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.
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.
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.
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,