Monday, 24 December 2012

A Look Back At 2012

I would just like to wish all other bloggers a Merry Christmas, fingers and toes crossed for a bit of dry weather soon too.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Frost Bites - A Flotsam Fumble

Well the weather has finally settled, for how long I'm not too sure, however I spent some time drawing up a shortlist of waters that would be less affected by the torrential rain, making a list of seven different waters, both river and canal. I really have not done much canal fishing and that is something I would love to remedy during this winter and again in spring, with the odd overnighter tracking down some of the elusive Carp, with just a small amount of fishing equipment and stars for comfort.

But back to the here and now, one of the waters I had added to my list was looking rather good for a spot of winter fishing and it was a very frosty morning, the kind that pierces your lungs as you breath in and nose begins to run in earnest.

As I made my way to the river, the sun was slowly appearing through the treeline on the opposite bank, a bright, blazing, ball of orange. A fine mist was rising from the rivers surface and the Blackwater looked wonderful, the riverbank and nearby bushes laced with frost, almost like a dusting of icing sugar, a pair of Deer spotted me and made a dash, covering many yards with leaps and bounds in seconds, before disappearing in the hedgerow.

As I passed by one of the swims, the swans were having an early morning feed, tails up, feet wiggling in the air as they balanced themselves. As anglers we get to see a lot of wildlife that not everyone else does, our own little world if you like and that is something that is so very special.

I decided to try my luck in an area where the river arcs round in a bend, the current spiralling back on itself here and complimented by a nice steady depth, I had the choice of the ever faithful cheesepaste and maggot along with lobworms, filling the cage feeder with a light amount of liquidized bread, maggots and casters, deciding to start with maggots and chop and change as the day went on, the swim was very quiet, it looked good for a fish or two and I was very tempted to remain here and wait a while longer, on looking at my watch I realised that I had spent a good hour here, thirty minutes longer than I had promised myself.

I made my way downstream, this little waterway twisting and turning, shallows with tired looking weedbeds wafting about in the current, giving way to bottlenecks, before slightly widening again, tiny amounts of bankside coverage and a lovely looking crease on the far bank. I just had to have a cast, there was a fair bit of debris coming down, bits of weed and leaves collecting on the line every so often, making the quiver nod solemnly back and forth,

I was reaching my time limit in this swim when the rod tip plucked and suddenly jerked into life, I was met by a very lively scrap from a well conditioned Chub of 4lb, after a few steady sprints it was sat recuperating in the net. This fish looked resplendent in the winter sun, after a couple of photos I watched it swim away, drifting off into the main current, its grey back eventually fading from view.

One of the things that I particularly love about this time of year, is how so many more spots become available, areas that were simply not accessible during summer, it creates an added dimension and in many ways almost creating a whole new river. I was kept company by a lot of wildlife during the day, not least of all by a Wagtail, which kept me amused as it picked its way across the field in a rather eccentric manner.

I made my way to the end of the field, another spot that had been too dense with weed to fish in summer was open and beckoning, I decided to cast downstream to a near margin bay which looked a likely spot for a fish or two to lay up in. By now the sun was well and truly out and at its zenith for this time of year, not a lot of strength to it, but enough to warm my cold toes and defrost the ice which had been forming in the eyes of my rod.

The setting peaceful, far and away from the drone of Christmas commercialism and human traffic that goes with it. Sipping on my coffee I kept hearing a wheezy peewit, eventually spotting a Lapwing walking about in the opposite field.

This spot remained silent, maybe the fish weren't at home today, however I had seen them in summer,  regularly drifting in and out of the weed beds, I stole a look at my watch, it told me I should perhaps move back upstream and try another likely swim, this too was one which I could not fish during summer, due to the amount of weed choking the area, a very intimate spot with tree boughs covered with flotsam, dipping across the river, a banker swim if ever there was one.

My first cast resulted in a few subtle taps but nothing more, I was in two minds to sit on my hands and wait or cast again and a bit closer to the flotsam, I decided on the latter, the cast just skimming under the skeletal tendrils of the tree, landing nicely next to the debris strewn bough, I waited and watched, the air filled with an odd feeling of certainty and expectance.

Pluck, tap, the rod tip then fell motionless, I had seen this kind of bite before, very cagey and usually make or break, but the sign of a better stamp of fish, the image of a wily, grey lipped veteran mouthing my bait before winking and vacating the swim entered my mind, I gave a wry smile.

All of a sudden the rod bent round at a 90 degree angle, I struck, at first nothing moved, then a surge of energy was felt, followed by a thud as the fish moved into the main current, the rod was well and truly bent, fish with its head down and trying to make for the tree bough and other underwater snags. The rod absorbed the lunges it made, I could feel some grating and by now you could cut the air with a defibrillator, I applied more pressure, wincing at the thought of the hook pulling, just hoping the Kamasan size 14 was holding fast and true in that cavernous mouth.

Eventually and after a very exciting fight, a chunky, broad backed fish was in the net, on lifting it, I said to myself,  "that has to be a Blackwater five pounder".

Weighing 5lb 1oz, I was over the moon with delight, whilst fishing during summer and from some of the fish I had seen and caught, I knew this diminutive river could do a 5lb+ chevin and it did not disappoint.

I made my way to my final spot, another debris strewn swim, with a heap of weed on the opposite bank.

As I cast, I could see the forecasted fog rolling in, slowly enclosing me, my thoughts were elsewhere, somewhere back at that last swim, replaying the fight and holding that fish, over and over again. As I packed up, thoughts of  that fish were going back and forth in my mind. It had been a lovely day, with every ingredient an angler could wish for, all coming together as one, from the wonderful backdrop and wildlife, to the fishing.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Thursday, 15 November 2012

One Of Those Afternoons

Yesterday afternoon that would be, everything that can go wrong did, including compounding it with some ludicrous fishing choices by myself and I can't think of a better place to vent it than here.

The Thames had dropped somewhat, but with a nice tinge of colour, having checked a few swims prior and knowing that some of the slacks looked good and perhaps with the chance of some Roach sport, I then decided to head off further upstream and ignore all these spots for other swims, perhaps a bit of the grass is greener mentality creeping in. I am still trying to get my head round what would provoke such choices and I really can't rationalize it.

So to sum it all up, I basically ignored areas of the river that have produced to me in the past, instead heading for areas I had less knowledge of, which in itself is fine if you can take something constructive and positive from it, but I felt that I had not learnt a lot from doing so, which was partly due to the way I went about things.

The end result was part roving without fully roving, generally trying various swims, ending up feeling like I was just dipping my feet into the water without fully wetting them, something I have not done before, ending up feeling unfulfilled and going very much against my gut instincts, almost an aimless drifting, but not realising it till the very end of the trip.

I can't quite put my finger on it, but I certainly do not plan on repeating some of those choices anytime soon.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Rubber Duck & Small River Obsession Vlog

A video from two fishing trips that I took in september on the river Blackwater (Hampshire).

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Redfins Under My Skin

As you will know my last trip down the Thames was accompanied by that perfectly formed Roach,  this had got me thinking about what sizeable fish might reside along this stretch and attempting to succesfully target them now and in winter.

It was around 2pm as I made my way over to the river, I noted that the cattle were far away, now you're probably wondering why I even mention this, but this bovine mixed bag contains a couple of Bulls, sans horns and whilst they seem quite content, I don't have a death wish to get too close to them anytime soon, lest I be chased and I can safely say that this chaps not running anywhere at any kind of speed too soon.

Given that the heavy rains had only just abated, I was hopeful that water levels had still dropped somewhat and looking at the boathouse on the opposite bank I could see that it had dropped, the gravy colour replaced by one that looked akin to washed out tea and better clarity than on my prior trip, which was very welcoming.

There is so many alluring spots along the river that I could easily be tempted to try a different one on each trip, however I elected to fish the same spot as last time, what I really like about it, is that it is  not a full slack and has a touch of current that intervenes at regular intervals, a nice depth close in and of course that big bush as coverage. I slowly setup deciding to start with a maggot approach despite having taken bread and lobworms with me as well.

It was an odd afternoon, the Thames was willingly throwing me one of its curve balls, the only bites forthcoming were ones accompanied by a clean hook and crinkled line, courtesy of the Crayfish along this stretch, admittedly I have not ever had that much problem with them and to that extent I don't feel there is that many, but it seemed a sure sign that either the fish were not about or not in a feeding mood.

I chopped and changed between baits most of the day but to no avail and as daylight had faded, I was beginning to think that I might be heading home with my tail tucked firmly between my legs. I had introduced the last of the liquidised bread to the swim and changed baits yet again, this time changing from bread back to maggot, the rod cast back out tight to the bush, a glance at my watch told me that time was of the essence, if this was a football match, then surely we was into injury time.

A faint pluck, it could have been debris, but it did not have the usual deliberate movement as debris. Tap, pluck, tap. I struck, the quiver responded as did my quarry at the other end of the hooklink. Thump thud thump, I eventually could see a nice bar of silver and red. "Don't you dare lose this fish" I said to myself. As the fish slipped into the waiting landing net, the hook slipped out.

A lovely looking Roach of 1 lb 12oz's, I was chuffed to bits, a blank saver and a new personal best. A perfect way to end what had been a very slow afternoon on the Thames, I now really believe that there is a good chance of a 2 pounder, perhaps even larger from this area of the river.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

An Eel Feeling On A Ruffe Thames

I had been contemplating getting back on the Thames to try targeting some of the larger Perch that reside in its depths. Admittedly the weather had been fairly atrocious and in hindsight with the heavily coloured water conditions it was far from ideal, but nonetheless I was game. I had also decided to take some liquidised bread with me, mixed with seed and maggots and use this, with some of the groundbait balls containing a small amount of chopped worm.

The route to the river was more than passable despite the usual boggy areas that the cows had churned up, my boots making excited slurping sounds as I tried extracting each foot from its slushy grip without taking a tumble. I had a feeling that whilst it would be up high, if I could find some very slack areas then I would still be able to wet a line.

On catching sight with it, the river was coloured and pushing through to say the least, a multitude of different currents surging back and forth, I decided to fish a slack bay, with a nice feature to my left in the shape of an overhanging bush. Where you could normally stand was well underwater, I fancied this area, the coverage looked good and I felt that if it did not hold some Perch, then surely it would also be home to other fish as well.

I managed to hold bottom using a small 2oz watch style gripper lead in this swim, out that went with a lobworm placed close to the bush, for the first few hours it was fairly quiet and I was beginning to think to myself that the Perch idea was not a smart one, so I changed to maggot, an hour later I had my first bite, the culprit was a small Gudgeon and he was most welcome, a little later another joined him, both bites being hard taps which sent shockwaves through the quivertip.

The afternoon was a grey rainy affair, patting steadily on the umbrella, most of the cattle that inhabit the area were regularly calling out and looking most forlorn as they moved in circles,  seeking some cover from the rain, on eventually seeing me with my bucket of groundbait, they made their way across to me, all 34 of them, bovine inquisitiveness is something I always find a bit unnerving, they finally realised I had no food for them and they soon grew bored, before gradually plodding off to do what cows do best, eat grass and drop land mines for unsuspecting anglers.

I was wondering where the next bite would come from, I soon found out when I hooked a small but perfectly formed Tommy Ruffe, this made me smile, as I always seem to catch these fish whenever I have fished a river that is up and very coloured and today was certainly no exception.

I placed a few more balls of groundbait close to the bush, moulding some around the lead before casting,  after an hour or so of winding in and removing a washing line of debris and re-casting regularly, the quivertip thumped round steadily, I struck and was into what felt a better stamp of fish. The first I saw was the red fins and I immediately thought to myself Perch, but then the silver flank that accompanied the red fins made itself apparent as to what it was and a nicely formed Roach was slipped into the landing net, it weighed 1 lb.

I was rather happy with this and it has now got me wondering just what larger Roach might be lurking along this particular stretch of Thames. Daylight had faded when I saw a pair of swans which were doing their best to travel upstream, not an easy feat, upon seeing me they made a beeline across the river in hope of a free feed.

During this time I was taking a few pictures and had just put the camera down to have a cup of tea, flask open as I was about to pour, I stole a sideways glance to my rod which was now arched over, line being rapidly taken, as I struck, a small branch lifted up further out in the main current, my initial thoughts of a passing piece of debris having latched onto my rig were dislodged by the tug and heavy surge from the other end of the rod, as the unseen fish tried to happily head upstream, my first thoughts were of a Barbel as this fish just did not want to give in, a dogged fight began as it hugged the bottom, it was just as well that it had not decided to head downstream as I would have been well and truly stumped, as it was the quiver was bent over alarmingly and I was having to just cushion the run and keep trying to gain small amounts of line.

Eventually a long shape, with dark back and white underbelly emerged on the surface, an Eel with a girth on it that looked all of four pounds, it was not amused and thrashed angrily before making another solid run. Eventually I managed to get three quarters of its body over the net on three occasions, each time proving really troublesome, it managing to reverse out each time in a near farcical fashion, I was not happy, by now I could see it was lip hooked and I felt it was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened and it did. Ping the hook pulled, lodging in the front of the landing net, leaving me staring in abject horror and disbelief as the Eel disappeared back into the murky depths.

The rest of the evening  was very quiet and with no more bites forthcoming I decided to pack up and make my way home, as I did it was with plenty of food for thought and a very eel feeling.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Muddy Water - Mixed Bags & Leaf Strewn Currents

I had been hoping to fish a certain area of the Blackwater, but given the heavy rain, this option had to be left out of the equation which was a shame. But on such things other areas are found and plans are made to fish, heading further downstream than I have fished before, I found a lovely long bend in the river, the pace slower here, with lovely marginal tree coverage upstream and some nice gravel areas downstream, I planned to fish from lunch time to late evening, this time with no particular species in mind, just thoughts of catching a mixed bag of fish on maggots and worms.

The river was tea brown in colour and clarity conspicuous by its absence, the smell of fallen leaves surrounded me, autumn colours dotted along the bank. It was not the most straight forward of days fishing, lots of debris sailing by, catching the line at regular intervals, a light mixture of maggots and groundbait was placed downstream along my near margin, an area that I thought would give some protection from the course the debris was taking and to some degree it did.

Bites were very slow to begin with and at one point I was actually wishing I was trotting a float along the river instead of ledgering. The first of many hard rattling taps signaled that the Chublets had moved in and I began to catch one after another of these chaps at regular intervals, until their activity seemed to wane, only to be replaced by faster bites, which sent the quivertip round swiftly, until it sprung back like a diving board, strike miss, strike miss, strike miss, this went on for a while, to the extent I was beginning to question my sanity, whilst also thinking minnows had moved in, after what seemed like twenty more connections with thin air, I finally had the culprit a Dace, this brought back enjoyable memories of some of the large Dace that myself and a friend used to catch in the Loddon many years ago.

After more missed bites I managed to add seven more Dace and then I got a bit ahead of myself, thinking that I was perhaps in for a glut of them, my estimate was very wrong and their activity ceased abruptly, as did most of the fish activity, there was a good chance that a Pike might have been tempted to the area with the groundbait, I decided to rest the swim and open my flask of tea. Now I don't know about all of you and I like a cup of tea most days, but the warmth and taste just seems that much better on a cool autumn day.

As I drained the last drop of tea from my cup, I could hear the calls from Red Kites in the field behind me, I decided to take a look and I have to say what I saw was wonderful, two of them sat on a dead tree, I popped back to my swim and tried to get my camera ready as fast as I could whilst hoping they didn't leave, luckily they didn't and I managed to get the following shots

I have to say it really made my day and it was with a cheerful smile that I cast back out, this time with lobworm and in hope of perhaps picking up a few Perch, after a few light knocks followed by a long pause, the quiver thudded round and a nicely formed, small Perch of 12ozs was landed, this was to be the only Perch of the day, I have to admit given some of the features in this stretch I was expecting a few more, but seemingly it twas not to be.

This has got me thinking and I do feel that with the likes of the Thames and Kennet local to me, as well as the Loddon, that I should really be considering targeting those rivers for the chance of a specimen Perch this winter and it is something that I will most certainly be doing.

I spent the final part of the evening in the company of those hard biting fish, the ones that always punch well above their weight, giving Barbel style bites and numerous of them, I am of course talking about Gudgeon. I can clearly say that I have not caught this many since I was on the Loddon as a child, it was refreshing to see so many of them, replete with their irradiant, mother of pearl esque scales.

By 9pm it was getting chilly and I decided it was time to pack up, I had caught around 4lb of fish,  predominantly made up of Chublets and Gudgeon along with Dace and the single Perch.

As I made my way home, my imagination was filled with thoughts of kites gliding effortlessly in the infinite sky of my mind, nature affords us anglers some wonderful sights, how truly lucky we are to see and be able to share them with others.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Lucky Rubber Duck

Seeing a window of opportunity on Saturday and before the offspring of hurricane Nadine was forecast to hit, I decided to spend the afternoon on the Blackwater again, chancing my arm for a few more of those Chub. It was a brilliantly sunny day and perhaps I was expecting too much after my previous trips, given the bright conditions and and low water levels I thought it would be a bit of an uphill struggle and I wasn't wrong, starting in a few spots where I had some success on previous trips I was finding an instant lack of action from the off, almost as if there was no one at home in any of them.

I made my mind up to head much further downstream, as I fancied the look of  a few swims, the first one being on a slight bend in the river with tree coverage and some weedy rafts, this spot looked perfect but it was very shallow and the water clarity was like crystal. Not to be put off I decided to place the bait as tight as I could to the edge of the weed rafts, in hope that I could tempt any fish that might be skulking about underneath.

But alas nothing, the only twitch being provided by a crayfish that scuttled under the weed rafts to intercept my lobworm. I moved further downstream, finding another nice compact area, with plenty of coverage.

Home sweet home, or is it?

The swim looked spot on for a fish or two and I was feeling a lot more confident as I lightly cast the hookbait to the edge of the cover. There was no doubt the spot was giving off the right vibes and looks, but alas nothing showed, I was starting to wonder just where these chaps were hiding.

I moved on to an area partially seperated by a fence, the river widens at this point and it has some nice gravel runs, but it is also very shallow, I spotted a couple of nice looking Chub, patrolling up and down every so often and this was enough to tempt me, although I can't really say that I was feeling that confident,  twenty minutes after casting I watched the Chub as they came back to the gravel run, they showed their intent by taking a wide birth around the area before coming back, only to skirt round the area for a second time, having tried a fair few swims I was beginning to scratch my head, whilst begging the sun to ease off of the water a little. Below this area the river narrows into a bottleneck, becoming very overgrown but with enough room to place a bait.

A sumptuous looking spot and as I cast into it I said to myself, "this looks perfect". Sure enough I was soon receiving taps, the rod twitching and jerking every so often, but only chublets were forthcoming, by now the  time was getting on, the sun looking tired, giving off an autumnal watery warmth, now I had past a spot earlier on but had not fished it, a massive bed of matted weed one side and a nice tree covering the water, providing shelter, with just a couple of gaps where a bait could be placed between the streamer weed.

On the way back upstream, I placed a bait there, doing so I noted something in the swim, I looked again, almost doing a double take and sure enough it was a toy duck, bright yellow, replete with cartoon eyes and orange beak. I grinned, I was deep down hoping it was perhaps a sign of good luck. I chuckled at myself for that thought.

After twenty minutes a few plucks began, I was thinking to myself that it was perhaps crayfish once again homing in on the lobworm, but the plucks began again, this time with renewed conviction, could there be a cheeky chevin at home?

The bite never developed into a full blooded one, but as I struck, all hell broke loose, the quivertip replied by arching round urgently as the fish made for the safety of the overhanging tree, opting to try and keep as tight line on it as possible, I let the rod soak up as many lunges as I could, in the end I had no choice but to give the fish a bit of line, at this point the line twanged as it caught one of the nearby branches, many possible outcomes were racing through my mind at the time, all of them ending with me losing the fish, eventually and after too many heart in mouth moments, the fish was slid into the waiting landing net.

A chunky fish, the scales settling on 4lb 12oz, the largest Chub I have been lucky enough to catch from this wonderful little waterway. I tried for a couple of hours into darkness in a swim a few metres downstream, hoping to tempt another one, but only crayfish were willing to preoccupy themselves with my bait.

By 9pm it was feeling cool for late September, I decided to pack up. It had not been an easy afternoon roving about, but it had been a very enjoyable one and with a very welcome reward, on leaving the river I took one last look at the swim, thanking both the river and that lucky rubber duck.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Small River Obsession - Awakening Of The Water Wolf

It was sunny and late afternoon, peering into the Lobworm tub, its populace was low,  I counted fourteen, "why not" I muttered and a spontaneous trip to the Blackwater was about to begin.

I can't seem to get this waterway out of my mind, the beautiful pools, slacks, overhanging trees, thick weed with the odd brown trout basking inbetween it, I have not fished it long, yet I feel as I have known this river forever, water and angler converging as one, a timeless feeling. The heady smell of Himalayan Balsam, the vibrant, pink flowers being rapidly replaced with bulging seed pods as Autumn begins to take a firm hold, as I nestled between the foliage, waiting a bite from a Chevin or two, I could hear pods splitting open, catapulting forth seeds, all so hopeful in becoming the fresh generation of plants and in doing so, sporadically showering me with their offerings.

I tried a few swims, only to find them very quiet, a light trickle of maggots and a bite was eventually forthcoming, the quivertip thumping round, upon striking I was met by an odd fight, what felt like a small Chub changed into something heavier and with more purpose as the centrepin crackled excitedly. A richly dappled, chunky Pike had grabbed the Chub and sped by under my feet, before eventually releasing its unsuspecting victim, the poor chap was looking rather the worse for wear, cut  deeply down both flanks, I placed him back into the landing net hoping he might be ok and he eventually swam off, should it survive, he will have a tale or two to tell his friends, along with some distinct scars.

I logged the spot in my memory for future reference when Pike fishing and then decided a move was in order. Moving upstream I passed by numerous Oak trees, abundant with acorns. Every so often one or two would drop, followed by a rustling sound, sure enough a Squirrel was out and about collecting for his winter larder, stopping every so often to have a snack whilst on the go.

A swirl appeared every so often in a spot nearby to to these trees, a Chub was appearing every so often on the surface, before vanishing back down, a chance cast was made and I waited, watching the rod tip for the tell tale signs, the slight vibration and lightest of plucks began, before the tip slowly bent round, and it was not long before a nicely conditioned Chub of 2lb 8oz was resting in the net.

This spot, soon turned deathly quiet, I found out the reason shortly after, as a small Pike not much larger than a Jack, cruised by three times. I figured it was time for another move, the Pike were seemingly very active. Just down from me a group of horses, who I had taken to petting earlier in the day and most friendly they are too, were stood near to a lower part of the riverbank having a drink, one of them looking on in bemusement when a swan appeared, stopping to pick its way through the weed.

So there I was having a drink and just minding my own business..
Patch as he has become known to me, seems to be the leader of the herd, the look on his face said it all,  a most questioning one at that. For the remainder of the evening I tried numerous likely areas. But in many it seemed the fish were not home, perhaps having a vacation away from the Pike activity, who knows.

The sun eventually set and the breeze was feeling cool, I was considering calling it a day, but instead decided for that one last cast, as us anglers tend to do, I moved up to one of the tree lined swims, and placed a lobworm just to the back end of an overhanging tree, a nice spot, with an opening inbetween the streamer weed, debris clogging sunken branches, perfect.

Twitch, twitch, jerk, I struck half expecting to see a Pike sprint off, the reply was one of a sprint and stop affair, a welcome Chub eventually broke the surface, a slightly larger fish (2lb 14oz).

Not long after slipping this fish back, and no more than 10 metres upstream, a loud and deep lunge was heard, a Moorhen lifted off like a rocket from its resting place on the weed bed and in one movement ended up in a nearby bush, it had nearly become dinner for what seemed a sizeable Pike. I took this as my cue to leave, the water wolves had been very voracious all afternoon and just like the squirrel, perhaps they too knew that autumn was here.


Just a little post to share a friends endeavour and that is Oli Harwood who has a youtube channel known as Rigstation, covering fishing in and around Essex, Carp and coarse, an enjoyable watch and something he plans to expand upon in the future with the rigstation website (in development).

You can also find Rigstation on facebook: Rigstation

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Chevin Heaven

By the weekend I had more or less decided where I wanted to spend Sunday afternoon and that was back on the Blackwater. Catching that larger chub on my recent trip had got the cogs in my mind turning. Thoughts about winter time and chub fishing came to mind.

So I thought to myself, why not go for a spot of chub fishing and check the the river out further downstream. This part of the river has some very dense weed growth, coverage created by a variety of different weed. But there is the usual deeper areas and holes in the weed, parts shielded from sunlight, where weed growth does not have so much of a foothold. A small box of tackle packed, along with, maggots, bread, luncheon meat, redworms and lobworms, I was all set.

The afternoon was clear and very sunny as I made my way to the riverbank, coming upon it through rows of Balsam, there it flowed elegant and beautiful, looking even more of an aquatic jungle than it was further upstream. The first spot I decided to settle on was a shady spot, one where the sunlight could not permeate so easily, a nice spot with holes dotted about in the streamer weed and tangled tree roots on the opposite bank, all perfect spots for chub. Given the water was also low and clear I decided to not put any loose feed in, so as not to spook any wary fish, the swim was fairly quiet save for a few small, ravenous perch taking the lobworm, on my final cast I was contemplating a move to another swim when the quivertip plucked round and I was met by a darting fight from a very lively fish, which turned out to be a lovely conditioned brown trout.

I really did feel there was chub in this swim but they weren't being to forthcoming. So I decided to leave a scattering of maggots as well as a few bits of pinched bread in the swim and come back a lot later on. I moved further downstream, the weed getting even more dense here, like an underwater fern tree, thick and should I hook a fish would prove rather perilous to say the least.

Eventually I came upon a nice opening with some extra depth and cover to the left, this was a spot I was certainly not going to pass by, a cast alongside the grass fronds on the opposite bank was made. Nearly all of a sudden the quivertip bent round and I was met by a solid fight as line ticked off the pin, the fish seeking an area of safety upstream where there was a tangle of weed, after a couple of attempts at making for this sanctuary, I slid the net under a lovely looking Chub of 3lb 3oz.

Taking no chances, I released the fish well away from this swim and made another cast, this time allowing the link ledger to trundle further downstream along the far bank, the spot had gone quiet, presumably due to the commotion caused by this fish, I was beginning to get the feeling that the fields had eyes, when I noticed a couple of deer making their way across the opposite field, ears rotating like radio masts, one of whom spotted me, whilst its friend carried on grazing, seemingly  unperturbed.

Eventually they made their way through the fence and disappeared, it was around this time when I had my next bite, the rod tip plucking round heavily but not in a full blooded way,  I struck and the response was instant, strong and not wanting to stop for nothing, it surged off to my right, I felt a grinding, the feeling of line against an unseen underwater snag, I bullied the fish away from this, but it did not take kindly and made a strong run for the heavy weed on my left. After I managed to get it away from there, I started to see the water swirl and boil in front of me, yet I still could not see the fish, this battle was far from finished and another surge toward the underwater snag was made, whatever the snag was, I was not willing to find out and be parted of line, I decided to apply some more pressure to the centrepin drum, in an effort to halt it.

Those moments of adrenaline, only to be cut short and replaced with anti climax, where the fight is over, won by unseen adversary, my heart was still racing.

My mind began chatting away to me with thoughts of what it was, "be quiet" I said, but would it? Of course not. "no no let me finish Mark, I was simply going to say it could have also been a really nice perch". I pretended I hadn't heard that, but no it wasn't working, it was creeping in, lodging there along with a rye smile.

Should I cast again? Deep down I knew it was folly, the swim was ruined, but I still did, some vein hope of reconnecting with my lost prize, the swim was as expected very dead, so without further ado I placed some free offerings in the swim and headed off to a prime looking spot, one with a few sunken bits of wood and numerous weedy rafts.

I was trying to remain as opportunistic as possible and I offered a few casts alongside these woody rafts, on the second run through with the link ledger, the rod smacked round and a steady fight began, fish wanting his seemingly free lunch and angler at the other end wanting to say a quick hello. After a few hairy moments where the fish tried to go under the wood rafts, it was in the net, another Chub of 3lb 4oz, things were going well.

Much river to explore, I left this swim and tried some more further downstream, one of which seems a much deeper area on a bend in the river and whilst I only had a few light plucks there, I really do fancy it. As the sun began to go down, I considered my options, deciding to give it a go back in the swim where I had lost the other fish, by now the swim had been well rested for over two hours and I was hopeful that things may have settled back to something akin to normality.

I moved slightly upstream of the swim, trickling in more maggots as I went, before coming back and lowering my bait into the near margin, check on the pin switched off, the bait began its search for those grey lips and cavernous mouth. A bite was soon forthcoming and I was into another bullish tug of war fight, chevin taking line and me responding by being non to willing to give too much.

This fish was a nice dark, brassy coloured chub of 3lb, with hints of orange on the tail and a dark blemish to its left cheek. By now I was feeling rather happy about what this water could produce come winter, especially given that the weed will have died back a bit by then too, opening up more spots. This fish was soon followed by a smaller chap of 2lb 12oz. I eventually decided to backtrack on myself and head to the tree lined swim that I had began in, in hope that the free offerings I had left  may have given any chub some added confidence. By now a light mist had formed and rolled in, occasionally clearing, only to be replaced by yet another wave.

I was on my fourth cup of tea when the isotope plucked round a few times, ever so lightly and then began to quiver, almost as if it was shivering. I decided not to wait and struck, thud thud thud came the reply, fish kicking, trying to make for the overhanging tree, it was another fighting fit chevin of 3lb 7oz.

To say the chub were on form would be a gross understatement, they were really on the feed. I cast back out, this time alongside the tree and waited, the rod began to tap lightly, I stared and blinked again, thinking the isotope was playing tricks on me, but no there it was again, tap tap tap, followed by the rod tip moving round delicately, I lifted in striking lightly, the fish responded by swimming off most casually, as if it didn't realise it was hooked, in fact it was not until this fish was brought alongside the bank and about to be netted, that it then decided to bolt off along the near margin trying to repeatedly bury itself in streamer weed, once in the net, I could see this fish was larger than the others, it looked stocky and in great condition weighing 4lb 5oz.

Before the swim fell silent, I slipped the net under one last chub of 2lb 5oz, this fish a more lively chap than the 4 pounder.

As I sat to drink what remained of my tea before packing up, I did so with a rather large grin, one I'm still wearing, the Blackwater really is chevin heaven.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Water Tigers & Roving About

I must admit I have become some what distracted of late, the sight of this small waterway and its gravel beds, multitude of different types of weed, creating various habitats, numerous nooks and crannies which could hold any species of fish, I was fully transfixed by it. My thoughts started racing, each criteria in my head being ticked, good vibes were being sent from the river back to me.
My grin was a childlike one, I knew where I wanted to wet a line and could not wait to do so.

During the week I chatted  to Rob Thompson asking him a few questions regarding his tactics for Perch and he was most helpful and forthcoming (thank you again). With thoughts of luring a new pb in my direction, I headed off at the weekend, twin tip rod, fixed spool reel and centrepin at the ready. I planned to rove about, but at the same time, making sure not to forget one of the points Rob had said can prove critical and that was even though I would be roving, to make sure that I had a decent spot to give a go into evening time for the Perch. The day before, I raided our compost bins and a plentiful supply of redworms were gathered, enough for hookbait and groundbait alike.

The first sight of a river that you have never fished, bursting with vibrant colour and life in each and every twist and turn that it makes, is something that can gladden the heart of any angler and I felt almost light headed with excitement as I arrived at the first swim, greeted by dense patches of streamer weed

On seeing a few nice openings in the weed, I decided to feed the area with maggots and then trundle link ledgered worms through the area, after a few runs through the area and some timid plucks, the line eventually tightened and rod tip thumped round savagely, a distinctly coloured Perch was on. As I slid the net under it, I thought there was a chance of it being a pb and sure enough it was.

Weighing 1lb6oz not a leviathan, but given that my previous best Perch was a miniscule (12oz), I was over the moon with this lovely creature and in such brilliant condition, blood red fins and distinct tiger stripes, I can see myself being engrossed by these beautiful fish. After a few Chublets in this swim and some smaller Perch in the next, I moved further downstream into a tiny sloped swim with a moorhen and infant walking water, suspended by the dense surface layer of weed.

I decided to switch to maggot and placed my bait to a nice area on the left hand side of the swim, near some overhanging trees and weed rafts, it did not take long for fish to start intercepting the bait and and the hard tugs began in earnest, the powerful bites that only a Gudgeon can give, full blooded thuds, always punching above their weight, I caught 13 from this swim, along with numerous small Chub. I remember many years ago when I use to catch a netful of Gudgeon on the Loddon and Thames, a most willing fish, their numbers have declined a lot in my opinion.

I couldn't help but think of the other fish that might be lurking beneath the watery film, my mind thinking of anglers who would appreciate and truly love these little spots, thoughts of Jeff Hatt perhaps tempting some Roach from it crossed my mind on more than one occasion. I think you can probably tell that I have fallen head over heels into this river and I'm needy of more.

As the day moved past, I Changed to centrepin and quivertip trying many more spots, a bait lowered  here, cast there, held back at the edge of the weed beds and then allowed to move slowly through. Some spots I fed with a light amount of groundbait, containing maggots casters and chopped redworms, others none at all. Late in the day in a spot that I would not be suprised to throw up a good Barbel or two, I was getting regular timid bites, little knocks and twitches to worm and very finicky ones at that, I wasn't to sure what to expect and from what fish.

When the quivertip eventually hammered round, line zipped off the pin and I was fighting to stop a bullish run downstream to some very thick, coarse weed. After a very lively fight, a stocky Chub of 4lb8oz was slid into the waiting net, a superbly conditioned fish from a wonderful little ecosystem. As daylight faded away I opened my flask of tea and tried to reason with myself over a few things, going over them numerous times.

1) Why had I not fished this river before now?
2) I simply must do this again.
3) Where does the time go when fishing?

After mulling over point 1 the most, I slowly made my way for home, only to be distracted at one of the last swims on the way back to the car, I pondered  "mm isoptopes already on, why not?".
A light scattering of maggots and remaining groundbait were lightly placed into the swim and worm cast, leaving my chair folded I perched myself on my landing mat, eventually a few taps began, then all went suddenly quiet, deadly so.

I muttered to myself  "just another ten minutes", as I got to the last few minutes, the rod tip angled round, lurching alarmingly, quiver folding round as I lifted in, a powerful sprinting run took place torpedo like, as the fish made for the far bank repeatedly, it eventually tail walked and I caught a glimpse of it, a Pike, by now the centrepin was getting a solid work out as I tentatively played the fish, hoping that the line would hold out.

Thankfully the fish was well hooked in the side of the scissors. A Nice healthy fish of 8lb1oz. Yet more food for thought come winter time and some Pike fishing, this suprise package really rounded off the days roving and it was really enjoyable and one I intend to repeat again soon.