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 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.
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.
Dedicating time to our ‘hobby’ is easy when you are young and single, but more difficult when you are juggling family commitments with a busy work schedule. If you fall into the young and single category, good for you, enjoy it while you can!
I however fall in to the latter category and must grab opportunity when it presents itself. So, before the wife books anything else in I have 4 hours to spare.
I have decided, with limited time, to take the trotting rod over to my local River Blackwater.
This river never ceases to amaze me. Its natural beauty alone is enough to gladden your heart and soul. If I’m not fishing it, as time does not always allow, walking the dog along its banks is always a good way of keeping tabs on the changes seen as we move through the seasons. It is this time of year, when the abundant weed is dying back, that I find myself being drawn to the chance of presenting a float and angling out a fish or two.
The river is rich in wildlife and my target was to be Roach and Chub. The small stretch that I settled in was no more than 4 metres wide but long enough to run a float down and show something for it. Air temperatures were dropping, although be it to the average for this time of year. The recent rain was needed, but was only enough to add a little colour to what had been a very low clear river.
My bait was simple; sticking to the trusted white maggot, I also added hemp to feed. Bread was also carried as a backup if needed.
While setting up the tackle, I loose fed maggots, maybe 10 to 15 every 30-40 seconds slowly building up the swim with the view of gaining the fishes confidence and working up their appetite. This process of feeding continued for a further 15 minutes. Normally I like to feed for a little longer, but time was against me, and anyway, I was keen to find out what was beneath the surface.
My first trot was halfway down the stretch before the float dipped and I connected with a half decent Roach. This was to continue with good Perch and Roach coming to almost every trot. The feed was continued after every cast, albeit with half the quantity previously mentioned.
The Chub did not show up this time, but I was not disheartened, as I knew given more time or another opportunity the river would not disappoint.
Although time on the river this time was short, it was long enough for the fish to feed and the mind and body to unwind, this is after all why we go fishing, isn’t it? So, it was with a smile that I finally decided to pack up and head for home, as the next family function was only an hour away!