Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Leuciscus Cephalus & The Paste Tinkerer

It was a crisp sunny morning, peering out the kitchen window I could see Blackbirds perched upon frosty roof tiles, these were accompanied by steam being vented with regularity from the neighbours central heating, it was the first proper winters day we have had.

The multitude of different mugs rattled away as I hastily liquidised a loaf of bread before setting about to tinker with my cheese paste mixture, as the rivers were likely to still be coloured I wanted to try to create a slight clouding effect, so whilst mixing a new batch of the blue krill paste I included a liberal helping of powdered milk, the idea being that this would leak off a creamy textured cloud and prove inviting to any inquisitive chub.

A flask of coffee was soon stashed away and I was eventually ready to make my way to the riverbank for a mornings chub searching. It was brilliantly sunny and it did not take long for the rod blank and eyes to start freezing up at regular intervals. Bread flake and lob worm were to be the willing accomplices to cheese paste today and in the first few swims I started with link ledgered bread, it did not take long for minnows to find the bait numerous fibrillated taps soon followed.

The air was fresh and piercing, each breath waking an angler up from the inside out, expelling plumes of warm air, red nostrils begging for the warmth of a jacket collar. Stopping in one swim I was kept company by a couple of wrens, which spent their time moving industriously in and out of the dead vegetation, such loud and lively chatter for a small bird and one which I put on the same level as being a constant companion to the river angler as that of the kingfisher. It was proving tricky and bites were most tentative, even in swims with good coverage and decent helping of structure, sometimes the odd inquiring knock then nothing to follow it, much like a path that shows promise of leading somewhere only to eventually fade away.

By now having tried a good few swims, a pacey area of river beckoned, not the deepest of runs but with a welcome undercut to it, the limbs of an old tree outstretched into the river, its sunken boughs inviting me to run a bait through. A few minutes later and a confident bite was missed, a fault of my own making as digits responded with lethargy and cold clumsiness, they had asked many times for the solace of my jacket pockets but I had resisted lest I miss a bite, ironic that it should backfire.

It was late afternoon when I made my last port of call, as the sun gradually dipped behind the trees you could feel the temperature dropping, a change to touch ledgering  and a switch back to the cheese paste was made, the addition of powdered milk was working better than I expected, providing an added colour and leak off to the mixture a component which I felt it lacked before.

One final cast turned into four more, each one supposedly the last. That final roll of the dice, bail arm open, line paying out as bait and with it hope rolled downstream, there is something wonderfully tactile about feeling a bait move through a swim, as it rolls into place, followed by dislodging it and allowing it to carry on in search of its quarry.

Eventually lowering the rod onto the front rest and popping the lid of the flask for that final cup of coffee I was smiling, sure it had not been a straight forward fishing trip but you seldom learn anything if every trip has a set certainty to it, you can be focused but still enjoy the day for what it is, a chance for escapism and inner peace. Looking over the flask lid I noticed the faintest of plucks, something was playing the harp with the paste, picking up the rod and feeling the line a couple more delicate taps soon followed before the rod tip thudded confidently. Welcome resistance and a sprinting dash for cover, angler fuelled with exuberant adrenaline, a concoction of caffeine and the pulsing sprints of what felt a good Cephalus. Those final moments as broad lips break the surface, thoughts about hook holds tumble from mind and become verbalised, wondering if a final head shake will see the days prize slip from view.

A hard won chub (5-12)

A long brassy flank my reward and a good deed is done, the removal of another anglers hook, a chance to wonder if it had also been their last cast, a final hope and spirited scrap before hook and line parted company, leaving an angler with alluring thoughts of what might have been.


  1. A cracking chub mate... The frame of it is just immense! Great read too.

    1. Thanks Tom, warmed the fingers and feet up, ok maybe not the feet. It was just nice to slip the net under a nicely formed chevin.

    2. Hahaha it was a could one! An absolute corker that one is!

  2. Escapism or persistence?
    Persistent escapism pays off!
    Entertaining post Mark. Just what I needed to start my day.

    1. I think you have hit the nail on the head there my friend, as there is always a certain amount of persistence mixed with the escapism, along with a good helping of hope that the fish will be found willing