From the water’s edge

August 2014 - Pockets of opportunity

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The sporadic nature of sport on the river continues to make life difficult for us. On our last visit there, we struggled hard all morning and today was no different. We visited the opposite end of the stretch to start with. Here the water was deeper, much, much deeper with 10-12 ft in many of the swims. It must be a dredged profile as these swims were the same depth from one bank to the other.

They were nearly all on bends and the fact that the inside was no shallower than the outside was suspicious and telling, we saw a couple of tiddlers flip out but try as we might, we were unable to raise even the slightest flicker of interest from anything. I am keen to work hard at any new water, but there didn’t seem to be any hope and we were back up to the top of the stretch by nine o clock and the results were immediate. I was just returning a small perch when I got the shout from Pete and hurried up the bank to photograph a nice chub for him.

That is nice in relation to the water not by national standards. The fact is that I have always felt that a 2 lb chub from a water where they only ever reach three is every bit as good, every bit as challenging and every bit as satisfying as a 5 lb one from a water where sixes are not uncommon. You can only catch what is in front of you but the challenges are the same.

I suppose it depends whether you are fishing for pleasure or glory. As an ex-specimen hunter, I find the idea that notoriety within such a tiny percentage of the population is not exactly the same as beating the world at a hundred metres. It is a false premise and the whole concept of being apparently better than most in a field that nobody cares about is pretty sad. You might as well try and eat more toast than anyone else for all it is really worth, but I digress. Dismount, tie the hobby horse to the rail and get on with it.

From that point on, we fished carefully, thoroughly and unsuccessfully through every swim on the beat until we turned the last corner and suddenly fish began to come out of the shadows. It’s just a pity they were all jacks and once more the wire was in and out of the box with monotonous regularity.

There is a point halfway back to the main road where to reach the next swim ten yards away you have to walk to the other end of the field and back. That would not be so bad if we had ever caught a fish beyond that one swim, so we didn’t bother, giving the last one before the fence a good going over instead. For the first time that I can remember, we had two fish from the same swim. Another tiny milestone. Two perch from one swim, whatever next. Well actually three perch, each larger than the one before and a pike from the same swim.

We had decided to return to those two, by now well-rested, initial two swims at the top of the field and swapped pegs. I was now fishing in the one that Pete had caught the chub from earlier, and decided to show them something that they might not have seen, a crayfish. Three casts proved unsuccessful and not wishing to ruin the swim with a lot of casting that seemed likely to be unproductive anyway, switched back to a 2” tripple ripple grub on a 2.5 gram jighead.

The first cast landed under the bushes down at the tail-end and I let it drop. One turn, donk, there was the first perch - 8 oz. I slipped it back, re-cast, watched the line fall slack and then immediately flick upwards of its own accord. A firm strike and there was the second - 12 oz or so. No matter how long I struggle for, two takes in two casts and there is no doubt in my mind that there will be a fish next cast as well. There was too, I let the lure hit bottom and when I picked up the lure the line was already tight and a decent perch of around a pound was plugging away gallantly on the end of the line. It was curiously coloured, all pink around the gills, like a drunk tv presenter. Pete thinks it was embarrassed to see who had outwitted it. I can’t see that myself. But I was happy. Three casts three fish, so four casts is nailed-on four fish in my head. It would have been too if I had been a bit slower. There was no take on the drop this time but as I was about to lift out for a re-cast, a jack flashed at it and it was the work of a moment to clip on a wire trace, a 3” battle shad and whip out my third of the morning.

I have spoken before about the lack of fish in this river, but it seems that there are one or two shoals, it seems that they either move a lot or are not inclined to feed all at once. I don’t know which it is but I do know that this was the first time we have fished it in cool, cloudy conditions and it was noticeable that most of our action came with the sun behind clouds. It might be relevant, it probably is relevant, but I doubt we are ever going to catch more that ten fish apiece in a morning however lucky we get. You can never say that on the canals. Ten in a morning is pretty average but for all that, the challenge is what counts and what makes this place so interesting for me.

artificial lite

journal 2014.





journal 2014.

journal 2013.