From the water’s edge

July 2014 - Five spice

Variety is the spice of life they say. The Warwickshire Avon has been giving us a hard time and we thought it time to teach it a lesson. Terry had found a stretch of a much smaller, more local river that on paper had promise, so we have all purchased tickets and now was the time to give it a go.

Terry was out of action, so Pete and I parked mid-stretch and set off to walk to the top boundary, about three quarters of a mile and like all rivers these days it looked like we would be having it all to ourselves. They do fish small matches on here but they are infrequent and today was not on their calendar.

It looked good, a mixture of fast flowing shallows and surprisingly deep slow stretches. It is a little unnatural thanks to a round of devastating dredging that took place back in the seventies or eighties. Prior to that it had been a well known big chub river but you can’t have those and build on flood plains so they had to go.

Time never rests, but water authorities always run out of money and nature has been quietly mending the victim of our arrogance and ignorance as it always will. We hardly saw a fish which is not unusual these days but as we started to get to grips with this water, new to us, we started to catch. Small fish to begin with but a surprising number of goers came to the net by the time we had packed for lunch.

Pete has been on fire lately, beating me for numbers and size of fish on nearly every trip. Today was no different. He caught straight away, a small perch, followed by a chub on and off followed by another of about a pound and a half in the net.

Over the course of the day we hooked about half a dozen between us, not all landed it’s true and not all that large either , maybe two pounds at best, but promising, very promising.

Most, biggest and now it looked like he was going for the species prize as well. Minnows are aggressive little devils, and it was only a matter of time. The most effective lure this morning was the little 1” veal’s shad, and Pete even managed to catch a minnow on it. It would have been pretty full up if it had eaten that I reckon.

The plan was to fish our way back downstream to the car and by mid-morning the sun was hammering us. My T shirt was stained with sweat, and my temper, fragile at the best of time was sorely tested by my inability to cast into tight spaces without snagging up and losing lures. I lost more today than I have all season long, but the biggest dampener looked like being a lack of any real numbers of perch.

We had both caught one or two, but they really weren’t showing and worse still the few we had caught were pretty small. It seemed odd given the number of minnows, but there didn’t seem to be any number of 2 - 4 oz fish in evidence and I couldn’t help wondering what the future holds for this river or whether that would hold back the growth of perch.

By the time we packed, I would be less worried as Pete had the first good fish, comfortably a pound and a half, it took a bait dibbled beneath the rod tip in fast water. This it turned out would be an effective method and once more I found myself wondering if the dropshot might be the answer flicked into holes in the weed and worked on the spot. For the time being, despite giving it a few goes it didn’t appear so, although I did have at least one chub come and laugh at it. Has anybody ever caught a chub dropshotting? Not consistently I’ll bet.

I used to do this kind of fishing all the time and it was great to get back and practise my stalking, creeping and casting skills. They will come back with time but my ability to get up again unaided appears to have gone never to return. I may have to go down on all fours at the far end of the stretch next time and just crawl all the way back until I can use the car to get back on my feet. I wouldn’t mind but Pete appears to be about twenty years older than me and he seems to manage. That’s one reason why I let him buy the beer. Someone has to teach him not to be so smug.

I felt sure that pike would be a nuisance here today. Pete had made a couple of midweek sorties of around an hour or so and caught two or three, so I was expecting a full morning to see the wire in full time employment but my luck held. A littl’un flashed at my tiny bait so I just whipped the lure away, clipped on a short wire trace armed with a 3” shad and extracted the troublesome little monkey. It dashed about a bit and tore up a few lily pads but best of all, it took my species count to two. All I needed now was a chub and I would have the holy trinity.

A few minutes later, I had my wish. I spotted a chub of around a pound holding station in shallow water against the far bank. I flicked my tiny lure to within a foot of it and without turning the bail arm over (there wasn’t time in water that shallow), caught the line with my finger and smoothly drew the lure away. Sweet as you like the fish turned, overtook and caught the hook. Brilliant, very satisfying and something that hasn’t happened for me in a long time. There is something extra special about catching a fish that you have seen and cast  to.

The luck really was in getting to the water unnoticed by the fish. So, so difficult on such a small water. In my mind, I was flitting from shadow to shadow, silently, stealthily, like a cross between a Sioux Indian and the invisible man. In practice my efforts were more reminiscent of a rhinoceros clear-felling an area of rain forest the size of Wales. Whatever happened to youth and suppleness? We crept around like a pair of hunchbacks carrying some proverbial heavy shopping, falling over our own feet, skating on sheep s**t and generally not being very good at it anymore.

I say we, but Pete was obviously in a different class to me as an excited shout drew my attention to his next conquest.

What would it be? A big perch? An even bigger perch?? A monster chub??? Nope, it was a ..... Daddy Ruffe. Cool daddy, cool, cool daddy!!

I’ve never been able to understand why such an apparently similar species to the perch should so rarely take a lure and here was living, breathing proof that an outstanding, talented, good-looking angler has no more chance of catching one than Pete has. It was another first anyway, and our species count for the day had now hit the giddy heights of five and we still hadn’t caught a zander or a trout.

To be honest I was beginning to feel a bit left out here. Pete was catching or missing something in virtually every swim. He had caught four species including a minnow and a ruffe. He had caught the largest chub, the largest perch, the most fish, and I had caught a two pound pike.

We were running out of pegs and patience. The sun was relentlessly beating us down, we were sweating like pigs and the morning was losing its lustre while the thought of wrapping my hand round an ice-cold beer was affecting my concentration. I dropped into one last swim. A very narrow swim where the current was speeded up by a wall of rushes along the far bank. A last, long cast down the river saw me get too close to those rushes and although the lure came free easily, it felt heavier and clearly had some debris caught around the hook. As it came into view, I could see a tail of rotten weed following behind, so I gave the line a couple of vicious jerks to break it free, successfully as it happened. And as it did so, a shadow drifted out from under my feet, a big stripey shadow and it followed my tiny lure until I ran out of retrieve. I stopped, jigged it on the spot a couple of times and the shadow slipped forward and took the bait as easily as you like.

Not a monster, but a good pound and a half, pretty as a picture and the equal of Pete’s biggest perch. Off to the pub on a high then with a whole load of new plans to come up with for next Wednesday.The first cast and the last cast are the two best ones to catch on but the last is the very best of all.   

I hope that you find my journal interesting and entertaining. If, having read this, you think that I am talking rubbish then at least you have stopped and thought about it long enough to come to that conclusion which is something of a result in my book. If you would like to comment on this article or anything else relating to my website, please feel free to contact me using the adjacent form. Feedback is always greatly appreciated and very helpful when it comes to improving both my site and my angling. Thank you for looking.

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journal 2014.





journal 2014.

journal 2013.