I must admit to being fairly late to the party with this particular blog update, I did intend to do it the first weekend after the rivers closed but some other plans did get in the way.
I say plans but it was more a case of multiple amounts of brownie point building with my rather generous driver (mum) whom I owe a lot regarding my fishing and being able to get to and from venues. Although I have been repeatedly looking at driving lessons and every time I get to the booking pages I end up bottling it, this despite having spoken with a few people who have given a lot of encouragement, I guess time will tell if I can manage it or not.
The last of my remaining river trips found me targeting a few different species and despite the flooded and coloured conditions I did find it very hard to drag myself away from perch fishing and decided to have a couple more short sessions after them, their markings are simply beautiful, some of which were perfection in miniature.
One of the trips resulted in a very plump fish (3.3) this was an immensely pleasing note to end the perch fishing on. Looking back it had been very enjoyable albeit rather challenging in the mud pie conditions.
I decided to have a trip back to the banks of the Loddon, the best way for me to describe this waterway would be "timeless" and it is one of a handful of waterways that has really attached itself to my emotions along with the many moods it shows an angler during the seasons, it is a lifeblood to me and has calmed and soothed me when I have been far from either sometimes.
Saying the floods had changed the topography of the river somewhat would have been a gross understatement, the waterway was full of new features and snags to relearn next season, with many fallen trees creating new havens for fish and wildlife alike.
It was a pleasant afternoon, just nice to finally have some respite from the rain and some sunny weather, it was chilly as the evening drew in and just one trout falling to my link legered lobworm tipped with maggot.
I decided to switch rod and bait to boilie wrapped in paste, which was then placed out to a nearby depression, quite late on (around 11pm) not too long after I had drained the dregs of coffee from my flask and my cold toes were hinting that it might be time to head for home I received a confident bite and eventually slipped the net under a fighting fit barbus (7lb).
This was a most welcome capture after the floods, especially as I had heard that a friend on another stretch had found a dead barbel a few metres up a tree after the floods had receded.
With the weather coming right and not much of the season left, myself and Tom decided to meet up once again for another roving trip, a mixture of fishing and exploration for both of us.
We have fished together a few times this season, during that time we have got to know each other quite well and both of us enjoy roving on smaller rivers, however on this particular occasion Tom had to be home at 5pm so we was rather limited with both exploration and fishing time, but the river kindly smiled on us, rewarding us with a couple of perfectly formed chub, both falling to link legered lobworm.
|A pair of very happy chaps and brassy chevin (3.8 & 4lb)|
It was an enjoyable short day spent together and talking nothing but fishing, at least we know that we won't ever be able bore each other eh Tom!
Roving about was how I decided to spend the last trips of the season and I had offered Mark Pilley to meet up and go for a spot of fishing on the Blackwater, he kindly offered to also pick me up on the day in question and when we finally got to the venue his first words were "this looks my kind of river".
It was however a very sunny day and we met a handful of other anglers who had been roving about from earlier in the morning and not had a touch, I must admit I found this odd on a river where you can more or less bank on an enjoyable bit of mixed fishing.
Both Mark and myself had a good variety of baits with us, ranging from bread, maggots and worms to luncheon meat and the ever faithful cheese paste. I was hopeful that we would get a fish or two between us, more so for Mark than myself as he had traveled from Surrey and I wanted him to get a good impression of this intimate waterway.
We decided to give each swim twenty to thirty minutes before moving on to the next, fishing leapfrog style. It was around 2pm and after spraying maggots at regular intervals upstream to gain the fishes confidence that I trundled the link leger through a likely looking area of undercut bank, near to some tree roots and was met with a lunging bite and the spirited sprint from a chevin.
A nicely conditioned chub was soon recuperating in the landing net, it was a welcome start but had me wondering about that fishing jinx when you have a guest down and catch yourself, I wanted Mark to connect with a few of this rivers inhabitants but the river was running clear and there was not a cloud in the sky, it has to be one of the mildest March days that I have ever witnessed, in fact I spent the majority of the trip sweating in my windproof jacket.
Not long after another spot and its snags had laid claim to my link leger Mark phoned to tell me that he had his first Blackwater chub in the net, which had fallen to his cheese and garlic paste.
It was in tip top condition and I was very happy and even more relieved to see the river had given up one of its chub to him and I probably did did mention this a few too many times to him.
Being in my comfort zone certainly helps put me more at ease and Mark was very approachable we shared some good chats and a few jokes, he added another chub of 2lb later on in the evening and I picked up a few more chublets and the odd small perch.
The company and weather had been great, the fish could of perhaps been more forthcoming but we finished the day very content and we probably spent a good thirty minutes chatting infectiously in the car before Mark set off for home and it was a real pleasure to have met up with him.
My last couple of trips were spent hunting chub. I was looking for a 6+ from a small waterway and having had a few others over 4lb I felt there was perhaps a chance of this.
|A chunky fish (4.11)|
|A chevin that has lived a bit (4.9)|
The reason why I enjoy fishing intimate rivers like these is because they fit a mental checklist of mine, they are unsullied and have a certain atmosphere about them that builds to a rather breathless excitement within me, I'm sure you all know what I mean.
On my final trip I headed out late evening and my first cast was met by a new snag, "snap" ssg's and myself parted company. I absolutely abhor loosing fishing tackle but the cost of a packet of ssg particularly annoys me considering how very few you get in a tub, so I was a tad vexed to
say the least.
Five swims and a few small perch later, I was eventually settling down into the sixth and final swim which I had previously fed with a light amount of breadcrumb laced with krill and mixed with maggots. I decided to go the cheese paste route and one hour later started receiving springboard like bites, lightning fast, the quiver arching round and springing back.
Something was about and it was evidently rather apprehensive, so I decided to introduce a few more small balls of bread & krill and rested the swim before trundling the bait down back down. I also decided to switch back to lobworm tipped with maggot to see if I could perhaps get a more confident bite.
A combination of crayfish, wary bites and a few trundles later, the bait settled just nicely under the near bank margin, I suppose it was there for ten minutes before the rod tip buckled round and I was connected to a bullet train which was heading for the snag populated city of "where the hell it likes".
The current was fairly fast and that added with seeing this fish break the surface with the hook just lightly nipped in its upper lip was the stuff of dry mouth and slow motion netting sequences and just as I slipped the net under her the hook pinged out into the mesh, the relief on a scale of one to ten was probably an eleven, but I had my prize in the net and she looked glorious, a bar of brass replete with a rather plump belly and blunt brutish head.
|Small river bullet train (6.12)|
She was the perfect send off to a river season that despite the floods had been immensely kind to me and I was deeply overjoyed.
So now the close season hiatus is here, a pause for reflection, what was and what might be, here's to next season and piscatorial friendships old and new, some memories shared and smiles etched firmly on faces.
Unfortunately the Angling Times did make a bit of a hash of things and misreported the capture as a Thames fish, despite me very clearly stating to them that it was from a tributary of the Thames. Ben Miles however did kindly reply and apologize via email for the mistake that one of the staff had made which was good of him, but I can't help feel that such misreporting is at times par for the course with some of the angling media and does not always do them or the angler in question any favours.