Monday, 24 September 2012

Lucky Rubber Duck

Seeing a window of opportunity on Saturday and before the offspring of hurricane Nadine was forecast to hit, I decided to spend the afternoon on the Blackwater again, chancing my arm for a few more of those Chub. It was a brilliantly sunny day and perhaps I was expecting too much after my previous trips, given the bright conditions and and low water levels I thought it would be a bit of an uphill struggle and I wasn't wrong, starting in a few spots where I had some success on previous trips I was finding an instant lack of action from the off, almost as if there was no one at home in any of them.

I made my mind up to head much further downstream, as I fancied the look of  a few swims, the first one being on a slight bend in the river with tree coverage and some weedy rafts, this spot looked perfect but it was very shallow and the water clarity was like crystal. Not to be put off I decided to place the bait as tight as I could to the edge of the weed rafts, in hope that I could tempt any fish that might be skulking about underneath.

But alas nothing, the only twitch being provided by a crayfish that scuttled under the weed rafts to intercept my lobworm. I moved further downstream, finding another nice compact area, with plenty of coverage.

Home sweet home, or is it?

The swim looked spot on for a fish or two and I was feeling a lot more confident as I lightly cast the hookbait to the edge of the cover. There was no doubt the spot was giving off the right vibes and looks, but alas nothing showed, I was starting to wonder just where these chaps were hiding.

I moved on to an area partially seperated by a fence, the river widens at this point and it has some nice gravel runs, but it is also very shallow, I spotted a couple of nice looking Chub, patrolling up and down every so often and this was enough to tempt me, although I can't really say that I was feeling that confident,  twenty minutes after casting I watched the Chub as they came back to the gravel run, they showed their intent by taking a wide birth around the area before coming back, only to skirt round the area for a second time, having tried a fair few swims I was beginning to scratch my head, whilst begging the sun to ease off of the water a little. Below this area the river narrows into a bottleneck, becoming very overgrown but with enough room to place a bait.

A sumptuous looking spot and as I cast into it I said to myself, "this looks perfect". Sure enough I was soon receiving taps, the rod twitching and jerking every so often, but only chublets were forthcoming, by now the  time was getting on, the sun looking tired, giving off an autumnal watery warmth, now I had past a spot earlier on but had not fished it, a massive bed of matted weed one side and a nice tree covering the water, providing shelter, with just a couple of gaps where a bait could be placed between the streamer weed.

On the way back upstream, I placed a bait there, doing so I noted something in the swim, I looked again, almost doing a double take and sure enough it was a toy duck, bright yellow, replete with cartoon eyes and orange beak. I grinned, I was deep down hoping it was perhaps a sign of good luck. I chuckled at myself for that thought.

After twenty minutes a few plucks began, I was thinking to myself that it was perhaps crayfish once again homing in on the lobworm, but the plucks began again, this time with renewed conviction, could there be a cheeky chevin at home?

The bite never developed into a full blooded one, but as I struck, all hell broke loose, the quivertip replied by arching round urgently as the fish made for the safety of the overhanging tree, opting to try and keep as tight line on it as possible, I let the rod soak up as many lunges as I could, in the end I had no choice but to give the fish a bit of line, at this point the line twanged as it caught one of the nearby branches, many possible outcomes were racing through my mind at the time, all of them ending with me losing the fish, eventually and after too many heart in mouth moments, the fish was slid into the waiting landing net.

A chunky fish, the scales settling on 4lb 12oz, the largest Chub I have been lucky enough to catch from this wonderful little waterway. I tried for a couple of hours into darkness in a swim a few metres downstream, hoping to tempt another one, but only crayfish were willing to preoccupy themselves with my bait.

By 9pm it was feeling cool for late September, I decided to pack up. It had not been an easy afternoon roving about, but it had been a very enjoyable one and with a very welcome reward, on leaving the river I took one last look at the swim, thanking both the river and that lucky rubber duck.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Small River Obsession - Awakening Of The Water Wolf

It was sunny and late afternoon, peering into the Lobworm tub, its populace was low,  I counted fourteen, "why not" I muttered and a spontaneous trip to the Blackwater was about to begin.

I can't seem to get this waterway out of my mind, the beautiful pools, slacks, overhanging trees, thick weed with the odd brown trout basking inbetween it, I have not fished it long, yet I feel as I have known this river forever, water and angler converging as one, a timeless feeling. The heady smell of Himalayan Balsam, the vibrant, pink flowers being rapidly replaced with bulging seed pods as Autumn begins to take a firm hold, as I nestled between the foliage, waiting a bite from a Chevin or two, I could hear pods splitting open, catapulting forth seeds, all so hopeful in becoming the fresh generation of plants and in doing so, sporadically showering me with their offerings.

I tried a few swims, only to find them very quiet, a light trickle of maggots and a bite was eventually forthcoming, the quivertip thumping round, upon striking I was met by an odd fight, what felt like a small Chub changed into something heavier and with more purpose as the centrepin crackled excitedly. A richly dappled, chunky Pike had grabbed the Chub and sped by under my feet, before eventually releasing its unsuspecting victim, the poor chap was looking rather the worse for wear, cut  deeply down both flanks, I placed him back into the landing net hoping he might be ok and he eventually swam off, should it survive, he will have a tale or two to tell his friends, along with some distinct scars.

I logged the spot in my memory for future reference when Pike fishing and then decided a move was in order. Moving upstream I passed by numerous Oak trees, abundant with acorns. Every so often one or two would drop, followed by a rustling sound, sure enough a Squirrel was out and about collecting for his winter larder, stopping every so often to have a snack whilst on the go.

A swirl appeared every so often in a spot nearby to to these trees, a Chub was appearing every so often on the surface, before vanishing back down, a chance cast was made and I waited, watching the rod tip for the tell tale signs, the slight vibration and lightest of plucks began, before the tip slowly bent round, and it was not long before a nicely conditioned Chub of 2lb 8oz was resting in the net.

This spot, soon turned deathly quiet, I found out the reason shortly after, as a small Pike not much larger than a Jack, cruised by three times. I figured it was time for another move, the Pike were seemingly very active. Just down from me a group of horses, who I had taken to petting earlier in the day and most friendly they are too, were stood near to a lower part of the riverbank having a drink, one of them looking on in bemusement when a swan appeared, stopping to pick its way through the weed.

So there I was having a drink and just minding my own business..
Patch as he has become known to me, seems to be the leader of the herd, the look on his face said it all,  a most questioning one at that. For the remainder of the evening I tried numerous likely areas. But in many it seemed the fish were not home, perhaps having a vacation away from the Pike activity, who knows.

The sun eventually set and the breeze was feeling cool, I was considering calling it a day, but instead decided for that one last cast, as us anglers tend to do, I moved up to one of the tree lined swims, and placed a lobworm just to the back end of an overhanging tree, a nice spot, with an opening inbetween the streamer weed, debris clogging sunken branches, perfect.

Twitch, twitch, jerk, I struck half expecting to see a Pike sprint off, the reply was one of a sprint and stop affair, a welcome Chub eventually broke the surface, a slightly larger fish (2lb 14oz).

Not long after slipping this fish back, and no more than 10 metres upstream, a loud and deep lunge was heard, a Moorhen lifted off like a rocket from its resting place on the weed bed and in one movement ended up in a nearby bush, it had nearly become dinner for what seemed a sizeable Pike. I took this as my cue to leave, the water wolves had been very voracious all afternoon and just like the squirrel, perhaps they too knew that autumn was here.


Just a little post to share a friends endeavour and that is Oli Harwood who has a youtube channel known as Rigstation, covering fishing in and around Essex, Carp and coarse, an enjoyable watch and something he plans to expand upon in the future with the rigstation website (in development).

You can also find Rigstation on facebook: Rigstation

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Chevin Heaven

By the weekend I had more or less decided where I wanted to spend Sunday afternoon and that was back on the Blackwater. Catching that larger chub on my recent trip had got the cogs in my mind turning. Thoughts about winter time and chub fishing came to mind.

So I thought to myself, why not go for a spot of chub fishing and check the the river out further downstream. This part of the river has some very dense weed growth, coverage created by a variety of different weed. But there is the usual deeper areas and holes in the weed, parts shielded from sunlight, where weed growth does not have so much of a foothold. A small box of tackle packed, along with, maggots, bread, luncheon meat, redworms and lobworms, I was all set.

The afternoon was clear and very sunny as I made my way to the riverbank, coming upon it through rows of Balsam, there it flowed elegant and beautiful, looking even more of an aquatic jungle than it was further upstream. The first spot I decided to settle on was a shady spot, one where the sunlight could not permeate so easily, a nice spot with holes dotted about in the streamer weed and tangled tree roots on the opposite bank, all perfect spots for chub. Given the water was also low and clear I decided to not put any loose feed in, so as not to spook any wary fish, the swim was fairly quiet save for a few small, ravenous perch taking the lobworm, on my final cast I was contemplating a move to another swim when the quivertip plucked round and I was met by a darting fight from a very lively fish, which turned out to be a lovely conditioned brown trout.

I really did feel there was chub in this swim but they weren't being to forthcoming. So I decided to leave a scattering of maggots as well as a few bits of pinched bread in the swim and come back a lot later on. I moved further downstream, the weed getting even more dense here, like an underwater fern tree, thick and should I hook a fish would prove rather perilous to say the least.

Eventually I came upon a nice opening with some extra depth and cover to the left, this was a spot I was certainly not going to pass by, a cast alongside the grass fronds on the opposite bank was made. Nearly all of a sudden the quivertip bent round and I was met by a solid fight as line ticked off the pin, the fish seeking an area of safety upstream where there was a tangle of weed, after a couple of attempts at making for this sanctuary, I slid the net under a lovely looking Chub of 3lb 3oz.

Taking no chances, I released the fish well away from this swim and made another cast, this time allowing the link ledger to trundle further downstream along the far bank, the spot had gone quiet, presumably due to the commotion caused by this fish, I was beginning to get the feeling that the fields had eyes, when I noticed a couple of deer making their way across the opposite field, ears rotating like radio masts, one of whom spotted me, whilst its friend carried on grazing, seemingly  unperturbed.

Eventually they made their way through the fence and disappeared, it was around this time when I had my next bite, the rod tip plucking round heavily but not in a full blooded way,  I struck and the response was instant, strong and not wanting to stop for nothing, it surged off to my right, I felt a grinding, the feeling of line against an unseen underwater snag, I bullied the fish away from this, but it did not take kindly and made a strong run for the heavy weed on my left. After I managed to get it away from there, I started to see the water swirl and boil in front of me, yet I still could not see the fish, this battle was far from finished and another surge toward the underwater snag was made, whatever the snag was, I was not willing to find out and be parted of line, I decided to apply some more pressure to the centrepin drum, in an effort to halt it.

Those moments of adrenaline, only to be cut short and replaced with anti climax, where the fight is over, won by unseen adversary, my heart was still racing.

My mind began chatting away to me with thoughts of what it was, "be quiet" I said, but would it? Of course not. "no no let me finish Mark, I was simply going to say it could have also been a really nice perch". I pretended I hadn't heard that, but no it wasn't working, it was creeping in, lodging there along with a rye smile.

Should I cast again? Deep down I knew it was folly, the swim was ruined, but I still did, some vein hope of reconnecting with my lost prize, the swim was as expected very dead, so without further ado I placed some free offerings in the swim and headed off to a prime looking spot, one with a few sunken bits of wood and numerous weedy rafts.

I was trying to remain as opportunistic as possible and I offered a few casts alongside these woody rafts, on the second run through with the link ledger, the rod smacked round and a steady fight began, fish wanting his seemingly free lunch and angler at the other end wanting to say a quick hello. After a few hairy moments where the fish tried to go under the wood rafts, it was in the net, another Chub of 3lb 4oz, things were going well.

Much river to explore, I left this swim and tried some more further downstream, one of which seems a much deeper area on a bend in the river and whilst I only had a few light plucks there, I really do fancy it. As the sun began to go down, I considered my options, deciding to give it a go back in the swim where I had lost the other fish, by now the swim had been well rested for over two hours and I was hopeful that things may have settled back to something akin to normality.

I moved slightly upstream of the swim, trickling in more maggots as I went, before coming back and lowering my bait into the near margin, check on the pin switched off, the bait began its search for those grey lips and cavernous mouth. A bite was soon forthcoming and I was into another bullish tug of war fight, chevin taking line and me responding by being non to willing to give too much.

This fish was a nice dark, brassy coloured chub of 3lb, with hints of orange on the tail and a dark blemish to its left cheek. By now I was feeling rather happy about what this water could produce come winter, especially given that the weed will have died back a bit by then too, opening up more spots. This fish was soon followed by a smaller chap of 2lb 12oz. I eventually decided to backtrack on myself and head to the tree lined swim that I had began in, in hope that the free offerings I had left  may have given any chub some added confidence. By now a light mist had formed and rolled in, occasionally clearing, only to be replaced by yet another wave.

I was on my fourth cup of tea when the isotope plucked round a few times, ever so lightly and then began to quiver, almost as if it was shivering. I decided not to wait and struck, thud thud thud came the reply, fish kicking, trying to make for the overhanging tree, it was another fighting fit chevin of 3lb 7oz.

To say the chub were on form would be a gross understatement, they were really on the feed. I cast back out, this time alongside the tree and waited, the rod began to tap lightly, I stared and blinked again, thinking the isotope was playing tricks on me, but no there it was again, tap tap tap, followed by the rod tip moving round delicately, I lifted in striking lightly, the fish responded by swimming off most casually, as if it didn't realise it was hooked, in fact it was not until this fish was brought alongside the bank and about to be netted, that it then decided to bolt off along the near margin trying to repeatedly bury itself in streamer weed, once in the net, I could see this fish was larger than the others, it looked stocky and in great condition weighing 4lb 5oz.

Before the swim fell silent, I slipped the net under one last chub of 2lb 5oz, this fish a more lively chap than the 4 pounder.

As I sat to drink what remained of my tea before packing up, I did so with a rather large grin, one I'm still wearing, the Blackwater really is chevin heaven.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Water Tigers & Roving About

I must admit I have become some what distracted of late, the sight of this small waterway and its gravel beds, multitude of different types of weed, creating various habitats, numerous nooks and crannies which could hold any species of fish, I was fully transfixed by it. My thoughts started racing, each criteria in my head being ticked, good vibes were being sent from the river back to me.
My grin was a childlike one, I knew where I wanted to wet a line and could not wait to do so.

During the week I chatted  to Rob Thompson asking him a few questions regarding his tactics for Perch and he was most helpful and forthcoming (thank you again). With thoughts of luring a new pb in my direction, I headed off at the weekend, twin tip rod, fixed spool reel and centrepin at the ready. I planned to rove about, but at the same time, making sure not to forget one of the points Rob had said can prove critical and that was even though I would be roving, to make sure that I had a decent spot to give a go into evening time for the Perch. The day before, I raided our compost bins and a plentiful supply of redworms were gathered, enough for hookbait and groundbait alike.

The first sight of a river that you have never fished, bursting with vibrant colour and life in each and every twist and turn that it makes, is something that can gladden the heart of any angler and I felt almost light headed with excitement as I arrived at the first swim, greeted by dense patches of streamer weed

On seeing a few nice openings in the weed, I decided to feed the area with maggots and then trundle link ledgered worms through the area, after a few runs through the area and some timid plucks, the line eventually tightened and rod tip thumped round savagely, a distinctly coloured Perch was on. As I slid the net under it, I thought there was a chance of it being a pb and sure enough it was.

Weighing 1lb6oz not a leviathan, but given that my previous best Perch was a miniscule (12oz), I was over the moon with this lovely creature and in such brilliant condition, blood red fins and distinct tiger stripes, I can see myself being engrossed by these beautiful fish. After a few Chublets in this swim and some smaller Perch in the next, I moved further downstream into a tiny sloped swim with a moorhen and infant walking water, suspended by the dense surface layer of weed.

I decided to switch to maggot and placed my bait to a nice area on the left hand side of the swim, near some overhanging trees and weed rafts, it did not take long for fish to start intercepting the bait and and the hard tugs began in earnest, the powerful bites that only a Gudgeon can give, full blooded thuds, always punching above their weight, I caught 13 from this swim, along with numerous small Chub. I remember many years ago when I use to catch a netful of Gudgeon on the Loddon and Thames, a most willing fish, their numbers have declined a lot in my opinion.

I couldn't help but think of the other fish that might be lurking beneath the watery film, my mind thinking of anglers who would appreciate and truly love these little spots, thoughts of Jeff Hatt perhaps tempting some Roach from it crossed my mind on more than one occasion. I think you can probably tell that I have fallen head over heels into this river and I'm needy of more.

As the day moved past, I Changed to centrepin and quivertip trying many more spots, a bait lowered  here, cast there, held back at the edge of the weed beds and then allowed to move slowly through. Some spots I fed with a light amount of groundbait, containing maggots casters and chopped redworms, others none at all. Late in the day in a spot that I would not be suprised to throw up a good Barbel or two, I was getting regular timid bites, little knocks and twitches to worm and very finicky ones at that, I wasn't to sure what to expect and from what fish.

When the quivertip eventually hammered round, line zipped off the pin and I was fighting to stop a bullish run downstream to some very thick, coarse weed. After a very lively fight, a stocky Chub of 4lb8oz was slid into the waiting net, a superbly conditioned fish from a wonderful little ecosystem. As daylight faded away I opened my flask of tea and tried to reason with myself over a few things, going over them numerous times.

1) Why had I not fished this river before now?
2) I simply must do this again.
3) Where does the time go when fishing?

After mulling over point 1 the most, I slowly made my way for home, only to be distracted at one of the last swims on the way back to the car, I pondered  "mm isoptopes already on, why not?".
A light scattering of maggots and remaining groundbait were lightly placed into the swim and worm cast, leaving my chair folded I perched myself on my landing mat, eventually a few taps began, then all went suddenly quiet, deadly so.

I muttered to myself  "just another ten minutes", as I got to the last few minutes, the rod tip angled round, lurching alarmingly, quiver folding round as I lifted in, a powerful sprinting run took place torpedo like, as the fish made for the far bank repeatedly, it eventually tail walked and I caught a glimpse of it, a Pike, by now the centrepin was getting a solid work out as I tentatively played the fish, hoping that the line would hold out.

Thankfully the fish was well hooked in the side of the scissors. A Nice healthy fish of 8lb1oz. Yet more food for thought come winter time and some Pike fishing, this suprise package really rounded off the days roving and it was really enjoyable and one I intend to repeat again soon.