Saturday, 20 October 2012

An Eel Feeling On A Ruffe Thames

I had been contemplating getting back on the Thames to try targeting some of the larger Perch that reside in its depths. Admittedly the weather had been fairly atrocious and in hindsight with the heavily coloured water conditions it was far from ideal, but nonetheless I was game. I had also decided to take some liquidised bread with me, mixed with seed and maggots and use this, with some of the groundbait balls containing a small amount of chopped worm.

The route to the river was more than passable despite the usual boggy areas that the cows had churned up, my boots making excited slurping sounds as I tried extracting each foot from its slushy grip without taking a tumble. I had a feeling that whilst it would be up high, if I could find some very slack areas then I would still be able to wet a line.

On catching sight with it, the river was coloured and pushing through to say the least, a multitude of different currents surging back and forth, I decided to fish a slack bay, with a nice feature to my left in the shape of an overhanging bush. Where you could normally stand was well underwater, I fancied this area, the coverage looked good and I felt that if it did not hold some Perch, then surely it would also be home to other fish as well.

I managed to hold bottom using a small 2oz watch style gripper lead in this swim, out that went with a lobworm placed close to the bush, for the first few hours it was fairly quiet and I was beginning to think to myself that the Perch idea was not a smart one, so I changed to maggot, an hour later I had my first bite, the culprit was a small Gudgeon and he was most welcome, a little later another joined him, both bites being hard taps which sent shockwaves through the quivertip.

The afternoon was a grey rainy affair, patting steadily on the umbrella, most of the cattle that inhabit the area were regularly calling out and looking most forlorn as they moved in circles,  seeking some cover from the rain, on eventually seeing me with my bucket of groundbait, they made their way across to me, all 34 of them, bovine inquisitiveness is something I always find a bit unnerving, they finally realised I had no food for them and they soon grew bored, before gradually plodding off to do what cows do best, eat grass and drop land mines for unsuspecting anglers.

I was wondering where the next bite would come from, I soon found out when I hooked a small but perfectly formed Tommy Ruffe, this made me smile, as I always seem to catch these fish whenever I have fished a river that is up and very coloured and today was certainly no exception.

I placed a few more balls of groundbait close to the bush, moulding some around the lead before casting,  after an hour or so of winding in and removing a washing line of debris and re-casting regularly, the quivertip thumped round steadily, I struck and was into what felt a better stamp of fish. The first I saw was the red fins and I immediately thought to myself Perch, but then the silver flank that accompanied the red fins made itself apparent as to what it was and a nicely formed Roach was slipped into the landing net, it weighed 1 lb.

I was rather happy with this and it has now got me wondering just what larger Roach might be lurking along this particular stretch of Thames. Daylight had faded when I saw a pair of swans which were doing their best to travel upstream, not an easy feat, upon seeing me they made a beeline across the river in hope of a free feed.

During this time I was taking a few pictures and had just put the camera down to have a cup of tea, flask open as I was about to pour, I stole a sideways glance to my rod which was now arched over, line being rapidly taken, as I struck, a small branch lifted up further out in the main current, my initial thoughts of a passing piece of debris having latched onto my rig were dislodged by the tug and heavy surge from the other end of the rod, as the unseen fish tried to happily head upstream, my first thoughts were of a Barbel as this fish just did not want to give in, a dogged fight began as it hugged the bottom, it was just as well that it had not decided to head downstream as I would have been well and truly stumped, as it was the quiver was bent over alarmingly and I was having to just cushion the run and keep trying to gain small amounts of line.

Eventually a long shape, with dark back and white underbelly emerged on the surface, an Eel with a girth on it that looked all of four pounds, it was not amused and thrashed angrily before making another solid run. Eventually I managed to get three quarters of its body over the net on three occasions, each time proving really troublesome, it managing to reverse out each time in a near farcical fashion, I was not happy, by now I could see it was lip hooked and I felt it was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened and it did. Ping the hook pulled, lodging in the front of the landing net, leaving me staring in abject horror and disbelief as the Eel disappeared back into the murky depths.

The rest of the evening  was very quiet and with no more bites forthcoming I decided to pack up and make my way home, as I did it was with plenty of food for thought and a very eel feeling.


  1. A mixed bag on a difficult day, just like Crabtree :o)

    Pity about the eel though, they are masters of escape. Maybe next time.

  2. Yes conditions weren't too straight forward but it was very enjoyable Dave and the Roach made my day. I am however absolutely gutted about that Eel, they really are Houdinis, that combined with their all wheel drive movement, ah well maybe next time.

  3. Nice write up Mark. You deserved more for your efforts. I sympathize with you. I have endured similar wet and muddy conditions and reaped nothing to show for it, so you did well considering ;o)

    1. Thanks Richard, it was very enjoyable, although the current and debris was a bit og a nuisance, the Roach, has really got me thinking about the possibility of a 2 pounder or larger along the stretch, the Eel I'm still absolutely gutted about, it looked in great condition and after winning half the battle against it, then only to lose it after the failed attempts at the net, is something that is going to play on my mind for a while.

  4. Hi Mark
    Cracking Roach, Be interesting to see what happens if you target them on that stretch.

  5. Cheers Darren,

    That roach really has got me thinking mate, as I know the Thames has been throwing up some very good Roach sport and some large fish as well.