Friday, 15 February 2013

The Only Way Is Blackwater

Recently I had been kindly offered by two young chaps the chance of fishing their river in Essex, a waterway that shares the very same name as as the one that I fish in Hampshire and that is the river Blackwater. After much persuasion, discussion and organising we eventually planned on two mornings of us all fishing together, the idea being to see if we could perhaps tempt a chub or two from this Essex waterway.

The drive down to Essex was not too bad, apart from the satnav nearly taking us into central London instead of on the orbital as it should have, but aside from that glitch we met at Fred at his house around 9am, after a chat and a cup of tea with both the guys, we eventually set off for a stretch of the river where George had caught his pb chub (5.1) from, on finally setting eyes on this little river it reminded me in many ways in places of the Blackwater in Hampshire, although the banks in parts were more steep and the landscape a touch more bare in places, it looked the perfect little river for a spot of chub fishing, I am told there is the odd barbel, not lots but they are there.

The immediate feeling I got was that of a river that doesn't really get fished that much and has almost a touch of the unknown and forgotten about it, gravel runs and undercut banks giving way to sweeping bends and overhanging trees with a multitude of flotsam draped across them.

We decided to each pick a swim to fish for around twenty to thirty minutes at a time and then move on. The first one that I decided to wet a line in looked rather nice, a tight bend with overhanging bush on the far bank, it was a rather blustery day to say the least, the wind a stiff northerly accompanied by the kind of rain that makes you feel you're not getting too wet, yet in reality is actually coming down at a steady pace. A light cast and the feeder was placed out to the far bank, just short of the bush.

The river looked good, not too coloured and with a nice bluey green tinge to it, after around fifteen minutes I heard a call from upstream and sure enough George had landed a fish, a nice looking and  very welcome Essex Chub just under 4lb.

George Basham with a nice looking Essex chub of 3.15

After a quick photo and a few words of congratulation, it was slipped back and sped off in a healthy and rather brisk manner, the first fish of the day, but little did we know it would also be the last of the trip too. After this fish we decided to move upstream and see if we could not perhaps tempt a fish or two more, myself on another bend that had a fairly consistent and reasonable depth to it and one that Fred had caught from in the past. George moved into a swim a bit further up, another bend and one with some coverage in the shape of dead weed beds, Fred meanwhile had settled on a superb looking swim and one which screamed chub in every shape and form, with masses of flotsam either side of it, both myself and George felt sure it would only be a matter of time before a chevin would pick up his breadflake.

Alas the quiver remained motionless

But oddly enough it was not to be the case for Fred or any of us, the only taps and twitches made by the wind which was becoming increasingly blustery, as the day went by we tried a multitude of swims.

Each swim looking a good skulking area for a chevin, such as the one pictured above, but no, either they were not at home or not in a very forthcoming mood. By 3pm we had probably fished around twelve or fourteen swims between us and by now we was all rather chilly, I was also feeling quite tired from being up early and traveling down and George had a very cold pair of feet as he had decided to come out wearing some cotton plim soles, I can only imagine how painful his toes must have felt, so we all decided to call it a day and head for home.

After a very welcome sleep in the local Travel lodge, I woke to find that the rain had developed into  snow during the night, it was a crisp morning and the wind had abated somewhat and most welcome that was too! The three amigos met up again and were soon on their way to another section of the river and an area where Fred has caught numerous chub in the past, the average size being 3lb.

On getting to the river it was evident that the rain from the previous day had taken its toll, the water was very tea coloured and pushing through at quite a pace, far from ideal but we were game, I decided to try an area where the river sweeps round, in an attempt to find a slower and smoother area of water.

I suggested to George to perhaps try a spot upstream where the river slowed as it flowed round a bend, the current easing a bit here and home to a couple of portly looking swans.

Fred meanwhile was fishing a little basin further downstream and adjacent to another bend, I eventually decided to head downstream in hope of finding a slacker area, eventually finding one and ended up fishing just off the reed line in front of a nice area of debris, sure enough there were bites forthcoming here, but not from what we was seeking, just minnows playing their typical smash and grab, rattle and tap attacks on my maggots.

Where are you hiding grey lips

In all honesty I don't know where the day went  but it certainly flew by and it wasn't long before the daylight was fading and we found ourselves fishing the last swims of the day, I had once again decided to fish close to a spot with some coverage and debris, a nice creamy piece of blue cheese and garlic paste was placed short of the reeds to the right hand side.

Now this area of the river I do feel looks like it could throw up a surprise or two, admittedly not on this occasion, but it has an air of mystery about it and there was something telling me that it felt just perfect, you know the feeling that you get as an angler, when  the hair on your neck might stand on end, or you get that excited shiver, something just felt right, even if the fish really didn't want to play ball.

Before I knew it the day was gone, sure over the two days there was only the one fish caught between us all, but what price do you put on spending time in good company?

The three amigos

The simple answer is that you can't and despite the lack of fish between us I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in the company of both Fred and George, many a good laugh was had on both days and a great deal of enjoyment was shared between us. I look forward to meeting them again and do hope that isn't in the too distant future!


  1. Nice report, Mark, and it's good to see bloggers joining forces and enjoying meeting and fishing together.
    I know I've mentioned it before, but one of these days we'll have to arrange a day or two on the bank together.
    Hope all is well.


    1. Hello Alan,

      It was great to meet the two lads and share some time fishing with them, I agree with you, it is nice to see other bloggers sharing atrip or two together, that suggestion of yours is a good one perhaps next season or something?

      Things are a bit better my father and I buried the cat with a few of his favourite toys (bell attached to a piece of wool and a little catnip mouse) and said a few choice words.

  2. That river looks perfect for chub, get back down there in the summer ;o)

    Sorry about your cat but 20 is a fabulous age for a moggy.

  3. It certainly looks an interesting river Dave, thanks that is one thing we have all taken a lot of comfort in, he had a very long innings and as you say 20, which makes him around 95 in human years.

  4. I've fished the Blackwater all my life, Mark. I must have fished it a thousand times when I lived in Essex but never had a single chub. But then again lugworms cast into the tidal estuary never will!

    Shame about the blank after traveling so far. Nice countryside around there isn't it, I suppose you were around the Kelvedon area?

    1. I didn't know that you had fished it Jeff!
      I was talking to the lads about the estuary and they were telling me some interesting tales regardin the fish it contains. Yes you're right it was around the Kelvedon area and on the Maldon ticket.

  5. Great blog mate and we had a good laugh.

    1. Thanks Fred, we certainly did mate and it was really nice to fish with you both.