Thoughts of Autumn (Entry 159)

As well as the roach that have been well and truly on my radar over the past few weeks, with the autumn chill, comes thoughts of perch. My nemesis, and bogey species, it has to be said. Its strange then, considering this, that I should get excited at the thought of pitting my wits against them again. And probably failing. This is not to say that I think I will fail, it just always seems to turn out that way, a species I can never truly get my head around. A close second would be tench but thats for the spring. I can pick an area they are likely to live, I can present a bait I think they will enjoy in a way that will tantalise them, but still apart from hand sized ‘specimens’ the big ones elude me.

another perch fishing sunsetIts easy to forget, especially when hell bent of finding that three pounder, of just what accompanies angling for an autumn perch. Wind fallen fruit and shiny conkers. The smell of the damp earth and the crunch of yellowed leaves. Tree branches and gnarled trunks slowly exposed as fierce winds strip them of their cover. Grass, coated in saturating dew, soaking anything unlucky enough to be dragged though it. There really is no finer time to be an angler, or more simply, just to be alive. The great thing is, that as I write this, all of these things are still to come. Though it is still quite mild, autumn is certainly not far away, you can feel it whenever the sun sets or its rays are lost behind the hills of a river valley.

Todays method

The sun was already setting on my first perch fishing trip of the year. Mist beginning to rise from the water. I’d been very mobile for a few hours, using a light lure rod and soft lures, a style of angling that is quite new to me but a challenge I am relishing. For the first time I felt really confident I was presenting the bait correctly. It’s a pity then that no perch had thought the same. I made my last cast just as the light had got to a point where I could hardly make out the jig splashing through the surface. It was, in fact, my tenth last cast but this one really had to be the last.

A fighting fit pike

Despite the lack of perch action I did have one fish to show for my efforts. As often happens when fishing, the sessions only reward came within minutes of arriving, a premature peak that would turn out to be the highest. It was my second cast, more a drop in than cast, the jig mere inches from the bank. With the line hooped over my finger, I proceeded to lift and drop the tiny lure, hoping to feel an inquisitive as a monster perch came ambushing from cover. I did feel something, though not a tap, more a sudden dead weight. A weight that moved.

Ready to be unhooked

On light tackle the fight started slowly but soon turned into run, after powerful run. When something bigger than intended decides to bite, a fishes strength becomes exposed. Their speed and agility too, even a relatively long fish, has the ability to turn on a sixpence. I did land the fish, a chunky pike, which I allowed plenty of time to recover once in the net. A rather delicate disposition hiding behind a fierce facade. Of course I was pleased to capture it, and it proved I was at least doing something right, if only for the pike. I just can’t help wishing it was a perch. Still, all of that is still to come, remember. Fingers crossed.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

A great reward on a tough day (Entry 158)

I fancied a change this week, not from the venue or the species I hoped to encounter, more the style of fishing. On speaking to a few anglers on arrival, and it was now well into afternoon, the consensus was that the river was fishing hard. Still, when the bait is in the water there is always a chance. I wished them good luck and went to find a spot. Despite some rain during the week, the rivers flow was dawdling, the water was clear and I resigned myself to the fact that simply getting a bite would be a result. I was gong to try ledgering today but everything would need to be scaled down. Smaller weights, lighter lines, and finer tips. Of course, scaling down has a habit of tempting fish that are far too big for the setup, an occupational hazard when six inch fish swim alongside eight pounders.

My sights were set on a much more modestly sized fish, at least by comparison, a roach over a pound, but as I said earlier, simply getting a bite was my main priority. If no bite came then the sights and sounds of the surrounding country would be a pretty good consolation. It was time to fish, and over the next hour I cast the swim feeder every ten minutes, to introduce a little bait to an area of river the size of a car bonnet. I then eased back on the feed only part filling the feeder and casting with much less regularity.

Sensitive bite indication

By now it was difficult to see any delicate indications, as the wind had sprung up and was gusting in across the field. The only thing for it was to hoop the line over my finger and hope that the tiny plucks from cautious roach would vibrate from source to tip. My finger quite literally on the pulse of the river. Currents grating over the line, bowed softly out, keeping the feeder from being pulled out of position. There I sat in a trance. Hoping to be pulled out of it sooner rather than later. Somewhere between thinking about the first time I ever cast into a river, and wishing six o’clock would come round quickly so I could eat my chilli con carne, I found myself sweeping the the rod backward. Reflexes set into action by two solid and definitive taps. I had hooked a fish that hung in the flow. It didn’t feel like a roach and I presumed it was chub. A head shake then further motionless hanging. The fish used what little flow there was to its advantage, but with gentle pressure I coaxed the fish into the margins, where I saw just what it was. An eel, of around three pound. Not a bad fish really. And my goal of getting had bite had at least been achieved.

An unexpected guest

The river refused to send any more fish my way over the next three hours, despite scaling down even further and trying all manner of hook baits. The tip simply refused to budge. The resident swan certainly thought my bait was tasty enough, and for the second time, I had a friend for the remainder of the session once a few casters had been sent its way. As the sun approached the horizon, the quiver tip began to show a few signs of feeding fish in the swim, and I readied myself for a bite. True to form it was only when I had begun to pour a drink of tea from the flask, that the tip pulled confidently round. No need to strike, just picking the rod up was enough, and a jagging fight ensued. A roach, I had no doubt, and it felt respectable too.

A great reward for sticking it out

And so it turned out to be, a big river roach, just a few ounces short of the magical two pound barrier. This did not make it any less welcomed, a beautiful example of the species, one that glistened in the warm, late evening sun. It was not the last of the action either, although it was the dreaded ‘occupational hazard’ that reared its head, twice in two casts. Both fish much too powerful to turn and probably two of the rivers barbel. An hour into dark and with the rod tip now back to absolute stillness, I decided to call it a day, and head home. Targets achieved and several hours thoroughly enjoyed.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

It’s all about appreciation (Entry 157)

The float went under for about the fiftieth, another tiny little chublet came whizzing through the water, and was swung gently into my hand. Like a new penny. Glistening, its silvery flank beginning to take on the bronze sheen of its bigger brothers and sisters, scales aligned perfectly and edged with crisp, dark lines. It was a beautiful little thing. In between I had also caught a few equally tiny roach and a huge gudgeon, that writhed out of my hand whilst being unhooked, escaping quickly so that no photographic evidence of the ‘monster’ could be made. Of my intended quarry, a big roach, there was no sign.

Kamikaze chublets

The river really looked good today. It’s a strange phenomenon, and we have probably all experienced similar things no matter what branch of angling you practise, that when conditions look close to perfect, the end result is often lacking. That being said, the flow did pull the float through the swim beautifully, and in doing so stripped line from the reel, requiring minimal effort on my part. Occasionally I slowed the rig down, hoping this would tempt a roach to bite, but I never truly believed it would. Maybe this was why I had not caught one.

Todays float

With the fishing as it was, I became distracted quite easily, and plenty of cups of tea were consumed. A kingfisher flew up and downstream for most of the day, mimicked much more erratically, by various dragonflies. I tried resting the swim and I tried feeding heavily. I changed to different hook baits, bigger and smaller, but still the procession of tiny chub continued. Eventually I hooked a much larger fish, only comparatively however, one which turned out to be a quite beautiful looking roach-chub hybrid. They can grow to a fair size in this river, so this one of eight ounces, has a lot of growing to do. I continued fishing and time ticked on. Still no roach.

Not quite a dace, cub or roachAs if to proved a point, the one that dictates you can only catch what is in front of you and when it wants to be caught, as the light began to fade, a trio of roach came my way in as many casts. Three immaculate fish, approaching the pound mark, unable to resist the double caster hookbait trundled temptingly their way. And as if they had never existed, the tiny chub had vanished, maybe due to the roach or bigger fish pushing them out. No more finicky dips of the float. No more stealing of casters. A little too late in the day, perhaps.

A trio of roach

I’m sure had I been able to carry on, maybe switching to a feeder rod, complete with isotope, and fished into darkness, a big roach or chub could have been tricked. But today had been a day for float fishing. Not necessarily a day for catching the fish I would have dearly liked to. More for appreciating how enjoyable the technique of trotting can be. When everything seems ‘spot on’ and runs smoothly. Night had now taken over. Time to concede defeat on the big roach front, but I left with an appreciation all the same, just a slightly different one. After all angling is what you choose make it.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman