My tench season came to an abrupt halt on the 9th of June when it became obvious that they were about to get stuck in to spawning proper. Numerous fish could be seen travelling along the margins when I arrived and as the afternoon progressed more and more activity in the weedbeds in front of me told me that it was time to leave them alone. I had enjoyed one last trip a few days previously with a number of fish to 7lb plus but with the weed now becoming thick it was a case of inching fish back to the bank rather than enjoying a good fight and so a lot of the enjoyment was lost. The fact is that is probably the last time I will fish the water. I've had great fun over the last three or four years but it's become a bit stale now, the same old swims and methods and plenty of repeat captures, so I think next spring will see me elsewhere.
For one reason or another I actually didn't fish for the next two weeks or so, completely missing the start of the river season, and when I did finally make my way to the Derwent with barbel in mind I had a frustrating start to say the least. Now I know as well as anyone how difficult it is to run a river club nowadays due to a lack of willing volunteers but having spent a lot of time cutting swims myself on the Soar it came as something of a disappointment to spend an afternoon walking the Derwent to find not one fishable swim, I couldn't even get close to the water for considerable distances. I should have turned around when the farmer stopped to speak to me near the gate, don't see anyone fishing down here now he said, not bloody surprising unless Bear Grylls turns up is it!
Lesson learnt I went to another stretch on my next trip. I knew that I wouldn't find many swims due to the high banks along most of the length but I did have an old faithful in mind and thankfully it was free, and fishable. What was soon apparent was that the balance of species in the swim wasn't as I would normally expect. Instead of a stack of barbel and three or four chub I only got the very odd glimpse of pink fins while there was a ravenous hoard of rubber dubs snaffling any loose pellets I flicked in front of them. I presume that the barbel were elsewhere due to their spawning duties but not to worry these chub were interesting, not particularly because they were big although one or two were of an interesting size but because of the way they were feeding. From my high perch I could easily swing a freelined pellet out into their view and the prospect of watching the reaction was more than enough to spark a bit of excitement. Cue the next arrival in the swim. Now as it turned out he was a lovely chap and we ended up having a good natter but the minute he walked straight into the swim and up to the edge of the bank my heart sank. I didn't even bother setting a rod up I just left. I was taught early on in my angling life that if you approach another angler on the bank you first assess how they may be fishing and take that into account. In some circumstances I wouldn't even go near them, I'd leave them be, but if you do feel the need to have a word you always approach low, slowly, and quietly. Another trip kaput.
My next trip to the same stretch saw me cut out a swim in a big bed of nettles, I did the same last year and caught my first double from the area so I knew the swim would be viable. With the hard work done I tucked my chair down low amongst the foliage and pulled back grass and weeds that I had disturbed on the way in so that I was as good as invisible from the path and could fish in peace.
|What could of been...|
Now call me chicken but I left that area well alone on my next trip and headed to another stretch way upstream. A pretty lousy day of persistent rain had been forecast so I forgot any silly ideas of work and was bankside by mid morning. Now I have dabbled on this piece of water a few times over the last couple of years but for some reason have never looked at it on Google Earth and it was only when a mate mentioned it that I realised the river swung around in a great big loop and that as I walked up the bank I knew I was actually only a hundred yards or so from the river on the other side of the field, oops! Well me being me that meant I just had to walk the new bit and then some more, as in god only knows how far upstream. I ended up walking and looking for the best part of an hour and got pretty hot and sweaty loaded up with kit and clad in waterproofs, of course I ended up back where I started but that's no problem it's always nice to see fresh water.
I eventually plumped for a swim that I had quite often looked at but never fished. Several trees dotted along the far bank decorated a sweeping bend that just had to hold fish and a bar of clean ground beneath shallower water shone up through the rain peppered surface just an under arm swing from my precarious bankside perch. It was to be an all out feeder attack with a mix of different types and sizes of pellet along with broken boilies bound together bound together with ground vitalin. One rod was plopped out on to that shiny bar of gravel and the other propelled twenty yards down and across to that tasty looking run. The plan was to work the feeders hard for the first hour or so to get some bait in but within sixty seconds of the first cast the downstream rod the hookbait was snaffled by a chub that wouldn't have been far short of 5lb's. I actually ended up leaving the fish in the net for a couple of minutes before unhooking it as the heavens chose that moment to open big time, torrential best describes it, it was like sitting in a drum!
Despite the early arrival no further indications of life were seen for quite some time but then I thought I caught a glimpse of a dark shape over that shallow ground, I wasn't sure though, it just didn't seem to be the right shape and the rain drops made for difficult viewing. I had put the idea to the back of my mind and was idling away the day thinking of god only knows what when the rod placed on that mark sprang back as something lifted the feeder and moved downstream.Whatever I had hooked was obviously fairly substantial but it wasn't fighting like a barbel, which was understandable as it was a carp! So I hadn't been seeing things after all. Well you won't hear me complain at the capture but I was starting to wonder what on earth I had to do to catch a barbel, I certainly seemed to be on a rather bizarre run of sessions so far that's for sure.
|Erm, you aren't a barbel are you|
I was quite shocked on arriving at the lake to find only two anglers present which was a more than welcome surprise to be honest. My usual approach is to have a bit of a walk before deciding on a swim and I first headed off along the bank that I had been thinking about earlier. Twenty minutes of scanning the water from several vantage points gave no clue as to fish present in the area but as I made my way back towards the car park I spotted a splash a couple of hundred yards away that deserved some investigation. Once standing in a suitably located swim nearer to the area I soon saw two more definite carp shows and the decision was made.
I've always been of the opinion that the rods go out first and are wound in last unless the weather is bad when I concede and stick up a shelter and so within a few minutes of pushing the barrow into the swim I was casting out a rig complete with four bait stringer. I get the impression that the humble pva stringer is probably a rare sight on a carp lake nowadays and I suspect that a good few new to the sport don't even know what one is on but that's all the more reason to use them in my eyes. Another rig soon followed and I then set about tying up number three only to be interupted by a few bleeps, the bobbin on the rod that I had just cast out was lying on the ground, blimey that was quick. A right old tussle followed with the carp plunging up and down the margins, repeatedly taking advantage of the deep water right under the rod tip. It even managed to go to ground in some kind of minor snag at one point and I feared the worse but a little bit of slack line got it moving again and eventually it went into the net. Now a lot of people slag off the simmo strain of carp and I agree that some do look pretty pale and bland but this fella wasn't of that ilk at all and at 26lb 8oz was a nice welcome back to carp fishing.
Well of course I had to go and make a few tongue in cheek jibes about how easy they were to catch after that quick bite and unsurprisingly, in hindsight, I didn't get another bite all night, eh ho!
A couple of days later I was back after a very hectic afternoons work due to trying to beat the rush hour traffic whilst lake bound. Half an hour looking at the water didn't give me any idea as to where I should head and so I made the logical decision to drop into the same swim once again. This time a rather large and very dark cloud was approaching and sheets of rain could be seen on the horizon so it was certainly a shelter up first job. I'd just about got things arranged when a thought struck me, where were my bite alarms? Oh yes that's right, they're next to the back door. There was nothing for it but to pack everything up including the now very wet bivvy and drive home, that's right, through the worst of the rush hour traffic. It was over an hours return trip, oh what joy. I kind of felt that I had earnt a fish after that little escapade but I suffered the dawn of the motionless bobbins I'm afraid despite hearing the occasional fish in the area during the night.
With mid July holiday time arrived and not before time, I'll catch up with what happened next very soon.