We have had a few bitterly cold days this winter and it was on one of them that saw me tackle my local river, primarily after Chub.
It was late morning by the time I had sorted myself out. I starting off with red maggot under a stick float, but it was unusually tough going and I couldn’t buy a bite. So after moving slowly down river nearing the end of the stretch I decided to switch to a Lobworm on a long light link ledger. After 30 minutes the rod tip registered the only bite of the day and I managed a small Brown Trout which saved a blank.
The following week found me with 3 hours spare, so I ventured a mile or so further up stream to a stretch that would allow me to run a stick float easily enough. The day was warmer and the previous nights rain meant the river was slightly up with a little colour left in it. The conditions looked good for a fish or two.
Again I struggled for a bite, but persevered knowing I only had a short time. Finally, as time was running out, towards the end of the run the float dipped and I connected with a plump Chub that saved the day. Red maggot doing the trick this time.
I spent the afternoon on the river Loddon yesterday. Equipped with light feeder rod and Lobworms for bait, the idea was to roam the short stretch looking for overhanging cover that a Chub or big Perch might be hiding under.
This stretch of the Loddon has recently seen some bank side trees and snags removed which has certainly made this river more challenging and even more difficult to find the fish. The weather though was on my side and mild for January with overcast sky.
Eventually I settled into a spot and after 20 minutes the line tightened and the rod tip moved millimetres but was enough for me to see the bite. The resulting fish was a hard fighting Chub.
Chub – 3 pounds 13 oz
Deciding to stay in the swim, another Lobworm went out. This time the bite was easier to spot. On the strike the rod wrapped round and the hooked Pike briefly tail walked before I was able to turn and guide it into the waiting net. On my last trip I also managed to land a Pike and it’s good sport if you can avoid your line from coming in contact with those sharp teeth.
Surprise Pike – 7 pounds 3 oz
As the light was fading a nice looking Perch of just under two pounds took a liking to the worm. This rounded off a very enjoyable few hours fishing.
I might have mentioned it before but I love my local river Blackwater. It offers many things to me: time to unwind, reflect and refresh. Small, it has a diverse variety of fish species that can be tempted with trotting, light ledger and lure tactics. This is where I have spent my last 6 months fishing, and really enjoyed it.
My style of fishing has changed over the years. It used to be spent largely in pursuit of Carp dedicated to a specific lake targeting the old strains that live within. The last 10 years has seen me target more species that has taken me to a wider variety of waters to fish for them. This change in my fishing style has suited my current work and family commitments and the last 6 months has been made up of short day sessions of between two and six hours – roving the river, mainly in search of Chub.
Here is a small montage of some of the fish caught from the river Blackwater since August.
I am looking forward to 2018 and can only hope to dedicate more of my time to my hobby.
I flicked the banded pellet beyond the streamer weed avoiding the low lying branches from a fallen Willow, that had been felled by last years storms. The bait is aided by the current gently taking it under the branches that offer the shelter Chub desire.
This is the scene I find myself in. Gripped by the tension of the moment, knowing that my cast had found the ‘spot’. It would only be a matter of time, seconds even, before the rod tip wrapped round.
Wow, I love fishing tiny rivers, I can get my fix almost instantly.
The last day of the month had arrived and an early start found my brother-in-law Ber and myself heading along the M4 motorway for a days fishing on the River Wye. Our chosen quarry today was Barbel, with some Chub thrown in if we’re lucky.
Arriving at our destination in good time, we selected just enough tackle, bait and refreshment to keep us going for the day. Choosing a feeder fishing approach meant we would leave the float gear in the car just in case we needed a change of tact later in the day. We traced the path down to the river and found it coloured from the previous days rain and with enough flow to offer us encouragement.
Walking three fields down river to the end of the beat, our idea was to work our way back up during the day until we found the fish.
Tackle for the Wye needs to be strong. On the day we chose a 1 3/4 lb test Barbel rod each, 4000 sized reel, 12 lb line and 3oz feeders packed with Groundbait and pellet. Ber started on hair-rigged boilie and I started with hair-rigged pellet.
It wasn’t long before Ber started getting line bites indicating that fish were in his swim and eventually he had the bite that gave him the first fish of the day; a nice Chub of about 4 pounds to get the session off to a great start. He was obviously on a roll as his next fish was a nice Barbel that didn’t want to be photographed for the album. This was his first ever Barbel, and well, needless to say he was a happy man.
We stayed on our spots a while longer but the bites dried up so we eventually decided it was time to trace our steps back up river to find a more productive area.
The banks on this river are steep in places and it can make them quite treacherous at times especially after rain. It does make you ask questions about safety and if the river was flowing faster then it would be wise to wear life preserves in future.
Eventually finding a spot in the church field offering access to some deeper water we settled in and cast out baits towards the far bank. Ber was instantly into another Chub and this was the signal for me to change from hair-rigged pellet to boilie wrapped in paste. Quickly I landed a Chub to kick start my session. This subtle bait swap made all the difference and is a reminder to change things up when the going gets slow.
From here on in it was non-stop action with Barbel and Chub coming to almost every cast. Ber even mangaged a couple of quality Roach that made his day. We managed nine Barbel to over seven pounds and sixteen Chub to just under five pounds between us, reminding us why we love fishing the Wye.
We called it a day at 5:30pm and could have stayed longer and continued to catch but the fishing Gods had been kind and we wanted to keep something in the bank for when we return later in the season.
So with the on-set of the traditional fishing season I planned my regular trip with my mate Craig to Frensham Big Pond. Fishing the ‘first night’ of the season for the Tench is something we have done for many years and we have had some real bumper sessions in the past with the Tench being relatively easy to catch; if in the mood.
However, this year the weather has been hot leading up to the 16th and with the water temperature slowly rising it meant the Tench had other things on their mind.
The reeds that line this beautiful lake offer perfect sanctuary for spawning fish and as the sun slowly rose over the Surrey hills they started to explode into life echoing the sounds of crashing fish going about their business.
In the next couple of hours the spawning activity increased and with that our spirits dropped. This normally spells the end of any fish feeding, but one of Craig’s rods burst into life and he managed a nice plump 6.02 lb Tench followed shortly by a low 5 lb fish. However this proved to be the end of any further action and we decided that it was best to let them be and come back for a go later next month.
Not wanting to give up so easily, and anyway, with the river season now open we decided to give our local River Blackwater a go. After a spot of lunch and change of tackle it wasn’t long before I was flicking out a piece of bread flake on a light ledgered set-up to any passing Chub that might be on the look out for an early season snack. The secret to this type of fishing, as I have mentioned before, is to travel light and keep very stealthy. Wearing polarised sunglasses makes spotting fish easier and it wasn’t too long before a couple of Chub came to the net saving a blank on the day.
A week later three hours on a different section of the river was enough to give me my fix. Again the weather was hot and clammy, but I managed to find some Chub under a tree sheltering from the rays.
Switching from bread flake to pellet produced an instant bite that snagged me in the low lying branches of the tree. Retrieving my terminal tackle and replacing the damaged line gave the swim enough time to settle. I was sure there was another chance. This proved to be the case as the tip swung round within seconds and this time I managed to guide the Chub into the waiting net. Although smaller than the one I lost earlier I was still happy with the end result.
With less than a month left before the river season comes to another close I find myself walking the banks of my small local river in search of a chub or two.
I have come armed with a light quiver rod and reel, minimal end tackle, net and a ball of cheese paste that has been sitting in the fridge for a month.
I walk the length of the short stretch, stopping occasionally to peer into the shallow margins looking for signs of chub, or anything else swimming! I might have even thrown a few bits of paste into any chubby looking spots to give them something to think about before I return with baited hook.
At the end of the stretch I settle into a swim which is just big enough to flick my light link ledgered cheese paste towards a far bank tree with low overhanging branches. Although this looked like a good spot a bite did not develop. I didn’t hang around too long and after half an hour reeled in to search out another spot.
This sequence of events was repeated a couple more times with similar results. With the unseasonably warm afternoon sun beginning to fall behind the trees on the horizon I was starting to wonder if I should have considered another bait option to prevent a blank.
Arriving at what was to be my penultimate swim, I flicked out my cheese paste into a deeper hole that I had located on a previous session. After placing the rod on the front rest, the quiver tip settled for a minute before showing a subtle bite which I instantly stuck into.
The battle curve of the rod assured me that this was what I had been waiting for. After a spirited fight I slid the net under a plump chub of 4 pounds 7 ounce.
With light fading I re-baited and cast into the same hole. I had a feeling that there was a chance of another fish. Shortly afterwards I struck into the tiniest of bites and connected with what felt like a heavier but different fight. The result was a pike of around 6 or 7 pounds hooked fair and square through the top lip.
On five separate occasions over the last three months, I have been unable to land the pike that have latched onto roach and dace I had been reeling in on 3 lb float tackle, breaking the line before getting to the net. On this occasion the 6 lb line was kept clear of sharp teeth until in the net.
Walking back to the car, wondering why a pike had bothered with my paste, I remembered that I had added a few drops of crab flavouring to the mix to spice things up. Well, it definitely gave me a cheese paste surprise!
It’s been difficult to get out on the bank this month which is not unusual at this time of year.
I have however managed three short sessions on the river which have been very enjoyable.
The Blackwater was again the choice as is often the case in the winter and when time is short.
Taking the float rod and pin out on the first two occasions was great and it always produces the goods with simple maggot tactics and occasional bread flake.
As the Christmas celebrations passed I found myself with some spare time and spent them on the river trying out my new fishing rod, a Drennan 1.25 Specialist Avon Quiver, with a couple of Chub obliging.
I was impressed with the rod which is a shorter 11 foot model especially chosen for the smaller rivers I fish and with Chub the target species.
My last fish of the year reflected my first back in January, a Chub, when the light was fading.