim. A similar swim to the first. Again no weight was needed so a free-lined hook bait was lowered gently into the swim. After first crawling into place. Curse those high banks. The effort was worth it though. The bait couldn’t have been in the water more than thirty seconds before the rod hooped round and I simply lifted into another fine chub. Preparing swims certainly paying dividends.

Just one ounce shortOne ounce short of four pound. Another cracking fish. But again time to move on. I was having a fantastic time. It was very refreshing that the chub were helping to support my decisions in tactics and bait. I now had around an hour left. I disciplined myself to fishing two more swims before I would unfortunately have make my way back home. An hour before dusk and that magical hour after. The last two swims produced another chub between them. A slightly smaller stamp than the first two but an immaculate fish with perfect rows of brassy scales. Just over two hours later I was back on the road and heading home. A little disappointed not to have the chance to fish into dark but feeling very satisfied all the same. I absolutely adore chub.

Perfection

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Chocolate (Entry 121)

My first glance of the river was less than welcoming. On the double take, so the feeling remained. A turbulent, chocolate coloured, watery artery that sent my heart sinking. I should have, at that very moment, turned around and headed for home but I wandered on. Desperate for something to inspire. Fifty yards later, I certainly found something. Or should that be someone. It was a friend, and WordPress comment-leaver extraordinaire, Cliff. Leaving my gear up the bank I slid down to have a chat with him and see how he was fairing. Not good was the verdict but he had at least caught. A good sized brown trout before on the next cast hooking something that just didn’t move. One of those annoying snags that make a river anglers life a nightmare. We mused over the state of the river and concluded that it would be another 24 hours or more before it became its more familiar self. To pass the time we wandered the stretch, exchanging information and sharing stories. Stories about big barbel and chub, from different rivers, far afield. But our thoughts were always drawn back to the monsters that called this particular stretch of river their home. In the end Cliff did the sensible thing and headed for home. I could’t leave though. Especially with his parting words echoing in my head. What are you going to do? You’ve got a blog to write! How right he was. I’d better hurry too; it was fast approaching mid afternoon.

As I set up the rod I began to feed a few maggots in a swim I have fished previously. Anything for a little extra confidence. Another plus point, although I didn’t want to admit it to myself at the time, was it looked like the colour was starting to drop a little. No, I kept telling myself, it’s just wishful thinking. But as I tied on the hook and fed a few maggots preceding my first cast, I was sure I could now see the bottom where once I couldn’t. My confidence levels rocketed skyward. From nowhere I felt sure I was going to catch a fish or two. Call it anglers intuition or memories and experiences from previous session resurfacing. Either way, as the float pulled line off the reel at the pace of the current, there was no way I was leaving here without a fish. I don’t say this in a big headed way. If you had asked me an hour before what my chances were I would have replied simply with a screwed up face. But now? On the second run through I hooked into my first fish. A very solid chub that, in the increased current, fought very well indeed. Parts of the fight saw two equal forces opposed. Meaning that neither fish not angler gained any ground. A stalemate. I certainly didn’t want to lose this fish. Precious on any session but even more so given the conditions. It might be my only one. Eventually, I managed to tease the chub ever closer to a waiting landing net. I was in all probability shaking somewhat upon scooping up a wonderful chub. Truly exciting fishing.

A very welcome chub

Over the next thirty minutes I had a run of small grayling. None of the fish were more than ten ounces with the majority being around five or six. But again their fighting qualities were heightened in the speedy flow and they provided some great sport. I also managed a small, but beautifully marked, brown trout. Jumping and thrashing on the surface as it fought. I feared, as I took a picture, that the swim might have been spoilt by all the commotion. And so it turned out to be. Whether it was the trout or that I had simply spooked the small shoal of fish that was in the area, I’ll never know. It was time to move on. With only twenty or so minutes left of daylight I headed to another known area to fish on until the light faded.

Always welcome

And fade it did. Far sooner than I wanted it too. Although it did call an end to a day that I was very lucky to catch on. I never had a sign of a bite in my second swim. It was’t a problem though. Once more this lovely river had not let me down. Though I fear I have been riding my luck of late. One day she will frown upon my presence and I will leave fish-less. When that happens I guarantee I will still enjoy every second. Fishing method I adore on a captivating stretch of river.

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More chub? (Entry 120)

Well, here I was again. Clambering down the high banks of my favourite small river. Banks that were even more treacherous than usual owning to the fact of the extra water the river had been carrying a day or two before. From the look of the land the water had been quite high. Layers of sediment and dead leaves lay where the extremities of the water had ceased. The current seemingly less fierce here allowing nature to form new sculptures. A piece of eroded wood here and a deposit of sand there. The early winter sun caught the outer edges of yellow and rust coloured leaves. A pretty welcoming sight in all honesty. Digging my feet into the ground to make sure they wouldn’t slip across the water logged surface, I made my way to a favourite swim for a few hours trotting after chub. And grayling. Or trout. Yes, I really was’t bothered what took my hookbait. Anything would be appreciated.

Fast and turbulent water means bouyant floats Bait today would be casters. I fancied a change from my staple of white maggots though I did have a few with me for a change of hookbait.  I proceeded to, as I usually do, feed the swim whilst setting up. All the time any fish present are feeding their natural caution diminishes. I could imagine chunky Chevins or a territorial trout intercepting mouthful after mouthful of crunchy casters. Soon enough my hook would be hid in two of them and I was confident of a bite or two. A river fining down, carrying a tinge of colour, and quite a mild day. Perfect conditions. Well the first trot through seemed to prove this as the float was pulled under by a two and a half pound chub.

A great startWith the fish returned I upped the feed a little. Not in terms of how much I was feeding but in the frequency I fed. One helping at the start of the trot through and one at the end. Next I began to take a few grayling. Not huge fish but certainly very enjoyable fishing. Slowly but surely their size increased until I managed two fish of around 10-12oz before promptly losing two others. This seemed to spook the shoal as the swim went through a short lull in activity. I persevered with feeding the casters though. I was sure that there was still some chub to be had. Probably skulking in the snags downstream.

The grayling were there to be caughtEventually I did hook another chub. This fish felt bigger than the first and began to kite strongly across the current. I had hooked the fish almost at the end of the trot, some 30 yards away and because of the length of line and the narrowness of the river, the fish made it to the sanctuary of a far bank snag. That wasn’t part of the plan but I tried to remain confident that the rest of the shoal would’t have been spooked by my schoolboy error. Indeed they hadn’t. On the very next cast I hooked another chub. Which nodded gently before coming free from the hook, a few seconds into the fight. The air turned blue for a second or so. Remain calm. Remain calm, I told myself. I fed more casters and sent the float through the swim. Half a dozen times without a bite. You’ve done it now, you can’t keep losing chub like this but with a vanishing tip, it appeared I had talked another chub into feeling a little pity for this ‘unlucky’ angler. I played the fish with a little more caution this time. But even this didn’t work as once more, after a few seconds, the fish managed to slip the hook. These chub were feeding very finicky.

A change of bait for this weeks fishingAfter losing three fish in a row I thought it best to leave the swim for a few hours and return  later in the afternoon. I wandered the banks, visiting swims fished previously and also exploring areas where I have never fished before. Six swims I tried in vain. I couldn’t tempt a bite. I did have a privileged fifteen minutes in the middle of the afternoon whilst enjoying a warm drink and a snack. Sat on the bank, I watched a kingfisher hunting tiny fish from an overhanging branch. Time after time the fish dived sub-surface only to return with a beak full of silver. Eventually he, or she, made its way downstream in a blur of blue and orange. I too decided it was time to make tracks back to the first swim where I planned to fish until dusk and hopefully not lose any more fish.

Another fine small river chubThis time I made fewer mistakes. With the light levels dropping the chub fed with much more confidence. I took five fish in just under an hour with a few small grayling mixed in. The best chub weighing just over four pound. A great fish to take on the float. All too soon the sun sank and the tiny valley where I stood became too dark to see a float. Its a good job really as I could have easily spent another hour or more there. Once again I had been treated to a brilliant days fishing. I think this river likes me.

The last chub of the session

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Chub, grayling and the help of a friend (Entry 119)

Who was that in my swim? My swim? Funny how you claim an area of river as your own once you have fished it a couple of times. I shimmied down the banking, a little less slippery this week, and left my tackle at the bottom whilst I headed to speak to the angler. As I got closer I realised it was a friend. In fact a few updates ago I had spent a session on the same river in his company. As I approached he was on the phone (no doubt to another fishing buddy) so after tipping my hat, wandered upstream to have a little scout around. In all honesty I didn’t know wether to stay or not. I was in one of those moods. Those ‘I know I want to be out but can’t seem to commit to starting fishing’ moods. In other words, an annoying one. The river look fine, all the colour from last week had dropped out, and the levels were if anything, a little lower than I expected. It looked like the phone call had ended. I headed back downstream. Half an hour passed whilst we exchanged stories and relived catches. I found myself telling my fishing friend that I would be making tracks to another stretch of river. A look of dismay; he offered some words of encouragement to stay. And I am so glad he did. After all, in his words, I should stay and enjoy the beautiful day in these quiet surroundings. A little more finesse this week I had to tackle down to tackle up. There was not so much pace on the river this week and I was still set up from last week.. If anything I wished it had a little more water on. The slight breeze that cropped up now and again stopped me from putting on a light stick float so I rigged up with an Avon float and and lightish hooklength and small hook. No caster this week. Just a mix of red and white maggots. My friend above me, happily catching grayling after grayling from some quicker water, I had the task of preparing a swim. In the hope a hungry shoal of chub took a liking for maggots. In which case we could share the bounty. One fish each. No pressure then. I trickled in some more maggots and had my first run through. No sooner had the float settled than it had gone. My strike wasn’t the best; more out of disbelief than anything. Somehow I managed to connect with a lovely little grayling that slipped the hook in typical fashion, sending my end take tree-ward bound. Friend with waders to the rescue. Gallantly untangling me from the tree and preventing a complete re-tackle. Time for a second run through. What a chub to start the sessionUnbelievably the float sank, again at the head of this swim, and a chub was hooked. That moment when a rod whipped upstream locks up with weight; I will never tire of. After a good scrap I had a near four pound chub in the net. No need for tripods and self timers this week. Once more my fishing buddy came to lend a hand and snapped the fish for me. After the commotion I felt it best to feed the swim for a minute or two before commencing fishing. There was an almighty ‘skplush’ as my friend, now back in his swim, deservedly struck into another grayling further upstream. I watched him play the fish in and upon him netting it, turned and sent my rig flying back out into the river. It landed a little further than I intended but decided to carry on with the trot. The float sailed way past the head of the swim with no bites and now neared an area I had took several chub from in previous visits. A tentative nod of the float and then a positive tug downwards. The rod once more hooped over as I connected with a sizeable fish. It felt chub like but somehow lacked a little weight. A small chub then. No. Now corkscrewing. Head shaking. Maybe a big grayling? Yes, yes it was! I saw it flash below the surface. It looked huge. My adrenalin kicked in and I hope that the hook hold, river and fishing gods would be kind. Please let me get this fish into the outstretched landing net without any hiccups! My second two pound graylingAnd there it was. I couldn’t get over the sight of another huge grayling safely confined in the mesh of my landing net. My fishing buddy had already begun to make his way over. To a, probably, very shaken up and excited angler. I was sure this was a different fish to my current PB set on the same stretch of river. This fish was a much more ‘lived in’ type of fish. Missing scales, red spots and one hell of a healed up wound on the other, un-pictured flank. Even so it was an amazing fish. My second two pound grayling of the year and I couldn’t believe my luck. I mean the huge slice of luck that I had just used up. I was so happy to have shared the moment with a friend. We both nursed the fish back to health. Taking it in turns to hold the net, all the while admiring its deep sided flank, huge dorsal fin and majestic lines.

We both fished on until dark, sharing a swim for the last few hours and catching some other nice fish along the way. A few more sizeable chub and a few beautifully spotted trout. But for me, the day had already been made. And I had one person to thank in particular.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below. Click here to go to the NorthwestFisherman Facebook page Until Next time tight lines NorthwestFisherman