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.
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.
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.
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.
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