Last weekends trips were a rather contrasting affair, where the rivers showed their changeable winter moods. My first trip was spur of the moment, grabbing the gear and heading out around lunchtime there was an itch needing to be scratched, I planned to fish a more static approach, targeting a handful of swims before the water levels would rise once more, aided by the multitude of feeder streams and fields that drain into this waterway.
A spot of swim rotation with the blue krill paste and a light helping of liquidised bread was what I had in mind. On reaching the river it had a nice touch of pea green colour to it and the water level looked perfect. A continual helping of light rainfall accompanied me as I made my way to the first swim, a shallow bend with an undercut bank that had been deeply scoured and is sometimes home to a few too many crayfish. A hearty piece of paste was soon moulded to the shank of the hook and winding its way under the bank. A crayfish free half hour had passed by when I received couple of knocks followed by a good pull and a determined scrap from a well formed chub.
This fish had some wonderful golden tones to it and in the sunlight that had finally decided to make an appearance its brassy flank looked resplendent.
|A golden flanked chevin (5lb)|
After releasing her away from the area I tried a couple of other debris strewn swims, but aside from a one way discussion with a crayfish that looked like it had been training to become a lobster there were no more bites forthcoming.
At around 4pm I decided to set up the seat and fish the final swim for the last couple of hours.
This I have found to be a most interesting spot, with a smooth flow to it and lack of any turbulence but usually a good few snags along both margins and on some occasions can actually be an absolute nightmare zone for crayfish, but where there is an invasive food source and coverage then sometimes there is a large chub or two hanging around to make the most from it. Starting along the opposite bank margins and allowing the link ledger to roll down to a lop sided tree I settled down to scrutinise the rod tip.
It has taken a while for our rivers down south to have a proper flush through, but the last bouts of heavier rain over the past few weeks have helped and apart from the odd stick or branch bobbing by the flow was relatively clear. Stealing a look at my watch and realising I had an hour left I decided to roll the paste into a spot on my near margin, although this is a bit of a risky manoeuvre given the broken boughs nearby. Twenty five minutes later I received such a faint bite, if I hadn't known better then I would have said that this fish was sampling the cheese on a cracker alongside a bottle of vino, the bites were that leisurely. Finally they became more decisive and with its final tug at my cheese board I was met with a bold resilience and headstrong scrap.
|A solidly built chub with the odd battle scar (5-15)|
An ounce under 6lb, not that weight matters with such well proportioned fish, she had a circular scarring on her flank and certainly had a bit of history about her, these scars melting into grey and burnished gold scales, I was rather thrilled. My journey home was one of silent contentment and one that looked forward to getting back out after some more chub over the weekend and plans were made to head to the Loddon.
Sunday morning and I was making my way to the Loddon in hope I might bump into some more chub. A few swims into the trip and I was getting that distinct feeling that she was not best pleased with me and perhaps doing a feast of famine routine, very much the latter on this particular occasion. Despite the river looking good if a bit coloured and weather being very mild, each spot I tried did not wish to relinquish any of its gems. I have seen it many times over the years with this waterway and it usually makes it all too evident when it has a cob on.
By late afternoon and having got a good helping of liquidised bread in the eye, the cheese paste had yielded a couple of chublets, probably no more than 6oz's in size, the river either had a mood on or my chub radar was off the boil. I had moved into an area of river I have nicknamed the mangrove due to the coverage on the opposite bank, a mixture of brambles, trees and bushes. A switch to worm was made and I started running the bait close to the features on the opposite bank, by now I had been rubbing my eye with regularity and setting up an uncomfortable infection. On the third roll through the swim I had a good bite and even better scrap from a chub of 4lb.
On closer inspection this fish looked very much worse for wear and I could see what could only best be described as a large blister or wound on the back of its head, the scales round this region were soft to the touch, feeling just like a crayfish that was shedding its shell. It looked immensely sore and inflamed, I could only surmise that it was a predation attempt or some kind of ailment.
Despite this the fish swam off strongly, but I can't help feel that such a problem might not bode well for its future. By evening and having suffered from a few crayfish along the way I did wonder about heading for home, however my stubborn side got the better of me and I decided to try a couple of swims into darkness. Despite a few half hearted plucks no more chub were to materialise, although I suspect they were there lurking if unwilling.
It had been a mixed couple of trips, although I wouldn't call the latter of the two trips dispiriting. After all If we didn't have such contrasting trips then I very much doubt the special ones would really feel the same.