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.

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Until next time,



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.

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Until Next time tight lines