Sunday, 18 March 2012
Tuesday, 13 March 2012
With the end of the river season a mere matter of days away, I decided to head back out and rather than going after an end of season Chub or Barbel I instead opted to do some dead baiting, I must admit I don't do much predator fishing, as I usually enjoy targeting other species only, but it felt like time for a change and as the saying goes, a change is as good as a rest, so why not?
Rigs were made ready and dead baits were foraged forth from the freezer and I was all set to go. I arrived at the river later than I would have liked and was greeted by a dull murky day, with cloud blanketing the sky as far as the eye could see, but a day that held a hint of springtime to it, which was made more evident with the hustle and bustle of the various bankside bird life, which created a cacophony of calls and song, replete with the regular rap tap tap of woodpeckers intent on burrowing into many of the nearby trees.
I had brought with me some sprats and a handful of roach baits, my plan being to target one of the swims that I had done some roving in on my recent chub fishing trip, as it had some nice areas for pike to skulk about in, bushes, sunken trees and a steady depth with a slow flow, areas that I felt would be perfect for an ambush.
|Tea for two|
The sprat rod was cast out to a nearby sunken tree and the roach deadbait was flicked out to an area that had a tangle of floating weed and was more or less in the middle of the small channel that made up this part of the river. An hour had past and I was settling into pouring my second cup of coffee when the sprat rod let out a single bleep, I lifted the rod to feel for any resistance and sure enough I could feel some, so I decided to set the hooks, on doing so the resistance turned into a fish which hugged the bottom and slowly moved off, I am not sure how big it was but for the short time we were attached to one and other it felt reasonable, unfortunately the connection between fish, hook and angler was a very short lived one and it slipped the snap tackle, I said a few choice words and sat mulling the event over, before a recast was made, little did I know that this would be the last of any action on sprat for the rest of the day.
Lunchtime came and went and the cloud had vaporised making for a very pleasant sunny day. The roach rod which had been fairly silent up until now received a quick bite that thudded the top round, I wound down and struck and was met with a very lively resistance that kited downstream and back upstream and back down again, an outline of a pike eventually surfaced and as I drew it toward the waiting landing net it decided that it was time for an acrobatics show and proceeded to go on a multiple tail walking escapade. Eventually a nicely formed 7lb fish was resting in the net.
|Tail walking maestro|
Having not fished for pike for many years I have to admit at being rather happy with this fish and I speedily recast another roach to the same area and sat down to reward myself with a baguette and a cup of coffee.
It was late afternoon and I was beginning to wonder if I should have placed both rods out on sprats, just to see if I could get another take on one, when I had a slow steady take and was into another fish on roach, this time round it hugged the bottom whilst it sprinted about, but acted a lot more passive whilst being netted than the last, it was a nice looking fish of 6lb+ with a lighter tone of colouring to the markings along its back and an almost two tone colour, with the base of its tail a darker colour than the rest of its length.
By now I could see a growing trend of which bait the fish were preferring and it was undoubtedly the roach baits which were going down very well and this was further cemented when another run followed just as the sun was setting and another fish slipped the hooks, I must admit I was striking quite early on with all the fish, as I did not want to run the risk of deep hooking any of them.
This was to be my final run of the days fishing, it had been a very nice way to spend the final coarse fishing trip of the season and as the sun disappeared behind me, landing net and mat stiffening in the cold air of late evening, I packed up slowly and unwillingly, taking my time to say my goodbyes to the river, feeling sad and a bit unhappy to be leaving running water behind for the three month hiatus, but at the same time, looking forward to Spring and some stillwater adventures, absence does after all make the heart grow fonder.
Friday, 9 March 2012
Thursday, 8 March 2012
After a heavy but most welcome deluge of rain over the weekend and the river season rapidly running out, my thoughts turned to chevin and a spot of roving on that most wonderful and intimate of waterways that is the river Loddon, the night prior I had made up some cheese paste, but only having cheddar and no blue cheese for that extra added flavour, I set about hunting high and low, as I remembered having a pot of Richworth active xtracts blue cheese and garlic somewhere in the house. After much mumbling and cursing of my memory which seems to get worse every year, I eventually found it and on popping the lid off I was greeted by that ever so pungent and sense awakening smell of blue cheese and garlic, this was mixed in liberal amounts till it created a lovely putty like, smooth textured paste.
|An aroma that never fails to clear the sinuses|
The plan was to take this along with maggots and breadflake, feeding a few swims with liquidised bread mixed with some krill meal and then fish those swims over the course of the day, roving about with quivertip, link ledger setup and centrepin loaded with 6LB line.
Morning dawned crisp and frosty, a quick check on the river levels showed that it was dropping but would no doubt be carrying some colour, bait belt, bucket and flask were hastily put into the car and I was on my way. The footpath was laced with frost and lightly frozen puddles, a group of rabbits were sat having an early morning meeting, no doubt discussing what capers they might get up to today, Watership Down in the making I thought to myself and chuckled.
Eventually upon reaching the river it looked pacey and coloured, the current boiling back on itself, spinning and creating a myriad of different patterns and shapes in the water, smooth areas, slacks and rafts created by fallen trees with dead weed draped over them, along with deep undercut banks, all creating likely looking areas to hold a chub or two. I settled on putting liquidised bread into a few choice swims upstream and down. Then I rested, watching the water whilst feeling the warmth of the sun as it tried to invade and devour the frosts grip on the cool morning.
I slowly made my way to one of the first spots downstream, an area where the river slows up some what and is packed with numerous sunken features and snags that wait greedily to snatch tackle from an unsuspecting angler, no doubt many a feeder and hook has fallen foul of this area in the past.
|There be chub and many a lost rig Here|
With this in mind I cast short of one of the nearby rafts, three maggots on a size 14 Drennan super specialist, were the first bait I thought I would try, it was not long before the tell tale signs of minnows began to show on the quivertip, light vibrations followed by sporadic taps, on winding in, the maggots were looking rather forlorn and regular recasting followed more of the same, they were simply ravenous. A change of bait was in order, so I wrapped a tiny piece of cheese paste around the hook shank and cast again. During the day I was kept company by many different birds and animals none more resplendent than the Robin whom which I shared many a piece of my sandwich with.
But the spot I was fishing remained quiet, I had no doubt there was chub in the area and this was confirmed in a rather amusing way, when right under my feet a large chub rose to the surface and then drifted out of view again, I have to admit I saw a very funny side to this, as I'm not the lightest of chaps and quiet footfall is not easily accomplished, but my level of stealth was obviously approved by this chub and I had clearly reached the level of at least a brown belt in chubby bankside stealth, either that or this fish was simply taking the proverbial. After seeing this I must admit I spent longer in this spot than I should have in trying to tempt this fish in to succumbing to my variety of bait, but it was having none of it, so with tail firmly between legs I decided to move slowly upstream, trying the other spots I had baited.
By late afternoon I had tried a fair amount of swims, all of which were giving me minnow déjà vu and some serious head scratching I must admit, one of these swims had a regular visitor which I would like to say was a welcome one, but I would be lieing, the first sight I saw of it was a long furry tail, which was poking out from the nearby bankside margin.
|spot the expensive coat|
Tail waving back and forth in the current, this was to be one of many sightings of Mr Mink, whom had little inhabition when it came to either paddling by me in many of the swims I was to fish or simply scurrying along the bank toward me, thoughts of making a coonskin style hat out of him did occur on numerous occasions and I have to admit it was a rather appealing one.
|A nice hat in the making|
By now the sun was beginning to turn into a bright but watery ball over the back of the river and its beams danced lightly between the skeletal shapes of the denuded trees, I decided to try yet another swim that was further upstream, which had a deep undercut bank and at least what I felt would be futher afield than the other spots were from the prying claws of the dreaded Mink. This was also one of the first spots I had baited on arrival to the river and I fancied fishing it as the light faded, I have found many of the spots on the rivers switch on as the daylight gradually vanishes, with fish usually losing their inhabitions and feeding more confidently. I settled quietly into the swim, breaking off a few pieces of cheese paste in irregular shapes and sizes, a light flick and the bait was placed out, I allowed it to roll under and along the bank till stopping it alongside a very tired looking bush, my flask of coffee which was running low was sipped sparingly as I watched the quivertip avidly for any signs of activity, twenty minutes later, a light but steady pluck was followed by a rattle, after a few minutes passed by, the quivertip smacked round jerking into life, I struck and the reply from the other end of the rod was immediate, a solid sprinting run as the fish headed off in the direction of some tree roots under the near bank, it felt a good fish and made several sprints for the safety of the snags. Eventually and after many fraught moments the flank of what looked a very chunky Loddon chub was drawn across the cord of the waiting landing net.
|Chunky six pounder|
A lovely looking, chunky chub, which weighed six pound on the dot was my reward, it was in absolute rude health and sped off as I released it upstream, I pondered to myself, make my way home or see if there might be the chance of another, the latter got the better of me and I decided to stay longer. The scant remainder of mashed bread and bits of cheese paste were placed slightly upstream of the swim and I recast, sitting back I remembered I had stored a flapjack in my bait belt somewhere, it's funny I never have memory problems when it comes to food.
It was pushing on for 8pm when I received my next bite, not so much a tap as a spring board style response by the quivertip which saw the isotope lurch downward, as I set the hook the pin gave line readily and the fish charged off into midstream, this I didn't like too much, given the added pace of the river and the areas this fish could take me for a whistle stop guided tour if it so wished, I applied more side pressure, the fish turned on its flank making it that bit more difficult to bring in against the current, after a very solid scrap, I had a fighting fit 5LB 8oz chub in the net, replete with one of my more quizzical self take pictures.
|Some of my self takes never fail to amuse me|
At around 8pm the wind had picked up more and the clouds had gathered overhead, I poured my last cup of cold coffee and thanked the river for its kindness, saying a few choice kind words, before packing up and making my way home.