Caught in the spokes (Entry 134)

Not long after I’d cast out my waggler rig I had a phone call from a friend. I was after tench, admittedly a little early for the water I was on, so in this instance the intrusion was a welcomed one. The voice on the other end sounded a little jaded. Make that frustrated. My friend was suffering from Fisherman’s Blues. It had lost its sparkle. Time for some words of encouragement. I thought about something I once read. About history being compared to a wheel. “Inconsistency is my very nature, raise yourself up on my spokes if you wish, but don’t complain when cast back down. Good times pass away but so do the bad.” I didn’t quite think it the best time to start quoting from centuries past but the sentiment was certainly one to push.

The remedy? Well, it was natural that we both came to the same conclusion, of course. Time to take everything unnecessary away. Strip it all back. No pressure. Start to enjoy the little things again before placing any ‘extras’ back on top. There was still a laboured almost resigned tone in his voice but I could tell we had hit a chord. All the while I stared at the float tip. There wasn’t any threat that it may carry out its intended purpose and signal a bite. Yet there I sat. Still. Pleasant time passed but not fulfilling time. A wry smile forced its way on to my face as I thought about the now earlier conversation. Where had the day gone?

That evening, as I started my second pint of beer, I received a text message. It turned out to be the friend from earlier. He had gone out, with maggots and worm, and simply fished. A few gudgeon to start. Then a carp. Finishing with a PB of another species. Success! The tone of his message now much more upbeat. I was over the moon. I decided at that moment that it was time to take a leaf out of his book. Starting first thing in the morning.

A lovely spot to get lost in

So the next day, much later than planned and fuzzy head in tow, off I went with some maggots and a rod. To fish for whatever came along. Small roach or perch, maybe a few tiny tench, or a hungry intruder in the shape of a carp. It didn’t matter. It was just going to be a few active hours where time would hopefully pass away in a much more fulfilling way. Feeding maggots regularly and fishing a bunch of them over the top. Maybe even a worm. Perfect.

It didn’t take long for the fish to give their presence away. A series of patches of tiny bubbles. The unmistakable trademark of a tinca grubbing away in the silt. Any moment now the float would have to slip away. But it did not and I had to keep a regular supply of maggots raining through the water to keep the fish feeding. Eventually their confidence was won and one or two perfect palm sized tench dragged the float tip from my world to theirs. Spirited fighters, punching way above their weight, and pretty to boot. Then the swim became quiet. Too quiet for there not to be a fish there. A certain presence to the apparent absence. It had to be a carp. Patiently I waited and hoped the carp would not spook. I knew the worm hook bait I was using would prove too tempting with time. And so it followed. A savage bite resulting in a plodding fight. A quickly duped mirror carp nestling, confined, in the landing net. This was more like it.

Mirror carp caught on the float

I never mentioned that my friend had also turned up. He enjoyed another cracking days sport. By the end of the session he was glowing. Grinning from ear to ear and already talking about his next outing. What a transformation from the empty angler just a day before. Looking inwardly, I found that I had enjoyed myself a great deal. Much more than I would have done waiting patiently for a bite that deep down I knew probably wouldn’t happen. To see and share the joy of simply fishing with a friend was inspiring and satisfying. Now which way are those spokes travelling?

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,

NorthwestFisherman

Another fond farewell (Entry 133)

Well the rivers have now closed. All to soon its time to start thinking about carp from the surface, tench fishing dawns and crucians rolling in the margins. I did head out on the river for the last day. It turned out to be a tough and frustrating one. Busy banks and biting easterly winds. It took an age to find a swim and when I did there result was not kind. Not a sniff of a bite. But thats ok. I’ve had a very enjoyable few months fishing running water and a day with limited action gave me a chance to reminisce. What a backdrop I started things off on a tough little river, fishing evening sessions and the odd early morning one. I was after a bite. Just a bite. Thats how tough this little river can be. At least for me. Apart from one heart stopping moment, where I narrowly failed to hook a barbel I had spotted feeding in the shallows, I caught nothing. Enjoying my time there none the less. Minus the failure, that was entirely down to bad angling, obviously. Autumn chub I spent the summer fishing for bream, crucians and tench, not venturing back on to running water until October. The rivers were so low that to say they were running was a vast overstatement. Still, by fishing small baits under a float, I caught some wonderful chub and my first grayling over the magical 2lb mark. It was a fantastic memory and one that will stick with me for a long time. My first 2lb grayling More recently, I’ve taken the first few steps in getting to know a much bigger river. Very different to the small rivers I cut my teeth on. I’ve enjoyed the challenge and the river has already gifted me some super fish along with some wonderful sights. I’m sure that with time there will be plenty more to come too. The tip of the iceberg so to speak. Lovely conditioned fishI’m glad the last day was slow on the fishing front. It is good to stop and take stock of your own recent fishing history. It’s easy to get lost planning for the future and simply forget. I’m amazed how a little flick through the photos or fishing log brings these memories back with such vibrancy. But for now, its on to different styles of fishing. Different methods nd species. The lasting joy of angling. Always new challenges to take on, places to see and experiences to form. It’s going to be an interesting journey. What a place to be fishing! One last thing before I end this short update. I must say a huge thank you to the eagled eyed, honest angler that tied my ‘misplaced’ reel handle to a gate on the stretch of river where it was last seen. I couldn’t believe my luck and it did go some way to taking the edge off my ill fated last day. We’re a good bunch! Now thats a sight to behold. 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,

NorthwestFisherman

The tea that got away (Entry 132)

The dim head torch supplied just enough light to pack away. I must remember to change the batteries. A triple check was observed to make sure I had not forgotten anything. Although later it turned out I had indeed forgotten something. I began the walk back to the car. A time to reflect on the day. It had certainly been a memorable session. One that I might have played out in my head before starting fishing. It would probably go something like this.

A perfect backdropI made my way to the area of the river I fished last week. Thoughts of chunky chub still firmly rooted in my mind. I hoped I might encounter another fat bellied chevin before the end of the season. The water was fairly clear and the level lower than my last visit. I was sheltered from a moderate wind by the high bank in front of me and the temperatures were on the up. On the whole then pretty favourable conditions. Once more I would use pellets. They’ve served me well so far on this river and there is always the chance of picking up a bonus fish too. I didn’t mess about this week. Straight away I fed two bait droppers of mixed pellets. I now had plenty of time to set the rods up, tie the rigs, and have a ritualistic cup of good luck tea.

The morning gave way to afternoon and although I had not had any visits from the chub, time had not dragged. I cast every hour and fed small helpings of pellets via the catapult on a more regular basis. There was plenty of wildlife to warrant my otherwise fixed gaze be shifted. For a few moments at least. Geese, mallards and a pair of swans drifted by on the current. Plenty of gulls and a maligned cormorant flew overhead. A kingfisher darted past twice and I even saw my first swallow of the year. Of course, it’s presence doesn’t guarantee summer but it is certainly a step in the right direction. By late afternoon a few clouds rolled in and the sun began to bow ever closer to the horizon. I recast the rods again and poured another cup of tea, holding onto the notion that the next hour might present me with a reward for my efforts. Secretly though, I resigned myself to simply enjoying the last moments of a fulfilling day spent in beautiful location. Cue the right hand rod hooping over. And the spilling of my tea.

A heavy weight hung across the river. In the deep water, it felt particularly chub-like, prompting me to take my time. Steady pressure saw the fish ease to mid river. Then into slightly shallower water but this was not to the fishes liking. A screaming clutch ended any belief that this fish was a chub. With a little pressure on the spool, the run was thwarted but not before the fish was pretty much back where it had started. I went through the process again. Steady pressure and deliberate movements of the rod. Coaxing the as yet unseen fish into the margins. Another devastating run. Pace and power. Unstoppable. Gradually the runs became shorter and I began to gain the upper hand. Energy sapped, a bronze and brassy flank revealed itself as a good sized barbel turned on its side, allowing me to carefully draw it over the outstretched landing net.

An immaculate near double figure barbelA beautiful, sleek looking barbel. Perfectly conditioned and full of fight. It was not the intended chub but I was not complaining one bit. My first barbel from the river. Certainly a fish to remember. Time for some quick pictures. It was then a case of resting the fish and sharing a few moments before watching it swim strongly back into its magnificent home. The sun had now dipped below the horizon. I recast the rod and waited for darkness, and maybe for the first time ever, I didn’t want to catch anything else at all. I just wanted to take in the moment under the burning orange sky.

Safely resting on the unhooking matThanks 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,

NorthwestFisherman

Not all doom and gloom (Entry 131)

After last weeks less than auspicious goings on I decided to return once more to the riverbank. My third session on this particular river. The excitement that built on the evening preceding, it could easily have passed as my first. After chomping down some eggs and bacon, I was on my way to the river full of thoughts and hopes for the day. The forecast was a wet and windy one and the river was sure to be carrying extra water from the deluge that had rained down mid-week. I was confident but still felt a little daunted by the place. My lack of venue experience giving me nothing to draw from. Still, with every passing outing, I was indeed building up said experience. Good or bad. And so far it had been more than ok. I wondered if today the conditions would get the better of me.

It didn’t take long to get there. Or to start hurtling across the field. Eager for glimpse of the river and possible peg. I passed two anglers on my way who informed me that the river was ‘dead’ today. Both had been on since first light and had not had anything. One of the anglers painfully shared with me that the river had fished appallingly this winter and that it was way past its best anyway. I could neither support or deny his opinion and merely offered words of encouragement in return. I hoped that he was just disgruntled due the the lack of fishy interaction and chose to ignore his foreboding prophecy.

Interesting scales

I found a swim with an inviting deep drop off on my near bank. I was able to cast a lightish lead onto the crease and let the current drift my bait downstream into position. With all the thoughts of doom and gloom, I started cautiously. A singe pellet hookbait mounted on a short hair and wrapped in paste. I fed no freebies. An hour faded away. Much in the same way as the other two anglers, I too received no indications. But the conditions looked so good. I took a gamble. Two bait droppers of small pellets were fed on the crease with a few pinches of paste thrown in for good measure. Time for a coffee and to wait for the swim to settle. That was a lie. I had two coffees and by the time I had finished the second, I was sure I had just ruined the swim. Why the hell did I just pile in that amount of bait? Madness! Or Intuition? Oh well, spilt milk and all that. I may as well cast out and give it an hour. If nothing happened in that time then I would leave the swim and fish another until dusk, at which point I would return and fish into dark over the ‘mound’ of bait. By now the rig had settled pleasingly and I the rod tip began nodding. A comforting nod. Gentle and leisurely. Like the river breathing. In and out. Short, subtle motions interrupted by longer, heavier ones. A sigh perhaps? I’d still not had any signs after all.

This chub had been feeding well

Time drifted by. I couldn’t say how long. From nowhere, a delicate pluck on the rod tip. Possibly debris. But there, again. A delicate tap, tap, tap. Swiftly followed by an almighty lunge of the rod tip. Second nature sprang into action. The rod suddenly in my hand, thumping to the beat of a defiant fish’s tail. Its unnerving how you can be aware that a bite has occurred, yet for the life of you, cannot recall the moment the bite ends and the fight begins. In this case the fight was a short one. It had no hair raising moments. No panic. The fish simply came up over the ledge and into the landing net. Then it woke up. Thrashing around and trying desperately to dive down into the deep margin. Stopped only by a dastardly green mesh. It was too late for that, friend.

My biggest chub from the river so far

A superb chevin was my reward. A big framed fish. I thought is was an easy five pounder but in reality it was only just. What a difference an ounce can make. The chub had a most peculiar scale pattern. Caused by an old injury perhaps? The fine line between survival and, well, something much less fun. It goes to show how resilient fish are, and in a healthy environment, how well they can heal. After a few pictures, I walked the fish downstream to release it, where it soon disappeared into the blue/grey shadows.

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,

NorthwestFisherman