Melting Pot (Entry 130)

As I made my first cast, one that was severely blown of course by the wind, I really began to question my sanity. Why was I sat in the middle of a windswept field, under the cover of an umbrella, waiting for a bank of heavy rain and snow to blow in? Or should that be waiting for a bite? I reeled in my waggler rig and attempted another cast. This time the float landed slightly more accurately. It began to settle before pulling right at a rate of knots. Well this wouldn’t do. That hookbait was behaving as natural as Katie Prices’ significant assets. As I reeled in, again, deep down I knew that the chance of a fish today was very, very slim indeed. Impossible? Probably but as every true angler knows, thats no way to think at all. There is always a chance. That’s the mantra. Even as the heavy rain and snow began to fall, no make that cut in from the left, I knew I needed to fish on. There is always a chance.

A mesmerising sight for a fishermanI balanced the rig out, eventually, nailing it hard on the bottom. On the hook, a double caster. I possibly should have fished a single but thought that if the float was to slide under, I may as well give it every chance of being from a substantial fish. I got into a rhythm of feeding with the catapult. Every few minutes with just two or three casters. I was only fishing two rod lengths out and can usually feed this by hand but today the wind dictated otherwise. I cast fairly infrequently, say every fifteen minutes or so, and the time in between was spent drinking warm tea and getting lost in my thoughts.

Bait and feeding method

Maybe, just maybe this was the reason I was sat in the middle of this field in the inclement weather. Without any distractions, apart from the contrasting orange beacon being buffeted just metres away from me, you can literally transport yourself anywhere. My thoughts first strayed to the fish that could be swimming around in front of me. Maybe laying up rather than swimming. It’s the first port of call when fishing somewhere for the first time. An obvious one but one that definitely needs entertaining. The mystery. Something too good to ignore. It certainly warmed the fingers up a little or at least took my mind off them. Before I knew it I had graduated from the tench I’d imagined were present to another tench water, I have had so many good times on in the past. Recalling the sweet, earthy fragrance of a summer morning. Looking to the margins for a sign of a feeding tinca. Dampening a fizzing spool as a fish makes for the weed beds. I wondered if the venue I was currently on would provide me such memories in the months to come.

Past tench times

Back to the now, I started to get ready to face the elements. Four hours had already passed by. Sandwiches long since eaten. Tea now in short supply. In that time though, I had revisited many places and there had been many plans made. But not once had the float vanished from view. I became aware that my hands were actually frozen. Possibly frostbite? Well ok, maybe not, but I had a hard time moving any of my digits. A blank session. If measured in the amount of fish gracing the net, that is. A very fruitful one if judged in other ways. Yes, this was definitely the reason I had been sat in the middle of this field. A place where past and future melt into one.

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.

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Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

February’s expectations (Entry 129)

It’s a cruel month. February. I think out of the other eleven its the one I least look forward to. Cold, grey, and usually very hard to tempt a bite. Expectations are certainly lowered during this period. But I admit I enjoying a challenge. Tempting lethargic fish to feed with just the right amount of lose offerings. They make their way closer to my hookbait. A bait fished delicately enough to tempt them to take. Then if a bite occurs its time to hope that the lighter than usual lines, that have helped you get this far, will see the job through.

Time to return to the river I had my first session on last week. Once more after chub. Arriving at the venue around midday, for the first hour I explored upstream and downstream. Plenty of tempting and interesting swims. Conditions were polar opposite to last weeks stillness and mist. A glowing sun beamed down and the blue sky stretched on and on. The wind was much more noticeable this week. Gusting quite strongly at times and putting a real ripple on the water. Speaking of which, the water itself was still very clear, prompting me to start my session on small baits.

PVA bag and pelletsHaving not been able to get a supply of maggots I opted for some small three and four millimetre pellets. Because of the water clarity I didn’t fancy using a swimfeeder so the PVA was dug out of my fishing bag. In front of me, the river pushed heavily towards the far bank, the nearside much steadier as it dropped off into a deep pool. It was here I concentrated my efforts. I cast every 45 minutes or so as I didn’t want to overfeed, or spook, any fish present. On my second cast I had a knock on the rod tip. Quickly followed by a savage pull forward. The rod was grabbed and the hook set. What felt like a reasonable fish nodded in reply. I was most pleased to have had such an early result. The fish wasn’t on the bank yet though. On the other end of the line, the suspected chub had come close into my own bank and was making for the only obstruction in the swim. An old tree branch. For a second I could feel the line grating on it but luckily the fish swam free. A few seconds later I was admiring a brassy sided, clear water chevin.

A promising start to the sessionWith my confidence levels on the up, I recast the rig and sat back in expectation of some more action. The river continued flowing. The wind carried on gusting. But a bite never came. I’m at the bottom of a steep learning curve with regards this river, and I knew that my earlier ‘expectations’ were not really rooted in anything more than my excitement and ambition. I was simply happy to be sat in such a wonderful setting. Being well wrapped up against the elements, it was actually a fairly pleasant day. I spent an hour or so watching the birdlife and appreciating in the textures and colours of the swim. I spotted an old swimfeeder not far from where I was sat, half buried in the sand. I wondered if the feeder had been lost on a snag. Or if a large fish had dashed an anglers hopes of PB, as an unseen monster found sanctuary, and the line gave way. Fish and angler parting company. However the feeder had been lost the river had already started to claim it as its own. Another flood would see the feeder gone forever. Buried from view. A time capsule. A record of how someone had fished circa the year two thousand.

Half buried or half exposedThe fishing remained hard until the light began to fade. Half an hour before dusk the rod tip started to show signs of feeding fish. Little knocks and taps. It was only a matter of time before these taps became more positive and gave me something realistic to strike at. The culprit a small chub of about a pound. The next cast produced another chub of a similar size. There was then a little period of inactivity until the darkness well and truly took over. I then caught another three chub in succession. The only problem was that their size had decreased. All three fished cumulatively weighing no more than a pound. Good news for the rivers future but not for my hopes of a monster. It was time to head for home. Those bigger chub would have to wait for another day.

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.

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Until Next time tight lines

NorthwestFisherman

A time to acquaint (Entry 128)

There is an idea that we can only ever ‘live’ in the past. In the fractions of milliseconds it takes our brain to process the present, that moment we were in has already gone. It seems like the present but it’s a memory of it. I like that notion.

This week I made my first cast into a river I had wanted to fish ever since I was a small child. On the day the conditions were pretty horrendous. For fishing that is. It was cold. One of those colds that seem to cut straight through you. Later, as a gentle but northerly wind sprang up, the mercury plummeted even further. The rivers’ water was pure and clear. I could see for feet down into the deep margins. A heavy mist hung around all day. The tiny water droplets of which softened the edges of the drenched trees and completely masked more distant objects. It was just me and a section of river. Upstream and downstream, whatever I imagined them to be. Only to be proved or disproved by walking further. Leaving one perfect scene behind for another.

Paste!

I was here to fish of course but by now catching had become secondary. Maybe even further away than that. Tertiary? I had minimal tackle with me and just one bait. Cheesepaste. A bait befitting of the setting and one so linked with the species I hoped to catch. Chub. I knew that my tactics would have to be adapted slightly on a river much larger than my usual small river haunts. The river a merciless stealer of lead that ‘wanders’ in the flow. Time to find a weight that would just hold bottom then. I began by presenting a generous lump of paste a third of the way across the river, just out of the main flow. With a generous bow let out the lead held no problem and I was confident I would not fall foul to its snags. But would the rig be a delicate enough presentation for wary chub? Would I get a bite at all? The prospect of not getting one didn’t disappoint. I was totally in awe of this beautiful river and the conditions I had first witnessed it in. Happy with the presentation, for now at least, I settled into my chair. Time to keep a steady supply of warm coffee coming and hide away behind layers of warm clothing.

Trying to keep warm

The afternoon flew by. As is often the case when you are lost in a moment. A long moment, I concede. I was really enjoying the ambience of the place. I felt at home as soon as I arrived. A few casts had been made to the same spot on the crease in the interim. I was sure it would hold a chub or two but no signs had materialised. In between I dreamt of the fish I hoped to catch on future visits. Brassy chub and powerful, autumn barbel. Dace and roach aplenty and maybe a winter pike or two. For now though these ideas were simply that. Ideas. First, I would have to build up a better knowledge of the rivers moods and idiosyncrasies. I would have to experience it in drought and in flood. In Winter and in Summer. It is something I am looking forward to embracing. Just before dusk one of these daydreams was rudely interrupted by a savage pull on the quiver tip. Followed by a much more pronounced movement in the same direction a second later. It felt like a shadow of me that made the strike. My first fish. Both of the day and from the river. A very plump and welcomed chub.

My first chub from the river

With the chub returned and the rod re-cast, the night quickly took over. All too quickly everything was plunged into darkness. Time to enjoy another hour or so soaking up the atmosphere, whilst secretly hoping for the rod tip to pull around once more. It never moved though and that was quite ok by me. My day had already been made. Not so much by the capture of the chub but the way the late afternoon sun illuminated its flank in an orange warmth. In stark contrast to the steely blue hue of the cold, clear water. It was the fly angler I had spotted wading in amongst the rapids and the mist on my arrival. It was planning how to catch the special fish I know will create future memories. It was the slight panic as I tried to find my way back to the car in the dark on this unfamiliar stretch.

Did I say unfamiliar? Well, maybe a little less so than it had been just a few hours ago.

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.

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Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Snow melt and sausages (Entry 127)

It was cold. Seriously cold. The wind hurtled in from the north, cutting through anything unfortunate enough to break its path. Unfortunately for me that ‘anything’ was me, walking as fast as I could toward a swim. I hoped to find a sheltered one but I knew by the wind direction there would be very few swims fitting that description today. Still, the pace I was walking at did help generate a little heat. As did the prospect of a winter chub. Although the conditions were not great. Snow melt in the river, her waters a disconcerting brown colour, and with a bright, sunny day forecast, I knew I was up against it. But as had been said many times before, you won’t catch sat indoors. With this in mind onward I trotted. A typical small river winter swim I looked for swims with slack water, preferably with a little depth, but anywhere outside of the main flow. The swim above is a typical example. The main flow of the river to the left and the slack, hopefully inviting-to-chub water, to the right. I fed a few tiny helpings of cheese paste on the crease and slowly set up a very simple link ledger. I debated using a smaller hook than usual, but I went with the idea that if the fish were going to move to the bait, I should offer them something worth moving for. In terms of size and nutritional value. So a size 8 hook opted for, tied on and the rig was finished. Hookbait; a thumb sized chunk of cheese paste with added garlic. I got comfortable on the floor, using my unhooking mat as a seat, and delicately flicked the rig into position. Holding the rod, I wrapped the line around my finger to feel for any inquisitive chubs investigative plucks that may otherwise go unnoticed on the tip. I had forgot how a steady flow resonated through the line. The pulse of the river; like static on a TV screen. Ten uneventful minutes went by; time for a re-cast. This time a little further down the swim. But before I had chance to reel in, the rod tip knocked slightly. I felt a steady, but delicate, pressure build. A chub had taken the bait. I edged the rod forward a little, giving the fish a little more ‘slack’ before striking. And when I did the rod bent pleasingly. Ear to ear grin. Then back to concentration. I needed to land this fish as in these difficult conditions, it might be the only bite of the day. A very welcomed 4lb chub The fight was a fairly short one but I was certainly not complaining. Fish number one was in the net. I gave it a quick weigh. A few ounces over four pound and in tremendously good condition it has to be said. A little washed out from the coloured water. I returned my prize well away from the swim and fed a few more lumps of paste. No point fishing it now though so for an hour I explored another two likely looking swims. Without success. By now the sun was at it highest and the wind still mercilessly swept in. Probably the worst time of day for the chance of a bite. That is, of course, from any fish. For me however it was a different matter. A cup of tea and a cheese and pickle sandwich. It was noticeable how little wildlife there was today. Apart from a robin, who had followed me to each of the three swims so far, it was eerily quiet. No finches, wrens or kingfishers. No woodpeckers pecking in the woodland. I hadn’t noticed any buzzards either. Sausages! After eating I fished a few swims. They had a little more pace than the first three so bait for these would be some left over sausage I had re-fried in turmeric. I fished slithers of them rather than sections, flicking the rig on the crease of the flow, and preferred to touch ledger rather than use the rod tip. It was fascinating bouncing the baits around the swims. Feeling the swan shots clatter over clean gravel and ‘fizz’ through sandier areas. It was now mid afternoon and I was still stuck on one chub. Time to find a swim to fish until dusk. Thankfully the swim I found was a little more sheltered than the rest of the river. As I settled in, enjoying a cup of tea, I introduced free offerings of cheese paste. I was in no rush to make a cast. I noticed how the thwarted wind had affected the temperature. It felt balmy in comparison to earlier. With my tea finished it was time for a cast. A big lump of cheese paste soon wafting in the flow. I had an almost instant response. The rod tip lunged round, dropped back, then lunge forward once more. Finger tips made redundant in this case. I swept the rod over my shoulder and connected with a solid weight. A very erratic fight commenced. The fish first dived for cover, then ran across the flow to the far bank before giving up. I was somewhat suspicious at this. At the net it woke up, making a play for the myriad of twigs and stems under my own bank. Typical chub. Dirty fighters. The hook held though and fish number two was on the bank. A hard fighting chubChunky chub number two. This time two ounces under four pound but sharing the same superb condition as the first fish. I was one happy angler. For the last hour I sat and held the rod. I tried various areas of the swim as the watery sun set in front of me. The pale blue sky darkened and became a deep purple. A fitting backdrop for my final cast. For some time after I felt for a bite. I admired the trees and fence posts as they lost their colour and became silhouettes. The perfect end to a thoroughly enjoyable, but freezing cold, winters day.

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.

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Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman