I found myself afflicted, but by what? Sure enough during a previous trip targeting chevin this river had rebuffed me in an unceremonious manner and I wanted to respond, accept that challenge and the changeable moods that would come with it.
It was late afternoon with very little breeze and apart from an infrequent trail of autumn leaves the water clarity was very good, so much so that in some swims the gravel runs were most visible, I made a mental note of these areas, taking a few pictures along the way so as to keep in mind the features that would eventually be obscured should we get any heavy rainfall, during this time I had rolled the link ledger through various swims and chopped and changed between a multitude of baits, wax worm, lob worm, maggot, bread and krill cheese paste to name but a few, but barring the odd tap from minnow and crayfish the rod tip was untroubled by the chain mail, clad warriors which I sought. It's always with a great sense of enjoyment, anticipation and dare I say a hint of trepidation when fishing areas of river you have never wet a line on before, that first fish always acting as a catalyst and boosting your confidence.
Come evening time I decided to try a couple more swims, one of which I had avoided during daylight due to it being so shallow, I figured that any of the larger fish would be tight to the snags and overhanging bushes, the small gap between the opposite bank and these features provided enough room to roll some cheese through on the link ledger, by now a dense mist was slowly enveloping me and the gradual patter from its droplets collecting on my rucksack could be heard, a few minutes later and a crayfish that had mistaken my line for a new age guitar string was untangled and dispatched. I sat and contemplated whether to move swims or not, after a slight amount of dithering had taken place a few small pieces of cheese paste were fed along the swim and it was rested before another roll through was made with the same bait.
Despite the low water levels the conditions were not bad, sure there was the usual debris that one associates with this time of the year, but that aside it seemed spot on, however it was eerily quiet on the fish front and in another thirty minutes I would be packing up with a few positive ideas to take with me accompanied with one very thoughtful and dare I say wry smile. In all the years that I have fished this waterway be that either old or new stretches it has never failed to make me sit up and think or bring me down to earth and it wouldn't be the same without it.
As I waited for the isotope to spring to life I thought about how easy it would be to head back to areas of river where an angler might be more sure footed, in the past I have witnessed old friends wishing to do the same, but where is the fun in that? Or least that is what I told myself as I willed one of the better chub to relinquish itself! I was nudged out of my thought process by one of the softest chub bites I have witnessed, not the usual lunging take or even the kind that would tap away before rod tip steadily arches round, no this was clearly mouthing the bait apprehensively, its grey lips at work on the cheese paste like the dexterous hands of a master safe cracker, I slowly slid the butt of the rod across to my knee and waited, hoping that a more committed bite would follow. It certainly didn't disappoint with a more solid thud, setting the hook it felt a reasonable fish as it headed downstream and under the numerous overhangs dotted along this reach, it was a good scrap and a rather tricky one especially with the amount of reed beds that stood between myself and netting my reward, it was quite a relief to slip the net under it.
A long, blunt headed, stout fish and a welcome first chub from this area of river. It's always nice to get that first fish of a species you are targeting, especially in new surroundings, it buoys your confidence and fills you with more understanding and expectation for that next trip, after all who knows when the river might just bring you back down to earth with a bump.