I don’t have time for fishing…

I don’t have time for fishing…

What a week I’ve had on the banks! I set out early in the week to scout some new venues for Angler’s Mail magazine, as part of my remit for their ‘Where to Fish’ section. I find them, send in the details, and someone else (Steve) does all the hard work, but locating them is the first hurdle. With that in mind, I travelled to five rivers, one stretch of canal, and a stillwater to sound them out, and, as usual, I took a light lure rod… just in case!

After taking in the delights of tiny rivers such as the Sow, and Blythe, (where I witnessed some impressive chub, in little more than a brook!) I ventured further until I came to a stretch of the Trent I hadn’t previously visited. As it’s a club water, and I have the book, I thought I’d spend an hour wandering the banks, flicking a lure into likely spots in what was, after a recent spell of hot weather, a very low, clear, river. I found a shaded area beneath a road bridge, and a gentle underarm lob saw my lure spin out into the depths, hoping for a perch or two.
I like to use small lures, firmly believing that any fish can hit a small enticer, but a larger imitation firmly rules out many fish, so I tend to start small; in this case, a small ‘Firetiger’ pattern shad was skipped across the bottom, and I started to pick off small perch each cast, the hooked fish often followed in by half a dozen chums as they wondered what was going on. A few minutes into the session, and as I wound in yet another tiddler, which was in company of several more inquisitive perch, a shadow darted out from beneath my feet, smashed into the perch, and was gone in a flurry of spray! The fish hit the hooked perch so fast, and so hard, that I didn’t have time to react before it snatched the perch and was gone… and the assailant wasn’t a pike… it was chub! A chub bigger than any I’d ever seen before, and I saw it clearly as it ripped into the unfortunate perch, and rolled over in the sunlight; definitely a Chevin to try and catch!

I returned a couple of days later. I love fishing for chub, believing them a tough opponent, even more so in clear water, and spooking them is easy, ruining the swim before you even start, so I was careful to keep out of sight. I set up well back from the water’s edge, running my line through the eyes of a Sonik Sports S3 rod, a 1.75lb test curve easily capable of stopping a bullish fighter, yet with a tip sensitive enough to register tentative bites from wary fish. I then sat, tackled up, ready to go, for thirty minutes, flicking in tiny balls of bread, and a few maggots, every minute or so. I didn’t even know if chub were beneath the bridge, I didn’t want to risk a shadow falling on the water, so instead just hoped that the fish would still be there.

I like to move my bait through the swim in conditions like this; already it was hot, the sun was bright, and I suspected I may only get one chance to connect with a fish, so a simple 2 SSG link leger was attached, a large lump of bread flake on the hook, the rod tip poked between the nettles and the rig flicked out into midstream… Whilst watching the tip, I like to hold the line too, to try and feel any bites; it’s a very sensitive, direct way to fish. As the bait trundled downstream, a momentary stop, before the line was wrenched from between my fingers, and the rod tip hooped around! Fish! I struck… and missed the unmissable! Ahhh!

I sat for another half an hour, still flirting maggots over the nettles, tearing small pieces of thick white loaf off, and flicking those in too, before deciding to try again. Once more, the rig was plopped in about halfway across, and left to swing through the swim. I kept low, adjusting my position to ensure I didn’t break the skyline, when I felt a solid thump, and lifted into a chub; was it ‘The One’? It didn’t feel like it, still a good fish of over 3lb, but not the monster I hoped for. Safely netted, it was returned just upstream, and my half hour interlude commenced again… a few maggots, a few pieces of bread, and repeat…

A third cast rolled through unmolested, so the bread was replaced, and dropped in at my feet to go through again. WHAM! Another solid hit, and a bigger fish started to tear off downstream. The Sonik S3 was having none of it though, and I managed to hold the fish in the middle of the swim, before gently playing it to the waiting net. It was a bigger fish, perhaps approaching 5lb, but still not the monster I’d seen a few days before. A few more maggots, a slice or two of bread….

It was time to go again, so a piece of flake was pinched on, and it was lowered into the water to trundle downstream. Nothing this time, so I slowly retrieved it to try and cause as little disturbance as possible; fat chance! An almighty commotion, and I saw a large pike slash at the twirling bread, before charging through the swim angrily before it smashed my line and was gone! There was no chance of another fish after that disturbance, so I broke down the tackle to move upstream to a delightful weir pool which surely contained more fish? Sometimes, you see the darker side of nature when fishing, and as I packed up, beneath the bridge, I noted an array of pigeons roosting; they had been noticed by something else too, and I was startled by a sudden uproar of flapping and feathers as they all scarpered…. All but one; a bird of prey, I think a Sparrowhawk, had hurtled under the bridge, snatched a single bird from their loft, and sat devouring it on the far bank… something I’d not seen up close before, and in a macabre way, a real treat to watch; nature at its best.

In the next swim, I fared poorly, taking only a single small chub of around 2lb, so moved above the weir. I stood on the bridge, and shielded my eyes against the sun, trying to spot any fish. I flicked in a couple of small chunks of bread, watched as they tumbled downstream, and then suddenly disappear! As my eyes adjusted, I realised that there was a shoal of chub spinning about in mid-stream, swiftly engulfing anything which passed! I climbed the gate into the meadow, sneaked up to the edge of the river, and lofted in another lump of bread flake. It was in the water for seconds before a chevin hit it with force, and I soon netted another fish, this one of about 4lbs. A good start. I resumed my ‘flick and wait’, going back to the bridge to check the fish were still there, but otherwise enjoying the sunshine in the meadow. It’s been many years since I’ve laid back and watch the clouds scud by, or chewed a piece of grass, as I inspected bugs and flowers around me, and in the sunshine, it was truly blissful… Again, my bread was quickly snaffled, and another fish landed. I was quite happy to wait between bites, sniffing buttercups and honeysuckle, so continued my bait and wait tactics to try and settle the shoal…

By the end of a glorious summers day, I’d probably had about twenty casts, landed nine chub between 2-5lbs (ish) and a single bullhead, another reminder of my youth spent rooting under stones for the Millers Thumb and Stone Loach in local streams. I’d seen nature at its most predatory, watched pairs of kingfishers buzz by beneath me in immaculate formation whilst standing on the bridge, startled rabbits and hares, inspected numerous colourful bugs and insects, seen shapes in the clouds, and relaxed amidst the daisies… if there is a more perfect day out, then I can’t think of it…if you haven’t fished the river before, go and have a go, you are in for a real treat! Tight lines…

DTG_Stephen

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