It's fair to say that I've struggled to keep up with my blog over recent months, mostly down to other commitments but I also find that when I get out of the swing of writing it can be hard to break back into. Hence I have a number of part written blogs sitting on my pc as yet unpublished, including one that was 95% written on an Indian beach way back in January! I keep delaying publishing anything with the idea that I'll do one big catch up to date but that isn't happening any time soon so forgive me for a piece on river fishing dished out smack bang in the middle of the close season.
After that amazing brace of perch I felt the need to make the most of the final week of the season with some chub fishing. Chub had been my main target for the winter and it had actually been going quite well when the river had been fishable, a rare occurrence unfortunately.
Once again my aim was to fish the area that had produced a run of 5lb plus fish for me and with a bit of extra water on I knew that I would need to fish from the far bank to my usual choice. That isn't a problem except that if that one small gap in the reeds was occupied then my other options along that bank were limited, however having seen no one fishing down there all winter I decided to take that risk.
The car park was thankfully devoid of cars when I arrived late afternoon so that at least was one worry out of the way. Nevertheless I dropped half a dozen lumps of paste into three other reserve swims on my walk downstream just in case and when I stood behind my first choice I was glad that I did as reeds were battered down and the ground was covered in mashed bread. After cursing for a minute or two I decided that most of the mash seemed to have been dumped on the bank and that whatever had been thrown in had probably long dispersed so I'd stick with my original plan, though that did require a fresh hole to be made in the foliage as I wasn't going to sit in that mess!
A few bits of stinky paste were flicked slightly upstream so as to settle along the crease that ran only a couple of rod lengths out in front of me and I then swung a four swan shot link out just beyond the slower water so that the flow pushed it back to the dividing line. I settled back in my chair as dusk began to fall and the twin isotopes attached to my quiver tip took on their eerie glow. Inevitably it wasn't long before Roland Ratski was twitching his dirty little whiskers at the thought of a sloppy bread supper and it appeared that I was sitting smack bang between his pad and the restaurant. Half an hour of rustling was as much as I could stand so I tactically dispatched a few lumps of the stinkiest cheese paste known to man into the dead nettles downstream of me and within minutes the scuttling stopped, nothing can resist the power of the stink!
The rod tip showed no signs of life whatsoever but the river certainly wasn't dead and barbel were rolling regularly both up and downstream. I was on the phone to Trev who was out chub/barbel fishing on the Ouse and he was trying to persuade me that it was worthwhile me having a barbel rod out too but I wasn't really interested in those when the isotopes separated at warp speed and I struck into a fish while trying not to drop the phone in the river at the same time, chub on. Once again the piece of river proved it's pedigree with yet another quality fish at 5lb 2oz, surely that six wasn't far away?
I stuck it out for another hour without further interruption and was home for ten pm, I would be back for another go the next day.
Being a Friday I expected more anglers to be on the bank so I made the effort to beat the rush hour traffic and arrived at 4pm. I headed straight for same swim and only saw one other angler who was well downstream of me and on the other bank, where was everyone? A rank winter dominated by floods and constant rain and yet when the opportunity for some reasonable conditions arise the banks are still virtually empty. From a selfish point of view that's fine, all the more room for me and less pressure on the fish, but I do wonder sometimes where river fishing will end up in future as there's no doubt that it is neglected greatly compared to yesteryear.
The pile of bread had thankfully been cleared up overnight so at least I should have a rat free evening. Again the activity on my rod tip was non existent for a couple of hours. The chap downstream had what was obviously a barbel, due to the amount of clutch screaming to be heard, at 7pm and not long after they started to make their presence known once again by rolling. Soon I started to get slow pulls on the quiver tip, just slowly dragging round and then back. Initially it didn't become obvious to me what they were, obviously not bites but there didn't appear to be much in the way of rubbish coming down so I was a bit perplexed. This went on for maybe an hour or so and I was no nearer to twigging as to what was responsible. I started to rustle about in my rucksack for my sarnies which is usually the precursor to something happening and this time was no exception. Something caught my eye and I turned to see the isotopes now about three feet further to the left than I expected and as I grabbed at the rod the reel began to give line. Being quick on the uptake I decided that I was attached to a barbel, perhaps the last hours worth of line bites should have given me an clue to that effect! It was a brief encounter which left me with a straight rod and the barbel with six inches of my hooklink, in many swims I would have had a fighting chance with a six pound link but with a snag a matter of feet from me there was only likely to be one outcome, I doubt that the fish even knew it was hooked. That was the start, and finish, of the evenings entertainment. The barbel were still showing a presence with the occaisional roll on the surface right upn until I left, perhaps Trev was right and I should have brought a sleeper rod with me.
It was a few days before I could get back to the river, in fact the penultimate day of the season. The water had dropped a little bit more and I thought that I with a decrease in flow would get away with fishing from my preffered bank once more. My assumption was correct, just. I had to use seven swan shot on my link to hold steady despite fishing directly upstream hence not allowing much water pressure to push on the line. Of course I had given in and packed a barbel rod after the previous sessions events and the plan was to swing that rig out downstream well out of the way and let it fish for itself while I concentrated on the chub.
It was a glorious evening with bright sunny conditions that made it a pleasure to sit in if not really ideal fishing wise though dark would soon fall and as on the last couple of visits that's when I expected the action to come. I was pretty confident of winkling out a chub but equally I thought that a barbel could well be on the cards especially as I had taken plenty of fish from the area in the past.
Once again the river appeared to be devoid of anglers and as night fell I only had a barn owl for company, he quartered the far bank meadow as I worked the nearside crease, who was going to get the first result though. A couple of hours later I would like to think that the owl had been fed but of the fish there was not a sign. The barbel weren't rolling at all which was a bit unusual considering how the conditions looked to be at least as good as on the previous Friday when they had been very active.
Eventually I nudge on the quiver tip caught my eye, or did it, something certainly drew my attention to it. A few seconds later the glass sprang back as the fish picked up the swan shot and a sweeping strike pulled the hook home. The flow is right under your feet on this bank and as a result the fish tend to use it to their advantage in putting up a good fight which is particularly good fun right under the rod tip. A bit of patience took its toll however and I slipped the net under another quality chub. Once again the scales made it 5lb 2oz, my sixth fish from that particular piece of water and every one 5lb's plus which really is an excellent stamp of fish for these parts. Next winter I shall catch their grannny!